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‘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.

ALSO READ:

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.

Moon Knight Episode 5: Spoiler Review and Breakdown

This is a SPOILER Review of Episode 5 of Moon Knight so if you haven’t watched it yet, please go and watch the episode and then read.

This episode is amazing but extremely heartbreaking at the same time. It takes some time to start kicking but when it starts it doesn’t stop. It deals with some very dark and adult themes, the likes of which Marvel has never featured beforehand which provides for an emotional journey and leaves the series on another cliffhanger, leaving only a few hints along the way on how the series may end.

This episode an awesome emotional voyage. Which breaks down Marc Spector and takes him through the demons of his past to balance his heart. We get some necessary insight and explanation into the setup for the series. Following the common episode structure of traveling through the main character’s memories for them to gain closure and stability. Similarly to WandaVision episode 8 this episode perfectly takes us through his origin of abuse, trauma and accurately portrays how a DID system is created.

But make no mistake, this isn’t WandaVision Episode 8. This is truly bonkers! Marc is dead in the underworld and his other alter Steven now has his own physical form as they both get their hearts plucked out from their chest and weighed on a boat going through the underworld. The setup alone is quite fantastical. It also keeps us guessing on the validity of the reality as we see him switching between his reality in the underworld and him in the Asylum with Arthur. Which leaves you guessing as to which is real.

However, it all takes a very dark turn. As Marc is faced by all his trauma which has him face up to everyone he has ever killed. These are things he’s hidden off and secluded from Steven and has hidden off in his mind. It really poses a question about the morality of the Fist of vengeance Khonshu turned him into.

Then comes a little boy who takes us to place which is sure to break your heart.Taking us through how Marc blames himself for the loss of his brother. Which gives us the heart breaking origins of “Laters Gators” and takes us through a cycle of abuse which caused Marc to develop DID and which was the abuse that Marc endured, hiding it all from the Steven alter. We see the crushing portrayal of how DID is created in live action as his Mentally ill mother continues to blame him for his brother’s loss and we see Marc’s painful denial to face up to the memories of his mother who physically tortured him.

Oscar Isaac and the young actor’s portrayal is just breathtaking. How they seamlessly transition between the alters. DID is caused when someone is mentally or physically abused by someone as a child. Which causes them to dissociate as to not feel the pain of the abuse any longer. They make you feel the mental, physical and emotional tone that this has had on him. And it’s painful and crushing to watch.

We also gets great scene near an Egyptian tomb which is straight from the Moon Knight comics as he is an ex military mercenary in Egypt killed by his partner Bushman, but saved by the Moon God Khonshu right before it happened, becoming his Fist of Vengeance.

The ending sees Marc’s final piece of the puzzle in balancing his heart being the death of Steven so as Steven sacrifices himself to save Marc from Egyptian sand zombies Marc’s heart balances and he’s left in the field of reeds or the Egyptian heaven.

This ending leaves me questioning how they will wrap up the series but if they manage to pull off what they’ve been doing in the last two episodes, we are in for a treat. We also have them sending a message to Layla to free Khonshu which will most likely be his path out to deal with the Gods and Monsters of the next episode.

Also read my Spoiler Review and Breakdown for Episode 5 of Moon Knight.

Moon Knight Episode 4: Spoiler Review and Breakdown

The most mind-blowing, shocking and dark episode of Moon Knight or any Disney Plus show yet was just released on Disney Plus. This is a Spoiler Review for the episode so if you haven’t watched it go and watch the episode first.

Opening Thoughts (Non-Spoiler)

So first some thoughts on the episode. I loved the pacing of this episode and just the general eeriness of it all, it keeps you gripped into the episode even when not much is happening. A surprising amount of gore and sequences straight out of a horror movie. The directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead really are at their best with horror which is so expertly directed that it is sure to make you scream.

