“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (Action/Adventure: 2 hours, 6 minutes)
With: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Xochitl Gomez, Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams
Director: Sam Raimi
Rated: PG-13 (Intense action and violence sequences, scary imagery and language.)
Movie Review: Time travel movies have been overplayed. Scenarios involving the multiverse are now in vogue. Several films are now creating more stories by detailing life in other universes.
It’s the third recent Marvel film to tackle this new realm of science fiction, following 2018’s ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ and 2021’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’. ). The latter featured Doctor Strange, played by the talented Benedict Cumberbatch, and his manipulation of the multiverse.
In “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Cumberbatch entertainingly continues Dr. Stephen Strange’s journey into realms unknown. This outing sees the wizard encounter a teenager named America Chavez (Gomez) who can traverse the multiverse with a mere thought. As she and Doctor Strange traverse multiple universes, they are pursued by Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
“Multiverse of Madness” jumps right into that story. That’s assuming audiences are familiar with these characters from previous Marvel movies and TV’s “WandaVision” (2021). The bet may be confusing for some but that won’t make this movie any less enjoyable.
Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”, 2002) directs this film which links previous films and a television series. He and his team create an entertaining film. Like most Marvel movies, the special effects are good but superfluous. The visual effects often overshadow the story, but that’s on par with a Raimi-led production.
“Multiverse of Madness” is interesting. He surprises the audience with big and small nuggets that never cease to enliven this scenario. The action and special effects are numerous and effective. Such is combined with neat characters and a plot that works beautifully to make this solid entertainment.
Grade: B (If you’re familiar with Marvel movies, that’s more nice than weird.)
Playing at Valdosta Stadium cinemas.
“Hatching” (Horror: 1 hour, 27 minutes; Finnish with English subtitles)
With: Siiri Solalinna, Sophia Heikkilä and Jani Volanen
Director: Hanna Bergholm
Rated: R (mature and scary content, gore and violence)
Film review: This Finnish horror film has a feminist approach. It is a scenario with a lot of originality. Weird as it gets at times, it manages to involve scares and an intriguing plot about how women and girls view their appearance in relation to societal norms.
“Hatching” follows a family of four in the suburbs, where a 12-year-old gymnast, Tinja (Siiri Solalinna), tries to please her demanding, image-obsessed mother (Heikkilä). Tinja finds an injured bird in the woods. After killing it, she realizes that the bird had an egg. Tinja brings the egg home and combs it to bed. She feeds it until it hatches. A creature emerges that becomes her best friend and her living nightmare.
“Hatching” is director Hanna Bergholm’s feature debut after numerous shorts and directing several episodes of “Reetta and Ronja.” Bergholm does a good job directing the screenplay by Ilja Rautsi. Rautsi’s CV includes feminist shorts such as “Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre” (2018).
“Hatching” is not an anti-male film. Instead, it shows a daughter-mother duo who are determined individuals pursuing what they believe should be theirs. While this is happening, a clever horror coincides. The result is something fun that’s both quirky and anxiety-provoking.
Grade: B (From a good egg…)
“The Duke” (Biography/Drama/Comedy: 1h35)
With: Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren and Fionn Whitehead
Director: Roger Michelle
Rated: R (strong language and sexual content)
Movie Review: Based on true events, “The Duke” is a pleasant surprise. It’s not flashy or bold or grand in any major cinematic way. However, it’s the film that moviegoers may not be familiar with but should see if the opportunity arises.
This clever biographical photoplay is set in 1961. Kempton Bunton, 60, works as a taxi driver. Protesting against having to pay a TV tax to the BBC, Bunton steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.
The portrait had been presented as a great treasure for the British people. Bunton’s trial becomes a disaster for law enforcement as Bunton stands up for his rights by making people laugh and drawing inspiration from his patriotism.
British scripts know how to create a comedy without sacrificing the authenticity of the characters. American comedies are often the opposite. The characters are goofy and it’s meant to be funny, jeopardizing the integrity of the role as a tangible person.
“The Duke” takes a real individual and brings them to life in a very beautiful way with humor and humanity. Bunton is played by veteran actor Jim Broadbent. He plays the role seriously. He inspires as much as the character he embodies. Plus, his timing as a comedian is superior.
Helen Mirren plays his wife, Dorothy Bunton, an even call. Dame Mirren plays a maid in this film. A beautiful, glamorous actress known for playing royal characters, she fits the role and plays it extremely well. Its versatility is impressive.
Oscar winners Broadbent and Mirren are superior. They and others in this cast provide plenty of entertainment and uplifting moments that last long after this film ends. This film makes you want to know more about Kempton Bunton. This storyline has average appeal, but it blossoms with touching feelings.
Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”, 1999) easily creates inspiring drama and good comedy. Again, if you want to leave a movie theater with an enthusiastic attitude, “The Duke” is the movie to achieve it.
Grade: B+ (A Noble Tale)
“Firestarter” (Horror/Science-Fiction: 1h34)
With: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong and Sydney Lemmon
Director: Keith Thomas
Rated: R (violent content)
Movie Review: “Firestarter” is a remake of the 1984 movie titled the same and directed by Mark L. Lester. This horror appears less effective compared to its predecessor made 38 years ago.
Andy (Efron), Vicky (Lemmon) and Charlie (Armstrong) are the McGees. They are a happy family until a young Charlie’s supernatural abilities mature. She causes spontaneous fires with a mere thought. After her ability manifests in her school’s restroom, a group from an underground science organization begins to pursue the girl. However, her father, Andy, is a telepath who aims to protect his daughter from harm.
Once again, this film is not scary. It sounds more like science fiction than a horror movie. This is an adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 book.
Keith Thomas and the team learned a valuable lesson. If you plan to remake a film, improve it on the original, which was of poor quality. “Firestarter” is a lackluster repeat.
Grade: D+ (No ignition.)
Play at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas
“Family Camp” (Comedy: 1h51)
With: Tommy Woodard, Eddie James and Leigh-Allyn Baker
Director: Brian Cates
Rated: PG (Violence and thematic elements)
Movie Review: The Ackermans meet the Sanders at a family camp and the families are complete opposites. Although they are in a religious camp, the antics of both families are far from divinely inspired. The message learned by the two families is good but the execution is often a goofy comedy.
Brian Cates’ feature debut as a director shows he knows how to convey a message and capitalize on comedy. However, humor is adolescent material. The call has a large following but is far from mediocre in terms of intellectual prowess.
The movie has several good points about family ties. The final three scenes become an enjoyable treat as the families reminisce about why they love each other. All of the above is silly and messy. It’s easy to sit back and forget about comedy.
Grade: C (Family is good; camp needs some work.)
Play at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas
Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has been reviewing films for the Valdosta Daily Times for over 20 years.