"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

So far I have watched all the Marvelous Cinematical Unabomber motion pictures and related Disney+ streaming television works, and I have enjoyed the majority of them. But fuck all that. What’s important here is that DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS is the first movie Sam Raimi has directed since OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL nine years ago. I liked it quite a bit more than that last one, but my feeling about it is kind of similar: it’s just fun to see him working on a giant canvas, putting his spookablastian spin on this other thing, even though I’d much rather see him working with his own creations.

MCU movie #28 with Raimi’s fingerprints all over it is not as good as, say, an original western with Raimi’s fingerprints all over it, let alone an original comic-book-inspired character he made up, but it is, at times, thrilling. MULTIVERSE opens mid-battle as ex-surgeon-turned-ex-Sorcerer-Supreme Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, the guy in the dragon costume in THE HOBBIT) and a teenage girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez, SHADOW WOLVES) are super-leaping across chunks of debris floating in space while a tendril-covered demon blocks access to a pedestal holding a magic book called the Book of Vishanti. It’s the good counterpart to the evil Darkhold, which in this context suddenly I realize is the MCU equivalent of the Necronomicon. They’re leap-frogging and parkouring and the camera is deftly moving around them in impossible ways, a natural evolution of all the groundbreaking web-slinging sequences in Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN trilogy.

The score by Raimi’s frequent collaborator Danny Elfman makes it feel extra Raimi-y. His long time editor Bob Murawski is also on board (credited alongside Tia Nolan, BEWITCHED), though it’s a director of photography he’s never worked with before named John Mathieson (Nirvana “Heart Shaped Box” video, Prince “3 Chains o’ Gold” video, MATCHSTICK MEN, LOGAN). Most of the major technical people have worked on other MCU movies, except for sound designer Jussi Tegelman, who was in the sound department for SPIDER-MAN 2, SPIDER-MAN 3, DRAG ME TO HELL, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, Ash vs. Evil Dead and some of the Ghost House Productions. The script is by Michael Waldron, a writer from Rick and Morty and Loki, but it was developed with Raimi, starting over from other writers’ attempts before Raimi signed on.

It does not reinvent the MCU, but it injects it with Raimi’s particular energy and visual wit. Of course you’ve got some great camera angles and spins, point-of-view shots (monster eyeball POV, watch POV), lots of cameras swooping down from the sky and into windows, a zoom into an eyeball which then finds evil spirts wriggling inside, lots of cool superimpositions and dissolves in montages and scene transitions, and a particularly great scene of Stephen and America falling through multiple universes that’s like a much more elaborate version of Ash falling through time or Oz travelling to Oz. There are several battles with really cool monsters, the most classically Raimi one I think being a street battle with a giant one-eyed squid demon from another dimension. It’s a natural evolution from the great street fights with Doc Ock in SPIDER-MAN 2, smashing of building ledges and all. It’s a beautifully goofy CG monster that seems to me inspired by stop motion puppets. And if you’re an EVIL DEAD II fan obviously you’re gonna smile when the thing gets its eyeball stabbed and yanked out of the socket with a comical popping sound effect.

The adventure pings and pongs between a few different strange universes and magical gimmicks, but the plot is pretty simple: America is being chased by demons who are trying to steal her ability to jump between different realities. Trying to find someone who can help her, Stephen goes to exiled former Avenger and powerful sorceress Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen, OLDBOY remake, WIND RIVER). This is a SPOILER FOR SOMETHING NOT IN THE ADVERTISING but Wanda is quickly revealed to be the one trying to steal America’s powers, thinking she can trade her tragic life for a universe where she really has the two young sons she created from magic in the Disney+ series WandaVision. So Stephen and America go on the run through some different alternate worlds with help from current Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong, LARGO WINCH).

So far Wanda seems to be the controversial part of the movie – some allege it to be a betrayal to use her as the villain. I sort of get that, for the same reason I sort of don’t get it. See, I always thought she was the bummer Avenger in the movies, the only one who was never allowed to be fun or charismatic or experience joy or humor – just tragedies and mourning and anger while everybody else is joking around and having a good time. Finally in WandaVision she did get to be fun, while slowly revealing the many tragic and sinister layers underneath that facade, turning her from one of the least interesting characters to the opposite.

So by the end of that series we have all this sympathy for Wanda and want good things to happen to her, we don’t want to see her backslide into super villain shit again. But this is a continuation of what happened in that show! As much as we liked her, she was the villain, and the last scene even set up this story, with her trying to live in peace somewhere while the Darkhold tempted her, making her think her (non-existent) kids were calling to her.

I mean I hope the poor lady finds redemption too, but these movies gotta have bad guys, and I like it better when they’re bad guys with some layers and understandable motives. That’s what I liked so much about the X-MEN series, and I think the MCU could use more of it. Also, I gotta slightly raise one eyebrow at anybody who has knocked these movies for their “fan service” now getting mad that they have been improperly serviced by Wanda’s trajectory.

One thing I’ve realized from my Raimi rewatch earlier this year is that he enforces a strict morality in his movies. His protagonists must suffer and many of them must pay a price even when we wish they didn’t have to. The characters in A SIMPLE PLAN absolutely tear open their lives because they can’t resist the temptation of some money lying there. In DRAG ME TO HELL she chooses possible career gain over empathy and literally goes to Hell for it. Arrives early, too. In a Sam Raimi movie you might get dragged to Hell or be haunted by Deadites forever even after you learned your lesson. At least Wanda, being in Marvel movies, will surely get more chances for forgiveness. (In fact they already brought some of Raimi’s Spider-Man villains back from the dead for just that purpose!)

I do have some discomfort with how often the major women characters in genre movies are motivated by a need to have kids, but these are the cards we were dealt in WandaVision. Plus those kids are very cute and remind me of my nephews. It works. If Doctor Strange has thought about using magic to get back with his girlfriend (not to mention majorly fucked up reality to undo some bullshit for Spider-Man) of course Wanda is gonna think up ways to get the happy life she dreams of. But just like when Peter Parker tries to do things the easy way, she will come to regret it.


Doctor Strange has already done his Darkman/Spider-Man style martyring-his-love-life-to-be-a-super-hero thing before the movie starts, but this does follow the SPIDER-MAN template of him fucking up his relationships and learning a simple lesson about it while battling a villain who was once his friend and has alot in common with him. In this case they’re both geniuses of magic instead of science. Same thing, I guess, according to THOR. Once again, Raimi puts his protagonist at a low point (having nightmares every night, going to the wedding of the love of his life, getting shit from Michael Stuhlbarg for not saving the entire universe well enough) but there’s no time to lay it on as thick as he did with Peter Parker, so it’s not quite as funny or as uncomfortable. (Though this has some laughs, I do think it could use more of Raimi’s humor.)

The things people will most credit to Raimi are the many horror elements – all kinds of spooky atmosphere, cackly demons, creepy sound design including Deadite-esque voices, and a really cool turn of events that’s late in the movie so I’ll save that for the spoiler section. Those looking harder will notice some classically Raimi story elements ranging from a character finding themselves prophesied in ancient graven images (like EVIL DEAD 2) to a chase scene where they slam a series of doors behind them but their pursuer just smashes right through them (like CRIMEWAVE).

Of course you can count on Raimi to pack in a ton of clever little ideas. There’s a hint of his beloved evil-version-of-yourself-in-the-mirror trope, but it turns into a new one: a scene where they try to cover every reflective surface in a room (including puddles on the floor) because Wanda has the power to reach through them. Another part I loved was a magical musical battle, two wizards hurling glowing musical notes at each other, bursting into bits of famous classical compositions as they collide.


Lately many have commented on the volume of crossovers involved in the MCU, possibly making them indecipherable to newcomers. This is DOCTOR STRANGE part 2 so you’ll want to see part 1, but also it ties into events from AVENGERS: ENDGAME, SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME and especially WandaVision (that’s nine episodes!). There’s also a (NON-SPECIFIC SPOILERS) character from the non-MCU X-MEN movie series, one or more references to the Disney+ cartoon What If…?, a years-old internet fan-casting come to fruition, and a character I didn’t know was from a show I didn’t watch and forgot existed. But honestly I think most of that is not important to the story, and they give you all the information that is. Also, it’s just a fact that this is the biggest, most mainstream movie series of our time. Clearly not everybody is alienated.

I suspect the real danger is this multi-verse business. They’ve done cool things with it so far, but the returns are already diminishing. I think digging in further will get confusing and make it feel like there are no stakes anymore. But I always kinda hated alternate dimensions. In my opinion alternate dimensions should mind their own business.


After the credits it says DOCTOR STRANGE WILL RETURN, which was not in doubt. The question is, will Sam Raimi? To me the best possible outcome would be if this gives him the momentum to get a mid-budget movie of his own creation off the ground. Or even a big budget one! He’s revealed in interviews that Universal has talked to him about a DARKMAN sequel, but it’s unclear whether he has an idea for one or even if he would want to direct.

I would much prefer that to him doing more Doctor Strange, but beggars can’t be choosers. The days when I was concerned that he was spending too many years only making SPIDER-MAN movies seem silly after he spent more years making no movies. Also, that trilogy shows how he might be able to build on this with a sequel and then again with another sequel that everybody would hate even though it kind of ruled.