Breakdown and Spoiler Review

So we start of with a great rotating shot, which is a classic shot of Benson and Moorhead showcasing all the Ushabtis of the other gods the Ennead has trapped. This presents a frightening message and the music by Hesham Nazih just so brilliantly punctuates the horror of this message. The Marvel Studios logo is also played with this same music continued and extended which just sets the tone for the episode.

Next we are taken back to Steven and Layla as they are being followed by Arthur’s goons and as they escape we get a great conversation with Steven and Marc as Steven denies Marc control which mirrors Marc denying Steven control in Episode 2 and 3. This also gives us a great conversation between Layla and Steven as she talks about her having agency in her choices, this truly makes her character fully rounded. We also get a great kiss between Steven and Layla which shows that she still wantss Marc’s love, also providing for a hilarious scene as Marc punches Steven of the cliff.

Next we get a sequence straight out of Horror movie which truly had me shrieking, screaming and constantly at the edge of my seat. This was the sequence which truly gripped me into the episode just the sound design with those dotted noises and the amazing horror directing, even after having watched the episode numerous times I found myself extremely stressed for Layla and just plain scared. The gore here is also just shocking as actual organs are pulled out of a man.

May Calamawy’s performance really just stands out this episode as she steals every scene, in particular her conversation with Arthur is just heartbreaking. Really shows her wanting to believe in the good Marc but also within herself feeling like she had a feeling it was true.

Breaking down that ending

MARC/STEVEN IS DEAD!!!! Noooo But wait what, where are we? WTF?! These were my reactions and I’m guessing everyone’s reactions during the ending section of the episode. As we see Arthur shoot Marc but Marc continues falling into or out of his dream as he wakes up in a mental asylum. Where we see a TV film about a Dr. Steven Grant which shows us what Steven’s creation in Marc’s mind was inspired by.- see all the ingredients Marc could have used to make up all the events of the past 4 episodes in his mind. As we see Donna as a fellow patient , we see Arthur’s goons as nurses. We see that Moon Knight itself is just a toy. We see a fellow patient make drawings of what could’ve inspired Khonshu and we finally see Dr. Arthur Harrow the head of this establishment who Marc could’ve made into a villain in his mind. We see Layla as a friend of his also a patient. The show gives us all these clues, not explicitly telling us but inferring to us that all of this was a dream, a concoction of Marc’s mind and trauma. That Marc thinks of as real as he leaps and asks for Steven. Marc is clearly very mentally broken as he can barely understand everything around him as Arthur talks to him, telling him that all this was false. This is the only part that makes me doubt that all this was fake since Arthur has been setup as an unreliable narrator. We end on Marc escaping and freeing Steven from his sarcophagus as they pass another sarcophagus also banging to let whoever is inside out. Hinting at the third alter, possibly Jake Lockley. Here we also finally get Marc’s acceptance of Steven and it is truly heart warming. As Marc longs for Steven, he needs him and the relief he feels when he gets him back is wonderfully expressed by Oscar Isaac. Next we end on an even crazier scene as a cartoonish Hippo runs in to them and says hello in the most cartoonish way possible.

I absolutely loved this episode and it is by far my favorite song f the first four. It just blends horror, emotion and surprises expertly together. It keeps you gripped with the horror and emotion and gut punches you in the end with uncertainty.

What did you think of the episode tell us now on our socials. Moon Knight Episode 4 is streaming exclusively on Disney Plus right now. Also check out our Non-Spoiler Review for the full series.

The Flash ‘Armageddon’ Review (Season 8 Episodes 1-5)

Ever since its beginnings in 2013, the Arrowverse has made quite a reputation for itself in the world of crossovers and interconnectivity. With a total of 7 crossovers beginning in 2014, fans are treated to a wide variety of comic book character and events brought to life. The most recent of these came to fruition in The Flash’s Armageddon in late 2021. Although, this event was much less of a crossover compared to past years in terms of scale, we do get a ton of characters that we haven’t seen in for a while. As we dive into a review and recap of the first five episodes of The Flash Season 8, please be aware that this review will include spoilers. Lets dive into The Flash Armageddon!

