Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Quick synopsis: It’s a Marvel film. Obviously, you’re not going into this for the plot.

I’m going to say this at the start: I thoroughly enjoyed this. I appreciated what it did with some of the characters, it’s probably the best-directed film in the MCU, and it managed to take a difficult concept and make it simple enough for everybody to understand (yet also feel smart for understanding it). I say that now, because a lot of this review will consist of me pointing out the negatives.

The big one, the MCU has a problem. It’s no longer exciting when an unexpected character appears. Because we’ve now come to expect it, you go in with the knowledge that anybody can appear. So there’s a small part in your brain going “well maybe the Fantastic Four will turn up, maybe the X-men will be in this” so when characters do appear, you’re not surprised because a part of you expected it. There are times they have managed to surprise you (Ben Kingsley in Shang-Chi being the obvious one) but mostly it’s just “I knew it!”. There are a few that people have been speculating would be there since Endgame.

Where this becomes an issue is that this seems to be what the MCU have anchored their films around, when No Way Home is discussed it’s usually about the subject of the other Peter Parkers (and the fact they only included movie ones is a huge missed opportunity and made it feel like a film, including random ones we’ve never seen before would have helped it). It reminds me of when Ricky Gervais made Extras and it became about who the celebrity cameo was, rather than the story.

It’s a shame as that does a disservice to this, Scarlet Witch is a fantastic villain, and I appreciate that they rushed into that at the start of the film rather than revealing it near the end. I mean, it is a bit weird that the most powerful villain of the MCU so far has only really lasted one film. Her face turn at the ends makes it highly unlikely that she’s going to be the next Big Bad of the franchise. Which is a shame as that would have been interesting. They would have to fight someone who they’ve been friends with, someone who knows their weaknesses and fears, and can use that against them. More importantly it would have made it seem like the MCU has a plan, the new introductions are because Wanda never met them so she doesn’t know how to defeat them, and Thors arc lately has been about facing his fears, which he’d have to do. It would also make it seem like those weird scenes in Age Of Ultron had a point. As it is, the overall plan for the MCU seems to be “more people! Each more powerful than the last” and it’s getting unfocused and incredibly bloated (unpopular opinion, but major MCU characters HAVE to start dying. Properly dying, not “dead but can come back due to multiverse”).

The biggest issue? It’s a 12a. It should be a 15. This is the closest the franchise has got to a horror movie, and it feels slightly neutered by its age rating. The scene with the Illuminati is horrifying, but if it was a 15 then it could have gone slightly further with some of the moments, make it truly disturbing.

I said earlier that it’s the best-directed of the franchise so far. I stand by that, it has some incredibly creative set-pieces, having moments which could only happen with this character. It absolutely nails the large set-pieces in a way that truly deserves the big screen. On the other hand, there are a few one on one fistfights, and they’re not done well. They look clunky and full, overchoreographed and edited in a way that distracts from the action rather than adds to it.

On the plus side, they have finally fixed their third-act problem that has plagued a lot of their films lately (Shang-Chi in particular had a huge drop in quality for the final section). The final section for this is actually entertaining and creative as hell. The downside is it’s when the offscreen inertia is most obvious. Characters don’t seem to do anything when the camera is not focused on them. The film cuts away from someone in the middle of doing something, they’ll be a big action set piece that lasts about 10 minutes, then when it goes back to them, they’re still doing the thing. It’s weird and makes it seem like something was ruined in the editing suite.

So yeah, if you like the MCU, go see this. If you don’t, this isn’t going to change your mind. It’s one of the most unique MCU films so far, but that’s not saying much lately.

Oh, also the last scene is bad. Just bad.