Still, I prefer my idea of hiring a different horror director for each DOCTOR STRANGE installment, and allowing Dario Argento to turn part 3 into a $200 million MOTHER OF TEARS type freakout, Claudio Simonetti score and all. Think about it, Marvel. People will watch it no matter what it is, might as well do the right thing here.

 

post-script: SPECIAL SPOILER AND NERD SHIT ZONE

Here are some spoilery notes I didn’t want to include in the main body of the review

1. The cool turn of events I referenced earlier is when Strange enters our reality by possessing the rotting corpse of himself from a different reality. Like a fucking Deadite! I love his sliced open jaw and his cape made of writhing ghoul hands and ectoplasm or some shit. It’s one of the most purely Raimi things in the movie but one that wouldn’t have been achievable with the budgets and technology he’s had for most of his movies. Evil Ash is definitely jealous of that cape.

2. Speaking of Ash, I assumed Bruce Campbell would have a goofy cameo here, and was not disappointed. It’s nice that his character beats himself up as a reference to EVIL DEAD 2 and/or our knowledge that Raimi likes to torture him in movies.

3. If the trailer hadn’t revealed Professor X was in this it probly would’ve got me pretty hyped. As a non-surprise, though, it’s just fine. Might’ve been better to leave LOGAN as his farewell.

4. The other Illuminati members weren’t super exciting either. Somehow I kinda had a hunch they would do Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic, and I guess it felt underwhelming since he looks just like the photoshops people made of him. Maybe it would’ve been better for him to look cool! Oh well.

5. I guess the one that kind of had the intended effect on me was Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell, PETER RABBIT 2). The concept of Steve Rogers’ WWII girlfriend becoming Captain America instead of him comes from an episode of the cartoon What if…?, and I didn’t like that show very much, but ever since her show Agent Carter I’ve been happy any time Atwell pops up as Peggy. That’s about it, though – this appearance doesn’t really allow her to exhibit what’s likable about the character.

6. I didn’t recognize Anson Mount (URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT) as Black Bolt or know that was a character from the show Inhumans, so I just though “oh, who’s this stupid looking new character?” and then he bit it. In retrospect this was probly meant as kind of a subversion of expectations to bring us these potentially exciting characters and then murder them, but I think maybe the storytelling rhythm is a little off or something. But it’s fine.

7. I did not know that one of my very favorite actresses was gonna make her MCU debut in the mid-credits setup for part 3 or whatever. Historically I have enjoyed these sorts of surprises and teases, I’m not complaining. But I admit this didn’t get me real excited. Part of it may be that I’ve never heard of the character and she doesn’t seem real intriguing other than who’s playing her. But also they soured me by bringing Angelina Jolie into ETERNALS and sidelining her in favor of blander characters and performances. I guess I’m skeptical whether they’ll give Charlize a role that’s a better use of her time than the mid-budget movies she could be doing instead.

So I think you can see by the above that I like this movie for the Raimi-specific stuff, and I’m colder on the more Marvel-y business. I’m not usually against that stuff, so this could be a bad sign. But jesus christ they’ve been making it work this long, I can give them the benefit of the doubt for now.

 

This entry was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2022 at 7:11 am and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

62 Responses to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

  1. SPOILERS








    I loved it for many of the reasons you listed and I was ecstatic when it was clear Wanda was going to be the villain because I’ve long had issues with how her fans and the franchise don’t really treat her being in the wrong as much as they should. WandaVision even had the gall to have someone tell her the people she held hostage and mentally tortured for a week “never know what you sacrificed for them”. I have some petty satisfaction that supportive attitude lead to that character’s mother being dead in TWO universes now.

    “I do have some discomfort with how often the major women characters in genre movies are motivated by a need to have kids, but these are the cards we were dealt in WandaVision.”
    Yeah, but to be fair, in this case this is a big part of the character from the source. This can be considered a loose adaptation of the Avengers Disassembled storyline where Wanda had a breakdown due to losing her imaginary kids and she blamed the Avengers and it resulted in several of their deaths and then some major shakeups to the X-Men stuff.

    “The cool turn of events I referenced earlier is when Strange enters our reality by possessing the rotting corpse of himself from a different reality. Like a fucking Deadite! I love his sliced open jaw and his cape made of writhing ghoul hands and ectoplasm or some shit. It’s one of the most purely Raimi things in the movie but one that wouldn’t have been achievable with the budgets and technology he’s had for most of his movies. Evil Ash is definitely jealous of that cape.”
    I loved that shit too, and the humour of Strange in that form giving America the inspirational speech about being able to control her power.

    “I didn’t recognize Anson Mount (URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT) as Black Bolt or know that was a character from the show Inhumans, so I just though “oh, who’s this stupid looking new character?” and then he bit it. ”
    Yeah, you don’t need to bother with INHUMANS. It was a major dud, partly because it was a network TV show that couldn’t really deliver on the sorts of production value certain things would need and did really terrible writing tricks to get around it, like shaving Black Bolt’s wife’s living weapon hair because it’d cost too much to CGI, or having the big adorable teleporting CGI dog Lockjaw either knocked out or locked up in a room off-screen. The show was helmed by Scott Buck, btw, the same guy who did the last two seasons of Dexter and the first season of IRON FIST, which turned a story about a martial artist who gets his mystical abilities by punching a dragon in the heart into a show about inter-family corporate intrigue, and whose final showdown was the main character being drained of his powers so the villain could have the upper hand and beat on him with a lead pipe instead of using his own martial arts skills the show had alluded to earlier.

  2. SPOILERS








    I loved it for many of the reasons you listed and I was ecstatic when it was clear Wanda was going to be the villain because I’ve long had issues with how her fans and the franchise don’t really treat her being in the wrong as much as they should. WandaVision even had the gall to have someone tell her the people she held hostage and mentally tortured for a week will “never know what you sacrificed for them”. I have some petty satisfaction that supportive attitude lead to that character’s mother being dead in TWO universes now.

    “I do have some discomfort with how often the major women characters in genre movies are motivated by a need to have kids, but these are the cards we were dealt in WandaVision.”
    Yeah, but to be fair, in this case this is a big part of the character from the source. This can be considered a loose adaptation of the Avengers Disassembled storyline where Wanda had a breakdown due to losing her imaginary kids and she blamed the Avengers and it resulted in several of their deaths and then some major shakeups to the X-Men stuff.

    “The cool turn of events I referenced earlier is when Strange enters our reality by possessing the rotting corpse of himself from a different reality. Like a fucking Deadite! I love his sliced open jaw and his cape made of writhing ghoul hands and ectoplasm or some shit. It’s one of the most purely Raimi things in the movie but one that wouldn’t have been achievable with the budgets and technology he’s had for most of his movies. Evil Ash is definitely jealous of that cape.”
    I loved that shit too, and the humour of Strange in that form giving America the inspirational speech about being able to control her power.

    “I didn’t recognize Anson Mount (URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT) as Black Bolt or know that was a character from the show Inhumans, so I just though “oh, who’s this stupid looking new character?” and then he bit it. ”
    Yeah, you don’t need to bother with INHUMANS. It was a major dud, partly because it was a network TV show that couldn’t really deliver on the sorts of production value certain things would need and did really terrible writing tricks to get around it, like shaving Black Bolt’s wife’s living weapon hair because it’d cost too much to CGI, or having the big adorable teleporting CGI dog Lockjaw either knocked out or locked up in a room off-screen. The show was helmed by Scott Buck, btw, the same guy who did the last two seasons of Dexter and the first season of IRON FIST, which turned a story about a martial artist who gets his mystical abilities by punching a dragon in the heart into a show about inter-family corporate intrigue, and whose final showdown was the main character being drained of his powers so the villain could have the upper hand and beat on him with a lead pipe instead of using his own martial arts skills the show had alluded to earlier.

  3. Shit, sorry to double post. It was seeming to timeout the first time and I refreshed, and when it wasn’t present I reposted.

  4. I hate to get into the comments early on a down note, but this really didn’t work for me. The first few scenes had my hopes way up – the Spiderman 2 vibes were strong – and there were a lot of moment and images I liked, including the music fight, the jumping between universes and the overall look of that Strange-wrecked universe… but I just really didn’t get some of the main characters. Strange sees Wanda attack the fortress in Tibet and slaughter hundreds of his colleagues and pupils right in front of him, then the next scene he and America are strolling casually through an alternate NYC, non-urgently making wisecracks about pizza. Wong vows not to take Wanda to the mountain demon fortress but then immediately pivots to taking her there, knowing she’ll find the power she wants to take over the multiverse.

    And Strange just seemed to arbitrarily turn into a huge dick at key moments for no reason other than getting a laugh from the audience – casting a sadistic spell on a street vendor who is understandably mad someone tried to steal his pizza ball wares, capping on Black Bolt’s look and the FF4’s name at a moment where he needs those guys on his side… I would have believed this behavior from RDJ’s Tony Stark but in his absence it really felt like someone at Marvel ordained that this movie universe needs to center on an arrogant white man with a goatee delivering sarcastic one liners, and if it can’t be Iron Man then in that case…

    Overall, of the 2 movies I’ve seen in the last few weeks that involve a multiverse-level battle against a demonic force representing something about the relationship between children and mothers… this was not my favorite.

  5. I legitimately can not decide how I feel about this movie. I LOVED the original, and very highly anticipated this one, but my feelings are mixed. For a lot of the film, Dr. Strange felt like a tour guide rather than protagonist.

