Category Archives: Reviews

‘The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special’ Review: The Holiday Season is Finally Here

James Gunn’s first live-action project after his return to Marvel Studios and his crowning as the King of DC is a Holiday Special starring Mantis and Drax in their quest to save Christmas.

In a sea of Disney+ shows and films, it’s important to be a special. The special format itself was launched with the arrival of Werewolf By Night, instantly gaining praise across the board from fans and critics alike. This special like Michael Giacchino’s Werewolf By Night is a detour from the MCU, not staying with the classical MCU tone, but instead embracing its own genre-specific tone. While the previous one was a classic 60s Monster film, The Guardians Special is a classic Christmas special filled with great songs, Christmas cheer, emotions, and humor to make your heart feel warm.

The special starts like all classic Christmas specials do with some animation to set up the story, as shown in the trailers something ruins Christmas for Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill. Mantis feels bad about this and recruits Drax on a duo adventure off to Los Angeles to give Peter a gift of a lifetime in the form of his childhood hero Kevin Bacon, who inspired him in his dance-off to save the universe in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol.1. The special gives us a compelling setup and builds up the family dynamic that we have known to love with the Guardians. It’s what made the Guardians special in the first place, they only have each other to care for. mantis cares for peter and feels heartbroken that peter can’t relive his childhood traditions, especially after a surprising revelation early on in the special which makes her feel guilty. A better name for the special would be “Mantis and Drax’s Christmas Adventure” since the rest of the Guardians are barely involved. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows the story to be more focused and organized, however, it does leave one wondering how much more fun we could have had if Groot and Rocket were more involved than just one scene.

ALSO READ: ANDOR Season 1 REVIEW “THE BEST STARWARS EVER”

Another great aspect of this special is that even though it’s separated from anything in the greater MCU, it still moves the MCU narrative forward with some great worldbuilding which surprisingly even full seasons of previous Disney Plus shows have failed to do. We get to see what The Guardians have been up to since dropping off Thor in Thor: Love And Thunder. Gamora is still nowhere to be seen, the Guardians have found themselves a new pastime in Knowhere, and Groot has grown trunk and root.

Pom Klementieff’s Mantis is the MVP of this film, her comedic timing is perfect, and she genuinely seems heartbroken and is given all the time to shine. Dave Bautista is as lovable/annoying as always, giving us his classic Drax. The headline character, however, is Kevin Bacon who gets a perfect MCU introduction and is an integral part of the special instead of just acting as a plot device or cameo. He has his own motivations, and his own action set pieces and is given all the time he needs. Along with this, we get a great native Knowherian band who like all specials deliver the opening and final music performances. The final music performance sees Kevin Bacon join them in an amazing and heartwarming performance.

This special is all you need to get back into the Christmas Spirit in spectacular and exciting fashion.

The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special hits Disney Plus Tomorrow on November 25!

ALSO READ: BLACK PANTHER WAKANDA FOREVER REVIEW

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Review: A heartbreaking and thrilling journey

The Marvel Cinematic Universe returns to the big screen with the sequel to 2018’s genre-defining Black Panther. A film that introduced the greater world to the idea of Afro-futurism and was defined through Chadwick Boseman’s powerful and iconic portrayal of the character.

A herculean asking

Ryan Coogler has time and time again proved that he is easily in the top bracket of Directors in the industry. This time Coogler didn’t only face the problem of making a sequel to Marvel Studios’ only Best Picture Academy Award nominated film, but also had to respectfully and powerfully take the mantle of the Black Panther forward after the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman in 2019. Chadwick Boseman not only brought to life Black Panther with great power, but also made him a cultural icon. His lovable, charming, wise, and fearless portrayal of the character inspired Billions across the world and brought in a cultural shift in the industry and the MCU. Coogler and Boseman had been friends for years and had equal part in making Black Panther a success, so to first personally deal with the loss of a friend, and then to celebrate him in such a glorious way, while insuring that fans accept this new Black Panther, was a truly herculean ask. I am glad to report that Coogler did all that and more with Wakanda Forever, making an intimate film about a family dealing with the loss of someone so integral to their life and everyone around them’s world, whille providing breathtaking set pieces, action, and a cohesive story with a great villain. But was bringing in Talokan the right call in a film already dealing with so much? It does feel overstuffed at parts, but that is easily forgotten using the film’s dive into emotions, thrills and spectacular action.

“What is love if not grief persevering”

Black Panther: Wakanda Forver embodies this beautiful line by Vision. The film in its entirety is an effective celebration of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and an exploration of how much the people around him relied on him and how they get over this loss, making. themselves stronger in the process. It’s a story so intimate and human at it’s core that even amidst this war between these 2 futuristic fictional nations, the film feels grounded and the stakes feel real. Shuri lost her brother who she had always depended on , whose support she needed more than she knew, Angela Bastett’s Queen Ramonda has lost her son, while she deals with a world now turned against her people, Nakia faces the loss of her true irreplacable love, Wakanda faces the loss of their hero and leader, and we the audience feel the very real loss of Chadwick Boseman, the man who stole the world’s hearts with his iconic portrayal of the character. The decision made by marvel to not recast T’Challa makes a lot of sense after viewing the film, every moment when the characters are dealing with their emotions is real, with the cast dealing with the real loss of their friend and leader, and us the audience feeling the loss of someone we had come to admire. The grief and hurt that the entire cast faced can be felt through their performances, as Angela Bastett, Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o give us the performance of their lives. The film, However, doesn’t only rely on this, but only uses it to hook you in, bringing in lots of humor, action and thrill. Giving us a real war between 2 nations, but keeping the motional core of the film alive.