The Flash: Armageddon Part 1

The season premiere begins with a cold opening of the future. Central City is in ruins and a man (Tony Currans character) stands before the absolute carnage raining down upon the city. This scene straight away sets the tone for the rest of the episode. Snap back to the present and it’s revealed Team Flash are up to their usual shenanigans in Central City. We finally get some character development for Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) who is at long last ready to get back into the dating scene following her husbands death some seasons ago. Iris is working on her podcast and Barry is happy saving people from every day accidents. And then there is Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) who arrives on Barry and Iris’ doorstep. Although its great to see his character again, he doesn’t really add much to the story instead feeling extremely shoehorned in. Despero (Tony Curran) is a fine villain for this story although he isn’t the best considering a lot of the logic behind his motivation is extremely flawed. His whole motive is based on the fact that he believes Barry to be the cause of an event called Armageddon which leads to catastrophe in the future. I think as the episode goes on it slowly gets worse. But as the ending draws closer the quality does increase, with the final few minutes being the strongest really depicting the struggle in Barry’s mind.

The Flash: Armageddon Part 2

Continuing on from the prior episode, Flash has seven days to defy fate and save his world from imminent danger. According to Despero, he would lose his mind which would in turn lead to Armageddon. Chaos ensues with just about everything going wrong for Team Flash. Barry doubles down on proving his innocence and a shocking revelation is uncovered. The said revelation is the reveal that Detective Joe West had been dead for six months which comes as an utter shock to Barry. Its a twist crafted for the shock factor, and its certainly executed quite well. I found a few of the moments in the episode to be a little contrived and contradictory to other seasons. In particular, one of the subplots involving Gideon and how Gideon has to erase themselves. Not written too well. As the episode draws to a close, Barry goes to Jefferson Pierce AKA Black Lightning. Which makes for a great cliffhanger for the slowest episode of the crossover.

The Flash: Armageddon Part 3

The third episode of Armageddon introduces several new plot points that progress the story along. I think the stuff they introduce with Thawne replacing Barry in a Reverse Flashpoint timeline is probably the most interesting out of all the five episodes. The interactions Barry has with Jefferson was one of the best moments in the entire event and something that was teased back in Crisis. I feel that was some well done fan service. This episode also has a lot of hard hitting emotional moments for long time fans of the show which I love to see. After that episode 2 ending we were sort of led to believe that Barry had been erased from the timeline which set up a lot of great moments in this episode. This is probably the strongest episode out of the 5 but I wouldn’t say this is anything special. A few minor writing flaws but nothing too serious, although there is some cliché moments.

The Flash: Armageddon Part 4

Part 4 of the crossover really gives the feel of conclusion and ending that the event needed. Which is weird because this isnt the final episode. The episode centres around Barry being the Reverse-Flash with Thawne being The Flash and the problems that situation could lead to. This episode reminded me of the Elseworlds comic series a ton. With like Ryan Choi becoming Vigilante and the Legends are dead. I found that to be a really cool scenario. The episode is structured in a way that the flow of the story is quite logical and smooth which I really appreciated. I think one of the biggest issues with this episode and CW shows as a whole, is that the the team up shots seem so awkward. Its a minor criticism but it’s always prevalent in these shows. Overall, its an enjoyable penultimate episode.

The Flash: Armageddon Part 5

The finale of this miniseries crossover provides a decent capper for the event whilst leaving room for the plot of the rest of Season 8 and other shows. It was great seeing Mia Queen again but her involvement and arc in the episode doesn’t seem to be closed too well. The Despero arc is also seemingly left open even though it appears he dies. Like I said in the Part 4 review, part 4 provides a better ending to the event whereas this episode just feels like CW prolonging the episode count just so its more marketable. A few nuisances in the writing department but nothing overly bad. Especially in comparison to the second episode of Armageddon.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, The Flash Armageddon is an average crossover providing some special moments in an average collection of episodes. Utilizing great character performances, the showrunners manage to convey an emotionally rich plot with high stakes.

