DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (2022) – My rating: 8.5/10

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness poster.jpgDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comic character, Doctor Strange. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the sequel to Doctor Strange (2016) and the 28th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was directed by Sam Raimi and written by Michael Waldron. In this version, Dr. Strange protects a teenager capable of traveling the multiverse. Being a fan of all DC and Marvel films, I was anxious to see this new version of Dr. Strange. I thought the film was very well done.

While attending the wedding of his longtime ex-girlfriend Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) a giant octopus demon is attacking people just outside the reception. Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) investigates only to find a young teenager, who goes by the name America Chavezbeing (Xochitl Gomez), being targeted by the octopus demon. Dr. Strange with help from the Sorcerer Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong) rescues America. Later he finds out the young girl can travel the multiverse as easily as he can. Together they set out to find who is targeting her and why. The answer comes soon when they discover not only is America being attacked for what she can do but because the perpetrator is trying to steal her powers in order to transport into a multiverse where conditions exist that don’t exist in this present one.

Usually, I find the multiverse films to be faster and more complex than other films that only involved the current universe. Doctor Strange explained and defined each multiverse as they progressed through them. The theme of the film was never in jeopardy so the only takeaway I found was if you are not completely familiar with the preceding Marvel films, you could get a little lost. Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) who this version of Doctor Strange focuses on definitely has a one-track mind. You can even say she has complete tunnel vision. The story gets adventurous and the special effects (as you would expect) are outstanding.  Wanda’s persistence was brilliantly acted and how the movie all came together was fantastic.  Wait for the credits to air, you will see more closure and a teaser for a future movie.  I think Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was worth the watch.  As of May 12, 2022, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has grossed $230.5 million in the United States and Canada and $321.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $551.7 million.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 75% of 369 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.50/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness labors under the weight of the sprawling MCU, but Sam Raimi’s distinctive direction casts an entertaining spell.”  Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in theaters — Check It Out!

BELOW IS A LIST OF THE CAST OF CHARACTERS AND SOME OF THEIR MARVEL HISTORY AS RELATED TO THIS FILM:

 

Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange:
A neurosurgeon who became a Master of the Mystic Arts following a career-ending car accident. Writer Michael Waldron said Strange was “at the height of his powers” in the film, and compared the character to Indiana Jones as a hero who can “take a punch”, but with the intellect of chef Anthony Bourdain. He saw Strange as a “great adventure hero you just like to watch kick-ass”.  Director Sam Raimi explained that Strange begins the film believing that he should be making all decisions, and must learn to “let go a little bit” and trust in others. Cumberbatch also portrays three alternate versions of the character:  a version who dies at the beginning of the film and wears a costume inspired by Matt Fraction’s 2011 Defenders comic book series; the former Sorcerer Supreme of Earth-838 who founded the Illuminati; and a version who has been corrupted by the Darkhold.

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch:
A former Avenger gone rogue under the influence of the Darkhold who can harness chaos magic, engage in telepathy and telekinesis, and alter reality. The film continues Maximoff’s “ownership of what makes her unique and the accountability of her life experience” that began in the series WandaVision (2021), including using an accent that is more true to her Sokovian heritage after some of the previous MCU films had moved to an Americanized version. Olsen wanted to ensure Maximoff’s role in the film honored the events of the series, requesting some adjustments to the film to ensure that it evolved the character rather than repeating moments from WandaVision. She felt the film’s portrayal showed new confidence for the character that was “really empowering”, and said it was “okay to play characters that people get frustrated with sometimes”. Olsen also portrays the character’s Earth-838 counterpart.

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo:
The Sorcerer Supreme of Earth-838 and a member of the Illuminati. He is an alternate version of Strange’s former mentor-turned-enemy.

Benedict Wong as Wong:
The Sorcerer Supreme of Earth-616 and Strange’s mentor and friend.

Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez:
A teenager who has the ability to travel between dimensions by punching open doorways. She originates from another universe known as the Utopian Parallel. Gomez wanted to remain faithful to the source material despite playing a younger version of the character than is seen in the comics, and said her journey in the film begins with the character having been alone for a long time and “running away from her uniqueness”. Chavez has to embrace her abilities and learn to trust others by the end of the film. Marvel Studios had been looking for the right film to introduce the character in for a long time before settling on Multiverse of Madness.

Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West:
A surgeon and former colleague of Strange.

Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer:
An emergency surgeon who was a colleague and lover of Strange. The film explores Strange’s decision at the end of Doctor Strange (2016) to protect the New York Sanctum and not be with Palmer, despite still having feelings for her and possibly regretting that decision, with Palmer getting married to someone else in this film. McAdams also portrays the character’s Earth-838 counterpart, who is an employee of the Baxter Foundation and the former lover of that reality’s Strange. This version of the character helps resolve Strange’s love story with his own version of Palmer, allowing him to move on to a potential new relationship in the future.

The Illuminati of Earth-838 also includes Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier / Professor X, portraying a different version of the character that he previously played in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film series;

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter / Captain Carter:
after voicing another version in the animated series What If…? (2021);

Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau / Captain Marvel:
an alternate version of her character from Captain Marvel (2019);

Anson Mount as Blackagar Boltagon / Black Bolt:
an alternate version of his role from Marvel’s ABC television series Inhumans (2017);

John Krasinski as Reed Richards / Mister Fantastic:
a member of the Fantastic Four;

Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne:
The Earth-838 versions of Maximoff’s sons Billy and Tommy, their respective roles from WandaVision;

Topo Wresniwiro:
reprises his role from the first film as Hamir, a Master of the Mystic Arts;

Sheila Atim as Sara:
a Master of the Mystic Arts;

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE (2022) – My rating: 8.5/10

Fantastic Beasts- The Secrets of Dumbledore.pngFantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is a fantasy film directed by David Yates from a screenplay by J. K. Rowling and Steve Kloves. It is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts film series, and the eleventh overall in the Wizarding World franchise. Set several years after the events of its predecessor, the film sees Albus Dumbledore tasking Newt Scamander and his allies with a mission that takes them into the heart of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald’s army. While I find Dumbledore films sometimes a little hard to follow, I think Secrets of Dumbledore was well done and a little less complex.

It was 1932 in Kweilin, China, when Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) helped a Qilin, which is a magical creature that can see into one’s soul as well as the future, give birth. Gellert Grindelwald’s acolytes, led by Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), attacked and killed the mother and kidnaped her newborn. Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) subsequently killed the creature to harness its ability of precognition. However, unbeknownst to them, the Qilin had twins, the younger of which Newt was able to save.

Unable to battle Grindelwald due to their blood pact, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) recruits Newt, his brother Theseus Scamander (Callum Turner), Ilvermorny Charms teacher Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Senegalese-French wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam), American No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) and Newt’s assistant Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates) to thwart Grindelwald’s plan for world domination. Yusuf Kama is tagged to be a spy in Grindelwald’s inner circle while the others are sent to Berlin, Germany. Once there, the group witnesses Grindelwald being acquitted of all criminal charges by the International Confederation of Wizards (ICW) and subsequently running for the office of Supreme Mugwump. The ICW believes arresting Grindelwald could gain him more support, but his being defeated in a legitimate election will erode his strength.

At this point, the story is beginning to take shape.  It’s all about Grindelwald working feverously to take over the world.  He is undermining the German Ministry of Magic and planning to get rid of key candidates who are running against him.  Newth tries his best to stop Grindswald but was unable to even large a simple complaint against him.  The story and special effects start to get very exciting and the plot, as they say, thickens.  I found this version of the Dumbledore story to be one of the best.  It’s a showdown between good and evil, for sure.  The special effects are outstanding and the acting was done in true Harry Potter style.  Always intended to be “at least” a trilogy, the third Fantastic Beasts film was slated for release in November 2020. It was eventually pushed back to a July 2022 release, and much of the main cast from the first two films confirmed their involvement in March 2020. Principal photography was set to begin in early 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, eventually commencing in September 2020. FYI: Johnny Depp, who portrayed Grindelwald in previous films, initially was set to return and filmed one scene for the movie, but in November 2020 was asked to resign following a court case finding against him regarding allegations he committed domestic violence; Mikkelsen replaced him later that month.