Letitia Wright is still easily the core of the film. She acts as the key to both the emotional core and the fun side of the film. SHe is the balance, and she makes you cheer and cry for her at the same time. Her relationship with Wakanda and her family make you feel what she’s lost, while her relationship with Riri Williams and the Talokans showcases a stronger side of her grief.

Namor

What had always surprised me about Wakanda Forever, is why marvel would choose a film which is dedicated to the loss of The Black Panther, to introduce us to a new world. But wow, does Namor and Talokan deliver. Namor’s life is explored and it provides a great mirroring but also contrast to Shuri and Wakanda’s journey. This provides an incredibly compelling setup for the character and makes you even feel scared of him. Namor isn’t going to back down and will do anything for his people, giving us one of the best villains marvel has ever produced. Marvel Studios’ decision to turn Atlantis into Talokan based on Native American culture is a true triumph. The exploration of that culture is done extremely respectfully, thoughtfully and in a way that makes you appreciate the power of these people. The beautiful art, costumes and imagery is amazing to see and is bound to put a smile on your face. Tenoch Huerta’s sheer charm and fierceness propel the character to greater heights.

Quality is Key

Another region where Wakanda Forever shines far above anything in Phase 4 off the MCU is in the generally quality of the visuals, the acting, and the writing. Nearly every shot of the film looks perfect. With Marvel’s recent controversies regarding underpaying VFX artists, and some mediocre visuals in recent projects like She-Hulk and Thor: Love And Thunder, Wakanda Forever brings back the quality we have learned to expect from the studio. The Talokan scenes have all been shot underwater using the technology made by the Avatar: the Way of The Water team and the results are truly stunning. The creativity shown in the way Riri WIlliams’ Iron Heart, Namor and Shuri fight is great to see, and makes sure the film is still fun and thrilling to watch. All of this works amazingly in making the war between Talokan and Wakanda feel real. The sound design and brilliant score by Ludwig Gorranson puctuate the emotional moments perfectly and elevate the action and thrill.

The quality in writing is also unparalleled compared to the rest of Phase 4, and how could it not, as the film begins it becomes clear the headspace Ryan Coogler was in when he wrote the film. His grief could be felt through the character’s discovery of how to deal with this loss and their grief. The exploration of how different people deal with grief is not only beautiful, but also provides a beautiful perspective on the situation, making it about the celebration of the person. It doesn’t feel like T’Challa isn’t in this film because of how crucial he is to everything in it, and by the end you learn to let go and celebrate what you have.

Closing Thoughts

Wakanda Forever is a perfect Celebration of Chadwick’s legacy. A thrilling & exciting spectacle, hooking you in using powerful and intimate exploration of grief. Then takes you on a roller coaster of exhilarating action & drama. The cast pour their hearts out, and so does Ryan Coogler through the script. Sure the film can feel long at times, but the slow moments are needed to deal with the important issues at hand. This takes the sweet spot at Number 6 in my MCU ranking, and Number 1 on films for 2022. In the end the film brings a lot of surprises, heart break, emotion, thrill, all with relentless quality. Angela Bastett for Best Supporting Actress, Letitia Wright Best Actress Lead, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Best Picture.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits Theaters this Weekend!

‘Titans’ Season 4: Review

DC’s latest entry is the return of HBO Max Series Titans for its fourth season.

Titans Season 4 suffers from the same problems as the past seasons. Good ideas, ultimately being held back by Lackluster execution.

Lacking Focus

The real mystery of this season seems to be a mystery for the writers themselves. The writers throw a bunch of scattered ideas at the wall, all with potential alone, however, having all these ideas simultaneously running ultimately leads to a muddy plot with no true focus. They try murder mystery; They try body horror; they try the group dynamic between the team members. Some of them stick, but most don’t. It’s because the writers shift from one plot point to another so quickly that they don’t focus on one of the above mentioned aspects to give the season a beating heart.

The dialogues feel so generic that they seemed to be written on the spot rather than carefully planned. The dialogue neither elevates the drama between the characters nor helps the narrative. What it does do well however, is expose the predictability of the plot. The performances, however, continue to carry this show. Brenton Thwaites is stellar as Dick Grayson. The guy seems to be enjoying the role and is all for it. Be it tender emotional moments or the gritty action sequences; he makes the going easy. Teagan Croft as Raven is terrific. Her performance is subtle and powerful, now incorporating aspects of the more popular Raven from Teen Titans Go, but it still retains her impression on the character. Anna Diop as Starfire is so good that I wished the show gave her enough material to work on rather than relegating her to the sidelines and using only her for action sequences which is such a shame because her character and the actor herself have a lot of untapped potentials that the show is yet to use.

Villains

In terms of villains they do Lex Luthor extremely dirty in this show. Which annoyingly the showrunners have a habit of doing by, under utillising famous villains from the DC comics roster in an underwhelming manner. They did that with Trigon in Season 1, Scarecrow in Season 3 and Lex Luthor in season 4. It’s so annoying at this point. The story’s flow is too fast in the first two episodes and gets slowed down in the next three episodes, which feels haphazard and uneven throughout the narrative. I was excited at the prospect of a murder mystery thread in the first two episodes, or at least up to the second half of the second episode. But it gets quickly diluted very quickly. The Cult subplot in the first three episodes is highly predictable and mostly underwhelming. There are flashes of brilliance here and there, like the scenes between Jinx and the team, adding fun and a much-needed taste of the team dynamic that the show should focus on.