The Flash airs weekly on Wednsdays on The CW, you can stream the first 11 episodes of the series on The CW app right now. Also Check Out: our Review for the extremely fun Sonic 2.

Tokyo Vice Episode 1-5 Review: A Gripping and Gritty Journey

Tokyo Vice is a new series on HBO Max Produced by Michael Mann. The series just recently released it’s 5th episode of nine. An adaptation of the 2009 real-life memoir by Jake Adelstein, the first foreigner to work as a crime reporter at a major Japanese newspaper, building relationships with both the police and the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. Which provides for a great meal of Yakuza-drama, gore and bonding between friends. The cast includes Ansel Elgrot as Jake, Ken Watanabe as Hiroto, and Rachel Keller as Samantha.

The Setup

The series starts off by putting us in the present day as our protagonist Jake(Ansel Elgrot) is in a meeting with some Yakuza bosses with his Japanese partner. This provides for an abrupt and jarring first scene as no context is given and we are thrust right into the thick of it all. After the conclusion of this sequence, the series cuts years back to a younger Jake who is working hard to fulfill his dreams of being a crime reporter, giving us the necessary context and backstory. This is where the series shines initially. since his past struggles provide a more compelling storyline.

Tokyo

The series is shot in Tokyo and the way the series puts you in a 2000s era Tokyo is just brilliant. The city it portrays is never too dirty and neither too straightforward. Like many other portrayals of Tokyo in film, we see Hostess and host clubs, love hotels, picturesque alleys and a sea of neon decorating the sky. But where the series differs is the unique lens Michael Mann puts it through, he is able to define a set mood for the series one of emotion, darkness and gritt. This style really provides a great rhythm for the series. It’s portrayal of the city really levels up the series. Michael Mann only directs the pilot but the distinctive style he develops is carried on and kept intact by all the directors.

Plotlines

As we see Jake finally get his dream job and work at the biggest news trade in Japan, the series ads more of a work-place comedy nature to it’s tone. This tone can be distracting and sometime detracts from the actual plot-line, but provides a more enjoyable experience. The main plot involves jake being paired with a young Yakuza named Sato and a bar-singer named Samantha, who both of them admire. This is a compelling setup, but is never given any true focus, direction or interesting portrayal by the screenplay.

The other setup of Jake with Hiroto who is a Japanese cop who Jake is paired with to take down the larger Yakuza. Hiroto is played by legendary Japanese actor Ken Watanabe who steals every scene he is in, be it with the sheer power in his line delivery or his pragmatism. Hiroto is an honest man and a frustrated detective who is unwilling to take bribes or to stand by as the Yakuza conduct their dealings in his city. Watanabe brings the perfect balance to the character of realizing jake’s potential and how he could help him in preventing an ever closing gang war but also wanting to protect Jake mentoring him. You get a sort of father-son kind of relationship with the two. Which gives shades of the relationship between Walter and Jesse in Breaking Bad. Watanabe really bring a lot of compassion into the character and is really the only totally rounded character in the series apart from Jake.

Ansel Elgrot gives a very different performance to his previous performances as seen in films like West Side Story. He really embodies Jake’s struggles, passion, impatience, frustrations, and smarts all really well. He really finds his comfort in Jake and knocks it out of the park portraying the many sides of Jake Adelstein. His Japanese is also great, he has to deliver a lot of his lines in Japanese and excels at every point.

Cine Geek Meter

This is a great Japanese styled detective-mafia drama, often even feeling like an anime brought to life in the best way. A must watch for fans of Japanese media and also for fans of great dark and gritty detective stories.

You can watch the first 5 of the 9 episodes of Tokyo Vice exclusively on HBO Max right now, with the next 4 set to drop weekly. Our review for episodes 6-8 will be dropping this Thursday with the release of the 6th episodes. Also check out: our Review for the 4 episodes of Moon Knight.