Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/26/22;
Disney/Marvel;
Action;
Box Office $411.2 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language.
Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams.

Now deeply entrenched in its fourth phase, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is meandering a bit. While the first phase established a core group of heroes, and phases two and three built up to the battle against Thanos, phase four seems to be about introducing a new generation of Avengers to carry on in the aftermath of that fight.

Thus, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the 28th MCU film, features the debut of America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenager from a parallel reality who has the power to travel between the worlds of the multiverse. Living out her own personal version of “Sliders,” America accidentally opened a portal that caused her and her parents to be lost in separate worlds. Unable to control her powers, she continues to search for her parents and find a way home.

But wait, this is a Doctor Strange movie, isn’t it? The movie begins with America being pursued by a malevolent force that wants to steal her power. Defending her is an alternate reality version of Strange, as they seek a magical artifact that will defeat their attacker. When their quest seems hopeless and Defender Strange is killed, she manages to end up in the MCU, where our Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) carries on her fight.

Hoping to recruit some magical reinforcements, he turns to Wanda Maximoff, who is in a self-imposed exile following the events of “Wandavision” in which she dealt with the grief of Vision’s death by turning a small town into a sitcom reality and giving herself two sons, ultimately learning that she’s the embodiment of an ancient force called the Scarlet Witch.

Strange gets more than he bargained for asking for Wanda’s help, leading him and America on a world-hopping adventure that gives the film a chance to indulge the audience with all sorts of fun cameos.

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Given that Strange had just appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which offered its own dalliance into the multiverse, the natural assumption going in would be that this movie’s story would have carried on from those events, but Strange’s experiences with the multiverse in these consecutive appearances are largely just coincidental.

Still, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is fun for what it is, a mostly standalone adventure infused by director Sam Raimi with a strong dose of horror elements and some imaginative uses of the premise (though not using it quite enough), before finally giving way to some awkward post-credit sequences to set up future movies.

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The Blu-ray includes a fun and informative commentary from Raimi, writer Michael Waldron, and producer Richie Palmer, as they discuss the challenges of making the film and other possibilities for the story.

Also included are three short behind-the-scenes featurettes. The 11-minute “Constructing the Multiverse” is a general retrospective on the making of the movie with interviews from the cast and filmmakers; the three-and-a-half-minute “Introducing America Chavez” focuses on the origins of that character and bringing her to life; and the five-minute “Method to the Madness” explores Raimi’s impact on the film.

Rounding out the extras are a two-and-a-half-minute gag reel, and three deleted scenes that run a total of about three minutes — one is a flashback to Strange’s days as a surgeon, while the other two expand on Bruce Campbell’s guest appearance as a street vendor.

 

‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ Set for Disc Release July 26

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution will release Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray July 26. The film will be available for digital purchase a month earlier, on June 22, the same day as its previously announced premiere on the Disney+ streaming service.

Benedict Cumberbatch returns as Doctor Stephen Strange, Marvel’s master of the mystic arts, fresh off helping Spider-Man deal with an incursion of alternate realities in Spider-Man: No Way Home. In Multiverse of Madness, he meets America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenage girl from a parallel world who has the power to travel between the multiverses. But she is being pursued by an entity who seeks to control her power, leading Doctor Strange to vow to protect her. However, when he turns to fellow magic user Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) for help, he discovers a danger he never expected, sending him on a journey through parallel realities to protect his charge.

The film also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams, and was directed by Sam Raimi. It has earned $391 million at the domestic box office, and $912.6 million globally.

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The home video editions will include an audio commentary by Raimi, screenwriter Michael Waldron and co-producer Richie Palmer, plus three featurettes:

  • “Method to the Madness” — The film’s production team and other Marvel employees discuss their love of Raimi and all the details of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that make one of his quintessential films”.
  • “Introducing America Chavez” — A profile of the character from the comic books, and the actress who plays her.
  • “Constructing the Multiverse” — Waldron delves into the challenges of crafting the story.