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

So, that’s it, as close to a season finale the MCU has had yet, this film genuinely feels like closure for a lot of the characters. A fitting closure too, it completes a lot of story arcs which have been running since 2008. Whilst there’s been a few missteps along the way it’s generally accepted that the films have been of high quality and with interacting storylines to keep you invested (even if they weren’t as carefully crafted as they needed to be at times, with major plot holes and continuity errors between separate films). I did love this film, I really enjoyed it, and didn’t feel it outstayed its welcome (which considering it is 3 hours long, really says something). It deserves the praise it’s getting, but I still can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, not with what happened, but with now can’t happen. Like I wish they pushed the Civil War storyline further, as it is it never really felt like a proper division between two sets, it always felt temporary and outside of Civil War itself, kind of small. It never had that urge of paranoia, you never felt like the heroes against registration were under any threat (with the possible exception of Ant-Man in Ant-Man And The Wasp). If you look at the movies after Civil War:

  1. Doctor Strange (completely unaffected by Civil War as not recognised by the government)
  2. Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (In space so unaffected)
  3. Spider-Man (pro-registration but didn’t affect the movie much. This is annoying as a big part of the Civil War comics was Spider-Man unmasking and revealing his identity, nothing similar to that has happened in this universe since the first Iron Man movie, and that was clearly Tony Starks decision, there’s no “forced to reveal identity” moments yet.)
  4. Thor: Ragnarok. (Again, in space)
  5. Black Panther (not as affected by the Registration Act as it could have been)
  6. Ant-Man And The Wasp (The most affected, but not essential)
  7. Infinity War (just causes a slight “we need to find this person” moment)
  8. Captain Marvel (Set in the past)

To be honest, I can’t even remember if the Act passed at the end of Civil War. That’s how little it’s affected the movies, and that can not be fixed now, it’s too late for it to start coming into effect now, and that’s disappointing. The other thing I’m disappointed in is that there were no post-snap movies. Ok, yeah, technically all movies now are post-snap, but they’re also going to be set after the resolution. There should have been a film between them, so many villain origin stories start with them losing their families, and yet the perfect opportunity for one now won’t happen (oh, spoilers, the people killed by the snap come back, but 5 years have passed in this world so they will be 5 years younger than they should be when they come back, I REALLY hope they make a big point of this in future films). We mostly saw how the snap affected heroes, we didn’t get much of it affecting the world, the opening scenes were done to show that, but the audience isn’t as invested in that as they should be as they’re sitting there waiting for everyone to get revenge on Thanos. Can you imagine how much more effective it would have been if there was an entire movie set in that world? The chaos, the frustration, the paranoia, the fear, the bastards using it to make money, the conspiracy theories! Do ordinary people know it was Thanos? As far as most of them saw, half the world just disappeared with no explanation. The only way they’d know it was Thanos is if someone put out a press release, which I can’t really see happening somehow. So can you imagine the conspiracy theories that would arise from that? It would be INSANE, and yet we will never find out (although I am thinking of writing a short Marvel story set in that universe, just to express that idea).

I know I haven’t spoken much about this film, but I feel if you wanted to see it, you would have seen it already, there’s nothing I can say in this review that will change that. Also, the entire internet has opinions on it and has expressed them better than I could. They’ve been right; it’s emotional as hell, full to the brim with references and fan-service, things are paid off which you didn’t even realise they were setting up, and most characters get their time to shine. It’s not perfect though; Captain Marvel seems misused, only seeming to exist as a Deus Ex Machina, and she’s involved in one of the most cringy moments of the franchise so far which is clearly designed to get a reaction in the cinema but is so false it seems like pandering. Despite how many characters are included, some rather important ones are missing with not even a mention. Also if you think about some aspects of the plot for too long it does seem to fall apart slightly.

But despite that, I highly recommend it, so far it’s been the best example of spectacle so far this year, and I doubt even the Godzilla movie could top it

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) (Spoiler-Free Version)

