Friday, June 24, 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

Streaming Service: Disney+
Movie Name/Year: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Length: 126 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Production/Distribution: Marvel Studios, Feelgood Entertainment, Forum Hungary, HKC Entertainment, NOS Audiovisuais, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Argentina, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Germany, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Mexico, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Italia, Disney+
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Michael Waldron, Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Rachel McAdams, Jett Klyne, Julian Hilliard, Michael Stuhlbarg, Hayley Atwell, Anson Mount, Lashana Lynch, John Krasinski, Patrick Stewart, Charlize Theron, Bruce Campbell
Blurb from IMDb: Doctor Strange teams up with a mysterious teenage girl from his dreams who can travel across multiverses, to battle multiple threats, including other-universe versions of himself, which threaten to wipe out millions across the multiverse. They seek help from Wanda the Scarlet Witch, Wong and others.

Selina’s Point of View:
I saw Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness when it first came out in theaters. I very rarely miss any of the Marvel films when they come out. I am very much a fan girl.
As excited as I was for this film, though, I had a few worries.
Expectations are different for Doctor Strange than they are for other heroes in the MCU. His first movie set a stage where things worked differently. With the mirror dimension as part of his story, his films were almost definitely going to have that same brain-breaking kind of CGI woven throughout.
On the other hand, Sam Raimi’s (The Evil Dead, Spider-Man, Drag Me to Hell) involvement also brings along its own expectations. He’s got a somewhat tongue-in-cheek humor that works with a simpler direction style. In fact, he’s much more of a practical effects kind of guy. I knew he would bring the right brand of comic relief, but the practical vs. digital question was a big one.
As it turns out, he killed it.

There was a lot less of the mirror dimension used, but with all the reality hopping done I didn’t miss it. And the CGI/editing based around the brain-breaking moments was exactly what I had hoped for.
One of my favorite aspects of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was that the film itself felt like it was from a different universe. Not just because we saw different versions of beloved characters, either. After all, What If…? (2021-) gave us that, and it definitely didn’t have the same feeling.
Instead, the creepy aspects utilized throughout this movie made it feel like it was from a world where the MCU itself was based more in the horror genre than anything else. It worked nicely and helped draw me further into the story.
Not only did Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness have one of my favorite heel turns in the MCU, but it also had some of the most shocking scenes in the history of the series.
My one issue is that people might be confused on some aspects if they missed WandaVision (2021). Not everyone who’s into movies also has the time, or interest, to keep up with the shows. If you’re interested in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, however, you’re going to want to see WandaVision, at least.

Cat’s Point of View:
I can’t tell you how giddy I was when Disney announced they’d be releasing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on Disney+ in mid-June. Considering it hit theater screens on May 5th, that is far inside the now-common 45-day window for titles to become available on streaming services. You can bet that my family and I all piled on the couch to watch the new Doctor Strange installment the minute our schedules converged.
Let me tell you, I was not prepared for what unfolded on the screen before me – in the best of ways. Disney was very clever in their marketing strategy with the Multiverse of Madness trailers. Without the context of the movie, it was easy to infer a scenario that was entirely different from what actually transpired.
Another factor about Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that had me excited was the fact that this was the MCU’s first real dabbling into horror elements within one of their superhero movies. IMDb’s trivia section touts Multiverse of Madness as “the highest-grossing horror film of all time.”

There are some seriously messed up and haunting visuals in this Doctor Strange sequel. Parents of young children should consider carefully before letting them watch. Some scenes are simply brutal.
I seriously have to tip my hat to Sam Raimi for delivering this genre mash-up magnificence. If you’re a fan of Raimi’s work, as I am, you’ll likely enjoy the little Raimi Easter Eggs sprinkled throughout. He was, after all, the mastermind behind The Evil Dead (1981) and Army of Darkness (1992) – the latter of which is one of my favorite horror-comedy movies. I think his take on this story was grounded and at the same time made it a lot of fun to watch.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I feel it bears repeating… if you don’t want to be spoiled on other MCU projects and miss out on the references made to events within the Multiverse of Madness, you have some homework to do before watching the new Doctor Strange. Elements from WandaVision (2021), What If...? (2021-), and Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) are directly referenced within Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
I would absolutely recommend Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to anyone that loves the MCU. It was a rollercoaster, and I enjoyed every minute of the ride.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 74%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 85%
Metascore – 60%
Metacritic User Score – 6.2
IMDB Score – 7.2/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating 5/5
P.S. 1 Mid-credit scene. 1 After-credit scene.
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Spiderhead (2022)