 

Also included will be a gag reel and three deleted scenes:

  • “A Great Team” — a journalist questions Doctor Strange’s integrity;
  • “Pizza Poppa” — a street vendor played by Bruce Campbell is relieved when a spell cast by Doctor Strange ends;
  • “It’s Not Permanent” — Bruce tries to accuse Doctor Strange of being an imposter.

 

Availability of the bonus materials with the digital version will vary by retailer.

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‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ Headed to Disc July 5

The multi-universe action-adventure Everything Everywhere All at Once arrives on 4K Ultra HD (plus Blu-ray plus digital), Blu-ray (plus digital) and DVD July 5 from A24 and Lionsgate.

Directed and written by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the writing-directing duo collectively known as the Daniels (Swiss Army Man), the film stars Michelle Yeoh as an unlikely hero who must channel newfound powers to fight fearsome dangers from the multiverse. Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a flustered immigrant mother, is contacted from a parallel universe and told that only she can save the world. The unlikely hero must learn to channel her newfound powers and fight through the splintering timelines of the multiverse to save her home, her family and herself.

The film also stars Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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Special features include audio commentary with Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert; the “Almost Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Everything Everywhere All at Once” featurette; the “Putting Everything on a Bagel: Cooking up the Multiverse” featurette; deleted scenes with optional audio commentary; outtakes; a music visual; and the theatrical trailer.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Available With:
Supergirl: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Batwoman: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Arrow: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;

Warner;
Sci-fi/Action;
Not rated;
Stars Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Caity Lotz, Ruby Rose, Brandon Routh, Cress Williams, David Harewood, Tom Cavanagh, Tyler Hoechlin, John Cryer, Matt Ryan, David Ramsey, LaMonica Garrett.

Multiverses are all the rage nowadays.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the live-action DC movies are scrambling to introduce the concept in their upcoming blockbusters, filling the Internet with casting rumors of the return of previous versions of certain characters. And one reason they may be motivated to do so is how popular the idea proved in the CW Arrowverse’s big crossover event last season, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which brought together characters from six of the DC superhero shows and featured cameos from several more, and even referenced a few from the big screen.

The TV Crisis is based on a major DC Comics storyline from the mid-1980s, which redefined and modernized all the publication’s classic characters while seeking to streamline convoluted histories that went back decades. In doing so, characters encountered versions of themselves from parallel realities in an epic battle against a villain called the Anti-Monitor who was destroying entire universes.

The CW networks’ “Arrowverse” shows adopted the same basic premise. The series have been doing annual crossovers for a while, and have been laying the groundwork for Crisis on Infinite Earths for years.

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The crossover itself is structured like a miniseries, though each of the five parts are actually an episode from one of the participating series: part one is an episode of “Supergirl,” part two is an episode of “Batwoman,” part three is an episode of “The Flash,” part four is an episode of “Arrow,” and part five is an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow.” Though they use a unified Crisis title card instead of the individual show, the main credits still reflect the cast of that show. This is likely more a matter of contractual obligations, since it probably would have made more sense to produce the crossover as a separate production outside the purview of any of the shows. The fact that these are technically separate episodes of different series makes for some awkward distribution scenarios.

For home video, Warner has chosen to include a special bonus disc containing all five episodes and bonus materials with the relevant season Blu-ray releases of each of the series. It’s the same disc for every show, so “Arrowverse” fans who pick up the Blu-ray for each show will get it five times.

Since the individual parts are also episodes of the shows, they are also included with the regular episode runs for each show on disc. Since the miniseries version is exclusive to the Blu-ray, anyone wanting each part just on DVD has to buy each show’s separate season, and those don’t come with the special “Crisis” extras.

In years past, the crossovers on disc were handled a bit differently, with Warner including all crossover episodes on the Blu-ray for each show’s relevant season as part of the regular episode listings, so that they’ll come up in a “play all” binge.

Either way, it kind of points to a more common sense solution being to release the Crisis disc as a standalone miniseries, and not part of any of the shows’ seasons, but contracts are what they are.

