Ronit Ray

Disney marketing is dumb as shit and they sold this giant Endgame level movie to everyone, only setting themselves up for disappointment. What we got instead is an (in my opinion), great story about three people, innocence lost in adversity, the things we do for love, how power changes you, who you are when you have power, and how far you would push the limits of your power when your back is against the wall, and the extent to which you hold true to your ideals when everyone questions them.

This is the best-shot MCU movie for me, there are no flat, lifeless scenes where the camera cuts between two perspectives. Every scene has Raimi’s name written all over it and is full of character in how the camera moves, and with the zooming and change in perspective and the old-timey transitions. I really, really enjoyed it.

Michael Giacchino’s original Strange theme is absolutely fucking incredible. When he throws himself off that balcony to face Gargantos, it is AMAZING and my entire theater went WOOOOO! and Danny Elfman, while he produced his best work since Spider-Man, still should have used Giacchino’s work more here because it is remarkably better than his own. Still, quite a lot of stuff in the soundtrack worked for me, like the whole experimental music battle.

This is a really good continuation of Wanda’s storyline and it “fixes” my major gripe with WandaVision that there are very few consequences to her arc and people seem willing to forgive her and she gets off scot-free to live her life like nothing happened. From the post credit of WandaVision to the opening act here it is shown that the moment she realized that the Westview anomaly was not real, she understood that this life was not good enough for her. And being forcibly separated from Vision again, and this time with the added hurt of being torn away from a family she thought was very real, has PISSED HER THE FUCK OFF. Every second she has spent since that post credit scene has been dedicated to exploring the darkhold and trying to find a way to be united with her children in a world where they are real and alive. They go full Wanda in this and it is honestly pretty damn amazing. As far as character levels go in the comics also, Wanda is absurdly, unrealistically, insanely powerful. No one knows what she is capable of, even herself, and this movie honestly does a good job capturing that and showing it in different ways.

Wanda is the main character in this movie. There is no doubt about it. And I’m fine with that but I understand why it may not be to everyone’s liking. She is an honestly good villain imo, because they have been establishing her over 7 years. She is not a villain you sympathize with in a “Wanda was actually right all along” way at all. Strange pokes holes in her plan like 15 minutes into the movie (what happens to their mother in their universe?). Instead, this is a person who has been facing tough situation after tough situation since her childhood, has been thrown into a supernatural situation since she was 13/14, has her parents, her home, her country, her brother ripped away from her, and then thinks she has found a family only to be treated like a weapon, an outlaw, seeing her actions cause real deaths and be used to justify persecution of all superheroes, and rip her found family apart. And then she thinks her life has settled down for once when she finds Vision, only to see the universe thrown into turmoil and be forced by circumstances and her vow to him to be the one to kill him- all for nothing because she has to see Thanos laugh at her and undo it, only to then kill him again. That shit will do a number on the sanest of people, and Wanda must only have been our age at best when it all went down. She couldn’t deal with her grief, and she could never understand the scope of her powers,seeing them manifested it in what turned out to be the Westview anomaly. And she really thought she was happy. Until her perfect life is threatened to be taken away from her by Agatha, and then the rest of the world, until she has to “kill” her entire family again.

So when she starts this movie desperate to find a way to be reunited with her kids, I feel that. Viscerally. It’s not something to be rationalized. But it’s raw pain. When she says everything until now IS her being reasonable, you think it’s an empty threat, but everything that goes down from there shows that not only did she whole-heartedly believe it was reasonable, but she was actually capable of much worse but just wanted someone to listen and bend over for once. When they don’t capitulate, the multiversal shit hits the multiversal fan. Again, they did a good job tackling why she couldn’t just ask for America’s help. This is someone who is so out of it mentally that she is literally willing to rip the universe apart to be with her children. Wouldn’t you believe the things she is saying as an explanation are 100% what she earnestly believes? I don’t know about anyone else, but I was totally sold.

Strange was good. America, I like. Defender Strange was interesting. His “in the grand calculus of the multiverse” thing is perfectly in character, but this Strange has said that to someone already (Peter Parker) and lived out an entire arc where he learns why that might not be right. And while he may not remember enough about it now, it is part of him now, in his bones. I do think it’s weird that they didn’t tie this movie into No Way Home. Maybe they were scared not enough people would watch it during the pandemic? Or they didn’t know when the release would be scheduled? Idk, but it was weird and a bit off. There were only a couple of throwaway references but nothing remotely significant.

America was really fresh and nice, and she has good chemistry with the Doc, but I feel she was only given enough time to be “magical object that Strange needs to protect throughout the movie” and not enough character development outside of it. Still, a good enough foundation for Young Avengers and whatever she does from here.

Wong… is less useless than usual. Rejoice

I liked Wundagore, they did a good job picking up relevant bits of lore from the comics I feel. The curse of Chthon becomes relevant throughout the movie, having affected and taken over Wanda, but also left its mark on Evil Strange as well as 616 strange. Looked good too. Time and again MCU writers show that they are familiar with the source material and capable of drawing inspiration from multiple sources and combining it into a coherent story.

I had my jaw on the floor for a good 40-50% of the movie because of this. But then it gets a bit dumb in the second half.

