Marvel Comics’ Sorcerer Supreme takes viewers on a fractured, dimensional roller-coaster ride in his latest blockbuster adventure now levitating to the 4K disc format in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Cinematic Universe Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 143 minutes, $49.98).
Orchestrated by the venerable director of the “Evil Dead” as well 1980s Spider-man film franchises, Sam Raimi, the frenetic effort finds Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) meeting a girl literally of his dreams and taking a journey across many a parallel universe to stop a misguided ally.
Specifically, the female America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), with the uncontrollable ability to punch portals into other universes, is being hunted by demons, so the good Doctor decides to help.
After some assistance from loyal helper Wong (Benedict Wong), he initially enlists powerful mutant Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), but finds that she is actually the super being behind the hunt of America.
Influenced by “The Darkhold” (i.e., the “Book of the Damned”), Wanda wants to be permanently reunited with her magic-concocted children from Earth-616 (reference Disney Plus’ “WandaVision” series) and needs America’s power to maintain the illusion.
Although Doctor Strange often finds himself more as the co-star of his own film, he has plenty of time to travel the multidimensional cosmos with America and true love Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams); stop the violent Scarlett Witch from either ruling or annihilating the multiverse; and fight other versions of himself.
Comic book fans will become quite smitten with his travels as the story intertwines pieces from such sequential art series as “New Avengers: The Illuminati,” “Secret Wars,” and West Coast Avengers’ “Darker Than Scarlet.”
Doctor Strange also meets famed pop art stars such as the Minotaur-like sorcerer Rintrah (Adam Hughill), Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Sorcerer Supreme of Earth-838 Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Reed Richards (John Krasinski), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch).
Perhaps not as dazzling as in either guest appearances or compelling story narratives as the recent “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” still adds a new and welcomed extension to the latest chapter of Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
4K in action: Culled from a 2160p master format, the resulting imagery takes full advantage of not only the expected clarity but explosions of color, thanks to the high dynamic range enhancements.
Those looking for vivid hues will find them across any celestial scenes as Doctor Strange and America travel between universes, especially a viscous paint universe, with purples, blues, pinks and oranges taking command of the screen. Especially notable is the Scarlett Witch’s blood-red desolate world.
Look for quality moments in the complete 4K package such as Wanda’s fiery smoky attack on the Kamar-Taj (sorcerers training headquarters); Doctor Strange using razor-sharp flaming musical notes against Sinister Strange; and Undead Strange’s undulating cloak of evil souls.
Or, not for the squeamish, watch the battle against Gargantos, a gooey one-eyed, multistory, six-legged demon with sucker tentacles that eventually loses its peeper in a highly gross way.
Best extras: Viewers can gladly watch the film again in the included Blu-ray disc to appreciate the optional commentary track featuring the director, co-producer Richie Palmer and writer Michael Waldron.
Taking place roughly three weeks before the film’s mainstream opening, the discussion is led and directed by Mr. Raimi who often asks Mr. Waldron questions to dice into his screenplay covering dialogue choices and character motivations and plot changes
A few of the more interesting production details covered include that they built four city blocks of New York City in England due to the coronavirus pandemic; the Gargantos eye is based on a scan of Ms. Olsen’s actual eye; and Professor X’s hover-chair is based on the one from the X-Men animated series.
The Blu-ray disc also includes a trio of featurettes offering a three-minute introduction to America Chavez; a too-short, 11-minute overview of the production; and a five-minute tribute to Mr. Raimi’s genre-bending collection of films.