As of 1 May 2022, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore has grossed $79.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $250 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $329.6 million. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 47% based on 201 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The website’s critic’s consensus states: “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore avoids some of the pitfalls that plagued its predecessor, but lacks much of the magic that drew audiences into the Wizarding World many movies ago.” While I disagree with the Rotten Tomatoes consensus, I think Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. which is currently in theaters, is a worthwhile film and has plenty of special effects —  Check It Out!

Below is a list of cast members and a definition of the characters each played

  • Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander:
    A British Ministry of Magic employee in the Beasts Division of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, as well as a self-proclaimed magizoologist. He played a part in remedying the events of a violent attack in New York City in December 1926 involving dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. He is a confidant of Albus Dumbledore, despite being an outcast from certain circles of the British Wizarding Community due to his checkered past.
  • Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore:
    An extremely powerful and influential wizard in the British Wizarding Community, known in the British Ministry of Magic and throughout the wider wizarding world for his academic brilliance, and teacher of Defence Against the Dark Arts at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He holds a blood pact with Grindelwald, with whom he was in love and had a close relationship as a young adult, preventing them from dueling each other.
  • Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone / Aurelius Dumbledore:
    The disturbed adopted child of Mary-Lou Barebone who was severely abused and downtrodden and named “Credence Barebone”. Enraged by people’s treatment of him, during the incident of 1926 he set his Obscurus parasite loose in New York City, causing widespread destruction. He survived in a tiny Obscurus fragment and was sought out by Grindelwald. He initially believed that he was Corvus Lestrange, Leta Lestrange’s deceased half-brother. However, at the end of the second film, Grindelwald claimed that his real name is Aurelius Dumbledore and that his brother, Albus, would seek to kill him. In the third film, he is identified as being Albus’s nephew rather than his brother, as he is actually the illegitimate son of Albus’s brother Aberforth.
  • Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski:
    An American No-Maj veteran of the First World War, owner of a bakery, friend of Newt, and lover of Queenie. When she returns he later marries her and Newt serves as his best man.
  • Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein:
    The pretty and vivacious renegade younger sister of Tina, who worked alongside her in the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA). She is a powerful natural Legilimens. After being convinced that Grindelwald will make her dream of marrying Jacob come true, she went rogue and joined his side, eventually abandoning her lover and sister. She later returns to Jacob and they marry at his bakery. Her sister serves as maid of honor.
  • Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander:
    Newt Scamander’s older brother is a dedicated and loyal Auror, as well as the Head of the Auror Office in the British Ministry of Magic. He is famous for the title “war hero” for his excellent show of bravery and generosity in the First World War. He constantly tries to tame Newt into more elegance so that he is better accepted in society. He lost his fiancée Leta Lestrange in September 1927, after she sacrificed herself in Grindelwald’s rally in Pere Lachaise, Paris to save the Scamander brothers.
  • Jessica Williams as Lally Hicks:
    A respected Charms teacher at America’s Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
  • Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald:
    An infamous powerful dark wizard who caused mass violence, terror, and chaos around the globe, seeking to lead a new Wizarding World Order based on his strong belief in wizarding superiority. He had a close relationship with Dumbledore as a teenager. Mikkelsen replaces Johnny Depp, who played Grindelwald in the first two films, due to the latter’s libel case with News Group Newspapers Ltd. over his alleged domestic abuse of his ex-wife, Amber Heard. [9][10]
  • Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein:
    An American MACUSA Auror and currently Head of the Auror Office in MACUSA. She is Queenie Goldstein’s sister and Newt’s love interest. She played a role in thwarting Gellert Grindelwald during the Obscurus incident of 1926, for which she and Newt were initially blamed.
  • William Nadylam as Yusuf Kama:
    A French wizard of Senegalese descent from an old Wizarding family and an ally of Newt, who previously attempted to kill Credence while falsely believing him to be his former stepfather’s son, Corvus Lestrange V.
  • Victoria Yeates as Bunty :
    Newt Scamander’s indispensable Magizoology assistant.
  • Poppy Corby-Tuech as Vinda Rosier:
    Grindelwald’s loyal right-hand follower.
  • Richard Coyle as Aberforth Dumbledore:
    Albus Dumbledore’s younger brother and owner of the Hog’s Head Inn. He is also Credence’s biological father.
  • Oliver Masucci as Anton Vogel:
    The current Supreme Head of the International Confederation of Wizards (ICW) and Minister of Magic for Germany.
  • Maria Fernanda Cândido as Vicência Santos:
    Candidate for the post of Supreme Head of the ICW and Minister of Magic for Brazil.
  • Dave Wong as Liu Tao:
    Candidate for the post of Supreme Head of the ICW and Minister of Magic for China.
  • Fiona Glascott as Minerva McGonagall:
    A teacher at Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore’s colleague.