    A lot of people on other forums/sites have expressed that they felt this seemed very disconnected from the original and from the MCU in general, and my initial impression is to agree with that. I’m pretty sure we didn’t even get the original Dr. Strange theme played at all in this one.

    It just felt like a completely different continuity.

    There were a decent number of plot things that sorta held me back. Wanda being thrust into being the antagonist felt very rushed-it felt too one dimensional. Wong immediately agreeing to give Wanda the location of the temple. Dr. Strange just saying “America, you can do it” and she’s all “hey look, you’re right, I can do it.” Mordo being basically an afterthought despite being set up as Strange’s nemesis in the original. The MULTIVERSE being the big draw, but only really getting to see a handful of alternate realities.

    I’m definitely going to give this one another chance before judging it too harshly. Fan reactions seem pretty split so far between “felt awkward” and “omg loved the direction.”

  6. PS two things I found goofy I have to mention [BOTH SPOILERS OBVS] – the scene where Strange and America trade flashbacks via the memory store. They’re standing on a public sidewalk, with other people around them, who can all see her memory of blowing open a giant interdimensional portal that swallows her parents. And nobody reacts!! (insert joke about New Yorkers being famously blase, I guess)

    And the 3rd eye / electric guitar sting combo from the last shot and the mid-credits scene… that was just awesomely ludicrous. I hope and pray they keep Benedict Cumberbatch with an extra eye in his forehead and that guitar in all future MCU movies. And for extra bonus points, retroactively add it in to POWER OF THE DOG and such.

  7. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER (DAMN YOU SPOILERS FOLLOW)!








    First off let’s get the obvious good stuff out of the way.

    The Sam Raimi touches are good, and I enjoyed identifying in some scenes the DNA of his classic era work like ARMY OF DARKNESS (Zombie Strange!). And Danny Elfman’s score was pretty good. Weaponized musical notes was a stroke of seriously good imagination and it’s nice to see some gore in the terminally sanitized MCU. Seeing a man impaled on spikes wasn’t something I expected to see in a Marvel movie so kudos to Raimi for pushing that through. Cumberbatch at this stage has made the character his own, not to mention stepping up to be being the new Goateed Narcissist in the MCU. Elisabeth Olsen is incapable of giving a bad performance and even Rachel McAdams’ Christine gets a bit more to do in this installment.

    Now the bad shit, all of it to do with the writing:

    1. After 9 freaking episodes of a TV Show that was all about deep-diving into Wanda’s Trauma, did we need another movie, that too a Dr Strange one, coming after 6 years, that’s also about Wanda’s Trauma? I’ve written elsewhere about how I found the murky morality of WANDAVISION very problematic, especially a script that bends over backwards to paint a deeply troubled person who has no qualms about mentally imprisoning a town as a sympathetic figure, leading to one of the most execrable lines ever put on a TV Show-“These people will never know what you did for them” (Just imagine Holly McClane telling that to Hans Gruber in another multiverse where he actually chooses to release the Nakatomi hostages to realize how twisted it is). But at the very least the show ended with Wanda at least acknowledging that what she did was wrong and starting a journey of healing. But barely 30 mins into DR STRANGE 2, and we’re back to Wanda as Psycho Bitch. It’s Lazy Ass writing that makes a character who’s completed a redemptive arc to regress back to their original state in the next movie to generate conflict. Like Hobbs and Shaw who develop a grudging respect for one another at the end of FAST 8, but in HOBBS & SHAW, revert back to hating each other’s guts.

    2. The actress playing America Chavez is Weak Sauce. Hell of a screamer though

    3. Memory Lane????? Lucky Strange’s first thoughts about Christine was a chaste dinner date and not them sweatily grunting and moaning in his apartment and Chavez’s wasn’t about the day she had a bad case of the shits. Jesus, who writes this stuff? And speaking of memories….

    4. So…Chavez first discovers her ability to open portals which sucked her mothers into what I presume is certain death…because a BEE landed on her hands? Was it a talking bee? Did it sound like Jerry Seinfeld? Jesus, who writes this stuff?

    5. There is one glorious 10 second scene where Strange and Chavez are falling through multiple multi-verses and you get many versions of themselves like a Paint version, an animated version, a 3D printed version etc. This is what most of the movie should have been like. Instead you get like 2 multiverses, one a kind of bland futuristic one with hover cars that’s been done much better in films like I,ROBOT and MINORITY REPORT and one dystopian one which resembles the 5th Dream Level in INCEPTION, only not as good. A movie about multi-verses and this is the best you can do?

    6. The Cameos. For fuck’s sake, stop trotting out poor Patrick Stewart’s Xavier only to kill him. And his golden hover chair? Cool in animation, dead silly in live action. The entire Illuminati show up just to be Cannon Fodder for Wanda? Jesus, who writes…you know what, never mind. And on that note, just how powerful is Wanda? Even the writers haven’t figured this out. I get that if your only power is being Stretchy, you’re no match for her. Also strength and agility alone isn’t going to cut it with a powerful Sorceress even if you are Captain America…sorry Carter. But Wanda’s more powerful than Captain Marvel now, who’s supposed to be like the most powerful being in the galaxy? Or is the Rambeau version less powerful than the Danvers version? And Wanda is also more powerful than Professor X who is like the most powerful mutant of all? And what a waste of Chiwitel Ejiofor as Mordo, who should have been the Main Antagonist in this movie, as the 1st one set up his character for future installments nicely.

    7. Wong got Finn-ed (Finn-ed: Whereby a Non-White character is positioned to be one of the key players in the narrative, only to be side-lined while Whitey gets all the best lines and scenes). Why even make Wong the Sorcerer Supreme when he’s just there to have his ass handed to him like a generic sidekick?

    They should have just called this one WANDA’S MADNESS IN THE MULTIVERSE: Special Guest Appearance by Dr. Strange.

  8. dreadguacamole

    May 9th, 2022 at 11:47 am

    To be honest I went in with lowered expectations and enjoyed myself (I’m firmly in the Raimi good, movie not so much camp). It’s not really allowed to be a sequel to Dr. Strange due to all the MCU clutter, which is a shame because that’s by far my favorite MCU joint, but the trailers had made that pretty clear that was going to be the case so no surprises there.
    Basically, I agree with Vern’s review wholeheartedly, except for the Wandavision stuff, which I haven’t watched.

    Was it a plot point that sorcerers can control spirits but witches can’t? If so, that was a cool bit of grounding in a movie that mostly seems to be making things up as it goes along. And Wong… I like the actor and love that a non-traditionally good looking asian guy had his role developed like that, but yeah, the character is more inconsistent than usual even for the MCU and none of the films have really known what to do with him (except for the first film, where he was basically comic relief.) They really needed to double down on him being badass to make him a believable sorcerer honcho, and they’ve completely failed so far.
    But I don’t want to be down on this movie, even if I have a lot of complaints; Raimi is back, with gusto, and that’s damn if that’s not worth celebrating.

    I agree with Ben C. that I really want them to leave Dr Strange his third eye for all the sequels, open all the time and not just when he’s using some power or another. Bonus points if they give him a third eyebrow so it can emote properly, too!

  9. This movie is such a mess. You can tell the history of it was a) a director switch b) tons of reshoots c) a movie that is out of order in the Marvel Verse (it was supposed to come before Spiderman). I GUESS I understood what was going on, but that doesn’t make it any less of a mess.

    At the end of the day, it was another Marvel project where a bunch of people punch each other, knock them 50 yards into a wall, and don’t do any damage to one another. There are just no stakes in the movies involving these turbo charged heroes. Having the Hawkeye type heroes fight alongside Thor or the Hulk just is silly, and made the Illuminati fight make almost no sense.

    I did like Scarlett Witch as the big bad of this. The Marvel movies that don’t work for me usually have a villain problem. She was great. And I came away from Wandavision not feeling sorry for her, like Vern mentioned above. She basically imprisoned an entire town so she could live a fantasy life with her family. Tortured those people. I know things smoothed out at the end, but I found her more evil than the most evil of Marvel baddies. There were some genuinely creepy moments in Wandavision where you could see the people struggling, imprisoned against their will.

    But tonally, this movie is all over the place. I can barely remember any of the action scenes, certainly nothing that moved me. The chemistry between Strange and whatsherface is non-existent. I didn’t think America’s character was all that interesting. It goes from quippy buddy movie to horror film and back.

    The only thing I took away from this that made me happy is that it is really clear that Sam Raimi has still got it. Much like I felt watching the West Side Story remake which, even if you didn’t care for, was such a two hour director flex it is silly. It is clear Raimi is dying to do another Drag Me To Hell type movie, and I am there for it.

    And, oh yeah, another movie absolutely crushed by the trailer. Zero surprise when we see Zombie Strange. Zero surprise when we see Professor X. Zero surprise with Scarlet Witch being the baddie. I get they need to up the ante with these trailers, but this just sucks. Fingers crossed, it looks like they are really keeping the curtain drawn on the new Thor. I know they will probably have 1 more trailer before it comes out, I hope they don’t show us a thing.

  10. Well, I loved this movie. I felt that the script overall was a little weak, but the sheer Raimi-ness of it all made up for that. I loved all of the nods to the Evil Dead movies. Pizza Poppa was my favorite Bruce Campbell cameo yet. Little touches like using the riff from the old X-Men cartoons when Professor X shows up, etc. I don’t know when the last time I had this much fun with a new movie was. I totally understand what other people may not like about it, but none of its weaknesses ended up negatively affecting my overall enjoyment.