First, Rachel McAdams. I love her. She looks like a dream in every scene. But what the fuck is her character exactly? She was very meh in the first movie, like “Mandatory Love Interest #1” that they didn’t even really flesh into a love interest that much before What If. Still, in this movie she is simultaneously “unrequited love”, super scientist, super knowledgeable about magic, super tailor capable of fixing the cloak, and basically the person who has the solution to any random problem the plot needs in the second half. It pissed me the hell off when she just picks up a random magical artifact and goes “omg! the pew pew laser of the thingamajiggy! you can totally use this” WHY DO YOU KNOW THIS OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD?? I get that they are trying to show this version of Rachel as someone who has spent a lot of time with her Strange and is intimately familiar with his work, but it is too damn convenient.

Second, Evil Strange. I don’t care for it. It’s random and I feel like it is tacked on to have another strange variant here. If they took more time to develop it maybe it would be better. Still, not too bad.

Third, DEATH BY STATUE. WHAT? WHAT THE FUCK? Captain Marvel is one of the strongest people in the universe and she dies BECAUSE A STATUE FALLS ON HER? and you expect me to believe Wanda also is killed by RANDOM-ASS RUBBLE? WALDRU BHAI COME OUT I JUST WANT TO TALK.

I fucking hate John Krasinski as Reed. It’s a fancast the internet has been wild about for a few years now but I can’t stand it. I don’t think the man has the range for it, I don’t think even if he had the range he is a good fit for Reed, and he had one shot to prove me wrong here and it did not work. This was a very, very meh Reed. Not necessarily for the common reason that you and many other fans stated, but more because he should not be like a caring, compassionate father figure to Wanda. That is just not Reed. Still, I can imagine this is a Reed who has seen a lot in life and has children and everything…. still it was very average and left me cold. I really don’t want him to reprise the role in the F4 movies. Ioain Gruffudd or however you spell his name, who did Reed in the original F4 movies would have been a much saner choice here, not because he was good in those movies (again, they are terrible movies. not his fault), but because you are including one established fox character so why not get another? Anyhow, a particular fan edit of Krasinski as Reed that has been around a few years looked way better than he did in this movie. It was a very meh costume.

Lashana Lynch is god awful. I hate her “I’m sassy and a badass boss bitch” persona for this character and she had the same thing in James Bond. Tere mein itna attitude kyun hai bhai? Especially when you die by statue five seconds later.

Black Bolt was funny af. And the comic suit is magnificent.

Hayley was good, but her suit was very cheaply designed. Looked better in What If.

I thought Xavier was very weirdly written. I like the yellow wheelchair and green suit and the soundtrack to say this is the 90s animated show’s Prof, but the writing is a bit rocky on him. Doesn’t feel very real.

I have no feelings about Mordo.

I love the different multiverses they jumped through, it looked so good. I did not love that the movie was a large ad for Jaeger-LeCoultre (the watch brand. they sponsor the movie and sponsored the first movie as well, and also Cumberbatch has been their brand ambassador for years.) the watch had a disproportionate amount of screen time, and while it is okay, I get it, it’s a metaphor for his relatinoship with Christine, it just stings me a little because I am very into watches and this stuff just sticks out like a sore thumb to me.

The “616” thing is just a harmless piece of fan service that I don’t mind (although why did Mysterio, an obvious scam artist, also say 616? aise hi), but I think it is REALLY STUPID that Christine and the Baxter foundation call their OWN WORLD 838. Any and every sane person would call their homeworld some variety of “Earth 1” before they start discovering, indexing and naming other variants. It’s dumb.

Zombie strange making use of the spirits of the whatever was fucking awesome, but Rachel McAdams telling him to use them was STUPID AND I HATE IT. Love the way America used her brain to “beat” Wanda. And while it felt like they rushed that bit to wrap up the story in a sane runtime, I think it makes sense that someone so motivated by the urge to see her children be happy with her would be completely shattered by the look in their eyes telling her that she has become a monster. I do think that there might have been a draft where this sends her further off the rails in a “LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO” way where she blows up that universe and they have a montage of her finding universe after universe to find a better fit for her and the kids, but failing every time, only blowing up that universe before moving on to the next, finally realizing it is all in vain. But that would be too close to the first movie and Dormammu. So I get it.

I don’t buy for a second that she is dead, but I don’t mind her being put aside for a while. There are a couple of things you can do with her character now but it’s not easy and will take time. Plenty more characters to explore.

Overall, I actually really like this movie. All the emotional parts work for me and I love them, and I like that they didn’t try to do too much with the movie and try a dumb sky laser-aliens-world at risk thing again. It is pretty self-contained too. Is it perfect? Fuck no. No Way Home does a lot of things better and Infinity War is still several notches ahead as a complete package, the movie is full of flaws and everything, but it’s pretty good. I like that it is not a giant setup for some future movie or event. One thing I dislike about moviegoers nowadays is that I feel they are mentally done with the idea of a movie about 5 seconds after it starts, and expect the rest of the runtime to just be setup for the next movie or movies, with spicy cameos throughout. That sucks! That said, the curse of chthon clearly has left a mark with the third eye, and it should be interesting to see what they do next, especially now that they have cast Charlize as Clea. An amazing signing, she not only matches the profile of the character but also matches Cumberbatch in star power in my opinion. Very rushed mid credit scene and her character design looked a bit weird (bad wig), but I am sure they will do a lot of refining before the movie actually comes around. I will be interested in seeing what they do, I am guessing they are slowly breaking the multiverse from many different angles, eventually culminating in Secret Wars.

Greatest post-credit scene in the entire MCU.

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