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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (3D in some cinemas)


Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Patrick Stewart, Hayley Atwell, Lashana Lynch, Chris Evans, Charlize Theron, Bruce Campbell

Director: Sam Raimi

The special effects guys work overtime - their souls of the dead sequence is something of a triumph - in this second stand-alone Strange movie. Things get off to a cracking start with Strange (Cumberbatch on growlingly good form) enduring a nightmare about monsters and multiverses, which introduces him to teenager America Chavez (Gomez) who has, among other powers, the ability to travel between universes.

A giant one-eyed octopus-type creature is after America, its impulses driven by forces as yet unknown. But Strange, assisted by magic master Chang, drolly played by Wong, realises the girl needs protection if the balance of the various worlds is not to be destroyed (I think). He tries to enlist the assistance of the Scarlet Witch (Olsen, also good) only to find that she's gone over to the dark hold, and plans to use the girl to dominate all universes and regain touch with the family she magicked up in another world (if you've missed TV's WandaVision, you might get a bit lost here).

Nothing, it seems, can stop the Witch, who kicks an impressive amount of superhero butt in the progress of the plot; and the bruised and battered Strange, who's helped and hindered by two alternate versions of himself (the makeup's good for a giggle), as well as America and an alternate version of his lost love Christine (McAdams, looking lithe in a jumpsuit), clearly needs a hand. Challenged by one of the other Stranges after half the cast has been killed off, the doctor remarks dryly that 'How much more of a heavy toll is there left to extract?'

The dizzying exuberance of the director's action scenes, often kaleidoscopic in structure, just about makes up for the dullish conversation sequences (Gomez in particular is lacklustre company), while Danny Elfman's music also hits the required mark spot on. A bit scary for younger cinemagoers, the action pushes the boundaries of a 12A pretty hard. There's a scene after the main credits and another right at the end.

David Quinlan

USA/UK/Iceland 2022. UK Distributor: Disney (Marvel). Colour by Company 3.
126 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 05 May 2022