    Also, I saw an interview where Raimi was saying that for his next movie he would like to do a small budget horror film. To paraphrase him, he said not as low of a budget as Evil Dead because that was hell to make, but something in the neighborhood of Simple Plan’s budget but horror. (Which I guess is basically what Drag Me to Hell was, but he didn’t mention that one in the quote I saw). So, yeah. The next few years might be a great time for Raimi fans.

  11. I think I’m kind of all over the place on this one. Reading good comments here, I’m all, yeah, it was fun! Then reading complaints, I’m all, yeah, that’s a good point. I think I eventually come down on the side of liking it, but not loving it, but that could change with further reflection or another viewing. Although, to be fair, one of my problems with it wasn’t even the movie itself. It was seriously one of the worse movie going experiences I’ve had in a long time. Since going back to the movies I’ve managed to mostly avoid crowded theaters, but this one was pretty packed. The people on one side of me couldn’t shut up. Not even whispering, but straight up talking throughout the entire thing. The guy on the other side slurped and moaned his way through at least two cans of Red Bull, then belched loudly and then went out and got some popcorn and ate it so loudly and grossly I felt like I was in a Jim Carrey gross-out comedy. I was never able to immerse into the movie fully. And that’s why I prefer to go to the movies, rather than watch them at home. Total bummer.

    But, let’s talk about the movie itself. ***SPOILERS*** I had a hard time getting past Wanda being the villain. I think she was actually the best MCU villain and Olsen did a fantastic job of it. I just really disliked that all of the heartache and growth she found in Wandavision meant nothing. And I’m not trying to make a larger comment on women in film or anything. I just personally felt bad for the character and had difficulty letting go enough to enjoy her villainy. Although, reading others’ comments on here is reminding me how uncomfortable I was with the horror of her enslaving that entire town being dismissed so easily by some. So, I’m kind of sixes with this now.

    I loved Raimi’s direction. I had a hard time not pointing at the screen like Leo in that meme and yelling “Raimi!!” when a particular Raimi-esque shot or fade happened. I loved the horror touches. I loved when she was chasing them through the tunnels and scary, demon Wanda coming out of the cloud to break Prof X’s neck made me jump. I also liked Red Head Christine and hope she comes back as the Prime Christine to Stephen.

  12. re: @KayKay

    “5. There is one glorious 10 second scene where Strange and Chavez are falling through multiple multi-verses and you get many versions of themselves like a Paint version, an animated version, a 3D printed version etc. This is what most of the movie should have been like. Instead you get like 2 multiverses, one a kind of bland futuristic one with hover cars that’s been done much better in films like I,ROBOT and MINORITY REPORT and one dystopian one which resembles the 5th Dream Level in INCEPTION, only not as good. A movie about multi-verses and this is the best you can do?”

    EXACTLY. That really bothered me. I was expecting trippy, effed up multiverse travel to be the main feature of a movie subtitled “Multiverse of Madness” and we got sneak peaks at some weird, effed up places, then basically just resorted to one normal alternate future and one “he done fucked up” alternate universe (that was only featured for a few minutes), and that was it.

    And honestly, who wouldn’t have loved to have seen Wanda and Strange working together against some really fucked up shit, only for her to inadvertently take a darker path and THEN have them face off?

    I think the Dr. Strange What If…? episode was much more interesting than this film.

  13. MaggieMayPie, that is hilarious – I had the exact same impulse to cheer and yell “Raimi!” at all those very, very Raimi shots. (I’m sure some others here did too) It was so great to see the dude’s style come alive on a big screen, looking and feeling so unique and so different than all the other MCU movies for sure… even in a movie that I wasn’t crazy about overall.

  14. Of this year’s two multiverse movies where someone gets squirted with mustard… this one came in second. I liked it fine! As with everyone else, I loved every Raimi touch. But I think the movie was trampled a little too much by the Marvel machine.

    SPOILERS
    SPOILERS
    A MULTITUDE OF SPOILERS

    They did Wanda dirty. I spent the last couple weeks finally watching WandaVision, so it was fresh in my mind. And that show is a long process of Wanda grieving Vision, and then grieving her magic kids and putting things right, then going to suffer her penance. And yes, I know about that post-credits scene, but this one stings by having her backslide and then repeating a lot of the same beats. I kept expecting to find out Nightmare was behind it, or the Evil Wanda of Earth 404 was possessing our Wanda the whole time. They never went there. Which, you know, shows some storytelling fortitude, but pulls the rug out from under the redemption notes in WandaVision. It feels like they were trying to do the Dark Phoenix Saga in the MCU without using the actual X-Men.

    I noticed something interesting going on thematically here, and it would not surprise me if it was entirely unintentional, but with the current political climate in the United States, I think it fits. So our villain is a woman dressed all in red who wants to destroy “America” (represented as a Latina woman who has two moms) in order to save her “unborn,” hypothetical children. She’ll kill anyone to live her fantasy. (And said children find this horrifying.) Meanwhile, our older, cishet white male hero is dressed mostly in blue, and is also tempted to destroy America (taking the young brown woman’s power) in order to oppose his enemy. But in the end, the solution lies in trusting said America to come into her own and fulfill her potential. I don’t know if it works as a perfect allegory, but it struck me in this era where Roe v. Wade is imperiled and so many people think the solution is to have the left go even further right.

    Also, it definitely touches on similar themes to Everything Everything All at Once– accepting your reality and searching for the best version of yourself.

    Bits I enjoyed: The appearance of Rintrah (the green minotaur guy), who was in in the first Dr. Strange comics I ever read as a kid. The eyeball popping sound effect. The music note fight. The idea that in most universes, food is free. Black Bolt’s comically grim fate. Undead Strange and the cloak of the damned. Any bit that reminded me of Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell, etc. Both post-credit scenes.

    Bits that didn’t quite work: I was also disappointed it wasn’t a madcap chase through the multiverse, and we only visited a couple of worlds. Spider-Verse 2 will probably kick this movie’s butt. Also, it seems Dr. Strange has seen the post-credit scene from the first movie and had offscreen adventures against Mordo? I was hoping for more Chiwetel Ejiofor in this one. And I bet you can figure out which scenes are reshoots based on Wong’s haircut.

    Did anyone catch the Oldsmobile? I didn’t see it.

  15. Just got back from the cinema and immidiately wanted to see Vern’s take. My first viewing feelings can be summed up by an amalgam of All the comments combined.

    I too wanted to scream “Raimi!!!!!!” with joy in every camera move / angle etc that was an homage to his previous movies.

    I too was frustrated in the end by having Wanda go through an almost identical arc she already had in WandaVision. And WandaVision was the only Marvel series I really really liked.

    Action scenes do seem “unmemorable” right now.

    The character and actress playing America DID seem “weak sauce” as somebody mentioned and, having made a point to NOT see any trailer after the first, I though Wanda would work WITH Strange which seemed like a much better proposition than him and “weak sauce”.

    Was also as others expecting a more “anarchic” style from Raimi with colorful and psychedelic “multiverses”. In the end, the first movie seems to have a more inspired and “out there” design than this one which is a real shame with Raimi at the helm.

    I find myself siding with the bad AND the good everybody wrote.

    I find myself needing to re-watch this Pronto. Damn you Disney, you take my money twice on the good ones, twice on the undecided ones, sometimes twice on the bad ones (but only once and once was too much on the eternals!)

  16. Franchise Fred

    May 9th, 2022 at 6:14 pm

    I agree alternate universes are diminishing returns. After you have three Spider-Men, anyone else is a letdown. Even if they’d done Tom Cruise Iron Man it would’ve been a funny blip, not a real character.

    But I loved the Raimi-ness of it. Fuck, if he just makes originals for streaming services I’ll take it.

  17. Do you guys remember that we had a long argument based on the premise that Wanda was supposed to be redeemed at the end of WandaVision and it wasn’t cool?

  18. I can’t say I remember that. But I can say that I liked this one a lot. A horror-ish vibe to the usual MCU action, the coolest Bruce Campbell cameo ever AND Raimi’s Oldsmobile floating in the air?! I’m on board.

  19. Kevin Holsinger

    May 10th, 2022 at 5:03 am

    Good morning, Vern.

    Just wanted to let you know that I sent you an email on 4/29 about a new Bruce Willis movie I haven’t heard you mention.

    I’m not asking for a reply to the email. I just don’t want you to miss out on what seems to be the final stretch of Mr. Willis’ career.

    Best to you and your loved ones.

  20. Haven’t gotten around to this one yet; my local theater actually had a 35mm print of this running for a few days, a pretty silly thing when you consider that (I assume) every other stage in this production was digital. However, I have been told by someone who has seen it that there’s a throwaway line from some character from one of the multiversii at one point, in which he extolls the legendary greatness of the turn-of-the-(21st)-century Detroit Tigers. Baseball fans following the sport in this dimension of course recall that era’s Tigers teams for another reason – their total shittiness! The ’03 Tigers in particular can boast the worst record of any MLB team since the 1960s, with a comical 43 wins and 119 losses, the absolute embarrassing nadir of a 12 year losing-season dry spell.