The show is so obsessed with splitting Titans into subgroups the whole time that when they come together they don’t feel like a team instead they feel like a cluster of individuals joined together. There’s an exciting cliffhanger which is a great word, by the way, but there is a good setup for the sixth episode, but the way the narrative has been going on, I can only hope that the show doesn’t underwhelm me further. At least the CGI is decent, unlike the show’s writing which stumbles big time in the execution of its subplots and fleshing out the character arcs. The CGI makes the action sequences look cool. The creatures and animals look pretty decent in the show. The show’s major Achilles heel is that I never get to root emotionally for any of these characters after all this time. It’s been four and a half seasons. But no, not even one character. Then why am I watching? I am just habituated to watching this show. I also care in the hope that maybe it’ll get better.

Final Thoughts

I just wished this show had solid writing to get emotionally invested in the characters and the narrative. But going by the first five episodes, the writers are hell-bent on repeating their mistakes and expecting different results. Apart from the performances and the CGI, the season so far doesn’t have much to boast about and ends up squandering the potential of its source material.

Pros: • Decent CGI • Performances • Potential

Cons: • Haphazard Narrative • Lack of emotional connection • Generic Dialogues. • Messing up iconic villains • Unfocused at times Beta-Thoughts: The writing is at major fault here

Titans Season 4 Starts Streaming Exclusively on HBO Max this Thursday November 3!

‘Werewolf By Night’ Review: The MCU’s Supernatural

A big Thank You to Marvel Studios and the team behind Werewolf By Night for making this early review possible.

Who is the “Werewolf by Night”

No this is not Andrew Garfield’s return to the MCU. Werewolf By Night is a new breed of MCU project inspired by horror films of the 1930s and 1940s, Marvel Studios’ chilling special presentation aims to evoke a sense of dread and the macabre, with plenty of suspense and scares along the way as we explore a new corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The eerie tale follows a secret cabal of monster hunters who—on a dark and somber night— emerge from the shadows and gather at the foreboding Bloodstone Temple following the death of their leader. In a strange and macabre memorial to the leader’s life, the attendees find themselves thrust into a mysterious and deadly competition for a powerful relic—a hunt that will ultimately bring them face to face with a dangerous monster. In the comics Jack Russel gains his Werewolf form due to a curse put on his family using the Darkhold. Jack Russell first appeared in “MarvelSpotlight” #2, in February 1972. The “Werewolf by Night” series of comic books began in September 1972.

Laura Donnelly as Elsa Bloodstone in Marvel Studios’ WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Welcome to The Supernatural

From the first few seconds of the special, it is made clear that we’re in for something different to what we’ve previously seen in the MCU. To start off, the usual marvel opening credits start playing, however it has been changed to suit the aesthetic of Werewolf By Night which is in black and white, a great choice by the creative team, and Director Composer Michael Giacchino. Who also scored the current Marvel Studios intro, now alters this score with a new spookier tone.

The special opens by introducing us to Gael Garcia Bernal (Jack Russell). Quickly, setting up the events which are to proceed by introducing us to the competition being held for the mighty and legendary bloodstone, the supposed macguffin of this story. After which we meet the other two standout characters in Monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone played by Laura Donnelly and her mother Verusa played by Harriet Samson Harris, both of them are portrayed authentically and provide a great conflict and diversion to the main plot.

ALSO READ: Andor Review: “The Shot in the arm Star Wars needed”

Hilariously Spooky

Similar to previous Marvel projects it drops us in the deep end with no origin story which is fantastic and great to see what the characters can do in these situations. Being shocked by their powers and abilities never gets old. The action scenes were like never before seen by the Marvel team and if it wasn’t in black and white we would say this is the most blood we have seen in any Marvel project to date! As stated by Giacchino the team behind the special expected it to receive an R rating, and believe that they were saved due to the black and white color palete.

The story develops at a decent pace to which from the trailer we learn they are competing for the highly acclaimed Bloodstone which I can only compare it to a hunger games scenario, to which the more the story develops the more we learn about this standalone project and their characters. Man-Thing is also another great addition to the MCU, he’s not what he seems and ends up being a real highlight of the entire event. Giacchino’s intentional campy direction is stellar and does perfectly in balancing the Comedic with the horror, making you laugh and feel scared within the same scene.

Laura Donnelly as Elsa Bloodstone in Marvel Studios’ WEREWOLF BY NIGHT, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Overall the whole team from Werewolf By Night from the actors all the way to the show runners deserve a well deserved applause as this for me is Marvels most daring project to date and will be highly met with great accolades from the fans. I thoroughly enjoyed this new format and hope that Marvel continues to expand its range in different ways but also expands this new supernatural side of the MCU. This is also an amazing Feature Directorial Debut for Giacchino, who undoubtedly will find more director jobs coming his way.

Werewolf By Night streaming on Disney+ October 7!

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Review: Wicked Fun

The Sanderson Sisters finally return to Salem 29 years later and their as wicked as ever!

It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve. “Hocus Pocus 2” also stars Sam Richardson (“The Tomorrow War”), Doug Jones (“The Shape of Water”), Hannah Waddingham (“Ted Lasso”), Whitney Peak (“Gossip Girl”), Belisa Escobedo (“American Horror Stories”), Lilia Buckingham (“Dirt”), Froyan Gutierrez (“Teen Wolf”), and Tony Hale (“Veep”). The film is produced by Lynn Harris (“King Richard,” “The Shallows”), with Ralph Winter (“Hocus Pocus,” “X-Men” franchise), David Kirschner (“Hocus Pocus,” “Chucky”), and Adam Shankman (“Disenchanted,” “Hairspray”) serving as executive producers.

