Cinema Dispatch: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Sam Raimi

Before this latest phase of Marvel movies, you would have sounded like a broken record listing off all the great things about it before giving it an above-average score, but the last few movies have wavered a bit in quality with the only real standout being the latest Spider-Man; the one that leans heavily on nostalgia for movies that weren’t even made by Marvel Studios. Still, even prior to the Post-Endgame MCU there was an easily identifiable formula for these things and even the best of the Marvel movies didn’t deviate much from it; including the first Doctor Strange movie which definitely benefited from its mind-bending vision but still fell into a lot of the same pitfalls of other Marvel films at the time. Now it’s sequel time with a veteran director behind it, so perhaps this will be the one to successfully break the Marvel mold and do something unique with it instead of just another really enjoyable entry in the catalog. Can this bridge the gap between the great simplicity of the pre-Endgame MCU and the more experimental phase it finds itself in now, or will it tear itself apart trying to fix what isn’t broken? Let’s find out!!

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) may not be the Sorcerer Supreme since taking that five-year vacation, but he’s still hanging out at the Sanctum Sanctorum and just kinda working on himself. You know, get to know the REAL Doctor Strange, especially since his ex-girlfriend Christine (Rachel McAdams) is getting married and so he no longer has someone to pine after. Geez, this is starting to sound a bit sad. Maybe an interdimensional threat that could rip apart the universe would give him a bit of structure and a clearly defined goal to go after! Well as luck would have it, a young woman named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) is being pursued by the kind of monsters you’d find in a D&D handbook, and it turns out that she has the unique gift of being able to travel through dimensions. Well… sort of. She can’t exactly activate it at will but it always seems to get her out of trouble at the last second, though her luck seems to be running out as the malevolent force that’s pursuing her seems to be getting very close and she’s even gone to a few different Doctor Strange counterparts in those other universes without much luck in stopping this threat. Now it falls on our Doctor Strange to put an end to this sinister chase and stop them from taking her powers for their own nefarious end. For this task, he enlists the help of the current Sorcerer Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong), as well as Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) who’s been off on her own since that whole Wanda Vision thing happened. Can Strange uncover the identity of this malevolent force that’s out to hurt America, and will he like the answers that he finds? What does Wanda hope to gain from all this, and will it be enough to make her whole after losing so much? I bet they wish they could escape to a dimension where Everything Everywhere All At Once came out the month after this instead of the month before.

“DARN YOU, EVERYTHING BAGEL! Next time, I’m ordering cinnamon raisin!”
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Cinema Dispatch: No Time to Die

No Time to Die and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing

Directed by Cary Fukunaga

Even without the year-long delay caused by a global Pandemic, there was a pretty long wait between this film and the last one which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence as Spectre turned out to be rather disappointing, and this coupled with Craig’s public comments about continuing to play the part made it hard to assume anything other than a troubled production as a studio scrambled to find out where they went wrong after Skyfall was such an overwhelming success.  That, and the Bond franchise is not exactly known for quality swansongs for their stars.  I mean I liked Diamonds Are Forever quite a bit, but that’s still a ludicrous movie to end the Connery era, and A View to A Kill is only saved from being the worst of the Moore era by Octopussy being such a disaster right before it.  Heck, even Pierce Bronson’s final film is so off the wall that some speculate it’s all just a dream sequence!  So yeah, with a disappointment preceding it, a wonky track record for the franchise, and a five-year production cycle when the Craig films usually only needed three, there were a lot of auspicious signs even without COVID coming to upend the entire film industry!  Still, you can never count James Bond out as every failure inevitably leads to another success down the road, and the Craig era has been a definite standout in the franchise’s fifty-year history.  Does Craig’s final film buck the conventions and become a standout in an already impressive run, or will we need to wait for another Bond to bring this series back to life?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Spectre, James Bond and Madeline Swann (Daniel Craig and Léa Seydoux) are enjoying their hard-fought victory over Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Chrstoph Waltz), but as with any Spy story, paranoia starts to creep in and an attack from Spectre leads James to believe that once again he has been betrayed by the woman he loves.  With little ceremony and huge amounts of salt, James cuts Madeline out of his life and spends the next five years bumming around on a beach until an MI6 scientist (David Dencik) is kidnapped with a secret weapon that MI6 VERY much doesn’t want to get out into the world, but even more so wants to keep it under wraps.  M, Moneypenny, Q, and the new 00 Agent Nomi (Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, and Lashana Lynch) are doing what they can but Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) of the CIA is well aware of what’s going on and convinces Bond to come back for one more mission and perhaps show the new recruits Logan and Paloma (Billy Magnussen and Ana de Armas) a thing or two about this line of work.  All is not as straightforward as it seems however as the kidnapped scientist is just the smallest tip of the ice burg for a mysterious plot devised by an even more mysterious man (Rami Malek) that is in some way connected to Madeline.  Can James Bond return to the life he left behind for one last mission, or has the years of hard drinking and heartbreak taken their toll?  Was Madeline a deep agent the whole time for whomever this mysterious man is and Bond was right to mistrust her?  Never mind the NEW bad guy; what’s Blofeld up to these days?  Has he gotten that eye looked at?

