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Thor: Love and Thunder

comic book, Disney, Marvel, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

Do you still feel grief-stricken after the heartbreaking death of Tony Stark? Can’t get yourself back to the pre-Endgame happiness? Then Thor: Love and Thunder is definitely a movie for you.

Set after the events in the Endgame, the story follows Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on his journey to rediscover himself. Thor needs to rejoin the fight and pick up his battle axe Stormbreaker in order to save the universe one more time. He has to stand against Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who is wielding a terrifying sword, set on destroying deities from all myths and legends. Thor recruits Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) to help him on his quest.

Jane is seen taking on a new role as the Mighty Thor while undergoing cancer treatment. She wields a reconstructed Mjolnir and is dressed in a dazzling costume; the new look definitely works for her.

Thor: Love and Thunder is something different in the MCU. It gives Thor a human side and shows him amidst what seems to be a mid-life crisis. There is also more humour and focus on emotions in the film. These aspects could even be taken one step further; you could categorise Thor: Love and Thunder as the first modern superhero romcom.

The film introduces new characters who may in the future take more significant roles. A fun and surprisingly hilarious character is Zeus played by Russell Crowe. Another terrific asset is the soundtrack, with the Guns’n’Roses and their hits incorporated smartly, adding to the film’s combination of the greatest and cheesiest movie moments of the ‘80s expertly glued together by modern special effects and sensibilities.

One of the most interesting visual moments in the film is Thor’s venture to the Shadow Realm, reminiscent of that moment of watching Sin City for the first time.

Thor: Love and Thunder combines so many styles that it makes watching it a unique experience. Taika Waititi has said that the movie was filmed in a family atmosphere with children of the cast playing small parts in the movie and even designing all the monsters in it. This togetherness can truly be felt throughout the movie.

On a final note, as expected, there are 2 post credit scenes, so don’t rush out too early.

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Lightyear

animation, Disney, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

A film that explains the backstory of a fictional piece of merchandise, Pixar’s breezy sci-fi adventurer shows the figure behind the plastic. We are no longer in the toy chest.

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, partly the result of its titular character’s stubborn refusal to accept assistance, the world’s favourite round-jawed spaceman Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans, the perfect successor to Tim Allen) goes to infinity and beyond to save humankind.

In his escapades, Buzz faces hostile critters, strangulating vines, and laser-ready robots, all the while training a rag-tag crew of unlikely space rangers who prove more clumsy than adept. The likes of these unique candidates include Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer, a standout), Mo (Taika Waititi) and Darby (Dale Soules). The role of scene-stealing side character, a Pixar staple, exists in the robotic emotional support cat Sox (Peter Sohn, affable).

As is the case in Pixar, the message at the centre of Lightyear – the importance of believing in others and not allowing your mistakes to haunt you – reads loud and true. Director Angus MacLane (Finding Dory) captures this theme with poignancy, utilising the story’s time travel aspects to express the moments lost to critical self-reflection.

Errors are okay, beating yourself up over them is not.

While these values radiate throughout the film, they don’t entirely make up for the subdued storytelling. In its ambition to tell a fast-moving romp, Lightyear defaults to conventional methods of getting from A to Z, jarringly imposing a heavy-handedness to establish emotional stakes. The big reveal, coming in the form of the film’s antagonist Emperor Zurg (James Brolin), doesn’t quite hit the Star Wars level of delicious surprise it is inspired by, sitting so hard on the nose that you might confuse it for a pair of reading glasses.

By no measure is Lightyear a bad film, and to judge it based on the success of other Pixar entries would be unfair. That said, it feels as if the filmmakers – the same studio who made uniquely thought-provoking creations such as Inside Out and Soul, challenging the conventions on what animated films can be – have dialled down the complexity for the sake of broader appeal.

In the spirit of sci-fi romps of yesteryear, Michael Giacchino’s horn-heavy score channels both adventure and tribulation. Visuals are most elegant following Buzz’s antics in space, with the film’s cinematography embracing a Kubrickian flare. If only this beauty were matched in grandeur with the efforts on the ground, with the indistinguishable barren landscapes – not to mention the rubbery appearance of the human characters – lacking vitality.

In Evans, Buzz is perfectly cast, with the Captain America actor serving bravado in equal measure to vulnerability. His superior commander, the astute Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), offers many of the film’s most touching moments, with her same-sex relationship representing a breakthrough in Disney-Pixar storytelling. Though, that is not to say it is perfectly executed (nor should a studio be celebrated for it).

