Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: The Rule of I [critique]

Sam Raimi has managed to imprint his paw on the new MCU superfilm, even if it looks like a super big episode of Rick and Morty on arrival.

Sam Raimi is like us. He also finds that having to make a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe means saying no to authorship, and having to fit into a mold. Refuse to be the master of the game. As he says in our May issue of Première: “You have to accept the rules of the game. We are part of a continuity, we are not in control of everything. I don’t see that as a restriction, there is a real pleasure in having to make the best possible film in a specific setting. » It’s pretty honest, actually, and it’s a very valid conception of the director’s role – a big fan of the Wizard of Oz (like, randomly, Sam Raimi) can’t ignore that the film went through no less than three successive directors, each completing the previous one’s work within the Hollywood studio system.

That was almost a century ago, okay, but it’s still an industry lesson that’s still valid. at least in an MCU where a director like Jon Watts surely wasn’t hired for his brilliant movie persona. Unlike Raimi, who not only has style but also laid down some pretty little milestones in the super-cineche garden. So do Doctor Strange 2 is a film by Sam Raimi? Good news: yes, undoubtedly, and we play Samraimian bingo with a certain pleasure in front of Multiverse of Madness by identifying the effects of cuts stamped by his faithful editor Bob Murawski, the cameo of Bruce Campbell and very surprising gore visions within such a locked franchise. The other good news is the denial of the dreaded fan service. After No Way Home and the return of previous Spider-Mans, this “multiverse of madness” was expected to be one of ramshackle cameos. We won’t spoil anything, but this big cameo scene is defused in a rather funny way… which is rather reminiscent of the series rick and morty than the MCU and its sense of self-quotation.

But now, Raimi’s style is obviously part of a “precise framework”, he must follow the “rules of the game”. The few exciting sequences are introduced by endless dialogue tunnels in shot-against-shot where the nanar folklore of the MCU unfolds (Mount Wungadore, the book of Vishanti, the demon Chthon, Chiwetel Ejiofor in dreadlocks…) until exhaustion. Its super short duration (2h07!) foreshadowed a act collected and effective: the Marvel framework, which uses the rules of the game of the TV series (the pretty reimagining of Scarlet Witch alias Elizabeth Olsen is based on the consequences of Wanda Visiontoo bad if your Disney + subscription is not up to date) finds a nice reinvention there, remains too rigid to let anything breathe.

In fact, the film mainly bears the mark of its screenwriter Michael Waldron, one of the writing pillars of rick and morty : like a typical episode of the series, the film bursts its storyline in several bundles through several levels of reality before bringing them together in a grand finale summing up all these elements with more or less inspired writing finds. Perhaps especially inspired by the novels of the Cycle of the Princes of Amber of Roger Zelazny, with its alternate realities and its characters dialoguing with doubles at the same time evil and fascinating. Like his friends, and like any good Disney film, Doctor Strange 2 jumps from concept art to concept art, sometimes erecting this jumping into a principle of cinema: the passage of Strange and his protegee America through all the dimensions, supposed to be one of the climaxes of the film, above all recalls that of the underestimated Men in Black 3. Deep down, Raimi is never as good as when he follows a kinetically and cinematically firm trajectory, like the mind-bending trajectories composed by a camera strapped to a motorcycle during the filming of the first two evil Dead. Juan Antonio Bayona, who had managed to film very nicely the horrible script of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, told us when it was released in 2018 that he had still managed to find in this awful blockbuster a cinematic space in which to express himself. Raimi also succeeded, in this Doctor Strange divided between movement and immobility, to find its space.

Leave a Reply