Doctor Strange Reviews Mostly Praise Sam Raimi, With Reservations

The first reviews are in for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and for the most part, they agree with ours. In the eyes of the press, Sam Raimi has certainly put his individual stamp on the Marvel material, though not everyone thinks that’s enough to overcome story weaknesses. Here’s a look at some of the major Doctor Strange reviews:

Justin Chang at the L.A. Times writes that “the latest Strange brew — full of mangled extremities, gouged eyeballs and other freaky flourishes — is the satisfying handiwork of the director Sam Raimi, whose long-overdue return to feature filmmaking is no less welcome for being tied to Hollywood’s most continually fatted cash cow.” Like many others, he singles out Elizabeth Olsen in particular, praising her Wanda as “possibly her most impressive work since her stellar debut in the 2011 independent drama Martha Marcy May Marlene.”

Brian Truitt at USA Today writes that “Raimi’s signature style, penchant for the macabre and sense of humor oddly ground the film,” though he thinks it “lacks a strong narrative center to match the solid performances and scary-movie style.” In a more spoiler-laden review than most, Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman likewise dubs it, “a ride, a head trip, a CGI horror jam, a what-is-reality Marvel brainteaser and, at moments, a bit of an ordeal. It’s a somewhat engaging mess, but a mess all the same.”

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Outlets more typically attuned to superhero fare say about the same. IGN’s Amelia Emberwing calls it “A Sam Raimi film for better and for worse.” ComicBookMovie’s Rohan Patel writes, “There are so many classic Raimi moments from great character interactions to a familiar cameo to his unique transitions to sweet romance to extremely violent deaths to gruesome horror-comedy, it’s all there and it’s all glorious.” Cnet’s Richard Trenholm allows that “the villain’s monstrous power is signaled by jump scares and sinister horror movie flourishes, building to the most macabre final battle you’re likely to see in a family-friendly blockbuster.”

Though many reviews have criticisms, most fall on the positive side. Collider proves a major exception, landing narrowly negative. Ross Bonaime says “As a film that highlights Raimi’s talents as both a director of distinct superhero stories, and idiosyncratic horror tales, Doctor Strange works. Yet as a larger piece in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Multiverse of Madness starts to show the cracks in trying to continually attempt to build and one-up what came before.”

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None of the major critics outright trash the film, though a few more obscure ones do. The least enthusiastic among familiar publications so far comes from Polygon, where Susana Polo seems like no fan of Strange generally. While praising some Raimi touches, she concludes “the film’s thoughts on Doctor Strange’s deals with devils (metaphorical ones, at least) remain open, and its refusal to answer its own questions remains frustrating.”

Come Friday, everyone else will have a chance to weigh in. For now, even the naysayers seem to find some things to like; even the fans, some flaws to call out. But everyone agrees it’s very Raimi.

Will you see the film opening day? Let us know in comments!

Recommended Reading: Doctor Strange Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird

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