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: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Jon Watts

It’s been a rather underwhelming year for the superhero genre which once towered over the world.  The Pandemic has pushed the release schedule around several times which means we’re waiting longer for these movies, and to me, the MCU is having trouble finding their voice after Endgame put a pretty definitive end to the original story arc.  Frankly, the best we’ve gotten from the MCU in the last two years have been the Disney+ shows that may not always hit their marks but definitely have a lot of interesting ideas that probably wouldn’t work as a movie; even with these things being overly long for the most part.  Still, it’s hard not to get excited about another Spider-Man film; especially one as specifically targeted to my generation as this one is.  Does it manage to pull us out of the MCU funk and deliver on all the ludicrous promises the trailers have made, or is this going to be as convoluted and pointless as the Clone Saga; or even worse, One More Day?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has been revealed to the world as their friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and this newfound celebrity (and infamy) has thrown his life into chaos.  Investigations from the government, a bunch of weirdos throwing bricks through his windows, and a very awkward school environment where half of them want to see him become their mascot and the other are hurling conspiracy-laden insults at him.  See, this is why you need to be rich or a soldier to do the Superhero thing; either commit to it full time or pay people to go outside for you!  It gets to be such a burden that Peter begs the MCU’s cool uncle Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to use his wizard magic to erase his identity from the mind of everyone in the universe.  Let’s just say that it had mixed results as the world doesn’t forget his identity, but there are now a bunch of villains running around who seem to know him; including Doctor Otto Octavius who has four robot arms (Alfred Molina), Max Dillon who has electricity powers (Jamie Foxx), Dr. Curt Connors who’s a lizard man (Rhys Ifans) Flint Marko who spends most of the movie as a human-shaped sandcastle for whatever reason (Thomas Haden Church), and of course Norman Osborne who still suffers from pretty severe mood swings (Willem Dafoe).  Now if you’ve kept up with the Spider-Man films for the last twenty years, those names should seem pretty familiar.  Sadly the Spider-Man of this universe didn’t get to see those movies, so he has to discover who all these people are, why they became villains in the first place, and if this confluence of inter-dimensional fan service can actually turn into a good thing for all involved.  Will Peter Parker, with the help of his friends, his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and his sorta-bodyguard Happy (Jon Favreau), be able to stop these guys from tearing apart this universe and perhaps even get past their overwhelming hatred of wall-crawling superheroes?  Who else may have found their way into this universe, and what can they do to either help or hamper Peter’s attempts to fix everything?  So is J Jonah Jameson (JK Simmons) also an inter-dimensional buzzkill, or is there no universe that can escape his ludicrous conspiracy theories and get-rich-quick schemes?

“Looks like they already turned you into an NFT.”     “Seriously?”     “Yup.  And it sold for five-hundred grand.”     “See THAT’S the kind of evil-doer I should be fighting.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Crawl

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Crawl and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures

Directed by Alexandre Aja

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an alligator (or crocodile movie) before.  Heck, we can probably throw snakes in there too now that I think about it.  Not even Snakes on a plane!  It’s an entire sub genre of horror that just kind of passed me by, but I guess now is as good a time as any; especially considering how lackluster my year for horror has been.  What; were expecting a review from ANOTHER film by the guy who made Hereditary?  Yeah, I’m good actually!  Don’t need any more of… whatever that is in my life, but you all enjoy!  I’ve got a movie about a crocodile in a basement to watch instead!  Does this horror film manage to bring the scares and the fun with its nifty little premise while ALSO giving me a valid excuse to avoid Midsommar?  Let’s find out!!

Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a swimmer in college who’s been having trouble outperforming here peers which is bad news for her scholarship, but even WORSE is the fact that she now has to drive to the south of Florida to check on her dad (Barry Pepper) who for whatever reason isn’t answering his phone and is right in the path of a category 5 hurricane.  She just barely manages to get to her childhood home before the storm kicks into high gear and also manages to find her father, but it turns out that he’s stuck in the basement with a bite mark on his leg and at least one alligator that’s feeling rather smug about it.  So now they’re BOTH stuck in the basement in a small area where the pipes make it impossible for the gators to get to them, but the rain keeps on pouring and the basement keeps on filling which means they have to find a way out before they both drown; and even THEN they’re in the middle of a hurricane that could knock the house over given enough time so they have to find a way to make it through that as well!  Can Haley save her dad and use her amazing swimming skills to outsmart these vicious predators who seem particularly cross with them for some reason?  Why are there alligators in the basement in the first place, and could this basement situation just be the tip of the ice burg?  Is this all just an elaborate adaptation of that app game Where’s My Water!?

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Darn you, Swampy!  You have all the water now, what more do you want!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Don’t Breathe

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Don’t Breathe and all the images you see in this review are owned by Screen Gems

Directed by Fede Alvarez

Oh look!  It’s that guy who did the Evil Dead reboot!  I actually thought that movie was really good, but then maybe I’m the only one who thought so considering we’re getting this instead and as far as I know a sequel has been indefinitely put on the back burner.  That, and Ash vs The Evil Dead kind of drew all interest away from doing something new to instead milk the original franchise, but whatever.  The reason that new Evil Dead works isn’t because it was a remake of a movie everyone loved, but because the guy they got behind the camera was a real talent and knew how to bring something new to a franchise that is about untouchable as the Back to Future; a series even Hollywood hasn’t had the guts to try and reboot yet.  So now that the director’s remarkable skills are being used for an ORIGINAL horror film, does he still seem to be the next big genre filmmaker, or will this Raimi protégé prove himself to be a one trick pony?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows three dumb ass…. well I guess I can’t call them KIDS considering they have to be at least in their mid-twenties, but these three ragamuffins are a trio of burglars who go around Detroit and pull small time jobs to keep roofs over their heads and a slowly expanding rainy day fund.  We’ve got Serious Bro named Alex (Dylan Minnette), Wild Card Bro named Money (Daniel Zovatto), and Girl Bro named Rocky (Jane Levy); all of whom have their own clichéd and contrived reasons for doing what they do.  They hear about some blind dude who got a lot of cash after his daughter was killed by some rich kid in a hit and run, and so they figure this is gonna be the last score to get them out of Detroit and go straight to LA… where whatever money they score will probably disappear in a three months.  Do you know how much stuff costs in that town!?  Anyway, this turns out to be the last freaking house you’d ever want to B&E considering the guy may be blind but is built like a brick shit house which makes sense because he’s played by Stephen Lang.  Will the thieves get out the house alive, and will we want them to by the end?  Is there more to the blind man than just being a bad ass military dude you don’t want to fuck with?  Just what kind of sadistic game of Marco Polo is this!?

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“Marco!”     …     “Come on!  You have to say it for this to be fair!”     “…Polo?”     *BANG*

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