A few years ago I saw a film called Men, Women & Children. A film that had moments of okayness but failed to maintain even that. The main reason for this was it had too many characters and it couldn’t focus on all of them, as such some felt underdeveloped and the time spent with them felt utterly pointless. There was concern that the same would happen with this. This had a lot of characters, and all of them were somebody’s favourite (yes, even Thor), so if you didn’t do them properly then you’re going to annoy a lot of people, and in the age of social media, especially with such a highly anticipated film, the slightest inkling of dissatisfaction and they’d be nerd-rage akin to if you said “maybe not everybody has to be white”. As it is, this balances the characters pretty well. Whilst the characters are split into separate groups, there’s no real “core” group. None of them seem more plot-focused than the others. That being said it’s not entirely equal. It seems like the Guardians characters have a lot more to do within their groups than the others. Surprised there’s not really any new characters in it, I mean, there’s an allusion to one at the end but the only new people are the villains. This is slightly odd as it means that these are the only ones in the entire universe. Where was Stallone etc from Guardians Of The Galaxy 2? You’d think they’d have heard of Thanos’s plan and tried to stop it. Or anybody from Agents Of Shield (is that still going? I got incredibly bored by it quite quickly so stopped watching). It’s going to be incredibly difficult to introduce new characters after this, as the first question anybody will ask is “where the fuck were you when this happened?” Before it’s been mostly localised destruction, but maybe with the potential of worse things happening later. This was half of existence being threatened with extinction. There should have been a lot more people.

I mean, yeah that would have meant the film would be like seventy hundred hours long. But even if you just mentioned “earth has been closed off to visitors” to explain others not being there it would be better. Don’t get me wrong, I did love this film. The character interactions were fantastic (although still disappointed nobody said “no shit, Sherlock” when Doctor Strange and Iron Man shared a scene). It was great that the established groups got split up and we got characters sharing scenes who had never interacted before. On the downside, this causes a problem for any future films. The same problem that hit the MCU post-Avengers. From now on whenever a character has a solo film you’ll be wondering why nobody else is helping. If any other Iron Man films happen in the future then he has space-travelling assistance to come help him.

Has to be said that the fact that this film works, and works brilliantly is a true testament to the skill involved. The script is incredibly tight and focused, barely any fluff at all, which considering how long it is is quite impressive. It looks great, the scenes on Titan, in particular, look stunning, The setpiece in Wakanda, whilst not exactly disappointing, isn’t as stunning to look at as you feel it could be. And the music is still a bit of a letdown. Marvel doesn’t really have a great track record when it comes to original music (Black Panther being the obvious exception), they have that one piece of Avengers music they use, but every time I try to think of that I get the Harry Potter music in my head. Even the Saw franchise had a recognisable theme they used as shorthand for “shit’s about to go down”.The power of good music (and not just in a “using established songs) way) is underappreciated in modern cinema but could work wonders. If MCU had character themes then the introductions would be a lot better, imagine if you see a character in the darkness, you have no idea who they are but then a familiar theme plays, exciting you before you even see them.

So yeah, if you’ve liked these films, you really need to see this, but I can’t imagine you enjoying this if you haven’t seen the others. This is not the film you watch to introduce you to the MCU, you’ll be completely lost. So, see this, but see the others first. Will be posting a second review of this later on in the week, specifically focusing on the ending. So look out for that over the weekend.