“Well, James… have the lambs stopped screaming?” “Have you gotten tired of telling that joke?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Captain Marvel

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Captain Marvel and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

You know, it’d be nice if a Marvel movie can come out and NOT bring out the worst of the man babies which has sadly become an almost yearly ritual that the rest of us have to deal with.  Now admittedly I was something of a crybaby when I was pretty scathing about Infinity War, but at least I WAITED until I saw the movie and… you know… FORMED MY OWN OPINION ABOUT IT!  I didn’t go into it assuming it was going to be bad or pass of blatant lies as a “review” to tank an arbitrary number like an alarming number of people took time out of their day to do!  The amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth that this movie generated is phenomenal, and frankly it’s a BIT worrying at this point for the most popular thing in the world to somehow also be the largest lightening rod of faux controversy in cinema.  It’d be nice if something other than the latest Disney Money Maker can be talked about without the SAD BOY PATROL rearing their ugly heads and derailing ACTUAL conversations that people care about, but I guess we don’t get to choose our villains who in this day and age are less James Moriarty and more The Collector from that one Treehouse of Horror episode.  Anyway, we’re all here to talk about the movie, so let’s cut through the nonsense and look at what all the hubbub’s about!  Is this a cinematic masterpiece that will crush the patriarchy once and for all, or did all these crying losers utterly lose their cool over a not especially good superhero movie?  Let’s find out!!

Vers (Brie Larson) is a refugee on a Kree planet who was found by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and trained to be a warrior to fight the enemy that left her for dead and with no memory; an enemy of shape shifting green dudes known as THE SKRULL!  Vers is not only tough but she has some sort of energy blast power thingy that makes her an effective hammer to smash things with, but she’s still struggling to be a team player which becomes an issue on her first mission with Yon-Rogg and his crew to extract a double agent before the Skrull find him.  The mission inevitably goes wrong, Vers is captured but manages to escape, and so she and a bunch of Skrull soldiers including their commanding officer Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) crash land on Earth which so far has been left unaware of the Kree/Skrull conflict.  Not long after landing, she meets up with a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative named Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who decides that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (at least for now) and is helping her find the Skrulls and whatever it is that led them to Earth in the first place.  Eventually Vers learns that she’s actually FROM Earth and that her real name is Carol Danvers which is quite a shock to her considering that she was supposedly a refugee from another planet, so on top of stopping the Skrull from destroying this planet like they have to so many others, she has to find out exactly who she is, why she ended up on a Kree planet, and what this would mean for her life going forward.  Can Carol find the secrets of her past, and will they be the key finding her true place in the universe?  What exactly are the Skrull planning, and can Carol’s new perspective lead her to finding a way to end this conflict once and for all?  Seriously, why were there SO many creepy dudes combing through every single detail before this movie came out!?  Do they really think it makes them look smart and credible!?

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“You think I should smile more?”     *PUNCH*     “How about now?”     *PUNCH*     “This is actually kind of fun.”     *PUNCH*     “Oh would you look at that?  I might just start to smirk!”     *PUNCH* *PUNCH* *PUNCH*

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