 

THE NORTHMAN (2022) – My rating: 8/10

The Northman.pngThe Northman is an epic historical fiction action film directed by Robert Eggers, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sjón. The film is based on the legend of Amleth. The plot follows Amleth, a Viking prince who sets out on a quest to avenge the murder of his father.

Skarsgård had wanted to make a Viking film for several years, and Eggers decided to make the film his third project after the pair met to discuss possible collaborations.  While I don’t get to see many Viking movies, I am a fan of the star from when he starred in the Netflix series, “True Blood”, so I decided to give The Northman a try.  It was extremely violent and very dark.  Not really my cup of tea but The Northman was well acted and the story was a true Viking real-life plot.

In AD 895, King Aurvandill War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) returns to his kingdom on the island of Hrafnsey after his overseas conquests and is reunited with his wife, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman), and his son and heir, Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak). To prepare Amleth to one day be king, the two participate in a spiritual ceremony overseen by Aurvandill’s jester, Heimir (Willem Dafoe). The next morning, masked warriors led by Aurvandill’s brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang) ambush and murder the king. After seeing his village massacred and his mother taken away screaming by his uncle, Amleth flees by boat swearing to avenge his father, save his mother and kill Fjölnir.

Amleth is found by a band of Vikings and raised among them as a berserker. Years later, after an attack in the land of the Rus, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) encounters a Seeress (Björk) in the temple of Svetovit; the Seeress predicts that Amleth will soon take revenge on Fjölnir and that his path is intertwined with a Maiden-King.

The Northman becomes one of the bloodiest and most violent movies I’ve seen in a long while.  The story tells of what this Viking goes through to exact his revenge on those responsible for destroying his family and ruining his life just when he and his father were bonding with new horizons to come.  The Viking way of life is so dark and violent, one wonders how they survived.  Brilliant acting and a great cast made this movie a force to be reckoned with.  If you’re squeamish, this movie is not for you.  The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 89% based on 301 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “A bloody revenge epic and breathtaking visual marvel, The Northman finds filmmaker Robert Eggers expanding his scope without sacrificing any of his signature styles”.  As of May 1, 2022, The Northman has grossed $22.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $18.8 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $41.6 million. According to Variety, the film needs to gross around $200 million in order to break even theatrically.  The Northman is currently in theaters — Check It Out!

 

 

AMBULANCE (2022) – My rating: 7.5

A poster featuring the faces of two men and one woman. Underneath them is an ambulance being pursued by the police. The title, "Ambulance", is also present with the letters "LA" in a different color, noting that the story takes place in Los Angeles.

“Ambulance” is an action thriller directed and produced by Michael Bay. A co-production between New Republic Pictures, Bay Films, Endeavor Content, and Project X Entertainment. The film is based on the 2005 Danish film of the same name by Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen. The story follows two adoptive siblings turned bank robbers who hijack an ambulance and take two first responders hostage. The movie has Lots of action but is totally unbelievable.

War veteran Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who desperately needs $231,000 for his wife Amy’s (Moses Ingram) surgery, reaches out to Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal), his adoptive brother and a life-long criminal, who talks him into taking part in a $32 million bank heist. Will initially refuses but agrees after Danny reminds Will of his wife’s expensive surgery, which is not covered by insurance. The heist nearly succeeds until Officer Zach (Jackson White), who returns to the bank to ask out a bank teller, discovers a heist is taking place and becomes a hostage, held and shot by Danny. A shootout then occurs between one of the heist members and Zach’s partner, Officer Mark (Cedric Sanders). The journey begins with the two brothers trying to escape from the bank and finally end up in the same ambulance as the wounded Officer Zach.  What ensues is a race against good and bad for a substantial amount of time.