    Seems like a throwaway bit of business, but I ask you: in the entire history of cinema, what is the only other movie which has suggested that the late-90s/early-00s Tigers were anything other than a travesty, were even a remotely functioning team? That’s right, FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME, directed by Samuel M. Raimi. We can ignore the truth no longer: FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME is part of official MCU canon, and can be considered the first MCU movie, pre-dating IRON MAN by like 10 years. Groovy!

  21. Tom Selleck becomes a coach of the Detroit Tigers at the end of MR. BASEBALL, so obviously that move, and MAGNUM P.I., is also part of the MCU.

  22. Since Lou Feringo’s HERCULES movies were straight up Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin and Bob Layton versions of Hercules, maybe they should skip Argento and just give the next movie to Luigi Cozzi.

  23. One other complaint, as I was reading some about it. There is some really horrible CGI in the first half of this film. I thought “maybe its just me”, but I guess that was in large part because of the rushed schedule and reshoots.

  24. The more I’ve sat on it, I think Raimi was the wrong pick for this movie. I think Raimi’s style is fine. I know a lot of people loved all the Raimi-isms, but I hold the opposite view. I think Raimi got too caught up with putting his signature on the film that they sorta forgot to make a movie that fits into the MCU continuity. The Raimi stuff seems to make up the bulk of the positive things people have to say about Dr. Strange 2, and I’m not sure that’s a positive thing. Instead of a Dr. Strange MCU movie with Raimi’s signature, we got a Sam Raimi movie that vaguely resembled a movie in the MCU.

    He’s a director whose good stuff is great, but boy is his bad stuff cringe. He even said:

    “I had seen ‘Iron Man,’ the first ‘Avengers,’ ‘Black Panther,’ and ‘Doctor Strange,’ and little clips of the other movies,” Raimi told Fandango.”

    and to me, that just seems…weird. It seems like he paid very little attention to where the character was going up to the point where Dr. Strange 2 takes place if he only watched “little clips of the other movies.”

    It seemed like getting us a movie that aligned with the rest of the MCU took a backseat to Raimi being Raimi. I guess hardcore Raimi fans loved that, but I found it pretty distracting. I think it could have worked with a totally new character, but Dr. Strange had a pretty established history.

  25. I would strongly support it being more of a Raimi movie than an MCU movie. I wish I agreed with that. What are the ways it doesn’t align, and what to you makes that more important than having more of a directorial style and personality?

  26. For me, in a long connected universe like this, maintaining the continuity is much more important than directorial personality/style. Maybe if this were a one-off, I may not feel the same, but the Star Wars sequel trilogy suffered the same problem. They were going to have 3 separate directors (originally) in a trilogy-while that works for the original trilogy, the original trilogy was made by a bunch of guys who worked together across a bunch of different films, so maintaining the continuity was much more practical.

    I think one example is the music note fight scene between Normal Strange and Corrupted Strange. Yeah, cool. I feel like an “MCU director” would have leaned into that sort of thing more than making it a cool meme moment in passing. I get the whole “Maestro Strange” vibe with all the instruments in his dilapidated sanctum, I wanted to see Dr. Strange move on to some cool new magic besides finger tricks and orange laser business. In Endgame, this dude pulled some powerful shit that only didn’t work because Thanos nearly had all of the infinity stones, and he was powerful enough to foresee the one possible scenario that could defeat Thanos (and Dormamu). And apparently in other universes, Dr. Stranges are REALLY effing powerful as well. “Our” Dr. Strange is still doing tricks he learned on day 1 at the sorcerer academy. He only possessed zombie strange after Wanda had already done the multiversal possession thing, so while the zombie was cool I guess, it didn’t feel like Strange did anything new or cool or powerful or grew from the prior instances we’ve seen him in.

    I think the Disney+ Dr. Strange What If…? episode was more of the direction I was hoping to see the film take. It was actually very dark and messed up, I thought a lot more than MoM, and showed some pretty messed up consequences of Dr. Strange messing with forces he was ill-prepared to face, as opposed to MoM-where we saw him mess with the multiverse in Spiderman, but this movie didn’t feel much like

  27. My understanding is that it’s actually somewhat impossible for Raimi to have been as continuity-conscious as you wanted, MB, between Wandavision being unfinished during MoM’s conception and (possibly/probably) spoilerphobia on Marvel’s part not telling him much of anything outside his lane. I’ve heard that, for instance, there’ve been cast members who only received their character’s pages of a script, the Falcon/Winter Soldier guys not being told whether Steve Rogers was alive or did, and so on.

  28. Sounds like the MCU has finally reached “Damned if you do/don’t” status, where a movie will either be criticized for being always the same looking, completely anonymous, studio dictated formula, if they hire someone who just treats it as another episode in a TV show and does nothing to divert too much from what came before, or it will be criticized for not being like the rest, when they hire someone with a strong voice and/or style who does some things, that haven’t been done yet in that universe.

  29. @MB
    You know, Star Wars is a pretty poor example of maintaining continuity. Even when I was a kid I thought these movies don’t really cohere. Vader’s a villain in the first one. Then he’s the dad, but he tries to make Luke join him, fuck over the Emperor and take his place. And then he’s a total lapdog for the Emperor. I think it’s well established now that they were making it up as they went along. Originally, when the original wasn’t a huge a success yet, they were planning a modest sequel that ended up being the novel “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”, written by Alan Dean Foster and published in 1978. They were also planning to hire idiosyncratic directors for the sequels – I think Cronenberg and Lynch were attached at some point.

    Another thing is that Star Wars has a style of trying to surprise you with drastic character swerves. You finish EMPIRE, you put on RETURN OF THE JEDI, and Luke looks like he’s a Sith Lord now, Leia’s chained up in a bikini, and Han’s like “What the fuck, I been out of it for a while, and everyone’s different.” That’s a style that Lucas tried to maintain in his prequels, and so did Disney in the sequels. In the first one Luke and Leia are sorta an item and they think Han is kinda a jerk. Then Luke is buds with Han. And what’s this, Leia’s got a thing for Han. And then Luke and Leia are siblings. In the sequels it seems like Rey and Finn are gonna be a thing. Then Finn’s out of the picture and you’re thinking that maybe Rey’s gone hook-up with Poe. And then, whaa? Kylo Ren! I know people think THE RISE OF SKYWALKER betrayed the spirit of Star Wars, but I thought it was perfectly on-brand. Zigging, not zagging and silly character revelations are as much a part of Star Wars as blowing up a huge laser thing.

  30. And why wasn’t Matthew Broderick forced to lenghten his face for INSPECTOR GADGET!?!

  31. dreadguacamole

    May 12th, 2022 at 3:30 am

    Gotta agree with Daniel that Star Wars isn’t a great comparison, since Disney completely botched the new trilogy. It boggles my mind that they went into such a huge project without even a few lines in the back of a napkin outlining the major arcs and getting the directors to talk to each other a little. Absolutely insane. Then again, while Force Awakens got by on charisma and nostalgia, they did absolutely not bother with the script at all; I’d not be surprised to learn that they were writing it as they went along, from scene to scene. The movie feels more like a contractual obligation than a story someone wanted to tell… or one they had to put together against incredibly tight time constraints. Disney gotta flex its shiny new IP.

    @MB: I dunno. The original Dr Strange was mostly disconnected from the MCU at large, and that’s one of its many (many!) strengths. I get that this sequel didn’t have that luxury but I don’t think this one’s problems are because of its integration into the wider Marvel stuff… it’s just a bad script that also fails at being a Marvel product. At least with Raimi on the helm I can shrug the plot side of things off and enjoy the multiple instances of awesomeness that he brings to the table and the cool bits that the script does allow for; That’s something that’s not available to me with the Russo brothers directing.

    I’ve made my peace with what the MCU is at this point, but I consistently find the corporate oversight and larger picture impositions are the worst bits of their films – I can respect its ambition, but it doesn’t hold any appeal to me. I still like a lot of the films, but from civil war onward I’ve lost all my investment in them as a series.

  32. I think I have the opposite reaction to MB– they put too much MCU in my peanut butter in this one. I would’ve liked it to be a little more standalone. As it is, you need to have seen at least Dr. Strange 1, Avengers 3 and 4, and subscribe to Disney Plus and watch 9 episodes of WandaVision, to really understand the backstory for this movie. I’m sure you can get by without it, but it certainly helps to have gone through that journey with Wanda that led her here– even if I feel the plot of this one doesn’t entirely jibe with the resolution of her own series.

    In a way, the MCU is replicating the experience of reading Marvel comics, but at a much faster rate. As a kid it’s fun and easy to just pick up a comic, and get transported into this world even if you don’t get all the references or know who everyone is. But things got so interconnected that it’s difficult to follow one character or series without needing to read everything else (or in this case, see all the other movies, and now also the TV shows). Obviously these things are hugely popular and many people do watch them all, and many other people don’t care if they see them all, but the movies themselves seem to expect everyone to keep track of all this stuff. I wish the movies had those little editorial captions the comics used to have, so when Dr. Strange references business with Spider-Man, a pop-up on screen could say “See Spider-Man: No Way Home, True Believer!”

    The Marvel comics started out interconnected in the ’60s, but as the decades rolled on and they published more and more titles and had big event series and reboots and tie-ins and spin-offs, etc., it became harder and harder (and more expensive) to follow. Even the online Wikis have trouble keeping track of this stuff. And the MCU seems to be going that same route. But unlike the comics, the MCU can’t keep a single character going for 50 years, and actors have contracts that come to an end. At the rate the MCU is going, they’re going to run out of characters to utilize at some point. Then again, if it means Marvel ends up putting out a Darkhawk movie, I’ll probably be buying a ticket.

