‘Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness’ places a heavy continuity burden on moviegoers

“Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” is a mouthful of a title.

It’s also a lot for a film.

I liked it.

I’m inclined to like Marvel Studios movies because I grew up reading comic books.

I never imagined big-time Hollywood blockbusters headlined by characters once as obscure as Doctor Strange, played by the genuinely terrific Benedict Cumberbatch.

Now there’s a whole generation of people who’ve grown up knowing nothing but movies and TV shows about superheroes.

What a time to be alive.

Still, I wonder how much continuity Disney can pile on movies before they collapse back into a secret language for nerds.

To understand the events of “Madness,” one needs to have at least a sense of movies dating back to the 1990s and maybe comic books back to 1962.

At a minimum, one should have seen the “WandaVision” series on Disney+ — or at least read the Wikipedia description — and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” to even be slightly clued into the underpinnings of the plot.

Oh, yeah, and you should probably watch the cartoon series “What If,” also on Disney+.

I am not cynical enough to say entertainment moguls Disney and the comic book culture are designed to suck you in with one or two good stories and then empty your wallet for the next decade with associated and often lesser associated intellectual property.

But it is a lot of characters and events to keep track of.

The middle of the film is filled with cameos of characters that go back to mediocre-to-terrible movies with Marvel heroes once owned by Fox beginning in 1999.

I’ve seen all these movies.

I get a rush.

But is the rush just for people like me?

“Madness” feels like a tipping point for Marvel movies.

How much will Disney ask the casual moviegoer to know before they show up for their movies will make any kind of sense?

This is the 27th Marvel film. I’m too lazy to count the pre-Marvel Studios movies at Fox, Universal, and other studios.

And I’ve no interest in counting all the TV shows and cartoons.

Is it possible to enjoy “Madness” without all the backstories?

I don’t know.

I’ve watched all the backstories.

I had fun.

That’s all I ask out of a movie.

Director Sam Raimi added all those weird background tricks he does to make his movie’s aesthetics spooky and odd.

“Madness” could be considered a horror movie. There are lots of gross monsters, evil doppelgangers, and at least one zombie.

I don’t want to get into where it ranks against all the other Marvel movies.

There are podcasters and YouTube influencers galore to do that.

I’ll just say this: If you’ve enjoyed all or most of what’s come before in this unprecedented string of cinematic continuity, you’ll likely enjoy this.

But if this is a movie you walked into cold, having only heard about the pop culture phenomenon, it may feel like you got a Twinkie without the cream filling.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
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5-sentence review of ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’

1.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is just OK, about the same level of “OK” that “Black Widow” was earlier this year — good enough to watch, not spectacular enough to inspire me to buy the associated Funko Pops.

2.

I recognize the cultural significance of having an Asian hero and lead cast in a Marvel movie if for no other reason than every professional reviewer, news story, and the mighty Disney’s publicity machine pushed that narrative hard for months leading up to the release of the film..

3.

To what degree this is a successful realization of the aspirations of Asian-Americans or Asians worldwide who always wanted to see someone who looked like them in a superhero movie, I cannot say because I am white and most of the superhero movies have had white guys in them.

4.

I think — and I’m being wishy-washy on purpose here, because I really don’t know — Marvel did a good job because there’s loads of Far East folklore characters in several scenes that I’ve scarcely scene, but I get the sense that people from that cultural tradition would recognize the way Blacks and Africans saw pieces of African traditions throughout “Black Panther.”

5.

As to the movie itself, it’s a martial arts picture with Marvel trimmings — lots of mostly bloodless violence, a big CGI blob monster at the end, a new hero who just begins to realize his worth, and two post-credit scenes with cameos from the other Marvel films — so if you like kung-fu flicks and Marvel movies, this is a fine night’s entertainment, but if you’re worried about the Delta variant, I’m not sure this is the pic to break your quarantine for because it’ll be on Disney+ soon.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.

5-sentence review of ‘Jolt’

1.

Everybody seems to have a movie like “Jolt” on their streaming service these days — one in which a beautiful woman (or multiple beautiful women in the case of Netflix’s “Gunpowder Milkshake”) with a traumatic background who beats up and kills a lot of people as therapy.

2.

“Jolt” steams on Amazon Prime and stars Kate Beckinsale as Lindy, a woman with unusually high adrenaline levels and a condition that makes her flip out and beat people up.

3.

A creepy psychiatrist (Stanley Tucci) rigs up a device that allows Lindy to shock herself — hence the title “Jolt” — into preventing her Hulk-outs.

4.

Lindy meets and shags a cute guy who is murdered the next day and she sets about on a revenge quest using her adrenalin superpower to beat up and kill lots of people.

5.

“Jolt” offers a few twists, a few laughs – though at times it’s a bit too tongue-in-cheek, and Beckinsale charms her way through middling material to make this as good a use of 94 minutes as you can expect from a late summer release on a streaming service.


Daniel P. Finney writes columns for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Zelle: newsmanone@gmail.com.
Venmo@newsmanone.
PayPalpaypal.me/paragraphstacker.