“Ambulance” will go down as having one of the longest vehicle chases in the history of Hollywood films. At least half of the movie involved the chase between the ambulance and scores of police vehicles.  Oddly, the chase was kept interesting and revealed Will’s many talents.  You were kept in suspense the whole time.  The director was good at not giving away the ending nor the true prognosis of Officer Zach.  No plan at all turned into a plan after plan after plan, thereby keeping the audience in the dark.  While the entire premise was unbelievable, “Ambulance” was still entertaining. The two brothers acted their roles brilliantly and saved an otherwise ho-hum adventure. As of April 19, 2022, Ambulance has grossed $16.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $24.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $41.1 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 68% of 208 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “At top speed and with sirens wailing, Ambulance comes riding to the rescue for audiences facing an emergency shortage of Michael Bay action thrills.” You can catch “Ambulance” in theaters — Check It Out!

 

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (2022) – My rating: 7/10

Everything Everywhere All at Once.jpgEverything Everywhere All at Once is a science fiction black comedy written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The plot follows a Chinese-American woman, being audited by the IRS, who discovers that she has the power to exist in parallel universes and must help prevent the destruction of them all.  There were some very talented editors and writers at work on this film.  From the trailer, you would never guess what the film was really going to be about.  I found this movie to be funny, way over the top, and extremely weird, to say the least. However, it was entertaining and not for everyone.

Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is a Chinese-American woman who runs a struggling laundromat with her husband, Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan). Tensions in the household are high due to the laundromat being audited by the IRS. Additionally, Waymond is trying to serve divorce papers to his wife. Evelyn’s father, Gong Gong (Ke Huy Quan), her Cantonese grandfather has just arrived from China and Evelyn’s daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), has been trying to get her mother to accept her girlfriend, Becky (Tallie Medel).

While being audited by Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), at the IRS building, Waymond’s personality changes when his body is briefly taken over by Alpha Waymond. Alpha Waymond explains to Evelyn that many parallel universes exist since every choice someone makes creates a new universe. The people of the Alpha Universe, led by the late Alpha Evelyn, developed “verse-jumping” technology that allows people to access the body, skills, and memories,  of their parallel universe counterparts. The multiverse is being threatened by Jobu Tupaki, formerly Joy in the Alpha Universe. Her mind was splintered after Alpha Evelyn pushed her to extensively verse-jump; Jobu Tupaki now experiences all universes at once and can verse-jump and manipulate matter at will, and has created a black hole-like “everything bagel” that can potentially destroy the multiverse. Alpha Waymond believes that Evelyn, who is the greatest failure of all the Evelyns of all universes, is being hunted by Jobu Tupaki because her untapped potential can allow her to defeat Jobu Tupaki.

Confused yet?  This movie is exactly like the above synopsis so if you couldn’t follow what you just read, don’t see the movie unless you’re a person who can understand better by sight.  There are some very funny moments but more very confusing moments.  You probably won’t be able to piece it all together until near the end of the movie.  There’s not much more I can say about Everything Everywhere All at Once because of its complexity.  Truly, this film is not for everyone, as it puts your brain on overload.  If you decide to see it, don’t say I didn’t warn you. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 97% of 164 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.8/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Led by an outstanding Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once lives up to its title with an expertly calibrated assault on the senses.” Everything Everywhere All at Once is now playing in theaters — Check It Out!

 

MORBIUS (2022) – My rating: 8.5/10

Morbius (film) poster.jpg

Morbius is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, produced by Columbia Pictures in association with Marvel. Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, it is the third film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU). Directed by Daniel Espinosa and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Marvel introduces Morbius to film from his inception as he becomes a living vampire after curing himself of a rare blood disease. Being a fan of Marvel, I hurried to see this new and exciting adventure, superhero film.  I thought the movie was fantastic.

At a hospital in Greece, 10-year-old Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) welcomes his surrogate brother Lucien (Matt Smith), whom he renames Milo Morbius; they bond over their shared blood illness and desire to be “normal”. Their adoptive father and hospital director Dr. Emil Nicholas (Jared Harris) arranged for Michael to attend medical school in New York while he focuses on caring for Milo, who like Michael, is wheelchair-bound but walks with crutches.

