6/10 The highly anticipated follow-up to “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, this second full length feature for Doctor Strange is well made and acted but virtually every problem comes down to its script, from the horrible screenwriter (Michael Waldron) whose work on “Loki” also made that a bad and overrated show on Disney+. Before I get into all of the problems with the screenplay that killed this movie’s potential, let’s start with the positives. Out of all 28 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films in existence, I don’t think any of them have had its director’s fingerprints all over the movie as strongly as this one does. You could maybe argue Taika Waititi is a close runner up for making the vastly overrated “Thor: Ragnarok” completely feel like only he could have made that movie but I’d say that director Sam Raimi completely makes this movie feel like his own. This is the MCU’s first true horror movie and Raimi, with his background in both horror (the Evil Dead trilogy) and superhero films (his Spider-Man trilogy) is the perfect man for this job. His direction is one of the highlights of the movie and he feels completely comfortable bringing the horror aspects into the MCU. Likewise, I will make a bold statement that this is probably the best score across all 28 MCU films. I am not even the biggest fan of composer Danny Elfman (Tim Burton’s go to composer) but his work here is fantastic and sucks you into this universe. The acting across the board is solid but Elizabeth Olsen was the stand out for me as she continues to impress and steals the movie from the talented Benedict Cumberbatch. The visuals are some of the best in recent memory and when we get a brief look at multiple multiverses, each one has an incredible, distinct look to it. Individual sequences are brilliant with a fight featuring musical notes coming to mind. While all of these production aspects work wonderfully together, the script really makes this movie disappointing, especially considering all of the talent involved. The biggest problem with the script is due to how these characters are written. Wanda Maximoff not only recycles her entire character arc from “WandaVision” which feels repetitive and completely destroys the significant growth she made as a character by the end of that limited series but the more you think about her intentions in the movie, the less sense it all makes, with so many alternative options being available to her. While you definitely should check out “WandaVision” prior to watching this, this movie almost makes that series worse, which is never a good thing. Another character problem is with Doctor Strange himself. While once the brilliant, knowledgeable protagonist, Waldron changes his character to make him often dumb and gullible, taking away his intelligence that set him apart from so many other heroes. Strange is dumbed down just so the plot can happen but it betrays his character. Finally, the introduction of America Chavez is fumbled because by the end of the movie, we really know nothing about her personality and who she is as a person. While I know she will be back either in future MCU films or Disney+ shows, I feel like they could have given her her own limited series to introduce her before forcing her into this movie and not developing her nearly enough. Rachel McAdams also returns but has very little to do so her character ends up being rather forgettable and wasted. There are also problems with the plot and while the concept of the multiverse is fun when used in small doses, for an entire movie to revolve around the concept feels like it is being stretched too thin. I hope the MCU uses the multiverse sparingly going forward so it doesn’t become repetitive. This also wouldn’t be a Disney movie without some woke, politically correct nonsense which is in no way relevant to the plot and also features a throwaway line about how capitalism has failed because all goods and services aren’t free, which is insanely idiotic. Despite the exciting cameos, beautiful visuals, A1 score and brilliant direction that lets the director put his stamp on the movie, Waldron’s weak script that repeats character arcs, dumbs down intelligent characters and doesn’t properly develop newer characters makes me hope that he is never hired to work on another MCU film again. That would be a universe I won’t want to live in.

#MusicByThirdEyeBlind / #ScarletWitchMultiverseIsThis? / #TheBadCumberBatch / #ComingToAmericaChavez / #ReedThemAndWeep / #ComeToPizzaPoppa

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