2016 In Film (Part Four: The Amazeballs)

Contains possibly my favourite scene of the year, I’ll be doing a “end of year” awards blog soon so will go into it in more detail there. The film is worth seeing for that scene alone. A truly astounding piece of cinema that deserves it’s place alongside the true greats of the genre.
The BFG
This film is like milkshake made of magic. Bright, colourful, sweet and so lovely.
The Big Short/Spotlight
I’m including both of these as one as to me they’re both very similar. For some reason I’d get the feeling they’d make a brilliant double feature. Both deal with social responsibility and how to cope when your world collapses around you, how you deal with knowing that something that is supposed to be a saviour for the masses is actually responsible for ruining so many peoples lives. Not just good films, but also very important.
Captain America: Civil War
Captain-America-Civil-War-Key-Art
It’s……amazing. Pre-hype for this was pretty intense, until Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn’t Stop Twice It’s Alright, then people started to get concerned. Was easy to see why, it seemed like Civil War was following a lot of of BvS mistakes: they released a trailer that seemed to give away the plot, then another one which introduced a character people weren’t certain if was going to be in it, and they seemed to be introducing a lot of new characters in one film. I’ll admit, I was really disappointed that they put Spider-Man in the trailer. I thought “but it would have worked better if it was a shock, stupid idiots. I hate them all! Burn them!” But here’s the thing: I was wrong. Spider-Man came in waaaaaay too early in this film for him to be a surprise character. Besides, if that happened then people would walk out talking about “Oh my God, I can’t believe Spider-Man was in that!” as opposed to how good the film is. Plus that information would have leaked in the first screenings, even if you tried to avoid it you’d see it everywhere on facebook when you woke up on release day. So in the end it made sense, so so much sense. God damn I loved this movie, probably my favourite Marvel film so far, had everything: sensible plotting, good characterisation, good action sequences, just, everything you want.
Let’s take you back to a dark time: July 2014. ISIS were causing a major kerfuffle in Iraq, Lucy made film watchers brains explode (at least; viewers with the scientific knowledge of at least a toddler), and S Club 7 reformed. A time before Deadpool. The chances of a film made featuring the character were astronomically low, then test footage was leaked. The reaction to this is solely responsible for the film being completed. This film wasn’t made to cash in on something popular, it was made because people were excited and really wanted to see it. The leaking of the video turned the film from “it would be nice but will never happen” to “release date announced”. This characterised the entire film really, it was really made for the fans. You can tell this even down to the rating, this film really earns it’s rating, it’s violent and brilliant. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
A film I nearly put in the “good”, but the visuals were just about good enough to push it into this one instead. Directed by a guy who’s mainly known for horror, he’s really allowed to showcase his visual skills here. Kind of makes sense really, horror is definitely a visual director’s medium, you can have a great script, great soundtrack and great actors, but something as simple as making a shot a little bit too light or too dark can kill the entire scare. As such it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he pulled it off as well as he did. I know I’m going on about it but I really can’t put over how magnificent this film looks.
Edge Of Seventeen
A very enjoyable film, it’s a bit like listening to a REALLY good cover song, whilst it’s not completely original, and you won’t be surprised by it, you still have to be impressed with how they’ve done it, and you still love it.
Finding Dory
It’s Pixar, does anything else need to be said? It will make you squee and it will make you cry. Not quite as good as Inside Out, but then again very few films are.
Kubo And The Two Strings
A very very unique look, almost origami cinema. A film so strong and confident I just automatically assumed it was based on something. Genuinely heartfelt and a fantastic story. Not just a great kids film, but a great film all round.
Holy crap kids films were good this year. This film is so good it almost seems like Pixar made it. Moving, well told story, brilliant visuals, and the music is beyond fantastic. It also features what is without a doubt the best pee-joke of the year. So there’s that.
Nocturnal Animals
A very good film, but not a very nice one. You can go into this film having the best day ever and this will make you feel awful. This is the cinematic equivalent of a Dementor’s kiss.
Pride And Prejudice And Zombies
This film has a really unique look, actually it’s kind of beautiful. The costumes look amazing, as does the actual look of the film. You see POV shots of zombies when they get their heads cut off. It’s an odd mix of brutality and elegance that you don’t see often enough. Not just that, it’s a well told story that is genuinely laugh out loud funny. The opening narration points out that at the first sign of the zombie invasion, we blamed the French, which is pretty darn funny.
Just absolutely brutal, Gleeson is quietly building up a quite impressive CV. DiCaprio was good, but Tom Hardy was better. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Tom Hardy might be the best actor of this generation, great versatility, amazing abilities, and a proven box office draw, adored by both indie snobs, and the casual film-goer.
Room
If you, dear reader, were in the room with me I wouldn’t grab you by the lapels. I would grab you by the ankles and drag you to the cinema and force you to watch this film, even if I had to pay your ticket. This is definitely a “buy the DVD on release day” kind of film. The kind which remind you of just how fantastic films are. It’s definitely a cinema film too. Certain films just work better at the cinema, horrors for example because they rely on audience feedback, comedy too as it means that (if the film is good) it will create its own laugh track. The other type of good cinema films are ones that just look stunning, films that need you to just sit there and go “wow”. This film was good in the cinema for a different reason, you could hear people cry around you. So much raw emotion on screen. It won so many awards, yet it could have won every award ever and it still would be less than it deserved.
I will judge people who don’t like this film. Actually, God will judge them. How can someone not like this? It’s smart, funny, and just brilliant. One of the finest films of the year and a true piece of brilliance.