Hocus Pocus too?

I had a really good time watching this movie just like its predecessor. It’s entertaining throughout the duration and never felt like chore. The Humor in the film was really well done, Slap Stick humor worked thanks to the timing of the Sanderson sisters played by the original trio of Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Nijamy. They are undoubtedly the heart of this franchise and what make it so spectacularly fun. The fish out of water comedy is bang on the target. The new cast were all also quite good, no beat was really missing there. The witches’ Backstory was well done, although I do wish that was explored more. But the additions to the lore were great. I mean it gives another dimension to the characters we’ve seen in the original which drives the point that they are more than ladies who scare the crap out of kids.

(L-R): Whitney Peak as Becca, Lilia Buckingham as Cassie, and Belissa Escobedo as Izzy in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Climax

The climax had a lot of surprises too. The ending was able to extract something from me that I didn’t expect. It was emotional. Frankly, I didn’t expect an emotional ending having watched the original. But this is refreshing. The teen actors did their best with what they were given. I mean I wouldn’t mind another installment with these actors at the centre. Provided the trio returned too, that’s very important ain’t it? Other than that Climax, It’s largely predictable and generic. If you watched the first part, you’d exactly know how this movie will go forward narrative-wise. If not for the backstory and the climax. The film doesn’t offer anything new apart from the easter eggs and connection to the first part, it’s largely a generic tale. Other than the iconic trio, no characters registered with me. The film accounts for this by cleverly focusing mostly on the trio. When there are scenes without them, the narrative fizzles out when it tries to flesh out the new characters and their dynamics. It felt forced and lackluster.

ALSO READ: ANDOR REVIEW“The shot in the arm Star Wars needed!”

(L-R): Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Matt Kennedy. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Hocus Pocus 2 is an entertaining watch and your levels of enjoyment may depend on what you thought about the original movie. If you liked the elements in the first part. You’d enjoy this one. I liked the musicals in this film too, but they were a little step-down when compared to the original movie. Not necessarily a bad thing but I wanted to point that out. The dialogues were cookie clutter. I mean I don’t have a problem with thou shalt and thy. It’s the other dialogues which like the narrative were generic. They bog down the narrative further in teen portions. The teen portions serve as a plot device for the witches. Rather than these characters having proper arcs, they served the plot rather than existing on their own.

It’s Halloween Time, Witches!

Pros: • Performances • Witches’ backstory • Climax • Humour Beta-Cons: • Predictable Narrative • Cookie Clutter dialogues • Teen portions Beta-Thoughts: Teen portions could have been more engaging

Check out Hocus Pocus 2 only on Disney Plus September 30!

‘Andor’ Season 1 Review: The Shot in The Arm Star Wars Needed

Star Wars returns after a series of back to back dissapointments in The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi, with their latest series Andor, a prequel to arguably the best Star Wars film under Disney, Rogue One. With Andor the franchise delivers a Star Wars like never before, one with a grey area, one where the Rebellion isn’t only the light side and the Empire isn’t only the Dark Side. They are both complex real forces with real people involved. The Rebellion is working against an Empire from freedom, so naturally hard decisions and actions are needed to be taken. It’s not as simple as being the good guy, they need people in the morally grey area to succeed, people who are willing to kill. People who are willing to do anything for this rebellion. Andor delivers the first Star Wars project which feels adult, where people make the necessary decisions for success, and at the same time are limited by their beliefs and mental strength.

Andor explores a new perspective from the  Star Wars galaxy, focusing on Cassian Andor’s journey to discover the difference he can make. The series brings forward the tale of the burgeoning rebellion against the Empire and how people and planets became involved. It’s an era filled with danger, deception and intrigue where Cassian will embark on the path that is destined to turn him into a rebel hero.

(L-R): Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) and Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Prequel?

Yes, you heard that right a PREQUEL. The term “prequel” holds a great place in the heart of every Star Wars fan, a word that inspires years of trauma to even the slightest mention. The Star Wars prequels are. without a doubt the most well known prequels to date. They have been hated by old fans of the franchise for decades, while they are the definition of ‘Star Wars’ to younger fans. Even if you didn’t hate the prequels, you’ve experienced years of hate for them from others, especially if you loved them. I really appreciate the prequels, with Episode 3 “Revenge of the Sith” tied as my favorite Star Wars film with Episode 5 “Empire Strikes Back”. Even with all this hatred and trauma associated with prequels and Star Wars, there was one Star Wars project that was able to bring fans of the prequels and fans of the original trilogy together. This was 2016’s Rogue One, a project where the War of the Empire VS The Rebellion, actually felt like a war. One of the stand out characters from the film was Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor, a skilled spy and assassin, working for The Rebellion. His character is summarized by this quote from Rogue One:

Everything I did, I did for the Rebellion. And every time I walked away from something I wanted to forget, I told myself it was for a cause I believed in. A cause that was worth it. Without that, we’re lost. Everything we’ve done would have been for nothing. I couldn’t face myself if I gave up now.