  33. I’ll concede daniel makes some valid points, but you’d have to do better to convince me the OG Trilogy was in ANY WAY OR SHAPE the gigantic clusterfuck the Sequel trilogy is. As dreadguacamole pointed out, the original trilogy had CLEAR ARCs that was seen through and paid off. Even choices of clothing and sets were carefully thought out by Lucas. Just check out this video by Robot Head who articulates it far better than I could:

    Disney Hates The People That Made Star Wars

    Lucasfilm no longer understands fantasy or creative design. They don’t understand Star Wars!Remember to follow me on Likewise https://on.likewise.com/robothe...

    As for the MCU, I too veer towards auteurs who can put their definitive stamp on a successful franchise. As it stands, somewhere around Phase 2, action sequences and CGI set-pieces started to get a little same-y, since they’re all farmed out to the same 2nd unit teams and effects houses (with some notable exceptions like the excellent WINTER SOLDIER which realized the value of real stunt work and fight choreography). So I liked Favreau’s mix of action and humor for the 1st 2 IRON MANs, loved James Gunn’s irreverent take on GUARDIANS (that’s also given the DCEU a shot in the arm), Shane Black fashioning IRON MAN 3 as a Lethal Weapon-style Buddy Cop actioner, Branagh’s Shakespearean Gravitas for THOR and Joe Johnston’s sense of classic adventure for CAP AMERICA: FIRST AVENGER that’s almost a spiritual cousin to THE ROCKETEER.

    And their flaws aside, both Dr Strange movies have benefitted greatly from having directors with strong roots in horror. Hence I have enjoyed both Derrickson and Raimi’s signatures in them.

    I believe the consistency issue is also caused by scripts which need to cater for continuity and and culminations and pay-offs of story arcs, often at the expense of characters.

    Thor has been the worst-served in this aspect.

    A regal, majestic, cocky warrior who also happened to be an entitled prick, Branagh gave him a nice redemptive arc in THOR. The character was kept fairly consistent in THOR DARK WORLD although story wise, that was a crushing bore. Both AVENGERS and AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON hardly knew what to do with him. Then along comes Taika Waititi who transformed him into a bumbling goofball in THOR RAGNAROK. But he reverts back to being this angry bad-ass for INFINITY WAR, then back to being the butt of jokes in ENDGAME (cause he put on weight hardy har har) and looks like the LOVABLE GOOFBALL trend is going to continue judging by the trailers for THOR LOVE AND THUNDER.

    Not exactly the brightest bulb in the room in GUARDIANS, but Peter Quill seems to shed a few more IQ points in INFINITY WAR, fucking shit up. It served the storyline, but not exactly the character.

    And Dr. Strange. Gets his own redemptive arc in the 1st movie, turns out to be a valuable and skilled strategist in INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME, but then becomes this fussy old curmudgeon in SPIDER MAN NO WAY HOME, who gets his ass handed to him because…math???? And back to being the resourceful Sorcerer in Strange 2.

    To keep things thematically coherent and characters consistent would require the near impossible task of having the same writers and directors for the entire franchise and the MCU is far too gargantuan a beast at this point.

  34. dreadguacamole

    May 12th, 2022 at 8:04 am

    As soon as you’ve got more than two unrelated superheroes, you’re in trouble – it’s going to be hard to craft a story that serves them both and tells a compelling original story. Add more and you’re screwed; the movie is just going to twist itself into knots to get them all to have enough screentime and power through the plot to save the world from the big bad du jour, let alone anything else.

    This is definitely an unpopular opinion (as in, I don’t expect anyone to agree! I don’t mean any of these as objective statements!) but I personally think that 2Strange2Mad actually did a better job of it than, say, Civil War, which required most of its cast to become hot-headed idiots for most of its running time. Also found it more thought out than Infinity War, which had me belly laughing at the image of Thanos going about implementing his plan in an ‘analog’ before he got the infinity mcguffins, or Endgame with its plot-holes and contrivances. Not to say that the script for this movie is good or anything, but it’s about as inconsistent and plot-holy as any other mostly-MCU-servicing installment, with way more agreeable weirdness.
    I mean, the Russos did as well as they possibly could to meet a ridiculously long list of complex requirements, but they couldn’t keep the characters consistent or the plot holes small on their big crossover movies. Not to talk about tone or make the movies about anything but the MCU. I’m not sure it can be done better, or if I personally would be interested in the result, to be honest; I get other people like the interconnectedness thing but it doesn’t do anything for me beyond inspiring some respect for the endeavor; I’d be a lot more forgiving if the movies had engaged me visually in any way, but… *shrugs*

    All of which is a roundabout way of saying that a director of Raimi’s caliber, let loose, really really helps – if I’m entertained by the action or the filmatism, I’m ok overlooking poor story choices. The opposite is true, obvs.

  35. I have no idea what any of you are talking about. Comic book movies are comic book movies because of all the things you guys are saying they’d be better off without. They already make the kind of movies that do all the stuff you’re asking for, and they’re called “literally every other kind of movie that has ever been made anywhere in the world.” What you’re basically saying is “I’d like westerns so much more if it weren’t for all these damned horses and gunfights.”

    I feel like this is the kind of thinking that ruined hip-hop. “Hey, we’ve got this unique, elemental form of music that’s just beats and rhymes. But hear me out: Wouldn’t it be even better if it had singing and melodies and pop hooks? Wouldn’t that be so much preferable to all the stuff that makes it different than every other form of music out there?” And sure, that makes sense on paper. You combine pop and rap and you get a superior hybrid. But that’s not what happened, is it? We didn’t get the best of both worlds; we just got shitty, tuneless pop. Same with what you guys seem to be asking for. “Hey, all these colorful characters who all know each other zooming in and out of each other’s movies and subtly changing their tone depending on who the lead character is is great and all, but what if there was just one guy and none of that happened?”

    In other words, THE BATMAN. It’s not a more dramatic comic book movie; it’s a less comic booky drama. Which is what some people seem to want, but I can’t thinking that these are the same people who would like rap music if not for all the, you know, rapping.

  36. @Mr. Majestyk
    “I’d like westerns so much more if it weren’t for all these damned horses and gunfights.”

    You mean like POWER OF THE DOG?

    Just joshin’ :)

  37. I’ll allow it. I haven’t seen POWER OF THE DOG because I don’t hate myself that much yet but it sure seems like an alarmingly accurate example of what I’m talking about.

  38. Majestyk, nothing so drastic. In this instance, there is an opinion that argues against directors with distinct visions helming these MCU films as it robs them of tonal consistency and continuity and another that argues for them as it’s precisely the unique stamps they put on them which gives the films their own look, feel and character.

    Neither side (I believe) is against a shared universe co-habited by multiple super powered beings.

  39. No, I can see that nobody’s coming out and saying that, but it sure seems like all of the qualities that go along with having a shared universe are what get the most complaints. I mean, I get it. The contortions required to wedge the square peg of Dr. Strange into the round hole of Spider-Man or whatever mean these movies are far from the platonic ideal of narrative. Me, I’m fucking AMAZED this shit works as well as it does, because it shouldn’t work at all. I guess others do the math differently and only see the seams. I think the seams are the whole point. They’re what make the mosaic interesting.

  40. Hm, maybe it’s not the worst idea to get Jane Campion on SPIDER-MAN: KREVAN’S LAST HUNT, or something like that. Sean Harris, in the 2004 movie CREEP, proved that they have the technology to make a pretty good Vermin. It could work :)

  41. Yup, It could work.

  42. @Mr. Majestyc

    Not arguing “against” anything, I’m not here to shoot you or your watermelons! Loved Dr Strange and Spiderman fuck reality up, and liked this one more than just fine, so I’m not against some crossover; Iron Man 3 rules, and the events of Avengers are integral to it. Hulk is delightful in Thor 3, and so is Ghandi in Shang-Chi. I just prefer it when they’re there to season, not hijack the storytelling.
    I personally don’t care for the superhero stories that are all about cramming together all the characters we’ve had so far – I don’t think that they make for good stories, but I do find them fascinating as something that exists and of course I’m fine with other people liking them; hell, throw in some eye candy and I’ll enjoy them too!

    And who knows, maybe someday we’ll get an MCU elevated crossover event directed by Ari Aster and Rob Eggers for me to love and you to hate.

    But there definitely have been films that tone down the MCU crossover, and some of them are amazing, I’d say the best examples of the genre. Hell, look at the DC films, which for my money work better (again, for me) than most of the Marvel stuff – once you move away from Snyder’s crap, they use the crossover elements as just one more tool in their palette, to mix metaphors. The interconnectivity isn’t a dominant part of these film’s DNA any more than the formulaic elements like the quipping or expensive-looking-but-unexciting action sequences.

  43. Also, “The contortions required to wedge the square peg of Dr. Strange into the round hole of Spider-Man” is totally the title of my next slashfic.

  44. @kaplan I get all that, but as I mentioned, Raimi even mentioned he hadn’t even watched most of the MCU movies. I get not seeing WandaVision, but like…if Raimi hadn’t even watched both Infinity War/Endgame, and wasn’t privy to Dr. Strange’s involvement in No Way Home, it’s hard to fathom how he would be able to make a film that still feels like it’s part of a larger story outside of itself, because he played big roles in those (even when he wasn’t on screen) and was pretty integral to helping move the universe forward.

    @daniel I feel like the Star Wars OT is a compelling trilogy that feels like its all part of a larger story. Vader was still evil and ruthless in Empire. There was nothing jarring to the continuity (to me) about Vader, the father, trying to convince his son to join him and co-rule the galaxy or wanting Luke to join him to usurp Palp’s power after he realized Luke was still alive. It’s not like he decided to turn into a good guy once he realized Luke was alive-he was still a bad guy, and just wanted to turn his son into one too, or was going to kill Luke if he refused. Totally in character.

    Time passed between all 3 films, so seeing Luke wear a black outfit wasn’t jarring. In the OT, there was nothing that established “Jedi wear brown robes and Sith wear black.” That’s prequels thing. Luke wore black in Return because…that’s what he wore. They thought Han was a jerk because he was one until he showed up and shot Vader’s TIE so Luke could shoot the death star, and in Empire he literally joins the rebellion and when the shit hit the fan, helped Leia (one of the leaders of the rebellion) escape from Hoth. There were tiny little things in the OT that I could see, but on the whole, the character all had arcs across the series and all had important roles in moving the story forward. At its core, the story is very connected across all 3 movies (again, IMO), the character continue to grow and change in ways that make sense based on what we had previously seen from them.

    Dr. Strange didn’t even feel like the main protagonist in his own movie to me. He took a backseat to America and Wanda almost the entire movie, and didn’t really seem to have a strong sense of purpose or direction.

    @dreadguacamole I actually argued in my post that started this line of discussion that the ST is an example of NOT following the continuity, while the OT did a much better job of it.

    It’s not that big of a deal for an origin story to not necessarily feel like part of the bigger universe originally. The origin story sets the tone for that character, then that character goes on to join the team and their role gets fleshed out, which is what happened. But it’s distracting (to me) that Dr. Strange was so integral to the stories in prior MCU movies, but didn’t even feel like he accomplished much more than beating Wanda at her own game. Suppose he was forced to use the Darkhold earlier in the film, and had to overcome the temptation of being SUPER POWERFUL in order to do the right thing letting him grow as both a person and a mega-powerful sorcerer instead of just falling back on a bunch of ex machinas at the end. That would have been much more interesting to me.

    @KayKay-I think Dr. Strange 2 could have still maintained the continuity and picked up where Dr. Strange “left off” in his previous appearances while still telling a unique, original, self-contained story that felt like it was related to, but not necessarily directly connected to, the rest of the MCU.

    Again, I realize this is unpopular opinion, but I think there was room to make Dr. Strange its own thing, and Raimi putting his stamp on it, while still keeping the character moving forward from where we last saw him in the MCU. I don’t feel like the good doctor really had much of an arc at all in his own film.

    Anyway, good discussion everyone-lots of good points made, and lot of them are very valid with lots to chew on.

  45. I’m not against shared universe stuff– I’m a comic book geek from before I could read, so this stuff is made especially for me. And I enjoy superhero movies like my dad enjoys westerns– even when they’re bad, they’re good. But I do think there is a balance that needs to be maintained.

    The old adage was “every comic book is somebody’s first.” So even though they had ongoing stories and crossovers, it was written in a way to be accessible to a newcomer. At some point, that fell by the wayside– when the comics audience became solely hardcore fans. And I feel like it’s already happening with the movies, too. They clearly want to push the universe forward with each installment, but I think they also need to make sure each “episode” works on its own. It makes more sense for stuff like The Avengers to have a lot of continuity stuff, because it’s the big crossover movie. But I’d like Doctor Strange to be able to have his own solo adventures too.

    It’s also, for me, an accessibility issue. I mean, this one assumes the audience subscribes to a proprietary streaming service and watched WandaVision. Movies can be rented or bought or shown on TV or seen in the theater or whatever– but WandaVision requires that subscription to a separate specific thing.

  46. dreadguacamole

    May 12th, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    @MB – Dr Strange 2 could have a better story, I don’t think anyone here is disputing that. That’s what we’re all complaining about! It just came across (to me at least) like you were saying that it was bad because it wasn’t integrated enough with the rest of the MCU, which is where the push back came from. But I’ve got no problems with your distillment in your last few sentences above, that’s eminently reasonable.

    Here’s an example about my beef with continuity: James Gunn had been developing a pretty complex relationship between Peter Quill and Green Zoe Zaldana across two movies, which was interesting to me because it was a budding relationship between two damaged people who seemed to recognize, or at least were too afraid, they were too damaged to start something. The two ostensible romantic leads never shared a kiss! (Well, ok, it’s the Marvelverse, but still.)
    That’s a cool thing for supposedly escapist crap to deal with. Then a movie I don’t like at all, and doesn’t share in the least GoG’s themes or sensibilities, comes and annuls that utterly.

    I mean, I’m sure James Gunn will be able to work around that, but hell, that’s just a shit thing to do to an interesting subplot.
    (interestingly, it sounds like Wanda got a similar treatment here? I dunno, I only know her as that one character that only appeared in the MCU movies I didn’t like up to now. At least she made for a good villain.)

    So while this illustrates your point about why continuity is important, I’d maintain that it should be downplayed in the interest of the story being better. That’s easy to do for Thor 4 (just politely ignore the “comedy” depressed fat Thor segment) but next to impossible on GoG3.

    Re: Starwars: yeah, you did specify that (I was going to post a correction to someone who misattributed that to me, but I was lazy). I just can’t resist expressing my befuddlement at one of this century’s biggest high-profile cinematic trainwrecks, just like I can’t resist taking potshots at the Russo bros. I’m sure it causes them infinite chagrin, rending of shirts, gritting of teeth, yadda yadda.

    @Daniel – Oooh, look, you can almost see the Cumbersnatch!

  47. Dr. Guac: Yeah, sorry, man, I didn’t mean for you or anyone here to get swept up in my tirade. I should have made my point in a more generalized way. Thanks for being cool about it.

    And yeah, I almost made a joke about that Spider-Man’s hole line but I figured that would be putting a hat on a hat.

  48. I think how much you need to watch the other stuff is really overstated, I work with a woman who didn’t watch Wanda Vision and they were just fine with the movie. Like mostly the other stuff provides some fun flavor rather then is nessecary to following or engaging with what’s going on.

    @dreadguacamole
    That’s not really a problem with shared continuity, that’s just a problem with each movie being handled by different people. In that specific case yeah Gunn has gotten to build up the story of Guardians of the Galaxy, but that’s like the only one of the MCU franchises that’s had a consistent creative vision across its movies. Ruining what’s set up is just as likely if for example Gunn hadn’t come back for Guardians 3 after the whole Disney/troma joke controversy bullshit.

  49. I would like to point out that James Gunn stated several times since INFINITY WAR/ENDGAME came out, that while he wasn’t actively working on the scripts for those, he knew from early on what they were gonna do with “his” characters and was asked about his input. Because believe it or not, even if every director is giving way more creative freedom than it often seems, nobody can just walk in and randomly kill any main characters that are needed later on.

    But again: The MCU has entered “Damned if you do/don’t” state. It’s a big, connected universe that contains movies and TV shows and either gets criticized for being too connected or not connected enough.

  50. @MB
    The thing that really tripped me up about Vader was his transition from let’s get rid of the Emperor and take his place, in EMPIRE, to Emperor’s bitch, in JEDI. To me, it’s not different from Kylo smashing his helmet and becoming his own Sith Lord, in LAST JEDI, to being demoted to Palpatine’s apprentice, in SKYWALKER RISE. The reveal of Vader being Luke’s dad and what they do with that isn’t really that bad, but I would still say it comes out of nowhere. In “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye”, that Alan Dean Foster novel that I mentioned, Vader is still a villain, ther’s no Han, and Luke and Leia have romantic tension. And that was supposed to be the sequel to HOPE before they settled on EMPIRE.

    I think the characters in Star Wars are not so much written in arcs, but in oh-shit-this-is-gonna-blow-people’s-minds moments, hence the beginning of JEDI, and all the relationship upheavals. I mean, I don’t think that’s bad, I enjoy most of those movies, even the Disney sequels, but they’re all messy.

    @dreadguacamole
    That’s not the hottest of hot bods. I’ve been eating like a pig lately, but if I start getting my workouts in again, and given some time, I think I can swing it.

  51. dreadguacamole

    May 13th, 2022 at 7:47 am

    @daniel Outside of porn, he’s the actor with the most amount of double entenderes with some tiny adjustments. Benedick Cumberbatch. Benedict Cucumberbatch. Penedict Cumberbatch. Benedict Cucumbersnatch. It’s also a really fun name to say out loud.

    @CJ: Or they could address it by having better scripts; I honestly think it would have been possible on this film, at least. I know it’s harder with all these characters and baggage, but that’s a self-inflicted problem. I appreciate the ambition and scope of the MCU, but if it makes for bad storytelling it should be called out., just like shitty broad comedy in martial arts movies or formula in romantic comedies. I don’t see why I should cut some of the biggest movies of their time any slack.
    And that’s before you take into account all the people who have an axe to grind with these particular bits of popular entertainment being so, uh, popular.

