Courtesy Marvel Studios

In The Multiverse of Madness, veteran director and cult icon Sam Raimi brings us a vision of Dr. Strange that thankfully shakes off some of the weight of the ever-expanding Marvel universe.

Raimi’s plot is sprinkled with fan service, and initially some rather loose narrative construction. Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and friends must rescue a young woman, America (Xochitl Gomez), from the clutches of a series of unknown creatures. Turning to Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) for help, our heroes quickly discover they’ve made a huge mistake that threatens the stability of not only their universe, but of countless multiverses.

The Multiverse of Madness is fortunately able to escape its rather muddled opening act, allowing the director to work in some of his clever stylistic flourishes. The latter half of the film is where Raimi truly shines, throwing in nearly as many clever tropes as there are multiverses—Dutch angles, looping close-ups, and even a few jump scares. There’s a whole range of creepy creatures for our heroes to flee and fight, including some full-on zombie-flick-inspired action which Raimi truly excels at in his grotesquely comedic fashion. 

While likely to generate complaints from both hardcore fans of Raimi and of Marvel, The Multiverse of Madness manages to create a satisfying blend of the two and is one of the more chaotically inventive films in the seemingly boundless franchise. PG-13, 126 min.

Wide release in theaters