A sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange – though it could also be seen as a follow-up to 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and the TV series WandaVision – this Marvel adventure has the spell-casting Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) traversing alternate universes while trying to help a young woman named America (Gomez) who is being pursued due to her ability to travel the multiverse.
Opening with a visually stunning scene in which we see another universe’s Doctor Strange on the run with America (it turns out it’s a dream our Strange is having), the danger in the regular Marvel universe is soon present when Gargantos – a humungous octopus-like creature with one bulging eye – attacks and Strange meets America for real for the first time. Realising witchcraft is involved, Strange heads off to ask the advice of the Scarlet Witch herself, Wanda Maximoff (Olsen).
The villain is revealed surprisingly early on, meaning that the main plot is a pretty straight adventure, featuring a few surprise (but far too brief) Marvel cameos, multiple Dr Stranges and some impressive set pieces such as an early attack on Kamar-Taj (mystic HQ of sorcerers).
One thing that separates this from other Avengers/Marvel movies – and something parents should note – is that it is directed by Sam Raimi. While he has directed superhero movies before (he did the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films (2002, 2004, 2007), Raimi is better known for horror fare such as Drag Me To Hell, Darkman and, most notably while considering this film, the Evil Dead movies.
While In The Multiverse of Madness isn’t quite a horror movie, it certainly has horror elements that may come as something of a shock to younger viewers (and their parents). As well as an eye-gouging early on, there are moments that tip their hat to Carrie and Raimi’s own Evil Dead films (and, as with many Raimi movies, there is a cameo from Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell to look out for), and there are also other elements that probably aren’t suitable for the youngest of Marvel fans.
As well as a zombie version of Strange (which is rather brilliant but definitely not for sensitive eyes), there are scenes featuring visible injuries and impalings, as well as demonic creatures swirling about. For Raimi fans, this is a treat – and it certainly breathes some fresh life into Strange’s adventures – but die-hard Marvel fans may be disappointed there isn’t more time spent on other characters who pop up (including Wong, who gets far too little screen time) or the other worlds of the multiverse.
Kids, meanwhile, (or at least younger ones) may not have an opinion at all, as they will have spent half the movie hiding behind the cinema seat in front.
Is Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
While this is a 12A certificate in the UK, parents should note that there are plenty of gory moments throughout the film, as mentioned in the review, that may not be suitable for children 10 years and under and sensitive viewers. We would recommend that parents watch the movie first before allowing younger children to see it.
There are some mild jump scares, and younger kids (under 11) may not like Doctor Strange being reanimated as a zombie, or scenes featuring an eye-gouging, one character covered in blood, threats involving children and various other horror scenes. (There is also a scene in which it is inferred a character has been sliced in half but the injury isn’t shown).
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