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The Buzz on Lightyear

Never slow to capitalise on a great hero, it astonishingly took Pixar/Disney 27 years to make the most out of the Toy Story franchise’s lovable Buzz Lightyear.
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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

comic book, Disney, Disney+, Marvel, Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

Marvel movies. They’ve become so ubiquitous, so ever-present, it’s hard to remember a time when they didn’t occupy cinema screens en masse and dominate the box office. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you. Even the weakest Marvel offering is usually a pretty good time, however all but the most ardent superhero lover would likely agree that stylistically these flicks are starting to feel a bit samey. This house style has frustrated some directors – Edgar Wright who left Ant-Man for one – and occasionally it feels like these movies are simply slick content delivery machines. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness does not feel like that, and the movie – for all its many shortcomings – offers a rather unique (albeit occasionally baffling) experience in a genre of film that is all too often homogenised. And how does it accomplish this?

Three words, people: Sam motherflippin’ Raimi.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness continues the tale of neurosurgeon-turned-wizard Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who in the dizzying opening moments of the movie meets America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), a teenager on the run from various gloopy monsters. Said beasties appear to be after America’s ability to zip through the multiverse, from one dimension to another during moments of extreme emotion, and ol’ mate Strange decides to give Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) a ping to see if she can help. And… that’s all the story beats we can chat about without getting super spoilery.

Multiverse of Madness takes some big, BIG narrative swings throughout and while not all of them work, they’re undeniably ballsy. It’s also probably the Marvel movie you’ll need to do the most homework for. Unless you’ve seen the entirety of WandaVision (streaming now on Disney+), you’ll likely be a little lost. Hell, you might even raise an eyebrow or two if you have!

See, Multiverse of Madness goes berko. Wild new dimensions are visited, jaw-dropping cameos occur and the level of creepy moments and straight up gore is higher in this flick than any other Marvel offering. Like, don’t get us wrong, it’s not A Serbian Film or anything, but it’s probably going to have your ruggies hiding behind the seats and adult fans cackling with inappropriate laughter. The sheer unbridled verve with which Sam Raimi directs the shit out of this yarn is an absolute pleasure to behold.

Raimi hasn’t actually directed a feature film since 2013’s forgettable Oz the Great and Powerful, but in that time the 62-year-old Evil Dead helmer hasn’t lost a step. From the opening moments to the end credits, this feels like a Sam Raimi flick. Dutch angles, roaming camera, alarming close-ups and giddy whip pans are all present, as well as new tricks including an hilariously grisly third act addition that we won’t spoil, but you’ll know it when you see it.

It’s a good thing Raimi’s so on point too because, frankly, the script is a bit of a mess. It simplifies a lot of the great character work done with Wanda in WandaVision and spends quite a bit of the second act seemingly unsure where to go. Perhaps some of the lumpy, inconsistent structure is a hangover from previous director Scott Derrickson (who departed the film due to those “creative differences” that seem all the rage these days), but the result is a film that at times feels at odds with itself. That said, it does end on a high note, with one of the more exciting and visceral third acts in Marvel history.

Ultimately, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a bit of a mixed bag. The script is patchy and feels micro-managed, but the direction is vital and lively. This is an okay narrative directed by a master, and while the end result is imperfect, it also feels weirder and gutsier than recent entries.

Sure to be divisive for all sorts of reasons, Multiverse of Madness is destined to be the Marvel film most appreciated by stoners, goth kids, horror fans and twitchy weirdos. And if you know that up front, there’s a weirdly giddy adventure waiting for you to enjoy.

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Trailer: The Dropout

The rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company Theranos (promising to marry tech + science) was expertly documented by Alex Gibney in The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (available now on Binge), and now comes the 8 part limited series starring Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes (A+ for this casting) and Naveen Andrews as her lover and offsider Sunny Balwani, and co-starring Utkarsh Ambudkar, Stephen Fry, William H. Macy, Laurie Metcalf, Dylan Minnette, Alan Ruck, Sam Waterson and Michaela Watkins.
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Trailer: Moon Knight

Embrace the chaos with Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke in the latest series from Marvel/Disney, with 6 episodes directed by Moorhead and Benson (Synchronic, The Endless).
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Unsung Auteurs: Michael Lindsay-Hogg

FilmInk salutes the work of directors who have never truly received the credit that they deserve. In this installment: essential rock music documentarian and feature film helmer Michael Lindsay-Hogg.