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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Special Effects Overpower Plot & Characters
by James Colt Harrison

With Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch returns in yet another memorable film for 2022. Totally different from his Oscarģ-nominated role in The Power of the Dog (for which he should have won the coveted gold statuette as Best Actor), he enters the Marvel Universe as Dr. Stephen Strange, a man of unlimited magical (or physical) powers that seem to shoot out of his arms in electrical bursts of energy that frighten cats, little children, and some adults such as this writer. When he gets agitated, heís like an electrical thunderstorm run amok. But thatís part of his charm.

As with most of these Marvel movies, it is a test of oneís mental capacities to figure out what the plot is about, or if there even is one. Nothing ever seems to make sense, but apparently the kids love the films and one concludes that the viewer must have a mental capacity of a ten-year old to figure it out. Having just missed the qualifications because my diagnosis shows my IQ is that of an 8 year-old, Iím hanging onto a precarious ledge of understanding.

There is a thin plot, although it is not exactly easy to follow. Dr. Strange, who loves to dress almost in drag with great capes and swirling fabrics all around, does have some sort of a raison díetre (I apologize to my French friends).  Although he canít be persuaded not to do this, he does it anyway. He casts a spell to throw open the doors of the multiverse (a non-existent place dreamed up by the Marvel Studio). This also means he creates an alternate version of himself who turns out to be a dastardly villain who is a bigger threat to humanity than all the powers of Wong (Benedict Wong) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) can cope with. (Donít end a sentence with a preposition!)

Miss Olsen has the biggest part of her career here. She is really the star of this movie (sorry Cumberbatch). She sputters, she pops her eyes, she flails her arms and somehow sparks and lightening always seem to erupt from every orifice. This technique she did not learn in acting school. We must credit the fanciful ideas of all the computer wizards at the special effects labs. The film is one giant exercise in ďletís see what more we can do, letís dazzle people for hours on end, and letís pop their eyes every ten seconds and frazzle their noggins.Ē In fact, there are too many special effects at the expense of character development. Your eyes, dear viewers, will be spinning for two and a half hours. Well, the kids will love it and it will be a smash.

After being pummeled, shocked, frightened, shaken not stirred (like a James Bond cocktail), I had to be removed from the theater by medics on a stretcher. Well no, the medics werenít on a stretcher, I was. I gingerly made an appointment to have a Katharine Hepburn-style lobotomy (see Suddenly Last Summer) to straighten out my fried noggin.

(Released by Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Rated ďPG-13Ē for intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language.)

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