Andor vows to accompany Jyn Erso to Scarif in Rogue One

Rogue One was the film that first introduced that gray area to Star Wars and was universally loved, due to its great line-up of real complex characters. So to return to that side of Star Wars, always sounded like a treat to me. It always surprised me why people questioned why the Andor series was being made. Every project is made for the same reason, to make money. But what was truly interesting about Andor, was that another season was already green-lit during production for Season 1, and the season has already begun filming. So clearly this was more than just acash grab, especially with Andor not being a mainstrem character. It shows great confidence in a script, in an actor and in a show-runner to have a series for a second/third tier character in a universe of iconic characters to be green-lit for more seasons, even before the first 1 is done being made. Andor magnificently delivers on those expectations and more, the format it presents should be studied by Disney to note for future Marvel and Star Wars series on Disney Plus. The short 6 episode format has damaged each series that used it and has proven that it will not work. To keep fans excited, these big franchises need these shows which focus on characters, without cameos and easter eggs, that don’t rely on VFX, and present a story which is universal, relatable.

(L-R): Kravas (Lee Boardman), Verlo (Stephen Wight), hostess (Margaret Clunie), bartender (Caroline Green) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in a scene from Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

ALSO READ: SHE-HULK: ATTORNEY AT LAW REVIEW

A new chapter for Star Wars and Disney Plus

Andor delivers a new stepping stone for Star Wars and for the rest of Disney Plus. This is by far the greatest thing to come out of Disney Plus to date. It is a show which isn’t afraid to tread in to darker territories, it is a show which is beautiful to watch, it is a show which makes you feel for every character, where no character is purely evil and neither purely good. Andor is a show with complexity, with drama, where the characters aren’t perfect, where they cause problems for themselves due to their own imperfections. It explores their mentality and deeply explores the lives of refugees and in contrast with big organizations and countries. It almost feels too good to be true for a Disney+ show. A smaller story about a common thief from a misrepresented minority, in the Star Wars universe, who is forced to go on the run, rethink his life and reimagine himself as a force for the Rebels.

(L-R): Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), Maarva (Fiona Shaw) and B2EMO in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

The Empire vs The Rebel Alliance

You will not only feel for Cassian and The Rebellion, but you’ll also find yourself rooting for The Empire. The show makes Cassian’s motivations feel as valid as the motivations of his counterparts in The Empire, with wonderful characters like Kyle Soller’s Syril Karn. Soller delivers a brilliant perfomance as Syril Karn which makes you both feel for him and agree with him, even though he is going out of his way to take out our hero. So the real villain in the series isn’t really, at least in the first 4 episodes The Empire, but rather Cassian’s own imperfections, it is through his own decisions that he gets himself into the eye of The Empire. The show’s focus isn’t Empire VS Rebellion, it is a comparison of the motivations and decisions made by individuals in both groups and how that defined The Rebellion. It reminds you that these characters are real people in their universe and have their own hopes, dreams and lives.

Another thing that differentiates Andor from anything Star Wras or Disney Plus is its reliance on story and heart to capture its audience rather than to use the aid of easter eggs and cameos, which have only served to ruin previous Star Wars shows on Disney+. The world of Andor seems lived in, every character we meet feels like they have their own interesting life that they live in the universe. It doesn’t make you feel dry and unfulfilled. You can accertain each character’s impact on Cassian’s life and future impact they may have. But it doesn’t only make feel interested in that aspect of those characters, it also makes you feel compelled to learn about their lives and how they handle their problems.

(L-R): Eedy Karn (Kathryn Hunter) and Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

Just What Star Wars Needed

In a time where Star Wars seems to be directionless, with 2 big failures and no theatrical project in sight, comes Andor. Arguably the best of Star Wars we’ve seen in decades. Andor is the shot in the arm the Star Wars franchise needed. From its first few minutes it just feels like a different kind of show, with a much darker tone, to any other Disney+ series. The struggle and the stakes are a lot more adult and feel a lot more real. It feels more like Blade Runner than Star Wars at times, but still gets back to its roots and delivers magnificent performances and compelling storylines. I have watched the first 4 episodes in and it is already the best of Disney+ for me. The difference in quality is so vivid. The character’s journey and stakes are what keep you interested. No reliance on cameos, fan-service or action. More thrill and stakes are provided just through brilliant writing. Content like Andor is what is going to keep Star Wars alive and Disney Plus alive, things which are different and divert from what we expect to provide character studys in these massive franchises is what can be the trump card to keeping fans interested.

STAR WARS IS BACK!!!

Andor Starts Streaming on Disney+ tomorrow with a 3-episode premiere.

‘She-Hulk: Attorney at Law’ Review: Crazy, SMASHing Fun

This is a Non-Spoiler review for the first 4 episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. The latest addition to Marvel Studios’ Streaming presence. A 9 episode series, trying to bend the superhero genre into a Ally McBeal style law procedural., with a character who on the surface appears to be a derivative of the Hulk.

This series, straight from the get go, makes it clear how wrong that initial assessment is. This isn’t a Hulk action film/series akin to what you may expect from the MCU. This is a lawyer procedural, this is the story of Jennifer Walters learning to accept her new found power as the Hulk. It’s a show that’s very meta and takes you through her struggle in a very comedic way. It also actually feels like a TV Series, every episode can stand alone on its own. Unlike every previous MCU show, it doesn’t feel like a film cut into parts. The extra episodes really give it the time to breathe, and allow us to settle in with the tone and all the characters.

