Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness

Here I am going into the present multiverse of mixed opinion and divergent disagreements between people.

Both myself and Louise went to see this film, and our opinions were only slightly different in that I gave it a four out of five and Louise gave it four and a half out of five.

There I am having already given the scores, so what kind of a reviewer am I?

Well, it’s not really a review per se…

Firstly I’m going to try and not give away any spoilers, but I will say that for any MCU film that is difficult. However, for this film it’s even more tricky, because the whole film is full of spoilers from start to finish! Even the opening sequence itself includes a spoiler.

The film starts immediately with an action packed sequence, and a character that is already known to be in the film, and has caused problems in some quarters.

America Chavez is a character that is the daughter of a lesbian couple, and that’s caused problems in some areas. In a world of equality this is absolutely ridiculous, and in the sequence that was asked to be removed it is neither here or there.

I’m glad that Disney kept the sequence in there, and didn’t pander to the requests to remove this section, as it’s an important character point and, with my guess that the character is important to the future of the MCU, it’s also important to have that background in there.

Another issue, and I’ll say that this is a teeny spoiler, is about the character of America Chavez where people are saying that the character isn’t as positive and in charge of their abilities as in the comics, therefore meaning that the character needs the male characters to help her understand her powers, further enhanced by her being made into a teenager as opposed to the adult in the comics.

Now, this is a subject that needs looking at from a different angle, or different angles…

First of all my assumption is that they are in this for the long haul, so to start the character as younger gives the ability to build her from scratch. This would then make the more general audience warm to her, because wherever these films are going, I’m guessing that she is an important part of the whole picture. To say anymore than that would be to give a big spoiler away!

Another angle to look at this from is that even if the comics didn’t go into detail about the character’s background, there must have been a time when she wasn’t able to control her abilities, which meant that she might have needed some help in learning that control. It’s not that it had to be men guiding her, but rather that someone needed to do this at some point. At least that is how I see it.

Yes, we are in a world of equality, but equality means for everyone. It shouldn’t matter whether people are male, female, and other gender identities. This is the same as the subject of race. It is a case of someone helping someone else out.

America Chavez is a positive character for many reasons – a latino character, who is going to be an incredibly strong female role model, with an amazing power set by the way!

The next character we will look at is Christine, who some people have said is just there as a love interest.

I think that was more so with the first Doctor Strange to be honest, and the way that he was in this film is just someone that is reeling from a difficult relationship break.

Also, not to give too much away, but Christine is a very important later on in the film, as are other female characters later in the film, which brings me to another point, and one that I have to tread lightly with…

There are a few surprise characters that show up, which some people have responded to by saying “oh, this just gives the films series’ actions no consequences, because people can just come from a different universe to replace other characters.

Really? The comics have been doing that for decades, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is based on comics! To offer a comparison you could look at the Gandalf situation from the Lord Of The Rings films – Gandalf the grey/ Gandalf the white. Sorry, spoiler there for a film series that’s from the decade before the last!

I actually think that the “surprise” characters (not that much of a surprise) were really good for the most part, especially the recast from a previously owned by Fox property, and I think that one character from a Marvel television series was spot on in this incarnation, even with the same actor in place.

I can hazard a guess at a “surprise” film coming soon that will be announced. I’d be surprised if it’s a one film only deal for little more than a cameo.

And now for the biggest issue that’s going around – Wanda!

How to approach this without spoiling anything?.. WARNING – this is a Wandavision spoiler!

At the end of Wandavision she heard the screams of her kids allegedly from another universe, and she had got her hands on the Darkhold book. Where would that lead?

Agatha Harkness from Wandavision was corrupted by the book, and people have picked up on the fact that director Sam Raimi hadn’t seen Wandavision before writing and directing this film.

How could he have? It wasn’t even released before physical filming had completed for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, much less scripted.

My take then is that it isn’t a perfect film, but it’s a busy film, that has so much going on. While one or two elements are gone over too much, other elements are rushed. The part where Wanda was introduced was rushed and could have been built up more, to allow for what followed.

The later sequence with the Illuminati (that’s in the trailers) could have been worked better with an extra five or six minutes, and more growth, if truth be told, because that also seemed rushed.

Now I’m going to say something that might surprise people. I think what this film needs is another fifteen minutes or so to help with the pacing of the film, and to get some points across better, because it’s incredibly fast paced at some points where it needs in those areas to slow down so that we keep track, as well as to give some side characters a bit more depth.

As an extra point, the classic Sam Raimi scares are fabulously executed (pun unintended), showing his innate genius at staging, editing, and feel. You don’t need to see something to know what happened, especially when it’s filmed so perfectly!

Anyway, as I said at the beginning I think this is a four out of five, and I know that isn’t what everyone thinks. What can I say, it’s zombie horses for courses!

