Morbius (2022)

I don’t really know how this came about. I guess in some conversation somewhere the topic came up about the rather sub-par state of the comic book universe right now. We had so many highs in the Infinity Saga, and the Batman films are continuing strong…we have the Flash coming out later this year which will be absolutely average, and there are a couple of MCU’s that might prove cathartic. But really, theres been some controversially rubbish films of late. Quantumania was okay, marred by the truly awful Modok; Wakanda Forever was a wonderful tribute to the great Chadwick but other than Angela Barret’s tremendous performance was largely forgettable. The travesty of the DCU and poor Henry Cavill is still giving me sleepless nights.

Naturally, Morbius was cited; an absolute car crash of a movie, apparently. So rubbish it was nearly cancelled after it had already come out. Jared Leto’s worst hour and an abomination of cinema.

Surely not, I say. I mean, can it be THAT bad? The two Venom movies have hardly been classics, yet Tom Hardy is able to lift them from true mediocrity. Does Jared have the same clout?

Well. I’m known for my controversial film opinions. So I thought, I might give this a go. Whats the worst that could happen? Well, you could choke on the doctor pepper bottle and die a slow, agonising death. That’s what.

Doctor Michael Morbius has a blood condition that will eventually kill him and his best friend, played by Doctor Matt Smith. He discovers that vampire bats have potentially a dna-fragment that may fix the issues and save them from premature death. So what does he do? Of course, he injects himself with bat blood and turns into a vampire.

Sorry….what? Really? Its spider-man but with bats. And vampires…really? Is this not a little…cliche? I mean, yes, its based on a comic series from ages ago so we can’t really blame the film for this – but.. oh I don’t know. It just sounds a little unoriginal. We already have a Bat man… do we need a man-bat? (That said, if I found out Matt Reeves was going to bring Man-Bat into The Batman 3 then I’d be over the moon. Feck it, get Marc Singer to play him. There’s a ref few will get.)

Anyway. Obviously when Matt Smith finds out the serum works but turns you into Count Dracolytes he cares not, and takes it himself, thus becoming the films villain. The two clash, theres loads of silly fighting and shouting and too much talking, and then the film ends.

Now. I actually didn’t hate it. Its terrible, cliché, lacklustre and, as immortan joe might say, mediocre. But its better than Thor: Love and Thunder. Jared Leto is okay, I guess, but Matt Smith is an absolute legend. Okay so I’m biased; he was a tremendous Dr Who and equally tremendous Daemon Targaryen, and an equally tremendous Prince Phillip. In actual fact, I am happy to say he probably saved the movie from utter unwatchability.

The ending? I mean, yep, lets set things up for a potential sequel – all well and good – but Michael Keaton of all people? A team up against Spider-Man? Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? Don’t get me wrong, if Morbius was to turn up in a later movie alongside Vulture i’d be okay with that. But… is Morbius a villain? Surely the film we’ve just watched is trying to tell us otherwise. Why then, does he have beef with Peter Parker’s webslinging Avenger? Methinks this was not thought out: they just wanted to tag something on at the end to fit with the usual comic book film rules…

A funny story. The film tanked on release. Got that? So then following an internet sensation regarding the made-up phrase “It’s Morbing Time!” the film was released again, hoping to cash in on its new popularity. It didn’t work, and the film tanked again. Is this the first time a film has tanked twice on release? Interesting. Famous for its infamy.

Bottom line is, its not the worst use of two hours. Its just far from the best. I mean, the limescale in your shower is needing cleaned…?

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

Marvel’s first film of 2023 and the very first of Phase 5 of its masterplan, is this threequel in the popular Ant Man adventures. This is what you need to know.

After rescuing Janet Van Dyne from the Quantum Realm (a picoscopic universe far below our own), Scott Lang has decided to play it cool, spend more time with his daughter Cassie and his partner Hope Van Dyne, and her parents. Hope is frustrated because her mother won’t open up about her traumatic experience in the underworld, and Cassie is spreading her intellectual wings with the help of sneaky mischievous Hank Pym. Unfortunately, this involves building a portal to the Quantum Realm. Two seconds later they’re all sucked into the microvoid and the film begins.

And what a film. I mean, batshit crazy doesn’t cover it. Essentially its a CGI fest with very little model work or set design. Instead its a massive world of ridiculity, including cows with snails heads, a man with a spinning fire dynamo for a head, a glob of sentient pink goo who looks like a cross between Seth Rogen’s character from Monsters vs Aliens and Murf from Star Trek: Prodigy, various tribal females, a man that can read minds and Bill Murray. Theres even a man with broccoli for a head, which Hank Pym subtly points out with the script genius of “that man has broccoli for his head”.

The plot is devilishly simple considering the chaotic nature of the film. A stranger called Kang wants Janet to tell him where the time-core of his ruined spaceship is so he can escape to the real world.

