The Summer blockbuster season is here! This week we got the latest Marvel release among a few other options. Below are my reviews for the week, including a look at Doctor Strange. If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Along for the Ride (Netflix)
Starring: Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Kate Bosworth, Andie McDowell, and Dermot Mulroney
Synopsis: This new film on Netflix focuses on a girl getting ready for college (Pasarow) who goes to stay with her father (Mulroney) and stepmother (Bosworth) for the summer. It rankles her mother (McDowell) but gives her a chance to branch out and spread her wings as she seeks to find herself. Along the way she finds a fellow lost soul (Cameli) who is trying to reignite his own passion and purpose again. This feels like a standard teen romance, and it is, but it plays better than that. It’s about the characters and the world these kinds of films create, and the one created here was compelling enough that I felt drawn in. I enjoyed the performances and the story, which didn’t wear out its welcome at just an hour and 45 minutes. It’s not incredible but it’s a fun and easy watch.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Theaters)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, and Xochitl Gomez
Synopsis: By now the weight of expectations for entries to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is enormous. And yet, the films usually deliver. The first entry for 2022 is the follow up to Doctor Strange, bringing together several stories we’ve seen, including the multiverse ideas that were such a large part of the wave of Marvel original series that aired in 2021. This film finds Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch) haunted by dreams, which turn out to be a window into other universes. While at the wedding for Christine Palmer (McAdams), Wong (Wong) and Doctor Strange encounter a monster trying to hunt a young girl (Gomez) for her power. Committed to protecting her, Strange turns to Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) but things don’t go as planned, plunging Strange further into the multiverse. This film was one of the most anticipated films of the year, and it had a high bar to cross. It doesn’t reach the heights of some MCU entries in the past but it is a solid and entertaining film. I enjoy Cumberbatch in this role and he does a good job here. Olsen also gives a solid performance as something of a co-lead. Gomez hits the ground running on her entry to the MCU and I’ll be curious to see where she ends up. This film also has some fun fan service moments and I wonder if some of the characters introduced here will end up appearing again. I certainly hope so. That being said, there are tonal issues that prevent this from being all it could be in a story that’s dark, but not as dark as it should be. It has some Sam Raimi hallmarks, which helps set it apart from other MCU films, but it doesn’t quite go toward horror as much as I had expected. I also struggled with the story turn for one of the central characters. It makes me re-think previous pieces of the MCU. Despite a strong performance it feels like a disappointing character turn that I’m still wrestling with. The film isn’t perfect but it delivers the spectacle we’ve come to expect from the MCU. It’s a solid start to summer and a solid start to the 2022 MCU slate at the movies.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, frightening images and some language.
Starring: Pete Davidson, J.K. Simmons, and David Koechner
Synopsis: Netflix added to its original film portfolio with an animated version of Marmaduke, dropping just in time for the summer movie season. The film features Davidson in the role of the famous pooch, who here enters an elite dog competition and bumps up against a ruthless reigning champion (Simmons). Hilarity ensues. Or, at least, I assume that was the intention. That might be the case for some but the film didn’t work for me. I thought the plot was dull and predictable, while it added little that felt original to the experience. This might play well for younger viewers but it was a miss for me, a disappointing flop for a service that’s had some strong original animated films.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.