I’m going to keep it brief this month and that should be easy because I only watched four films in June. TV shows like Obi Wan Kenobi on Disney+, For All Mankind S3 on AppleTV+ and Stranger Things S4 and the final season of Ozark on Netflix have used up the time I’d normally spend on movies. This is especially the case with Stranger Things as each of the new season episodes is almost as long as a movie. Not that I’m complaining, all this stuff has been great, whereas the movies were a mixed bag as follows. I’ll put them in descending order of merit.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) was fresh onto Disney+ a week or so ago and is a colourful treat for the eyes after all the darkness of Obi Wan and Stranger Things. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Doctor Strange film, but really enjoyed this one. Obviously there are some great special effects and an obvious feeling of freedom to it after the Spider-Man film in which he played a bit part, and the animated TV show What If… also appears to have had an influence, but what really did it for me was to have Wanda Maximoff / The Scarlet Witch (an at times terrifying looking Elizabeth Olsen) as the antagonist, and tie it smoothly into Wandavision.
I can’t really say anymore about the film if I am to keep this spoiler-free, suffice to say this is one Marvel film that does live up to the hype. Olsen shines brighter than Cumberbatch, but the real plaudits need to go to writer Michael Waldron. Also it is worth noting that this is a Sam Raimi film, and it shows (not just because of the obligatory Bruce Campbell cameo) – his choice of shot and a certain amount of undead fun really gave the film a fun flavour perhaps lacking in some of the films churned out on the Marvel/Disney conveyor belt of late.
The Princess Bride (1987) is a classic fantasy comedy from the legend that is director Rob Reiner and from the pen of William Goldman. I’ve seen it a few times and seen plenty of memes and quotes from the much-loved film over the years, however it was only on this viewing that I realised that swordsman Iñigo Montoya on a mission to avenge the death of his father at the cruel hands of a six-fingered cad is none other than Homeland‘s Mandy Patinkin (who plays Saul Berenson).
He’s not the only familiar face in the cast – everywhere you turn there seems to be a face from British comedy TV and of course a fun cameo by Billy Crystal as Miracle Max. The film itself is feel-good fantasy romp which feels like the blueprint for many a Shrek and Disney film.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) is a Sony pretending to be Marvel film and sequel to the original Tom Hardy outing as Venom. In this one journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) tries to reignite his career by doing a story on serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), who escapes prison after a failed execution and takes on the form of the symbiote Carnage.
I actually enjoyed this film more than the first one. I thought it was funnier and Harrelson was great as the adversary despite the fairly obvious plot. Also, if you hold on at the end, there’s a cheeky attempt at a tie-in to the world of Spider-Man is a pre-credits scene with someone who was notably absent from the recent Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Morbius (2022) is another Sony pretending to be Marvel film. It stars Jared Leto in the titular role as vampire bat-man trying to do the right thing and fighting his old pal Milo played by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith. Smith hams up the role of villain to the nth degree and while I am a big fan of Leto he is kind of left in Smith’s shadow somewhat. The two performances don’t really work together on screen and really the film feels like more of an origin story for a franchise than a good standalone film, and it’s easy to compare the beats of the plot with the first Venom film (and as you might expect there is a clumsy reference to that that film in this).
I love the idea of the Marvel character Morbius but was really disappointed with his first movie outing. The film has a lot of different characters that get no development and while a plot line starts for them it gets left by the wayside for some reason – e.g. a girl who gets put into a medical coma but is then never mentioned or seen again. Maybe she’ll turn up in the next sequel, but I wouldn’t hold your breath as, unlike Venom, this movie was such a flop that there might never be a sequel.