However, we soon learn that this stranger cannot reach our universe, because he wants to utterly destroy it, much like he has done a million times before. He even informs us he has killed many Avengers before. EH?

Paul Rudd shines as Scott Lang, carrying the film on his shoulders with plenty of silly quips, Marvel-style, but with enough dramatic clout to ensure everyone is engaged. Similarly, despite being a little sidelined, Evangeline Lilly is fantastic as the Wasp. The older leads, Micheal Douglas and Michelle Pfieffer, spend the whole film having a ball, clearly not knowing what is going on and trusting their director.

Its hugely enjoyable even though your eyes are subjected to some of the silliest visuals you’ll ever see. This isn’t Dr Strange mental, this is another level. Think the clone wars mixed with some of the most outrageous anime you’ll ever see.

A particular highlight is when AntMan finds himself doubling / quadrupling exponentially, leading to an entire room full of AntMans. Antmen? Their pyramid building solution is genius…especially considering thats what REAL ants do…

Kang the Conqueror is (spoilers) the new Big Bad, introduced what seems like ages ago in Loki. I was always worried he wouldn’t stand up to the likes of the memorable Thanos…but i am proved wrong. He is menacing, ruthless and terrifying. The MCU is quivering before him.

Kevin Feige has already stated that this is the gear shift in the MCU. Phase 4 was distinctively soggy but now that the quantum-mania has begun, my pulse is skyrocketing.


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

This was / is the only Marvel MCU film i didn’t see at the cinema. Work and anxiety issues prohibited me from it. So on its release on Disney +, it was a necessity to sit down and digest it over a seafood salad. Which was lovely, btw.

The tragic loss of our hero and friend Chadwick Boseman threw the fate of this sequel into indefinition but the writers have very fondly crafted his loss into the movie. The opening, silent Marvel Studios logo pays a wonderful homage to the fallen legend. Of course, the trailers have all spoiled the reveal of the new Panther, but if you ask me, the film would have stood happily by itself without the Panther character – its far more about Wakanda, and the greif of T’challa’s mother and sister.

Its first stumbling block is its choice of antagonists. Namora is a Hermes-style flying fish person. His people are BLUE. Live UNDER THE SEA. They may well have called the film “Aquaman: Avatar Forever”. They ride around on whales (like Aquaman), they live in an underwater city (like Aquaman), and Namora himself has the acting range of a coral reef (like Aquaman).

Basically a genius child prodigy (exactly like America in Dr Strange) has invented a Vibranium-detector and it turns out that Wakanda isn’t the only place on Earth you can find it. So us nasty humans try to steal it, get caught up in a huge revenge plot by the sea people and then Wakanda has to get stuck in the middle.

Plot is silly, check. Its MCU. But then the child builds a Mighty Morphin Power suit. “Ironheart.” Jeez. Talk about a drop in quality. In fact, the CGI throughout is awful. I mean, obviously, compared to films of ten years ago its good, but this is the MCU. This is post -Avatar: Way of Water – i really would have expected more from this cartoon of terrible.

Angela Basset and Letitia Wright absolutely steal the show – and make it worth the watch. My particular highlight (there weren’t many) was the banter between Shuri and her royal bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira); a classic double act.

The rest of the film is startlingly forgettable. The Queen gets some excellent scenes and theres a smattering of decent lines, but other than that is a bit average. Its nice exploring the world a bit more, but, ultimately, its a just another film in the franchise, and hardly stand out. Come on Marvel, you’re better than this.

That said, it truly is a love letter in memory of Chadwick, and for that it excels.

And…what the hell with Martin Freeman?

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

We’re back in the MCU again and this time no multiverse nonsense, which is nice. We don’t have to expect cameos from other variations of the franchise or anything. BUT that’s because the franchise is messy enough at the moment. The last time we saw Thor he was off with the Asgaardians of the Galaxy…

…and that’s where we join him. On another classic Thor adventure. In my opinion we’ve descended into too much self-parody; Thor isn’t a superhero we can adore and worship – he literally turns up, steals the thunder from the Guardians and then proceeds to wreck the place as he kicks the ass of some awesome looking bad guys. It reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters when they went, saw and kicked Slimers ass – absolutely no care for the collateral expense. Now, if played for comedy value then okay, I understand…but what if you were the head of the people who’s entire city is rendered a pile of shattered glass simply because Thor wanted to make a spectacle of his victory.

The plot then: Gorr has a daughter, whom he loses to the desert in a rather harrowing scene, as he pledges faith to the Sun God via a pilgrimmage. Unfortunately, upon meeting the God, it turns out he’s an arrogant sod and cares not for his followers. Embracing a scary looking weapon called the Necrosword, Gorr slays the sun god and pledges himself to a dark cause; to rid the universe of Gods.

Of course, with Asgaardians being Gods, things start heating up for Thor as he then is called upon by Sith (yep, same actress) to help battle this God-Butcher. And so he has to return to New Asgaard on Earth, as Tessa Thompson (established in Ragnarock) needs help. Except she already has help… for Jane Foster is back, and has Mjolnir.