Fun, fun and more fun

If you go into this series expecting a Law comedy series, then you will be delighted. The series really is a comedy all around, it follows the concept of representing dramatic moments with comedy. Think more Thor: Ragnarok and less Thor: Love and Thunder. Tatiana Maslany is absolutely perfect as both Jen and She-hulk, she perfectly balances the comedy with the drama in a way which makes you laugh but also feel for her. The cameos are awesome and the gags in relation to certain Avengers are truly hilarious. The show can also at times be extremely silly fun, which at times can seem like too much, but as soon as it does it reels you back in with great action and new plot points. The fun of the series is that we get to see past MCU characters who have been in projects which are more dramatic, serious and involve the weight of the world or universe. These characters now get to play in a much mire light hearted and small setting, they are put in absurd and hilarious situations where they get to show a different side of themselves, adding another dimension to the character. Another side of the show which shines, is her calling out the assholes of the world, which is bound to make those exact people in the fandom mad.

She-Hulk origins

Another part of the series which I loved was her origin, we finally get an explanation for why the Hulk suddenly shifted back to human form in Shang-Chi. The Hulk is also much better portrayed in the series in comparison to in the 2 previous Avengers films, where he is nothing more than comedic relief. We get an insight into what made him want to merge him and the Hulk together, and for the first time since The Avengers we get a reference to how he became the monstrous Hulk. You can feel the pain of what years of dealing with the Hulk has done to him. He wants to help Jennifer deal with the being the Hulk, to kee her away and safe from the years of pain he had to face. Jen and Bruce have a really fun cousinly relationship. It’s also just really cool and hilarious to see 2 Hulks communicating with each other and pissing each other off. Jen can control She-Hulk from the start but Bruce still feels the need to guide her as he thinks she can’t go back to her old life as a lawyer. Jen has worked hard her entire life and has had to prove herself to become what she is, so she doesn’t want to let go off her life as a lawyer. this causes a conflict between the 2, which could’ve been made extremely dramatic, but instead its done in a comedic way which make everything a lot more fun. There’s also some really curious and potentially game-changing setup for the Hulk’s future.

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Lawyer Time

The show greatly shifts gears after the first episode and delivers on its premise as a law procedural comedy. Jen wants to fit back into her life as a lawyer and ignore the fact that she can Hulk out. But as you’d expect this doesn’t work out for her and she has to deal with being famous as a superhero and still being a lawyer. She has to now deal with the fact that people will now think that her accomplishments are due to her being 6’7 and green, when in reality she put in years of hard work to get to where she is. She is in charge of the superhuman division of her law firm, which instantly provides amazing opportunities, especially in a world as rife with superheroes as the MCU. This gets her in touch with Wong and Abomination, which leads her through settling in to being both She-Hulk and a lawyer. To help her through and be the best friend, we have Ginger Gonzaga’s Nikki, who really is Jen’s number 1 cheerleader throughout.

The Villain

Every MCU Disney Plus series, with the exception of Moon Knight and Loki, has had a villain problem. It’s not that the villains haven’t been great, it’s been that there hasn’t been enough time to explore their motivations, to learn why they are evil. In every show it has felt as if it’s all been building to a movie’s final act where the villain is finally revealed. This format may work in a film, but it really damages the quality of these shows. With the exception of Loki, every MCU finale has felt like a third act of a film compressed into a 40 minute episode. Which really doesn’t work and detaches the tone of the show. in She-Hulk’s case there is much more time available. Four episodes in the series has only given hints as to what the main conflict of the series could be, but because of there still being more than half the series left it still works. Episode 4 ends by setting up the villain, who we have previously met, and also delivering to us the main conflict of the series. Meaning that now the series can kick into high gear, but there is still ample time to explore the villain.

Closing Thoughts

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, has had a great start, exactly capturing the tone and mood of the comics. The series is funny, silly and full of heart, allowing you to see characters in the MCU from a different side. Even though she’s a Hulk, her struggle’s balancing her two sides is quite relatable. Also, get ready for the most fun you’ve had in the MCU. It is is a Law comedy first and foremost, it’s about a woman in her 30s trying to do her best, who’s built herself up as a lawyer but has that entire life shaken up now that she can go green and 6’7. It’s much smaller and it’s quite relatable.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Starts Streaming on Disney Plus Tomorrow!

ALSO READ: Moon Knight Series Review

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Review

Firstly, I would like to thank Netflix for making this review possible by allowing myself to watch the entire third season early.

Once you start watching the season you’ll see that it continues from directly where we left off and is extremely fast paced for the start of a new season. We see what The Umbrella Academy could do when going up against someone or some team that can fight as well if not better than them. Snippets of The Sparrow Academy’s powers and their strengths are showed. It’s extremely fascinating how they take on a team vs team fight for the first time in the series and it does not disappoint.

Emotional Weight

Moving on, the action dies down a bit. This season is different from the others it has a real emotional look and tells a certain characters struggle with the effects of saving the word 2 times after a few days of one another, we start to see certain cracks form which take hold of these characters and really defines them in this season. The acting is brilliant throughout, But the clear standout this season is Robert Sheehan (Klaus) he really steals the show with his acting. There are some heart warming moments, and there are some moments where we found ourselves laughing so hard at the character! The other stand out star in this is Emmy Raver-Lampman (Alisson) we see this certain character stand out at a certain point of this series and really see a new side to them.

A Super-powered Season

The soundtrack this time around is one of the best I have heard and what else can we expect from Gerard Way at the helm, there are certain songs that play and you wouldn’t think they would be involved in a “comic book” series but there are some moments that are touches you and the music is just perfect, the music that plays during the action moments gets your heart pumping and ready to fight.

