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.
In this edition of my recurring movie and television catch-up article series titled ‘Additional Bite-Sized Reviews,’ I take a look at one of the start of the year’s best shows, and I also give you my thoughts on a (currently) Oscar-nominated film. So, get comfortable, and get ready to read my thoughts on things like Apple TV+’s latest gem and the film that very well could earn Jessica Chastain her first Academy Award tonight.
Directed by Charlie McDowell – Screenplay by Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker.
Charlie McDowell’s Windfall takes place in a single location and mostly features three unnamed characters; a wealthy CEO (played by Jesse Plemons), his wife (played by Lily Collins), and the ‘nobody’ who is trying to rob their vacation home. The robber (played by Jason Segel) had planned to steal from the property while its owners were out of town, but, when they suddenly return home while he’s in their home, the robber has to improvise on how to get out of this situation unscathed. And the wealthy CEO? Well, he just wants to get him out of the house as fast as possible, even if it means having to lose some money in the process.
Directed by Steven Spielberg – Screenplay by Tony Kushner.
If you’ve been thinking that another West Side Story is pretty unnecessary, then you’re not alone. After all, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ 1961 musical film adaptation of the Romeo & Juliet-inspired Broadway stage play ended up with eleven Oscar nominations and won in ten of those categories including Best Picture. Often regarded as one of the greatest musical films of all time, the 1961 film has made people very familiar with the story. So, did we need Steven Spielberg to make a new version of the stage play? No, we definitely didn’t. But here’s the thing. Let’s be honest, we also didn’t technically need another Batman reboot. We didn’t technically need three different live-action Spider-Men in the last twenty years. However, even though we didn’t need those films, just like how I loved the vast majority of the Spider-Man films, as well as the new Batman flick, I have to say that Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is just wonderful. We didn’t need it, but I’m glad we now have it.
Directed by Shawn Levy (Free Guy) – Screenplay by Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett, and Mark Levin.
In Shawn Levy’s The Adam Project, we follow Adam Reed (played by Walker Scobell), a 12-year-old who makes a lot of witty remarks and gets into fights. Adam and his mother (played by Jennifer Garner) are struggling after the recent death of his father (played by Mark Ruffalo), and they’re still trying to adjust to their new normal. While his mother is out on a date, something incredible happens. After going outside to check on a mysterious sound, he returns to his family home and finds a wounded fighter pilot, who has let himself inside. It doesn’t take Adam long to figure out that this isn’t just any fighter pilot, this is himself from a dystopian future. This older Adam (played by Ryan Reynolds) has traveled back in time to save lives and the future, but, now that he is injured, he may need his 12-year-old self to accomplish the job.
Directed by Domee Shi (Bao) – Screenplay by Julia Cho & Domee Shi.
Turning Red, the 25th feature-length film from Pixar Animation Studios, takes place in Toronto, Canada in 2002 and follows a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl named Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), who thinks of herself as a grown-up and who dedicates a lot of her time to honoring her parents. However, things are about to change for Meilin. She both wants to take care of her family’s Chinese temple and go to a boy band concert with her supportive best friends, even though her mother doesn’t trust her friends and despises the boy band. Over night, something changes for Meilin, and when she wakes up she has turned into a huge red panda. She finds out that she can turn back into her normal self, but every time she has a strong feeling she goes right back to being this mythological panda, which obviously freaks her out.
Directed by Mimi Cave – Screenplay by Lauryn Kahn.
Modern dating can be difficult. We all like to think that we can have a grand love story and just meet someone out of the blue, but, nowadays, many people find their eventual partners through online dating. In Mimi Cave’s FRESH — her feature debut as a director – Noa (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones) is tired of spending so much time finding potential suitors on the online ‘meat market.’ Her online dating usually ends with disappointing dates with rude men or with men sending inappropriate images that she never once asked for. So, it is understandable that she excitedly chases romance when she meets and flirts with the undeniable charming ‘Steve’ (played by Sebastian Stan) in a local supermarket. In spite of obvious red flags (he has no Instagram account!), she decides to go away with him on a weekend vacation, where she will soon find out that he has an uncommon ‘hobby’ — to say the least — and that his intentions aren’t good.
Directed by Peter Flinth – Screenplay by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau & Joe Derrick.
Against the Ice first showed up on my radar some time ago. I mean, can you blame me? As a Dane, it is really exciting when a major streamer like Netflix decides to acquire a historical survival drama about Danes, directed by a Dane, co-written by a Dane, and so much more. Really, I could go on and on about all of the Danes involved with the production. And yet, it isn’t actually in Danish. This aspect was a little bit of a disappointment to me, but I can understand why some may have felt it should be in English. Unfortunately, while I do think this is a mostly ‘okay’ survival drama, the language wasn’t my only disappointment.
I was elated when Robert Pattinson was announced to play Batman. Pattinson’s work in independent films had impressed me so much, and I thought he was a pretty obvious choice for the role. However, as many people know, Batman movies always lead to premature casting criticism (people were critical of Heath Ledger, Michael Keaton, and Ben Affleck long before they had even seen them in their respective films). I remember receiving rude comments about my excitement for Pattinson as Bruce Wayne. After having finally seen the film, I can honestly say that I feel vindicated. Pattinson is great and Reeves has once again made an outstanding blockbuster film in a vastly popular (and, to some, tired) franchise.
When I was very young, my sister and I could spend several hours watching shows like Jackass, Viva La Bam, and Wildboyz over and over again. We could never see ourselves doing those kinds of dangerous stunts, but it was just nice to watch and it was definitely more than merely chuckle-worthy. Over the years, she and I would watch each and every one of the Jackass films, and, in a way, it felt a little bit like you grew up with them (even though they were always older than us). For the release of Jackass Forever, my sister and I went to the movies together to see what our old stunt-loving pals from the television were up to. We had a blast, but it was also a strange reminder of the passing of time.