Thus beguns a romantic comedy. Doesn Thor still love Jane? Does Jane still love Thor? Does Thor still love Mjolnir? Where does that leave Stormbreaker? Can we all just be friends and stop the God-Butcher before he reaches “Eternity”, where his one wish will be granted? (presumably to rid the universe of Gods?)

DO NOT GET ME WRONG: the film is thoroughly entertaining in the way only Marvel can be. It draws the right line between true drama and utter silliness; its provides us with genuinely ridiculous concepts – the God Palace of Omnipotent City, the Rainbow-riding skyboat pulled by Goats – but you consume it all with nay a nod to sense because all the actors are so believable.

Chris H is obviously so comfortable in the role and loving every second of it. It was nice to see Natalie Portman back, certainly, and Tessa Thompson was amazing. But it was Christian Bale, throwing aside that stereotype of arseholiness to be both genuinely creepy and insane comic book villain. Russel Crowe’s cameo is both unforgettable and outrageous, as he proudly displays comedic timing and a sense of humour that would surprise you. Plus he retains his now trademark choice of awful accents. I’m looking forwards to the inevitable Russian submarine movie where he plays a Scotsman. Or something equally masterclass.

The films major success however falls to two things – 1) the use of the kids in the plot. They are central. Giving each and every one of the poor wee tots the power of Thor for the finale is a stroke of genius. All the kids watching are going to go home, immediately pick up something in their house and run off screaming, imaginary lightening streaming from their eyes and them embracing every moment of their wonderful childhood.

2) Stormbreaker. Steals every scene its in with more character presence / comedy timing / dramatic stares than the entire cast of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. You’ll think i’m mad reading this, but wait till you see the movie.

But its imperfect. Annoyingly so. The wackiness is so at odds with some of the more dramatic moments that you’re brought out of the flow; Jane is given amazing powers and yet those powers are killing her. Oh – we said something serious, quick, have the rock man say something funny to counter it. And if you didn’t think screaming goats are funny ten years ago then you’re going to have a whale of a time here.

Its an enjoyable dance of jokes and silliness, but it falls far from classic marvel. Its certainly nowhere near as good as its predecessor. It does however, standalone. It doesn’t set things up for a sequel until the traditional mid-credits scene, and even then we’re not sure whats being said. No hints as to what might happen in the future – in fact… I don’t even know what the next Marvel film is? Is there another one this year?

Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)

AKA Doctor Strange and the Madness of the Multiverse (2022)

AKA Dr Madness and the Strange Multiverse (2022)

AKA Dr Multiverse 2022 is Strange and Mad (ness)

Without a doubt, this film is batshit crazy. Bonkers. Mind-blowingly silly, beyond a shadow of hesitation an absolute brainfuck of spinning lights, ridiculous creations and cinematography that would make an LSD trip feel like a drive in the Cotswolds.

But its also pretty good.

Oh I’m aware i just pissed off the cynics who probably complained its all flash and no heart, but i disagree. At the very centre of this there lies a strong message about happiness, and this is reflected both in the character of Strange himself, but too the arguably central x-tagonist (is she good or bad, that is the million dollar franchise question?) and yes, don’t you worry fans and geeks i did use that x in there not just as the mathematical symbol of the unknown integer but for THAT other reason too. Sort of. Its tenuous.

Much like the films plot, yes, i agree. But who gives two hoots when its this much fun! These Marvel films know exactly what they’re delivering: reasons to go the cinema and see these things in Kong-sized screens and with speakers that would blow the hind legs off a brontosaurus. Actors you know and love not only because they’re handsome (Cumberbatch) or beautiful (errr…Cumberbatch again but also Rachel McAdams and Elizabeth Olsen), but because they’re talented. Despite talking a load of nonsence they are all believable in the silly characters they inhabit. Making spinning revolving portals using fingers or staring into a vast sky of greenscreen and apparently seeing the whole city collide into itself Inception style…kudos, boys and girls.

Basically, Wanda has not forgiven herself for the events of her TV show and has sought the Book of the Dead – it may as well be, damn it – to give her power over reality, so she can concoct her own family. A kid called America can manipulate the multiverse (coz, reasons) but only when shes scared. Wanda wants kid, Wanda shouldn’t have that level of control, Strange needs to stop her. And…away we go.

Sam Raimi has been given free reign to cram in as many of his own little idiosyncracies as he can – including Bruce Campbell slapping himself in the face with his own hand – and it shows. I mentioned lunatic cinematography – try acrobatic monkeys with go-pros filming the action scenes. Its frenetic, its frantic, and its imminently wild.

Of course, this is Marvel, so we get to see some very surprising cameos – maybe not quite as jaw dropping as in Spiderman: No Way Home, but even so… that guy i was not expecting!

Bombastic and daft, and so worth a watch. Yep – i made my conclusion cleverly relevant.