DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (2022) opens with Stephen (Benedict Cumberpatch, of course) putting on a brave face as he attends Claire’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding. Then America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) enlists him to help against a mysterious enemy out to drain her dimension hopping power — which turns out to be the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), determined to find a realm where her kids are still alive (after what happened in Disney’s Wandavision). Turning to the unspeakable evil of the Darkhold, she’s now powerful and corrupted enough to crush anyone who gets in her way — so how can they stop her?
Directed by Sam Raimi (the final pre-credits scene feels like a very Raimi finish) this is imaginative and entertaining; however I hate how magic often ends up looking less like magic and more like Green Lantern or the Mandarin’s solid-energy constructs. It bugs me that “witch” is implied to be a bad thing, even in a world where magic is normal. And I agree with one of my fellow Atomic Junkshop bloggers that the handling of motherhood is awful. America’s lost her two moms, for instance, but the movie places much more emphasis on finding a new dad in Stephen Strange. Still worth seeing, but flawed. “I don’t know who you are or what you’re trying to do here, but these things don’t usually work out too well for the nameless scientists.”
LEGAL EAGLES (1986) has flaky defense attorney Debra Winger struggling to convince prosecutor Robert Redford that performance artist and accused thief Daryl Hannah is more sinned against than sinning, while Redford struggles to overcome insomnia and rein in his attraction to both women. I really loved this when I caught it in theaters, but rewatching makes me aware the thriller aspect doesn’t mesh well with the legal rom-com parts; rather than have the finalé in the courtroom, we get a generic action-packed showdown with the bad guy in a blazing building (Siskel and Ebert used to complain a lot about movies resolving non-action plots with violence). Still, a good enough cast — including Terrance Stamp as a slimy art dealer and Brian Dennehy as a cop — that I enjoyed it. “Dad didn’t hit her in the face — it was just some guy she was trying to rob with a gun!”
I’ve been rewatching the Middleman TV series so as one episode mentioned RIDE LONESOME (1959) as the hero’s favorite movie …This has Randolph Scott as a relentless bounty hunter determined to bring in a captured outlaw despite challenges from rival hunters, Native tribes, a pretty girl and the captive’s brother Lee Van Cleef. This reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s Bend of the River for showing Scott’s not the hardcase he appears to be, but this movie doesn’t hook me the way the other film did (in fairness, Westerns are one of my least favorite genres); however the ending does make for great drama. “If a man had you, Mrs. Lane, he’d never know a long, lonely night.”
#SFWApro. Cover by Jim Starlin, all rights to image remain with current holder.