'Doctor Strange' 'in the Multiverse of Madness' Reviews Applaud Director Sam Raimi's 'Spookiness'

Critics said Elizabeth Olsen does "her most impressive work" yet as Scarlett Witch in the sequel, and director Sam Raimi infuses his trademark "weirdness" throughout

(L-R): Rachel McAdams as Dr. Christine Palmer, Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, and Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS.
Photo: Courtesy Marvel Studios

The Multiverse of Madness lives up to its name.

This Friday, Benedict Cumberbatch returns as his genius, magical Avenger in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness after unintentionally blending alternate universes in December's Spider-Man: No Way Home. Elizabeth Olsen's Scarlett Witch also makes a comeback after her devastating WandaVision finale, even more hell-bent on being reunited with her kids.

First reviews for the sequel dropped Tuesday, with The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw calling the film a "freaky adventure" that is "handled with lightness and fun."

In his Variety review, Owen Gleiberman called the Marvel movie 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."

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios' DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS.
Elizabeth Olsen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). Courtesy Marvel Studios

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Director Sam Raimi (known for his Evil Dead and Tobey Maguire-led Spider-Man movies) gets to show "flashes of his distinctive style" by inserting horror elements into the superhero movie, wrote The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore.

Though, DeFore added, it could have gone further beyond the PG-13 limitations: "It's fun to imagine them giving Raimi a small fraction of the usual budget, authorizing an R rating for the third Doctor Strange and saying 'go make a Sam Raimi horror film.' " (The 2-hour-6-minute movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language.)

IGN's Amelia Emberwing felt Raimi's "full range of weirdness and spookiness is on full display from start to finish here," and she praised Olsen's performance: "There's not a bad actor in the bunch, but Elizabeth Olsen is constantly reminding us how easily she can shift into a capital-a-Actor as Wanda Maximoff."

Justin Chang wrote for the Los Angeles Times that Olsen, 33, "does possibly her most impressive work since her stellar debut in the 2011 independent drama Martha Marcy May Marlene."

USA Today critic Brian Truitt wrote, "While the Marvel-ness of Madness will make your head spin, Raimi's signature style, penchant for the macabre and sense of humor oddly ground the film."

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness also stars Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Xochitl Gomez as new character America Chavez.

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