25 years later, Michael publicly declines a Nobel Prize for his work with synthetic blood. Michael’s colleague and love interest, Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) discover he has secretly captured dozens of vampire bats from Costa Rica in the hope of splicing their genes with his own to cure his condition. After informing Dr. Nicholas and Milo of his planned illegal experiment, Michael receives funding to outfit a private mercenary vessel in international waters with his equipment. While the cure worked, it transformed Michael into a vampire. Michael kills and drains the crew, all except his loyal assistant Martine, of their blood after they attack him out of fear. Once his bloodlust subsides and he regains his senses, a horrified Michael erases all CCTV footage of his experiment before contacting the authorities and jumping overboard.

Michael returns to New York and discovers he now has superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, and echolocation, with his vampire bats treating him as a bat. He subsists on his synthetic blood until it gradually ceases to satisfy his needs. FBI agents Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) and Alberto “Al” Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) investigate Michael’s victims and deduce his involvement. Milo learns that Michael is cured, but becomes furious when Michael refuses to cure him as well.

To summarize, Michael finds a cure for his and Milo’s blood disease using vampire bats but can’t use the cure because it turns him into a raging, blood-thirsty, dangerous subhuman with a form of transgenic vampirism, that he can’t control.  His best friend, Milo wants the cure at any cost.  In the meanwhile, people are being killed and there’s little hope for Michael and Martine’s future together.  The FBI has gotten involved but, as usual, doesn’t have enough information to piece together the whole story.  About now, the movie is just getting started.  Michael’s character is rather frightening and because he’s out of control, there’s no telling what the end results will be.  This Marvel character is different from most, except the Hulk, because of the control issue.  Also, like the Hulk, people are easily killed, usually unbeknownst to the killer. Both turns into something other than themselves and both are driven by an outside force. I think this Marvel character has a real shot at being a beloved superhero because of his attitude and education.  Despite the reviews, I think the film was brilliantly acted with a decent plot.  As of April 6, 2022, Morbius has grossed $45.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $44.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $90.4 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 17% based on 214 reviews, with an average rating of 3.9/10. The website’s critic’s consensus reads, “Cursed with uninspired effects, rote performances, and a borderline nonsensical story, this Spidey-adjacent mess is a vein [sic] attempt to make Morbius happen.” It ranks as one of the worst-reviewed superhero movies on the site. In January 2021, Leto said there was potential for Morbius to appear alongside the character Blade in a future project, with Mahershala Ali cast in that role for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). You can see Marbius in theaters now — Check It Out!

 

 

UNCHARTED (2022) – My rating: 7.5/10

Uncharted Official Poster.jpg

Uncharted is an action-adventure film directed by Ruben Fleischer from a screenplay by Rafe Lee Judkins, Art Marcum, and Matt Holloway. Uncharted is based on the video game franchise of the same name developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.  The film is about the hunt for the lost Magellan treasure, which is being pursued by several parties.

Lately, the film industry seems to have a big interest in treasure hunts, so I thought I would see what the fuss was all about.  Uncharted was entertaining and largely unbelievable.

Brothers Samuel “Sam” (Rudy Pankow) and Nathan “Nate” Drake (Tom Holland) are caught by museum security guards trying to steal the first map made after the Magellan expedition. The orphanage that houses both boys kicks Sam out. Before he leaves, Sam promises his return to Nate, and leaves him a ring with the inscription “Sic Parvis Magna” as assurance, he’d send for him when he could.

Fifteen years later, Nate works as a bartender in New York City and pickpockets wealthy patrons as a side hustle. Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), a fortune hunter who worked with Sam tracking treasure hidden by the Magellan crew, explains to Nate that Sam vanished after helping him steal Juan Sebastian Elcano’s diary. Vic recruits Nate in a race against corrupt billionaire Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas) and mercenary leader Jo Braddock (Tati Gabrielle) to locate the fabled treasure of the Magellan expedition and find his brother Sam, as well. Sully and Nathan go to an auction to steal a golden cross that is linked to the Magellan crew, where they encounter Santiago Moncada, the last descendant of the Moncada family who funded Magellan’s expedition, and Jo Braddock, leader of mercenaries hired by Moncada. Nate is ambushed by Braddock’s men, and the ensuing fight creates a distraction for Sully to steal the cross. The duo then travels to Barcelona, where the treasure is supposedly hidden, and rendezvous with Sully’s contact Chloe Frazer (Sophia Ali), who has a matching cross.

