"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

I really enjoyed the first Doctor Strange movie. It was bizarre and absurd, it was stand-alone: you didn't have to know anything else about the Marvel Universe, and it had a certain internal logical consistency. This, on the other hand, is a giant soap opera that requires you know everything that's come before: the first Doctor Strange movie (of course), the entire Avengers saga - and the Scarlet Witch TV series "WandaVision." This is burdened with all of the MCU history ... but that also allows them to simply switch universes whenever they need another protagonist or antagonist, or another version of someone. And that's NOT good, to my mind. Just like a soap opera, good guys turn bad (Scarlet Witch turns evil ... oh, wait - SPOILER ALERT) and bad guys become good (more or less - Mordo resurfaces).

Let me put the things they do wrong another way. (Real SPOILER ALERT!) In another universe - ie. not ours - they have Wanda kill off Reed Richards (John Krasinski in a role he may never play for more than about three minutes at a time), Professor X (still Patrick Stewart, but now back from the X-Men's 25 year exile at Fox), Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), and Black Bolt (Anson Mount) all in one go to show how evil and how powerful she is. But for me, all this really did was de-emphasize every other death in any other Marvel movie. How much do you expect me to cry over the death of Professor X when you spent a good part of the movie explaining that there are an infinite number of Professor X's? And another part of the movie shows that you can retrieve a new one any time you want from another universe? This problem with the MCU really started with the ending of "Infinity War" - when they killed off half their heroes, but anyone with two brain cells to rub together knew it wasn't permanent. Sorry guys: you can't have it both ways. We aren't going to weep for deaths that are almost certainly temporary.

The movie has lots of action, but I found the barrage of characters, locations, the ever-shifting set of skills each hero and villain had, and all the deaths, made it a struggle to get through. It had some good moments - Sam Raimi directed, so there had to be something worthwhile in here, and newcomer Xochictl Gomez as America Chavez was charming - but the moments were too far apart to make a cohesive whole. If you want to see a worthwhile "Multiverse of Madness," see the far superior "Everything Everywhere All at Once."