REVIEW: Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Doctor Strange encounters dark magic and alternate universes in Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Directed by Sam Raimi – Screenplay by Michael Waldron.

Let’s be honest here. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), arguably the most popular film series of our current time, is really more a series than a selection of films. Martin Scorsese has referred to superhero films like those as theme park rides (which I still contend isn’t as dismissive as it has been received by the internet), and, with its cliffhangers, easter eggs, references, and overarching character arcs, it is becoming increasingly difficult for these films to stand on their own. Some of these Marvel movies, for better or worse, don’t even try to stand on their own (like Avengers: Age of Ultron). Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness is one of those films.

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REVIEW: Eternals (2021)

Marvel’s team of Eternals unveiling themselves to the people of Mesopotamia in the film’s opening sequences — PHOTO: Marvel Studios.

Directed by Chloé Zhao — Screenplay by Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo, and Kaz Firpo.

Although their films are immensely popular, it isn’t every day that Marvel Studios work with Academy Award-winning film directors, which makes Eternals special even on paper. Chloé Zhao, the Chinese-born acclaimed filmmaker behind Best Picture winner Nomadland, did, however, choose to have a major superhero blockbuster film be her follow-up to her poetic Oscars-favorite. In my experience, Zhao’s films (of which I think The Rider is probably her best work), which often feature non-actors, are defined by their open landscapes, contemplative themes, and an unshakable feeling that her narrative films are documentary-like. Therefore, this superhero epic is almost certainly her most accessible film, but it is also true that it feels different than most Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films. Frankly, while there is a lot that I like here, I think Eternals ended up being a little bit too ambitious for its own good.

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REVIEW: Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

MJ (played by Zendaya) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland) trying to escape the public eye in Spider-Man: No Way Home — Photo: Matt Kennedy / Sony Pictures.

Directed by Jon Watts — Screenplay by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers.

Next year is the 20th anniversary of the first-ever live-action Spider-Man film, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, which catapulted an already immensely popular comic book and animation character into big screen superstardom. A lot has happened since then. At this point, three different actors have played Marvel’s beloved wall-crawler on the big screen, and all of them have devoted fanbases. This, Spider-Man: No Way Home, is the third solo film in Tom Holland’s tenure as Peter Parker, but it is so much more than that as trailers have revealed. Rest assured, this is a spoiler-free review that will not reveal anything you wouldn’t already know from promotional material. Promotional material — trailers and posters — have revealed that No Way Home will feature villains (and the actors that originally played those villains) from the previous two Spider-Man sagas and thus connect the different cinematic universes. It is a massive crossover event for Spider-Man fans. My one worry going into the theater was that this movie might be too big to work, but, ultimately, I don’t think that is the case. Because at its heart, this is very much a Spider-Man movie, and I think they manage to balance the various elements of the film remarkably well.

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REVIEW: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)

Simu Liu as Shang-Chi in SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS — Photo: Marvel Studios / Jasin Boland / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton — Screenplay by Destin Daniel Cretton, Dave Callaham (Wonder Woman 1984), and Andrew Lanham.

The future of the movie theater industry has been the source of much debate in film fan circles during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Films have had their theatrical release delayed, some films have been released on premium-video-on-demand, such as Disney+ with Premiere Access, at the same time that they have been released in theaters, while, in the United States, most if not all Warner Bros. films from 2021 have been released in movie theaters and on HBO Max for no additional cost on the very same day, which was the case with The Suicide Squad. So, in addition to the fact that movie theaters have to accept the ongoing pandemic, movie theaters now also contend with subscriptions, streaming services, and premium-video-on-demand.

Now, it would appear that movie theaters have also begun to fight back against this trend with the one thing they can do, which is to refuse to release a studio’s film in theaters. Strangely, although it, unlike Black Widow, has not been released on Disney+ with Premiere Access, major theater chains have stuck by their Disney boycott with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. In Denmark, I think only about ten theaters are showing it currently, which is a real shame because Shang-Chi is rad and well-worth the price of admission.

