Don’t forget to respond to our poll about your most anticipated Fall film release.
This is a special reward available to Patreon patrons who pledge at the $10 or $20 a month levels. Each month those patrons will pick a film for me to review. If they choose, they also get to include some of their thoughts about the movie. This Pick comes from Bekah Lindstrom.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Written by Shane Black & Drew Pearce
Directed by Shane Black
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an all-encompassing behemoth at this point, and its existence marks a transformation of corporate-owned media. It’s hard to remember individual films with such a glut of content filling up cineplexes and streaming platforms, but some movies in the mix aren’t absolute formulaic dreck. Once upon a time, Marvel was a little less cohesive, which was a good thing. Not every film needs to provide plot points & Easter eggs for future films and long-running storylines. In this space, it was possible to hand a movie over to Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys) and let him do what he wanted, with an emphasis on superhero-ing things. It was likely seen as less in the shadow of the first Avengers movie, but Iron Man 3 is a very solid, entertaining flick.
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Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)
Written by Taika Waititi and Jennifer Kaytin Robinson
Directed by Taika Watiti
Well. This is not surprising. When I saw Thor: Ragnarok, I enjoyed it for one primary reason: it was not like previous Marvel movies. It wasn’t a masterpiece of filmmaking, no Marvel movies are or ever will be, but it was fine entertainment. In true wash-rinse-repeat fashion, Disney and/or Taika Waititi said, “Hey, let’s try and do the same thing but worse.” They certainly accomplished it. I can’t say I’ve seen too many films with this large budget that feel incredibly lazy in every production aspect. Scenes happen, and then another scene happens, and they are loosely linked, propelled at most by a plot that fans of the Power Rangers would find lacking in substance.
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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Written by Michael Waldron
Directed by Sam Raimi
When you hire Sam Raimi, you better be prepared to let him do what he does best. This is not something commonly found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a seemingly never-ending series of loud, bland commercials for upcoming movies which are also commercials for upcoming films. However, there’s no doubting Multiverse of Madness or MoM is set up to tease Marvelites with the Multiverse and its long-term effects on the MCU. There is a clear cameo that has been teased in the trailers and commercials and more to be seen in the picture, but those just don’t entice me anymore. I want a good movie with a complete arc and well-written characters. Thank god for Raimi, who gives us just that.
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Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Written by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Alvin Sargent
Directed by Sam Raimi
By 2007, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man film series had been a massive success. The following year would see Marvel’s first production of Iron Man, which, as we all know, would kickstart the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Audiences were incredibly hyped for this third installment. Through the marketing, it made it clear that we’d finally be seeing the Spider black suit and Venom in the movie. However, we were also told the conflict with Harry would be resolved, and there’d be a third villain in Sandman. Pretty crowded movie, but Spider-Man comics are often filled with subplots and supporting characters. So when I went to see the picture, I didn’t have any apprehensions about going into the theater.
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Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Written by Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers
Directed by Jon Watts
This is the second time I’ve written a review for Spider-Man: No Way Home this year, the first being an April Fool’s joke which let me imagine what might happen in the picture. Using leaked details, I pieced together a completely over-the-top film which ended up not being too far off from the actual film. If you are someone for whom Spider-Man films mean a lot too, if they are linked to your childhoods, etc., then you are going to love No Way Home. But I am not reviewing it from that perspective; I want to look at this as a movie and as a reflection on the fundamental elements of the iconic character. When we look at No Way Home in this manner, it really falls apart as a cohesive film.
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Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, and Michael Chabon
Directed by Sam Raimi
How do you follow up Spider-Man? With what is undoubtedly one of the best superhero films ever made. So many unplanned franchises/trilogies often suffer in their second installments. They seem to follow a playbook that bloats their cast and overcomplicates their plot. The result ranges from disappointing to middling. Even Superman 2, a sequel that was planned at the same time as the first movie, is a mess both in its theatrical and director’s cut forms. I think the key to Spider-Man 2’s success is Sam Raimi and Sony Pictures choosing to step away and let the filmmaker continue his love letters to the comic books he grew up with.
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Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)
Written by Kelly Marcel
Directed by Andy Serkis
I never could have predicted this would be the movie we got with Venom in the lead role. I want to be upfront here and say I did not enjoy watching this movie. Yet, I appreciate the final product’s entirely off the rails insanity. It is certainly nothing like your standard MCU movie; it doesn’t seem interested in cutesy quippy dialogue. For the most part, it feels like a hurriedly edited mess that doesn’t have any lulls. It follows some tropes of the superhero sequel, and the main antagonist is yet another evil symbiote. That said, this is one of those head-scratching movies that is so strange in its presentation that you have to wonder if executives spoke up at any point during the production.
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Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Written by Dave Callaham, Destin Daniel Cretton, and Andrew Lanham
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
I think the era of Marvel movies might be over. It was an inevitability; they churned out so much in a decade that they couldn’t help but plug into a formula with a few exceptions here and there. I look forward to Spider-Man: No Way Home, but for shallow nostalgia reasons, and Thor: Love and Thunder is the only one I genuinely think I’ll enjoy. I don’t “stan” any of these or any other comic book cinematic universe’s characters, and I say this as someone who has been reading comics for over thirty years. While on the surface seeming like a fresh new property, Shang-Chi is another boring, well-tread origin story that we’ve seen a thousand times before.
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Loki Season 1, Episode 6 (Disney+)
Written by Michael Waldron and Eric Martin
Directed by Kate Herron
Well, I’ll be damned. A theory about a Marvel show’s conclusion actually turned out right for once. When Disney first announced these three shows a couple of years ago, I ranked Loki as one I was least interested in. Now that the premiere shows have concluded, I’m walking away with Loki ranked at the top of my list. It was the most satisfying, and The Falcon and Winter Soldier sits at the bottom, likely to stay there if the shows coming down the pike are decent. Loki managed to deliver a good story and actually feel like what happened will matter in the greater MCU. It had me excited for what comes next, hoping upcoming films touch on the Multiverse more. I’m not expecting Shang-Chi or Eternals to do so, but Spider-Man sounds like it may be based on the casting rumors being leaked.
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Loki Season 1, Episode 5 (Disney+)
Written by Tom Kaufmann
Directed by Kate Herron
Loki continues to be the Marvel series I’m warm up to the most. While Wandavision was good, I particularly appreciate the silly fun of Loki. This particular episode plays a lot with the potential fun of having a Multiverse, which is a welcome addition. The plot doesn’t slow down for this slight detour and ends up developing our protagonists by framing them against versions of themselves. I think time travel stories always benefit from a balance of the serious and the humorous (see Back to the Future). When dealing with those types of science fiction narratives, you can’t take yourself too seriously.
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