Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review: Sam Raimi’s Horror Style Works Well in the MCU.

Despite it not being among my favourite MCU films, I still have fond memories of watching the first Dr Strange, so I was excited to see the sequel.
Directed by Sam Raimi, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees the titular hero sorcerer, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, become the protector of a teenage girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who has the ability to traverse the Multiverse.
Pursued by various monsters from other dimensions, Strange and the Sorceror Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong), seek the help of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), her story continuing from WandaVision. 
I have heard some say that Wanda’s story in this film does not match her’s from the show but, having never seen WandaVision, I cannot attest to whether or not this is the case.
What I can attest to is that those who have not seen WandaVision will still be able to understand what is going on with her story, since I could understand it despite not having seen the show. 

I quite enjoyed Wanda’s arc in this movie, though I have heard some who have seen WandaVision may have mixed feelings.

Back to the film as a whole, I quite enjoyed Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
It certainly has its issues but I found a lot of it to be quite good, especially the character writing for Strange.
His character arc in this movie is great and pairs off well with the wacky direction of Raimi, whose depiction of the Multiverse results in numerous interesting locations and new characters, some of which you will recognize from other franchises.
Another part of Raimi’s direction that goes well with this story, for the most part, is his skill in horror.

The horror moments of Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are quite effective, at times.

Raimi is the director of the Evil Dead, after all, and you can definitley see homages to that film in this movie.
These homages often work out well, with one gruesome and creative twist in the third act being very enjoyable to watch play out.

However, there were certain times this horror style did not work for me, like one jump scare that was so overplayed to the point that it broke my immersion.
Another criticism I have is that I felt like the pacing was a little off at times, with a few scenes that needed just a little more room to breathe.

I do feel that some scenes, although impactful, went a little fast

As for the post-credits scenes, the first one we get really proved to me that I’m going to have to start looking up every teased new character in MCU films going forward because I often have no idea who these new characters are.
That’s not a criticism, though, just an observation.
Overall, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is another fun film in the MCU.
It has great character arcs for Dr Strange and Wanda (unless you think her arc does not match Wandavision), and Sam Raimi’s horror style works well with the Multiverse.
It will be interesting to see how the MCU follows up on these alternate universes going forward.   

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review: A Nostalgia Film Done Right.

I quite enjoyed the first two MCU Spider-Man films.
Homecoming was a great example of a more grounded MCU film, with a fantastic antagonist, and while I did not like Far From Home as much as the first, I still thought it did a great job continuing the story of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
Well, after seeing the third film, No Way Home, I can say that this one is easily the best movie of the three. 

I thought it would be hard to top Homecoming but No Way Home did it in spectacular fashion.

Directed again by Jon Watts, No Way Home follows the events of Far From Home where Peter’s identity as Spider-Man was revealed to the world in a final act of vengeance by Mysterio.
With a conspiracy theory based witch hunt now invading every part of his life, spearheaded by J. Jonah Jameson (J.K Simmons), Peters goes to Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to request that he erase everyone’s memories of him being Spider-Man.
However, when Peter begins to add conditions to the spell, wanting M.J (Zendaya), Ned (Jacob Batalon), and his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) to remember, it causes the spell to go haywire and draw in any villain who knows Spider-Man’s secret identity from other universes.
Peter quickly finds himself under attack from these villains, most notably Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and Otto Octavius’ Dr Octopus (Alfred Molina).

There are many old Spider-Man villains in No Way Home but Dr Octopus and the Green Goblin are by far the standouts with great performances from the returning actors.

And so Peter and Dr Strange must capture these numerous villains and send them back to their own universes before they cause too much chaos in their own, only for conflict between the two heroes to quickly follow. 
With so many villains from previous Spider-Man films being in this movie, it would have been extremely easy for this film to just devolve into mindless nostalgia with no intelligence.
However, I think that No Way Home is a perfect example of a nostalgia film done right.
There are numerous quotes from the earlier films, including memes created from them, and these somehow work entirely.
What works even better is Tom Holland’s fantastic performance as Peter.
I have liked him in the role in the previous MCU movies but his performance in No Way Home is definitley his best so far.

Peter goes through a lot and grows a lot in this movie.

This film is essentially the end of the Spider-Man origin we did not know this trilogy was.
I would even call it one of the best MCU films, with it definitely being in my top ten, if not my top five.       
No Way Home is the perfect example of how to do a film with nostalgia as a major focus.
December was a great release date for it because the movie’s numerous great callbacks and easter eggs make it feel like a Christmas present for Spider-Man fans.
Speaking of which, be sure to have a Merry Christmas. 

Avengers: Infinity War, an emotional gut punch… until the next movie.

Warning: Potential spoilers. I do not go into specific details but you may get some hints about what happens in the movie from my comments.
Avengers: Infinity War, directed by the Russo brothers, was pitched to us as the culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with stakes the likes of which we had never seen in a Marvel film.
However, was that really what was delivered?
Well, yes in some way it was.
The stakes of this movie are incredibly high, with some gut wrenching moments but at the end of the movie I quickly went from wondering what was going to happen next to just wondering how everything set up here would be reversed in the next movie.
This train of thought kind of lessened the movie’s impact for me, which was a shame because Avengers: Infinity War is still a fantastic movie.
Picking up immediately after Thor: Ragnarok, the film has multiple characters from the MCU desperately attempting to stop Thanos, played by Josh Brolin, from claiming all six Infinity Stones, which have the power to shape the universe.
Forget the heroes though because Thanos is the main character of this movie and surprisingly manages to be both sympathetic and detestable at the same time.
Brolin gives an amazing performance as Thanos and the CGI for him was perfect.

Josh Brolin gives a terrific performance as Thanos, delivering one of the best villains the MCU has ever had. 

As for the MCU heroes, there were so many but the ones who really stood out to me in this movie were Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

Chris Hemsworth as Thor was especially good in this movie and had some great moments.

Other than them the rest of the heroes are mostly resorted to background characters but since they have already been established in previous movies it works.
Avengers: Infinity War may not have much of a story other than stop Thanos but it makes up for it by setting the stakes and going through with them, although how long these consequences will last remains to be seen.
I will admit, however, I nearly cried a couple of times in the movie.
These stakes the movie presents are amplified by the constant, thrilling action sequences that make the film even more exciting.
However, there were some negatives.
I have already spoken about how the film’s impact was slightly lessened because I believe the ending will be reversed in Avengers Four, but there are other problems as well.
For example, even though the CGI on Thanos looked great, for other characters like Proxima Midnight, played by Carrie Coon, it looked pretty bad and really drew me out of the moment.

Proxima Midnight
Proxima Midnight’s CGI was the most distracting in the film, which is a shame since she is played by Carrie Coon, who was nominated for an Emmy.

Also, some of the characters like Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, were significantly underused.
Other than that though, Avengers: Infinity War truly felt like the culmination of the MCU.
It had emotional gut punches, exciting action sequences, a great villain and stakes.
Let’s just hope these stakes are not reversed entirely when Avengers Four comes out.