The fact that these are individual episodes of each show makes for some messy plot developments in terms of where certain events happen in relation to what show they are technically happening on. Major life events affecting Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) happen on “Supergirl,” and not his own show, “Arrow.” However, “Arrow” does get a monumental cameo involving The Flash, rather than that bit of fan service actually happening on “The Flash.”

With the central conceit that every TV show and movie ever based on a DC Comics property exists alongside the others in a multiverse, producers have packed in cameos from a number of these other shows, in many cases offering a reunion or update for some of the characters. These range from quick glances at other current shows such as “Titans” and “Stargirl,” as well as drop-ins on the worlds of Superman Returns, the 1989 Batman movie, the 1960s “Batman” series, “Smallville,” the 1990 “Flash” TV show and even the recent Justice League movie.

It’s all in good fun for the fans of these characters who have been following them not just on the CW, but on the other shows as well, not to mention the original comics. The idea of using “Batman: The Animated Series” star Kevin Conroy to play a live-action version of an older Bruce Wayne is just a marvelous idea. As is putting Brandon Routh back in the Superman suit to play an older version of the character. Routh already plays the Atom in the Arrowverse, but physically he seems much more suited to play Superman now that he’s a bit older than he did in 2006, which he was a bit to thin for the part.

For comic book fans, the looks of Conroy’s Bruce Wayne and Routh’s older Superman borrow a lot of influence from the 1990s Kingdom Come miniseries.

Tom Welling also makes an appearance as the “Smallville” Clark Kent, and between him and Routh they just make the Arrowverse’s Superman, Tyler Hoechlin, seem way too undersized for the role.

In addition, Cress Williams shows up in a couple episodes to play Black Lightning from his own CW show. While “Black Lightning” doesn’t have one of the Crisis episodes, it did do its own prelude to Crisis episode similarly to the other participating shows. That episode isn’t included here, but it is available with the third season of “Black Lightning” which is available digitally now and coming to DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Archive Oct. 27.

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Nostalgia aside, Crisis does a lot to resolve several of the storylines from the various shows, not the least of which is to finally put Supergirl and Black Lightnine in the same universe as the other heroes (though that has raised its own plot problems as the shows have continued post-Crisis). It’s an ambitious piece of television that should satisfy fans of the series involved, but the various crossovers and nostalgia bait do a lot to distract from flaws that become apparent on subsequent rewatches.

Primarily, the quaintness of plotting that persists on the five main shows carries over here, and the dialogue can get a bit grating the more one hears it. In some instances the collective writing teams may have been in over their heads coordinating such a big production, as there are many attempts to cram in the supporting casts of the various shows in their series’ respective episodes with subplots that end up going nowhere or having no effect on the larger storyline. Some of these are excuses for cheap cameos, while others just seem like they are giving the characters busy work.

When these shows are syndicated to various stations and streaming services in the future and have to stand on their own, I can only imagine the confusion some viewers might having when encountering the crossover episodes in the middle of a binge and seeing partial storylines that have little to do with the rest of the show they’ve been watching. But, a happy fan is an informed fan, and they should know what they’re getting into with the Arrowverse to begin with.

The extras on the Crisis bonus disc are fun backgrounders typical of the kinds usually found on Blu-rays of DC-based content, particularly the DC Universe animated movies.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Architects Return” is a 12-minute featurette that reflects on the original comic book, featuring interviews with its original creators, plus a look at the new comic book tie-in created for the Arrowverse version.

“Crisis Management” is a 13-minute making-of featurette looking at how the five shows coordinated to bring the crossover together.

“Crisis Past and Present: Kevin Conroy Bat Legend” is a three-minute profile of Conroy and bringing him to play a live-action Batman for the first time.

“Crisis Past and Present: Superman vs. Superman” is a four-and-a-half-minute featurette about a showdown between Routh and Hoechlin for super-supremecy.

“Characters in Crisis: Pariah” is a four-minute video about turning Tom Cavanagh’s “Flash” character into the Pariah role from the original comic.

Finally, “Characters in Crisis: The Anti-Monitor” is a five-minute examination of the main villain of the story.