This season as a whole is the best yet, there are moments that you do not expect and takes you on a real rollercoaster of emotions at one point I wanted to throw something, it even answers a life long question we fans have been asking and that is only in episode 1. There are some fantastic call backs from previous seasons, it was a great show to watch and really left us wanting more when it ended.

Final Verdict

My overall verdict is that this season is one that you will love more than others with its humour and sly meta references, this series is one for the ages and it will be hailed as the best season to date and will leave fans with questions but also will want them wanting more as soon as the final credits roll. Everyone has turned the dial up to 10 as for me I have enjoyed this season the most from the previous Two seasons.

Sneakerella Review: A Fun Mess

This is our Review of the Disney+ original film Sneakerella, set to stream exclusively on Disney+ on the 13th of May. Set in the vibrant street-sneaker subculture of New York City, Sneakerella is a high-energy, music-driven movie that puts a contemporary twist on the “Cinderella” fairy tale. 

Messy, But Fun

Sneakerella is the latest in the extensive history of films that tell the classical Cinderella story with a modern twist. This iteration of the trope tries to appeal to the younger generation with cool pop-culture references and “Sneakers”. The film is a blast at times but it’s general inconsistency of quality and tone greatly take away from the experience. Yes, it sounds like a laughable concept and it is, but it’s important to remember that it is definitely a concept that could appeal to kids. The film does well in that aspect in a way that it ends up being a Disney Channel movie rather than something you would want to advertise your shiny subscription service with.

A Cinderella Story

Sneakerella follows our Cinderella character El a teenage boy who is an aspiring sneaker designer from Queens who hides his artistic talent from his overburdened stepfather and two mean-spirited stepbrothers who constantly thwart any opportunity that comes his way. His Prince Charming comes in the form of Kira King, the daughter of a basketball star and sneaker tycoon Darius King. With a little nudge from his best friend and a sprinkle of Fairy Godfather magic, El finds the courage to use his talent to pursue his dream of becoming a ‘legit’ sneaker designer in the industry. The film’s plot itself is quite messy and the way the film starts is a disservice to some of the more fun and heartfelt moments throughout the it. Sneakerella adds its emotional touch with the classic Cinderella loss of parent plot point, in this case El has lost his mother. His passion for sneakers comes from her so this allows the audience to feel for him. The film really shines when it focuses on those classic Cinderella tropes where showcase the differences in the lives of El and Kira. To the point where after watching it made me log onto Disney+ and re-watch Cinderella.

A Blast for Kids

Yes, it sounds like a laughable concept and it is, but it’s important to remember that it is definitely something that will appeal to younger viewers. Both El and Kira are quite lovable characters so it really endears you into both of their dreams and wishes. The film does well in that aspect in a way that it ends up being a fun Disney Channel movie rather than something you would want to advertise your shiny premium subscription service with. There are a lot of flashy, colorful and creative scenes with paint and sneaker which are truly mesmerizing and fun to watch. The friendship between El and Sami and how they navigate his crush on Kira naturally lends itself to be great for kids to enjoy and relate to.

Runtime and Music

A lot of extra plot lines are forced in to the film for a more modern, really taking way from the narrative. The film is also quite long, having a runtime of nearly 2 hours. Which really isn’t needed and just takes away from the film. A faster pace would’ve definitely been able to iron out the films messy plot into a more linear story. The music in the film is great, almost feeling like a Linn Manuel Miranda soundtrack akin to West Side Story and In The Heights at times, but never really at that level. With the film’s rendition of “A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes” being a clear highlight. The music has a lot of energy combining multiple genres like rap and hip hop into the soundtrack. This provides for a high energy package.

Final Thoughts

Sneakerella is a truly bizarre concept of a film which provides a blast of a journey which may be entertaining to kids and teenagers but really doesn’t provide much for adults. The plot itself is never able to grip you in and the writing really falls flat at times. This is what Disney Channel movies were mocked for being, having great music, poor writing and a messy plot.

Watch Sneakerella exclusively on Disney+ May 13, 2022.

Also Read our Review for Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review: A Tale of Horror and Heartbreak

This is a Spoiler-Free Review for Marvel Studios’ latest film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, marking Sam Raimi’s return to directing and Marvel’s first step into the horror genre.

Initial Thoughts

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness accomplishes the madness it promises with great horror, excitement, and emotion. It also truly shakes up the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a brilliant way, giving us by far the creepiest and goriest action in any MCU project to date. The 126 Minutes runtime provides for a great fast pace which hooks you into an exciting ride and doesn’t let go, only getting crazier and scarier as the film progresses. Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Doctor Strange and Elizabeth Olsen who plays the Scarlet Witch both give amazing performances. Xochitl Gomez is perfect as America Chavez and Benedict Wong’s Wong is as loveable as ever. A few more minutes to breathe and a more focused first half would have made the film perfect. Overall the film not only expands the MCU further but also gives an overwhelmingly exciting viewing experience and injects some much-needed freshness into the Universe.

Sam Raimi’s Multiverse of Madness

When Marvel slapped the Sam Raimi name onto the film’s Trailer it left me questioning if this was going to be a Sam Raimi film or a Sam Raimi for-hire film, but this is Pure Raimi Madness. Multiverse of Madness feels more like Evil Dead than the MCU and fans of Raimi’s specific campy horror genre will love it. As he brings his unique style and shots to the MCU and just provides a great new refresher from the typical MCU Formula. There is a lot of gore, brutal kills, and typical Raimi jumpscares which at times just make you forget that you’re watching a Marvel film. Raimi also gives us some of the best and most exciting action sequences in the MCU. It’s at those points where the film truly shines, at these big surprise moments where you’re just screaming and jumping around on the inside. THis film is also directed in a way that it never lets you off for a rest, you’re thrust in from the very first scenes and then never let off till the end. For any other MCU film, you wouldn’t have to give a single thought about bringing your kids but the horror elements and many fatalities of this film really set a new bar for the MCU in terms of Darker themes. It’s one of the few movies in the MCU which hasn’t sacrificed the identity of the talent behind it.