Uncharted gets a little complicated because there are so many players and no one is trustworthy.  Greed seems to be the prescription of the day for almost everyone.  There is lots of action, violence, chaos, mistrust, murder, mistakes, and lessons to be learned.  Some scenes are totally ridiculous and the number of coincidences is unprecedented.  Uncharted was fun and entertaining anyway.  It’s not a movie you can take seriously.  If you keep that in mind, you’ll come out satisfied at best. As of April 4, 2022, Uncharted has grossed $139.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $234.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $373.5 million.  The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 40%, with an average rating of 5.2/10, based on 228 reviews. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Promisingly cast but misleadingly titled, Uncharted mines its bestselling source material to produce a disappointing echo of superior adventure films”.Uncharted ended with a definite clue that hinted toward a sequel.  You can see Uncharted in theaters now — Check It Out!

INFINITE STORM (2022) My rating: 8.2/10

Infinite Storm.pngInfinite Storm is a drama adventure directed by Małgorzata Szumowska and Michał Englert. Its screenplay by Josh Rollins is based on the article High Places: Footprints in the Snow Lead to an Emotional Rescue. The film focuses on a rescue agent who saves a desolate young man who has become trapped on a mountain during one of the worse storms they’ve had in decades. Because there are so many horror or scary movies out, I decided to see one that didn’t fit into that category.  Infinite Storm seemed safe, so I watched this film and found I was right, it was far from the average scary movie but was scary and horrifying in its own rights.  I enjoyed Infinite storm.

**** SPOILER ALERT ****

Pam Bales (Naomi Watts) is a search and rescue volunteer.  It was Oct. 17, 2010, despite warnings of a severe storm brewing, she sets off on a hike to the top of Mount Washington. As the storm starts to become more fierce, she decides to return to safety but discovers sneaker tracks in the snow. Pam comments, “seriously, sneakers?” She follows the tracks and finds a man sitting motionless, cradled by large rime-covered boulders, just off the Clay Loop Trail.  He appears to be incoherent, she calls out to him but he doesn’t answer.  Hypothermia prevented him from moving his limbs or responding.  Since he couldn’t talk, she gives him a name, “John” (Billy Howle).  He was dressed in tennis sneakers, shorts, a light jacket, fingerless gloves, and no hat. Frozen and scared, Pam uses everything in her arsenal to warm him up and the two begin a dangerous trek down the mountain to safety.  Faced with many obstacles on the way down, they forged onward, braving the freezing winds, trying to get to the bottom before nightfall and before the temperature drops another 20º. Falling into a rushing river, John almost drowns, all while Pam has continuous flashbacks of her own tragic past regarding her two young daughters. After almost freezing to death, the two manage to make it to safety only to have “John” drive off suddenly without so much as a thank you. Pam tries desperately to find out his real name.

The real Pam Bales on Mount Washington

Infinite Storm is based on a true story and is pretty accurately told.  They could have added much more dramatic events but it appears they decided the original story had enough drama to carry this film to an exciting conclusion.  I agree this story was intense and served its purpose of informing the audience of the dangerous journey Pam and “John” embarked upon, making note of the existence of mental illness.  As I watched Pam taking off and adding on layers of clothing while in freezing temperatures, I actually felt the cold.  The scene when Pam removed clothes from “John” and rapidly massaged his feet to gain friction and warmth in his body was amazing.  Their journey down the mountain was extreme, exciting, and entertaining.  There are more mysteries and challenges to be resolved as the movie proceeds to the finish line.  The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 55%, with an average rating of 6/10, based on 51 reviews. The site’s critics’ consensus reads: “Infinite Storm’s dramatization of a real-life story feels frustratingly incomplete, but that’s often outweighed by Naomi Watts’ outstanding performance.” I recommend Infinite Storm to anyone who likes an exciting drama with calm, simple, and intense resolutions.  In theaters only, Check It Out!

 

THE LOST CITY (2022) – My rating: 8/10

The Lost City is an action-adventure comedy directed by the Nee brothers, who co-wrote the screenplay with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox, from a story conceived by Seth Gordon. The Lost City focuses on a novelist and her cover model, who must escape a billionaire and find the lost ancient city depicted in one of her novels. I knew this would be a feel-good story so I was very much looking forward to seeing it.  The Lost City did not let me down.

Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a grumpy middle-aged author who writes romance-adventure novels centered around a fictional hero named Dash McMahon who is portrayed by cover model Alan Caprison/Dash McMahon (Channing Tatum). Loretta’s publisher, Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), insists that she must embark on a book tour with Alan as an effort to relieve Loretta of her reclusiveness.

After a disastrous start, mostly due to the popularity of Alan’s Dash persona, Loretta is met by eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). Fairfax realizes that Loretta has based her books on actual historic research she did with her deceased archaeologist husband. Fairfax has discovered a lost city on a remote Atlantic island and is convinced that this is the location of ‘The Crown of Fire,’ a priceless treasure. When Loretta declines to help decipher an ancient map to the treasure, Fairfax, who fears the site will be destroyed by an active volcano, kidnaps Loretta and takes her to the island.

Alan, who is secretly fascinated with Loretta, witnesses her kidnapping. He recruits Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), an ex-Navy SEAL turned CIA operative, to meet him at the island and coordinate a rescue attempt. Jack, with no assistance from Alan, breaches Fairfax’s compound and frees Loretta, but experiences complications causing Loretta and Alan to escape into the jungle.

From this point, the adventure really begins. There are many obstacles in the way of their escape, including Loretta’s dislike for Alan, Abigail’s pursuit of the two runaways, their clothing, and their unpreparedness for the jungle.  I found the story humorist, entertaining. and adventurist.  Daniel Radcliffe’s performance was brilliant as I didn’t recognize him through his accent or facial looks.  I was impressed by all their performances although the story was good but not believable.  I think if you enjoy a feel-good movie, you’ll enjoy this one. The Lost City has grossed $54.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $3.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $58.3 million.  On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 175 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10.  The website’s critical consensus reads, “The Lost City doesn’t sparkle quite as brightly as some classic treasure-hunting capers, but its stars’ screwball chemistry makes this movie well worth romancing.” The Lost City is now in theaters — Check It Out!

 

RAISING DION (2021-2022) – My rating: 8/10

Raising Dion is a superhero drama television series. It was created for television by Carol Barbee and based on the 2015 comic book and a short film of the same name by Dennis Liu. So far, there are two seasons streaming on Netflix. I was referred to this series by my daughter.  It took a couple of tries to get into it but once I did, Wow, what a great series.

Raising Dion follows the story of a woman named Nicole Warren (Alisha Wainwright) who raises her son Dion Warren (Ja’Siah Young) after the death of her husband Mark Warren (Michael B. Jordan). The normal dramas of raising a son as a single mom are amplified when Dion starts to manifest several magical, superhero-like abilities. Nicole must now keep her son’s gifts secret with the help of Mark’s best friend Pat Rollins (Jason Ritter), and protect Dion from people out to exploit him while figuring out the origin of his abilities.

Raising Dion features a host of characters that help make this an exciting, interesting, and enjoyable superhero series.  The special effects are outstanding and the story is believable.  Mark and Pat, who are scientists and best friends, work for the BIONA company. They travel to Iceland to see a rare aurora event.  Mark is outside while Pat stays inside monitoring the events of lights.  When something goes wrong, everyone there is hit by radiated sparks, which turned some of them into unexplainable creatures.  Pat gets caught up when he goes outside to investigate.  No one knows they have been affected right away.  Mark gets married, impregnates Nicole and she gives birth to Dion, who she noticed had superpowers by the age of 10.  Mark is killed by something called the crooked man, and Nicole is left as a single mom.  Dion befriends Esperanza Jimenez (Sammi Haney), who is wheelchair-bound with osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), and Jonathan King (Gavin Munn) an erstwhile bully, forming their own private vigilante team. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 83% approval rating for the series, based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The website’s critic’s consensus reads, “While its family drama and superhero aspirations don’t quite come together, compelling performances and a sense of wonder keep Raising Dion afloat and suggest that with a little more guidance it could become something great”. The second season was watched for over 108.75 million hours in its first 26 days on the platform according to Netflix’s top 10s. Check It Out!