5 reasons Deadpool could be the best superhero film of 2016 (already)

In a year which also gives us (takes deep breath), Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, and Doctor Strange, some truly seminal looking films;  the special little cousins of X-Men may have already topped them all, and changed comic book movies forever.

 

1 – It’s 15/R rating isn’t just a gimmick. Outside of Watchmen, this is the first adult MTM1MzA2OTE2NDA2NDY3MDM4mainstream superhero movie, and it could have just been a selling point to get asses in seats with it being like a lot of action films just barely worth the rating and there being a clear 12A cut ready to go. But nope Mr Reynolds was not lying when he said if they made another cut there would hardly be a movie, the film revels in its vulgarness, its dirty and its violent, and it loves itself for it. But never becomes exploitative with it. I especially like the running gag of cutting away before he finishes saying “motherfucker” (which you see a lot in films) only for him to finish it in the next scene.

2 – I3b94d7dd7603e9ae54a3f957c652e086t got the
character completely right.
Living in this superhero film renaissance we have seen a lot of characters done well; Iron Man, Batman, Captain America, but they’re never perfect iterations. Iron Man never goes as dark as he should, Batman’s never the detective, and Captain America…well I just don’t know much about him. But Deadpool’s character is 10/10, he’s crazy, funny, violent, Ryan Reynolds is perfect, and knows he’s a fictional character, but not without a lil regrowable heart.

3 – It remembers to just be plain entertaining. My favorite superhero film is Watchmen, so I’m all for dark serious superhero films, but that tone seems to be too much of a trend right now, with DC being DC, X-Men being X-men, and even Marvel seeming 1454333009819to be ramping up the drama with Civil War. Okay we had Ant-Man, and that was fun but not great, and Guardians of the Galaxy which was great, but is about as much of a superhero film as Star Wars. Deadpool is a straight up superhero film and is the funnest and funniest the formula has ever been.

4 – The romance is way better than the trailer made it look. That’s actually true for the whole film, but the romance especially. Name one really good romance in a big superhero film? Then give up because you can’t. Almost all romances in superhero landscape-1452594620-deadpool-romcom-bannerfilms are either tacked on as hell or never go beyond “oh and here’s the love interest”, and that’s what the trailer made Vanessa look like, just a woman there to push the plot forward. But the marketing team wasn’t just being funny when it sold the film as a romance. Vanessa’s a real character in her own right, is just if not more lovably vulgar than Deadpool himself, and has crazy chemistry with the man she loves, she’s easily worth advancing the plot over.

5 – It ties into X-men without dragging itself down. Superhero movie continuity is the pooldeadin-thing right now, as after the success of Marvel every other studio with a slice of the moist superhero pie is scrambling to catch up, and while DC is looking ambitious but over crowded with its DCCU, FOX made the surprisingly wise choice of toning down the continuity and playing it fast and loose with itself. So yes the X-men are in it, to hilarious effect, and I doubt we’re going to see Deadpool pop up in X-Men: Apocalypse or any of those films really, but the acceptance that they exist together just adds that little dollop of cinematic depth.

6 – BONUS! The opening credits and post credit scene. And I won’t ruin them for you; all I’ll say is it starts with its right stump forward, and then has the best post credit scene this side of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
buller

 

Post blog scene
And 1 thing that didn’t work about it.

1 – It’s the Deadpool character, but it’s not a Deadpool story. It sticks a bit too close to 2288944-1526888_deadpool_cool_story_bro_superthe Superhero origin film formula and with it subverting so much else; I hoped it would pull another fast-one on us at the end. But it far from ruins the picture and leaves it wide open for the sequel to go anywhere.