The Main Cast

Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff is truly the stand-out of the film and the true emotional center of the entire story. The film is a direct continuation of WandaVision and is truly necessary viewing to understand her whole arc in the film. Her performance is very heartbreaking as it is one dealing with grief and loss, her maternal love takes center focus and Olsen just excels. She takes full ownership of the character and truly embodies every single emotion, she really is the Scarlet Witch. Her ferocity as Wanda and just absolute obstinateness are just chilling. While Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange who is this rather arrogant guy, who wants to always be in control is thrust into a situation where he has to learn from others and ultimately has to pay the penance for his rule-breaking with Dark Magic, messing with the timeline, and the Multiverse in previous films. Cumberbatch also has the added weight of playing multiple different versions of himself and he is just as amazing in the others as he is in the original. Each of these variants has a very specific role to play in the film be it giving some exposition or as a setup for future events in the film. Sometimes this exposition can feel like it’s dragging, especially with how fast everything else in the film flows, but it really works to make you understand the awesome back half of the film which is truly just a non-stop thrilling spectacle. Xochitl Gomez makes her debut as America Chavez and is just perfect as the character. She has the perfect amount of cockiness, skill, and lovability in her portrayal of the character which makes all the scenes where she’s giving exposition fun. Benedict Wong is as hilarious and bad-ass as Wong as ever and being the New Sorcerer Supreme he really is under a lot of responsibility in this film and makes sure that Strange knows it which sets up a great comedic dynamic. Rachel McAdams returns as Christine Palmer from the first film but also as a variant of the character. The original Christine doesn’t have much screentime but shares a great heartfelt moment with STrange near the beginning while the other Dr.Palmer plays a much bigger and more vital role, guiding Strange through some of the challenges he faces.

The Story

The story in this film is truly a direct continuation of WandaVision, with all the major plot points and emotional weight being surrounded by either The Darkhold or Wanda. This film is about grief and what maternal love and loss can make someone do. Wanda starts off the film in grief over the loss of her kids, she was able to find peace in WandaVision but was short-lived as she lost Vision and her kids yet again, leaving her looking through the evil book ok the damned, “The Darkhold”. Wanda takes Vision’s line of “What is grief if not love persevering?” to great heart as she in her grief makes some questionable choices for love as we saw at the end of WandaVision, she was haunted by the loss of her kids. Now she is out to get what she wants and she won’t let anything or anyone get in the way of her path to her kids. While Doctor Strange is thrust into dealing with America Chavez’s problems which causes him to make some questionable decisions that he perhaps shouldn’t have made. The writing puts you in a great dilemma because you love these characters and you know why they’re making those decisions but you also see how wrong those decisions are. The story overall is quite linear and just flows. It places the focus totally on Wanda and Strange, making it all feel gelled and coherent.

Surprises

These days with fans it seems like they want every marvel movie to have 50+ cameos per film at least for it to be a good film. This film certainly gives you some great cameos but if you’re going in there for just cameos this isn’t your type of movie. This movie instead packs its surprises with the plot, the world-building, the impact on the universe, the horror elements, and the brutality. This film truly has some great surprises, which are bound to have fans cheering and screaming throughout. With lots of scenes one after the other which are straight from the comic books and lots of scenes that just put you in straight shock of what you’ve seen. The Creepiness and gore in the film certainly come as a great surprise and keep on going, to places which you wouldn’t expect an MCU film to go. Sam Raimi was given a massive toolbox to bring his horror style to and he does it extremely potently, putting the film into Evil Dead mode at times.

Final Thoughts

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the dream film for a Sam Raimi fan, not only is it his signature style but the immense toolbox he’s given allows him to stretch it all so much further. The emotional heart of the film is also very strong and heartbreaking and the places this film goes with that emotion are truly alarming. Doctor Strange is finally starting to feel the weight of all his decisions and is put in an uncomfortable situation, while Wanda is trying to deal with the loss of her kids but her grief has clouded her judgment. The film puts you in a great dilemma, which could’ve been used much better than it actually was. The fast pace of the film allows it to feel like madness as you’re thrust with one thing after another which is exciting, it does take some time to make you feel emotion but just as you’re starting to truly feel it, the film pulls further. Those moments really could have used more room to breathe to extend the film’s emotional heart and make it feel more complete and satisfying. The film however still maintains a great emotional tone and Sam Raimi really makes it feel personal with his close-ups. Sam Raimi truly makes this film a delight to watch with his unique pans, close-ups, eye shots, and just great cinematography and color grading. If you were starting to feel some MCU fatigue this is your cure, the horror, the fresh palette, and mind bendingness are sure to get you excited for what’s to come.

This new auteur-driven darker juice that this film and Sam Raimi provide to the MCU is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Cine Geek Score

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premieres exclusively in theaters tomorrow!

Does all this increase your excitement for the film? Do you agree with our thoughts? Let us know on our socials @CineGeekNews on Twitter and @The.cinegeek on Instagram.

Stay Tuned for our Spoiler Review and Breakdown dropping next week and meanwhile read our Review for Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight.