This is actually a review comparing two movies. I recommend Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If you’re looking for something to watch on Halloween, this is a good pick. There are some frightening scenes though, so don’t let young Trick-or-Treaters watch it.
Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world?
From the outset, you’re going for a ride. The action comes at appropriate intervals. The dialog doesn’t drag on too long. (Unlike Thor: Love and Thunder. Oof! Dialog scenes killed that whole movie.) The world of Doctor Strange, as defined by Sam Raimi, is something you can get lost in for a long time, or at least as long as the movie. There’s tension as good characters become bad characters, and vice versa. There’s beauty in the multiverse, especially with the casting choices for the Illuminati (alternate universe instances of well-known superheroes).
Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends?
At no time do you see exactly how it’s going to end, though there are a smattering of clues. Despite being a Raimi fan, I did not see the zombification factor—until it arrived in all of its toothy splendor. Not only is that interesting, but it’s a bit crazy. Using all the curses against the character and making them strengths? Brilliant!
Comparison though, drags Taika Waititi down. His Love and Thunder made me not care about the Love or the Thunder. Actually, in retrospect, the Thor movie might have been better if it was focused more toward Jane Foster.
Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda?
There’s agenda in the multiverse, but it’s so slim, gossamer, and transparent that it really doesn’t matter, just like in real life. Actually, in Love and Thunder, the agenda moment is exactly the same as in the multiverse, wallowing in pusillanimity enough to not be noticed. Able to be overlooked, the moments end up looking like someone in the editing booth checking a box. Also, in Love and Thunder there’s a butt scene. Though I think their intent was to draw in the female viewers, it doesn’t make the movie any more worth watching. The plot still fails.
There’s no need for gratuitous butt-shots in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals?
Some of the emotions evoked in the multiverse include: fear, terror, fright, awe. Just kidding. There are lots of emotions represented, and some of them collect returns. There are some few jokes, but not too many to take away from the action. There are some tender moments, I suppose. It’s difficult to tell. Of the multitude of “billionaires” within the Marvel Universe, I can handle Dr. Strange slightly more easily than Tony Stark. The fact that Dr. Strange has lost so much in his personal life actually makes him more personable, more human, though he still comes off much of the time as conceited.
Emotions in Love and Thunder tend toward impotence, mainly due to the cheesy song choices. I mean, if you’re going to load up a bunch of sappy hair metal to the soundtrack, at least mix it up so you’ve got a variety of emotions represented. The way Love and Thunder plays out, it’s better with a mute button.
Character factor: Are there good actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Is the narrator mostly invisible?
Everyone in this film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, does a fine acting job. Bruce Campbell takes a cameo and steals the show for a couple of scenes.
In Love and Thunder, I ended up wishing there was more of Christian Bale’s character, Gor. Also, there could have been more “Mighty Thor”, as played by Jane Foster, er, Natalie Portman.
Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes?
There was a little bit of sloppy-cam interspersed, but I think Sam Raimi exerted his will enough over the common Disney-folk to inject his signature master-class quality film technics. Because of this film, I think we can put Sam Raimi’s name right alongside Stanley Kubrick’s.
Likewise, Taika Waititi only used sloppy-cam in a few places, but sadly, the action in Love and Thunder was minimal, even hard to find. In more than one of the scenes, it seemed like Taika was trying to recapture the excellence of that scene in Ragnarok with the Led Zeppelin song and Thor’s lightning. It didn’t work, of course. You have to understand, “Immigrant Song” came from the Wilsons, a highly musical family (think Beach Boys and Heart), and then the song was expanded by the boys of Led Zeppelin to make something amazing. None of the music in Love and Thunder had such a pedigree.
Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated?
For a multiverse, it sure didn’t expand infinitely—and that’s a good thing.
Rating: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness gets six out of seven stars. Love and Thunder gets one.