Streaming Service: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: Spiderhead (2022)
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Length: 1h 46min
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Conde Nast Entertainment, Grand Electric, Reese Wernick Productions, Screen Arcade, The New Yorker, The Rebel Fleet, Netflix
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, George Saunders
Actors: Miles Teller, Chris Hemsworth, Charles Parnell, Jurnee Smollett
IMDb Blurb: In the near future, convicts are offered the chance to volunteer as medical subjects to shorten their sentence. One such subject for a new drug capable of generating feelings of love begins questioning the reality of his emotions.

Selina’s Point of View:
The trailer for Spiderhead really had me. It seemed like such a unique action flick. I couldn’t wait.
Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to not be an action at all.
Every single heart-pumping moment is in the trailer. There’s nothing else that could even remotely be considered action anywhere else in the film. I kept expecting the story to amp up and turn into something that would get me on the edge of my seat, but it stopped just short every single time.
It’s like Spiderhead couldn’t figure out what it wanted to be. It was advertised as something it wasn’t. Then there was this awful font used in the title screen and credits that belonged more in a teen film. The soundtrack, while fun, felt more like it belonged in a parody – or caricature – film. Anything not from the coming attractions was all drama, but not in any kind of absorbing way.
Chris Hemsworth (Avengers: Endgame, Extraction, Interceptor), Miles Teller (The Offer, Too Old to Die Young, Bleed for This), and Jurnee Smollett (Birds of Prey, Lovecraft Country, Underground) did what they could with what they had, but they didn’t have much. There was almost nothing for them to really do.
Spiderhead is not a flick anyone needs to concern themselves with. 

Cat’s Point of View:
When I’ve looked back at director Joseph Kosinski’s (TRON: Legacy, Oblivion, Top Gun: Maverick) body of work; I’ve found that I’ve become quite the fan of his storytelling. I was really excited to get a double shot with back-to-back projects releasing in May and June of this year. After I satisfied my need for speed last month, I was really looking forward to something a little more in-depth and psychological with Spiderhead.
Of course, the cast was a large part of what got my initial attention when I first heard of Spiderhead. I was intrigued to see Chris Hemsworth (12 Strong, Extraction, What If...?) in a role with questionable morals. I do enjoy seeing other facets of actors beyond what they generally get type-cast as – and Hemsworth tends to get the hero label a lot. In addition to that, this is also his 3rd film to produce with Netflix.

I also adore Jurnee Smollett (Underground, Birds of Prey, Lovecraft Country) and was really pleased with her performance here. I’ve tended to, historically, stay more on the fence where Miles Teller (War Dogs, Top Gun: Maverick, The Offer) is concerned, however. It was interesting to see a different side of him that wasn’t traveling faster than the speed of sound with afterburners blazing. This role called for something more reserved and emotionally internalized because of the heavy burden of his character’s past.
Let me cut to the chase. I enjoyed Spiderhead, but I think it had a marketing problem.
The way the trailer was put together, some viewers might be anticipating the story to lean more heavily into the action aspect. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The majority of Spiderhead took place inside the facility. There was a taste of the faster-paced genre towards the end, but you have to get through the slower stuff first. Anyone watching Spiderhead to see boat chases and explosions isn’t going to have the right mindset to appreciate the story about humanity, ethics, and redemption. This is a tale that, at its core, was exploring that murky grey area of science and pharmaceutical innovation. Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t always mean you should.

I should reel myself in before I start quoting Ian Malcolm from the Jurassic franchise. I digress…
With all that being said, I can see why Spiderhead hasn’t been scoring well on reviews. If I was hoping for a fast-paced action blockbuster for my movie night and got this, instead, I’d be a bit disappointed, too.
The story really isn’t that bad. It’s a solid production. I may not remember the details of Spiderhead over time, but I certainly wouldn’t say that my time was wasted. My recommendation is to manage expectations leaning more into the dramatic with a touch of sci-fi rather than action and crime. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, definitely give Spiderhead a shot. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 41%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score –33%
Metascore – 54%
Metacritic User Score – 4.6/10
IMDB Score – 5.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating –2/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3/5
Movie Trailer: