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As a huge movie enthusiast, I don’t often pass up the opportunity to attend the worldwide premiere of any motion picture let alone a high-budget Marvel film.

So when my boy Cabu Gah calls on Friday evening with news that he had landed complimentary tickets to the nationwide premiere of Dr. Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness, I elatedly approach my Sub-Editor, Benja, to tell him that I will be pulling a Houdini act for the rest of the night.

Despite some traffic, I arrive for the premiere just minutes before the 8 pm screening time. Anga Cinema in Parklands is packed and lively; throngs of other movie nerds are already on location eagerly waiting for the movie as they socialize and enjoy complimentary food and drinks.

I try to fit in and quickly notice a pattern among the other attendees; most if not all of them have coupled up while I can’t seem to shake off Cabu Gah.

I comb through the room to pick out a potential target but soon after advise myself against it because, knowing myself, I probably wouldn’t have taken notes for this review once I started thinking with my other head – what an unfortunate buzz kill!

I use the complimentary ticket from Visen Digital’s Marie Muhiu and find myself a seat in the theatre’s back row. For the next 126 minutes, I immerse myself into a world where alternate universes exist and wizards, witches and demons occasionally run amok.

Marvel continues to lay the groundwork for the fourth phase of its cinematic universe with the May 6 launch of the horrifyingly captivating Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, starring Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen of the Oldboy fame and newcomer Xochitl Gomez.

What I immediately realized is that the Ksh. 23.2 billion movie borrows certain plot points from three Marvel Web series: What if? Wanda Vision and Loki. I suggest you catch up with the three shows if you haven’t done so already, before watching this year’s sequel to 2016’s Dr. Strange.

Doctor Strange 2 picks off from where Spider-Man: No Way Home ended with Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch) trying to contain the aftermath of his multiverse-fracturing spell that seemingly erased spiderman from all of existence.

Director Sam Raimi, who was the brains behind the first trilogy of Spiderman movies starring Tobey Maguire and horror franchise Evil Dead, quickly tosses you into the madness as the blockbuster opens mid-chase scene.

In the opening sequence, we are introduced to America Chavez (Gomez) who’s on the run from a creature with a Dr. Strange from an alternate universe. We soon after find out that Chavez has the ability to travel between universes, which has made her a target for magic-wielding characters in the verse.

Cut to Dr. Strange of Earth 616, which is the MCU’s main timeline, who wakes up and assumes that it was all a dream – until the wedding of his ex, Christine Palmer (Rachel Mcadams) is interrupted by the interdimensional monster known as Gargantos.

As he battles the monster, Strange encounters Chavez and so begins the madness.

With the help of Chavez, Strange sets off on a scary and visually stunning journey across the multiverse in order to confront a mysterious new villain who is revealed surprisingly quickly, despite many theories from fans.

I won’t get into more details plot-wise but Director Sam Raimi successfully combines the superhero action with mind-numbing horror. Like in his Evil Dead films, Raimi does so beautifully while still managing to focus on the most important aspect of storytelling–making sure it is human at its heart.

Throughout the movie, our Dr. Strange questions whether he is actually content with his life as a sorcerer while Wanda is still reeling from events that unfolded in Wanda Vision. Chavez on the other hand is trying to navigate her fear and guilt throughout the film.

The fantastic script brings these emotions to the surface, enabling the film’s visually stunning CGI, cinematography and score to complement it rather than mask it.

Excellent performances from the film’s lead actors likewise make Dr. Strange 2 stand out from other films in the superhero genre.

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