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REVIEW: Black Widow (2021)

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, David Harbour as Alexei, and Florence Pugh as Yelena in Marvel Studios’ BLACK WIDOW — Photo by Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios.

Directed by Cate Shortland — Screenplay by Eric Pearson — Story by Jac Schaeffer & Ned Benson.

After numerous delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cate Shortland’s Black Widow is finally here. Out now in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the first film in its so-called Phase Four — which also already includes Disney+ series WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki — but it is also the first theatrically released Marvel Studios product in two years (since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home).

My fellow Marvelites and so-called True Believers can now rejoice as the wait is finally over. However, while I’d say the film is quite good and, at least to some extent, worth the wait, I also have to say that it is clear as day that this film is ‘out of time’ in more ways than one, which makes the film feel quite strange even though it is ‘just’ a long-awaited solo film with a beloved character.

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REVIEW: WandaVision – “The Series Finale”

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the ninth and final episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the ninth (and supposedly final) episode of WandaVision — appropriately titled The Series Finale — Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) must fight for her family’s continued existence as Agatha Harkness (played by Kathryn Hahn) threatens their safety by trying to absorb Wanda’s life force and powers. Meanwhile, the Vision (played by Paul Bettany) goes up against an all-white version of himself, who is on a mission to terminate Wanda Maximoff. In the series finale, our friends and foes battle it out while the future of the Hex is very much up in the air.

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REVIEW: WandaVision – “Previously On”

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the eighth episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the eighth episode of WandaVision — titled Previously On — we learn more about who Agatha Harkness (played by Kathryn Hahn) really is, before she and Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) take a trip down memory lane to rewatch and expand upon pivotal moments in Wanda’s life, which reveals why the Hex bubble universe was even created in the first place. Continue reading “REVIEW: WandaVision – “Previously On””

REVIEW: WandaVision – “Breaking the Fourth Wall”

Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the seventh episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the seventh episode of WandaVision — titled Breaking the Fourth Wall — Darcy (played by Kat Dennings) brings Vision (played by Paul Bettany) back up to speed, while Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) decides to have a day all to herself, which means that ‘Agnes’ (played by Kathryn Hahn) has to take care of the twins. Meanwhile, Monica Rambeau (played by Teyonah Parris) tries to get back inside the Hex. Continue reading “REVIEW: WandaVision – “Breaking the Fourth Wall””

REVIEW: WandaVision – “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Chuck Zlotnick / Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the sixth episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the sixth episode of WandaVision — titled All-New Halloween Spooktacular! — Tommy (played by Jett Klyne) and Billy (played by Julian Hilliard) get ready to celebrate their first Halloween inside the Hex with their family, including their mysterious “uncle,” Pietro (played by Evan Peters), who Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen) seems slightly suspicious of (perhaps because he, well, has been ‘recast,’ as a character in the previous episode said). Meanwhile, Vision (played by Paul Bettany) has decided to lie to his family and explore Westview on his own. Continue reading “REVIEW: WandaVision – “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!””

REVIEW: WandaVision – “On a Very Special Episode…”

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios’ WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. — Photo: Disney+ / Marvel Studios.

The following is a recap and review of the fifth episode of WandaVision, available exclusively on Disney+. Expect story spoilers and general Marvel Cinematic Universe spoilers. 

In the fifth episode of WandaVision — titled On a Very Special Episode — Vision (played by Paul Bettany) starts to question everything about the reality inside Wanda’s bubble universe, while Wanda and Vision’s twin boys age rapidly. Meanwhile, Monica Rambeau (played by Teyonah Parris) wakes up and immediately starts to work out a way that they can enter into the bubble universe without being altered by its time period. But S.W.O.R.D. is about to find out that Wanda (played by Elizabeth Olsen) doesn’t like intruders. Continue reading “REVIEW: WandaVision – “On a Very Special Episode…””