  52. “I think the characters in Star Wars are not so much written in arcs, but in oh-shit-this-is-gonna-blow-people’s-minds moments” That’s so funny, I just had this exact thought about the new JURASSIC PARK movies. I saw it going around on Twitter again about that poor assistant’s horrible death and how most people thought it was over the top and started making jokes about how she must be a stand in for the writer or director’s ex. Turns out it’s just because the actress asked to have the most gnarly death possible, so the director gave it to her. My exact thought was that it’s a poor director that just thinks, “this will be awesome!!” without giving larger thought about what it says. I mean, I don’t want to be a killjoy for stuff just being awesome for its own sake, but sometimes you gotta think about things, too.

  53. The Undefeated Gaul

    May 14th, 2022 at 4:37 pm

    Always a shame when you see these things a week late because when I’m finally ready to enter the comment section it seems like every possible thing has already been said. Even so, I still wanted to add my two cents, especially since there’s not enough votes in the “I fucking loved this” camp yet.

    I’m fucking amazed at how much this feels like a proper Sam Raimi film. I was not expecting him to shine through so clearly while working from inside the limits of the Marvel machine, but this is as much a Raimi film as IRON MAN THREE was a Shane Black film. It’s not just a typical Raimi camera movement or zoom in or reference to his previous work here and there, it’s whole sequences and large parts of the film. Reading the comments above, I’m baffled by how people are saying the action sequences are just same old, boring generic Marvel stuff that you don’t remember two seconds after watching it. Because I fully agree that’s been a common issue with a lot of Marvel films and series for years now, but MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS does NOT suffer from this problem. Here I am, still thinking about the street fight with the one eyed demon, which is full of cool fun creative bits, or Wanda taking down the Illuminati and then chasing our heroes through that tunnel and lots of other exciting bits and sequences throughout. This is many, many cuts above what we normally get in these films (even in NO WAY HOME, which I really enjoyed, the action scenes were always the least fun/interesting parts of the film) and I can only assume we’ve got Raimi to thank for that.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the story or internal logic of it all either, unless we’re talking about stuff you could apply to any movie on the planet if you spend a couple minutes overthinking it. Sure, Wong revealing the mountain location was a little too quick, but who cares? To me it’s amazing that this thing was apparently being rewritten on set every day, because the end result is damn pleasing and way more coherent than it apparently should be. The pacing to me is spot on, it goes from one cool thing to another without it ever feeling boring or bloated.

    I also really liked the actress and character of America Chavez, so I don’t know – maybe I’m just on a completely different wavelength than most people when it comes to this film.

    I could go on, but really I just wanted to vent my enthusiasm for a bit. This is top tier Marvel for me and I cannot wait to see it again. These days, wanting to rewatch any (new) movie is incredibly rare for me, so that says a lot.

  54. I wonder if one of the problems here isn’t that Wanda is a virtual stranger to everyone in the movie (I guess Strange and her could’ve POSSIBLY exchanged a few words during the big battle at the very end of Endgame?). If you’re going to have a hero gone bad plot, the obvious move is to have her friends and allies be the ones who have to fight her. But no one here really knew her as a hero, so to them, she’s just another supervillain, no different than Vulture or Batroc the Leaper. So there’s a disconnect between the intended audience reaction (“Oh no, not Wanda, she’s a good guy!”) and the hero characters (“Fuck this witch.”). Even the Illuminati seem to have no idea who she is beyond, I don’t know, reading her Wikipedia article.

  55. This one was alright for what it is, but sadly, my main takeaway 24 hours later is that Sam Raimi has lost it. There’s that interview going around where he said his main motivation in taking the job was to show these young whippersnapper directors how it’s done, and it pains me to say that, when put side by side with the Doc Strange sequences from Derrickson, Watts, and the Russos, Raimi’s setpieces do not measure up. They’re fun and full of Raimi-esque stuff, but you look at the camera moves, visual concepts, and action choreography that the young bucks came up with and there’s no contest. They out-Raimied Raimi at every turn.

    Now, this could be chalked up to the fact that Raimi’s style of camerawork was so influential, particularly in the context of high-flying superhero cinema, that it’s bigger than he is now. It’s not a style; it’s a basic part of the grammar of modern film, and it has advanced far beyond Raimi’s contributions. So it’s only natural that those who were born and raised in the world Raimi helped create would build on Raimi’s moves. Babe Ruth wouldn’t be able to hit a modern fastball. Eisenstein’s editing would feel pretty elementary in a contemporary editing suite. That’s the nature of evolution. Everybody gets left behind eventually. It’s just a bummer to see it happen to Raimi.

    The Raimi touches in here are cute, but without that feeling of innovation he once delivered so effortlessly, of being shown something you’ve never seen before or at least in a way you’ve never seen it, they feel pretty hollow. A bag of tricks. Fan service. You see an Evil Dead shakycam POV shot and it’s not a dynamic piece of filmatism; it’s an easter egg. It’s no different than Mr. Fantastic showing up just to say a few inconsequential lines of dialogue and die. It’s only a big moment if you understand the context. On its own, it has no power.

    Maybe it’s not Raimi’s fault. Maybe all the reshoots and rekajiggerings combined with the usual Marvel house style scuttled the full flowering of Raimi’s vision, and all he could get through were these little meta bits. But it felt a little sad to me. I never loved Raimi because of the specific stylistic ticks he became known for; I loved him because he was always coming up with NEW stylistic ticks. Now he seems content to just play the hits. “This is what the people want from me, so who am I to deny them?”

    I don’t dislike the movie, and despite what a fucking mess the script was, it’s got a ton of fun stuff for people, like me, who dig this goofy Marvel Cinematical Upanishad thing. Even a mid-tier Marvel like this is a good time. But for a Raimi movie, it is a letdown. I hope that if he does get his own project off the ground because of this, it shows him trying new things and not descending even deeper into self-parody. I believe he has more to offer than the same old grab-bag of moves. I’m just not sure he believes that.

  56. Franchise Fred

    May 21st, 2022 at 9:45 am

    I appreciate the theory, Maj, but I’m hard pressed to remember a single innovative shot Watts or the Russos came up with. Derrickson had some memorable trippy visuals in the first Strange.

  57. I very much disagree. Compare the multi-Strange sequence from INFINITY WAR or the mirror universe sequence from NO WAY HOME to, say, the opening scene in MULTIVERSE. I would wager that if you were shown these three sequences with no prior knowledge of who shot them, and afterward you were told that Sam Raimi directed one of them, you would absolutely not choose correctly.

    I watched NO WAY HOME immediately after coming home from MULTIVERSE, and it was a little embarassing how much Watts blew Raimi out of the water with Strange’s big set-piece. And I say this as a guy who has two posters for Sam Raimi movies on his wall right now.

  58. Franchise Fred

    May 21st, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    The opening of Multiverse felt typical weightless green screen Marvel to me but that’s obviously not the Raimi-Esque part. I think it’s valid to compare his Evil Dead homages to fan service and maybe I’m enough of a fan I was serviced. But I don’t remember the Infinity War or NWH sequences you mention. They all blur together as Marvel stock. I enjoyed Infinity War more than NWH but they all feel like constant green screen to me. Even Black Panther does.

  59. dreadguacamole

    May 22nd, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    I agree with your Derrickson vs. Raimi comparison, @Mr. Majestyk – they really blew that one out of the water. It’s a high point for cool visuals and ideas in any fantasy film, let alone the MCU. In this one they carefully avoided the whole mirror universe concept- just that bit when they trap Wanda and she escapes through reflections, I think? Which was a weird choice since it’s one of his trademarks.
    But while I liked Watts’ Strange scenes, he just basically mirrored (sorry!) what Derrickson did, without that much flair, and I honestly can’t remember a single visually good scene out of any of the Russo movies; Their strength is spinning plates and getting things made, not making them look good or interesting IMO. They sometimes have ideas I like on paper, like Cap. America’s elevator fight or Fury’s car crash in Winter Soldier, but the execution is always kinda meh.

    Raimi, however, had the death spirit cape and extra limbs, a storm in a teacup, Dr. X’s mind battle, the wrecked universe in which for some reason you could still see taillights, and a few other scenes and imagery I really liked, and the action itself was handled with energy and a sense of fun that’s missing from most MCU movies. Maybe nothing extraordinary for him, but that’s understandable as it doesn’t seem a highly personal project.
    If you’re specifically saying that the problem is in how his powers are portrayed compared to his previous outings, then I agree, but that’s a problem with a script that seems perfectly happy edging the good doctor out of his own movie, not the director.

    And yeah, as mentioned the first fight with the tentacle thing had me worried – it’s fun, but pretty standard marvel; the film picked up for me after that.

  60. Maybe it’s because I’ve rewatched them more recently than any of the MCU stuff, but I thought the fight with the squid monster was way more like an evolution of the fights in Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN movie (especially vs. Doc Ock in part 2) than like any of the other MCU movies.

  61. “Marvel Cinematical Upanishad” — I like that.

    The gist I got from a couple interviews was that Raimi was very much happy to be a team player versus an auteur, and collaborate with the writers and producers to make a movie in the Marvel house style, but Waldron and company cajoled him into throwing more Raimi flair into it. There’s a Polygon interview with Waldron about how Sam was hesitant to have Undead Strange in the movie, for example, and Waldron specifically says Raimi “didn’t want to play the hits”– but they pulled him into it.

  62. I prefer to think of these films as the Musical Cherbourg Umbrella.

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