Multiverse movies are all the rage right now with the last Spider-Man movie, Disney+ streaming shows Loki and What If, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and next summer’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: Part One.
Piggybacking on the events of 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is back home, but plagued by a recurring nightmare of trying to save a young girl from a bizarre interdimensional landscape. But is it a nightmare? He finds out pretty quickly, after an attack on the streets, that the teenager in his dreams is real! Her name is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) and she can travel through the multiverses, but only under duress. Problem is, something or someone is after her unique ability, so Strange contacts ex-Avenger, Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), for help.
Oopsie! That was the wrong move as Wanda is the one who wants America! Ever since the events of Wandavision (the streaming series on Disney+), she’s been desperately using the evil Dark Hold magic book to make herself stronger and find America to steal her power. Why? Wanda wants to locate a multiverse where her imaginary children (Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne) are and be their real mommy. Hmmm. . . sounds nice, right? Well, dang if she’ll kill, attack, and destroy anyone who’ll get in her way and that means Strange and his buddy, the Sorcerer Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong).
As Wanda goes on a rage-rampage, America and Strange get accidentally blown through a wormhole of multiverses (really trippy and very cool), and land on Earth-838 where they are greeted by their version of the Sorcerer Supreme, Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor). They also meet a superhero governing body called the Illuminati, consisting of Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), Maria Rambeau/Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch), and some other surprises. All Strange needs to defeat Wanda is the mystical Book of Vishanti, but it’s way too late to explain all that. Wanda has found them! The entire act two, along with its major fight, is the highlight of the film.
Will Dr. Strange be able to stop Wanda in time? Can America be saved from the evil clutches of a truly unhinged person? And the question is raised: would you risk it all to go to another universe where your ‘other self’ is far better off than the one you’re in now? This was written by Michael Waldron, who knows his way around multiverses. After all, he’s written episodes of Rick & Morty and Disney’s Loki streaming series. So, not only do you have the wild, crazy, and bizarre universes that are visualized, you have SO many Easter Eggs that are dropped in for fan service. It’s like that Family Guy episode where Brian & Stewie visit alternate universes. Yes, it’s a little hard to follow at times, as confusion sets in about an hour and a half in this two-hour-plus movie.
Gomez proves to be the shining light in this Dr. Strange sequel. She’s got the sparkling personality and the spunk-like charm that reminds me of Peter Parker’s nerdy friend, Ned. She interacts with Cumberbatch and Wong with not only a sense of fun and some sass, but also looks to Strange as a father figure, which grounds the character. And even though this is a Dr. Strange movie, Elizabeth Olsen steals the movie away. Her Wanda isn’t just a simple villain-on-a-mission; she’s got intense passion and heart behind those glowing red eyes. You actually root for her at times.
And you can see director Sam Raimi’s outstanding touch everywhere, from his signature speed-zoom camera work, his fake-out scares that lead to the real ones, giving us some very cool Evil Dead moments, and casting his BFF, Bruce Campbell, as a street vendor. Cumberbatch is back at it again, ruling as the snarky magician we all love, and Rachel McAdams returns as his ex-girlfriend and is given a much meatier role. But the REAL thrill, short-lived as it is, are the members of the Illuminati of Earth-838. One hero in particular (I won’t spoil it here), got the biggest applause, as he’s been talked about for years! AND the actor portraying him!
**Now playing only in theaters
Family Guy (Season 8, Ep. 1)
I love Family Guy, the sharply witted and sometimes controversial animated TV series. Like South Park, they excel in pushing the envelope, and in an episode called Road to the Multiverse, they have some wicked fun.
In this hilarious and Emmy-winning episode, genius baby Stewie and his dog pal, Brian (both voiced by series creator Seth MacFarland) are at the Quahog Clam Day fair, where Stewie wins with a pedigree pig that he stole from a parallel universe. When Brian is amazed at the multiverse theory, he and Stewie go on an adventure through time and other universes. Of all the many places they go, they visit a universe in which Christianity never existed, therefore, the world is a thousand years more advanced, one where Meg (Mila Kunis) is great looking, one made up entirely of fire hydrants, one where everyone has two heads, a Robot Chicken (Seth Green’s show, who also voices Chris) universe, and one where they’re like the Flintstones.
But the one that stands out the most (and got them in hot water) is the Disney universe, where everyone is drawn like a Disney character and sings about eating a delicious pie. Oh, and how much they hate Jews! Eventually, they find themselves in a universe where people are the pets and dogs are the masters. Brian wants to stay and accidentally breaks the return pad, prompting Stewie to visit themselves in that universe.
There, Brian is a human and the Griffins are different breeds of dogs. It all boils down to human Brian desperately wanting to go back with dog Brain and human Stewie with bizarre consequences. Written by Wellesley Wild, a prolific writer of the Animaniacs, The Orville, Family Guy, and the movies A Million Ways to Die in the West and Ted 2, this episode is sheer brilliance and non-stop hilarity.