Extra info – Wandavision does lead into this. Also, although not essential, the Disney animated series What If might help with a couple of bits. Also, there are two post film credit sequences. The first is a spoiler for the future of the MCU, and the second is probably not important in the future of the MCU, but is brilliant (thank you Bruce Campbell).

Quick Response

My own signed copy

Steve Hackett – Under A Mediterranean Sky

Guitarist/composer Steve Hackett, famously known for being a member of Genesis in the 1970’s, has since his debut solo album Voyage Of The Acolyte in 1976 been constantly releasing material that’s shown his continuing exploration of music, undeniably inspired by his progressive tendencies.

While it is true to say that in the live realm he loves to tour his Genesis Revisited sets (and why wouldn’t he want to remind people of the inventive and furtive 1969-1976 Genesis material, as no one else from the band seems to), with his released studio material however, it is all completely original.

Steve says that during lockdown he was looking at photographs he and his photography buff wife Jo had taken during trips to different European countries, and was inspired to write pieces based on these. Because of this, Steve has written an album of pieces that are almost like the listener is on a trip around Europe.

The melodies and rhythms. The harmonies and accompaniment. All of these things wonderfully reflect the places that inspired Steve to write the music herein, and give us what I think is an album that is exactly what we need – something to remind us of the beauty that is out there when we are passed Covid-19, and can get back to some semblance of normality.

Within these pieces there are beautiful solo guitar pieces like the exquisite Lorato, or full on almost classical epics such as Mdina (The Walled City), and more. There is so much in here, and once again it shows his innate nature of constantly growing and exploring movement within music, and how liberating music can be.

This album is already a solid 5 out of 5 for me, and truly a standout in Steve’s already exemplary catalogue.

Reviewed on January 30th 2021.

Welcome to The Marv Zone?

So, here we go…

Here I am writing this post in September, with the hope of getting everything ready in time for a big November the 26th 2020 something or other…

What will that be? I’m not 100% sure just yet, but I’m hoping that it will be something that’s interesting.

At present I’m coming up with ideas for a podcast that I’m hoping to do, where I talk to people involved in podcast shows, an extremely meta idea, with my first recording taking place on the week of September 29th. I’d say “wish me luck”, but now it’s either worked or not worked.

When I took part as a guest on the podcast When They Was Fab, my home internet was from a mobile phone connection. Now however there is broadband, albeit from the same mobile phone provider using that network’s signal… I’m slightly worried, but it streams well for the tv, so I’m hopeful!

If it works out, then I will do a season of eight shows, and then release them one a week. After this I’ll record eight episodes for season two in January and February, to start releasing at the beginning of April, giving approximately eight weeks between seasons.

There are other elements I’m looking at as well.!

I’m going to carry on doing a general blog with the provisional title of Middle-Aged Meanderings (that title isn’t final yet, but it makes me laugh a little), and I’ll be carrying on the relatively new blog Quick Response, where I give my opinions on music after my first listen, while I’m in the work van, so it’s a background music listen and not a concentrated listening!

I’ve also started looking at cataloguing my music collection (CD’s, vinyl, and tape cassettes), and my DVD/Blu-ray collection.

There’s also a section where I’ll be linking to my personal friends’ music, and to my own music.

I’m going to be fifty and, quite frankly, where am I? What have I done? It’s time to shake things up while I can!

Am I going through a midlife crisis? Maybe, but it’s not much of one! It’s me saying sod it, try these things and see what happens!

Thank you, and take care.

September 10th 2020

What to expect…

Okay, so what’s going on then?

In a sense, this is intended to be an easier way to stay up to date with what’s going on with me personally, whilst attempting to cut down on social networking.

Now, I know that that is easier said than done, and really if I think about I’ve still got to post these things up!

There are sections for my listening, viewing, and reading, which I always posted up anyway, because I like turning people onto new things that they may not have tried! That’s just how I am.

As I’ve said, the blogging continues, but the title and page will have to change. That would have to change, as I’d no longer be in my forties!

The podcast show details will appear on here and, time permitting, I may even have short bonus episodes. There might even eventually be alternative show ideas thrown in for good measure.

Written in October 2020

Quick Response – Versions Of The Truth by The Pineapple Thief

Reviewed September 6th 2020

For a lot of bands there is the problem that once you’ve released an absolute blinder of an album, then everything else you bring out is compared to that high benchmark…

For the progressive rock band The Pineapple Thief that album is the 2016 release Your Wilderness, their first to feature the drumming giant Gavin Harrison. That was an album that was beautifully structured, bringing so many emotions and feels together in a wonderfully cohesive and narrative way.

Their really good follow-up, 2018’s Dissolution, was, for the most part, a victim of the aforementioned comparison problem, with critics and some listeners overlooking it because it wasn’t THAT ALBUM! A bit like Sgt Pepper’s by The Beatles high benchmark against Let It Be… Hmm, bad analogy, because Let It Be was lacking, but you get the idea!

Here with their new album, Versions Of The Truth, The Pineapple Thief have an album that again has a narrative flow, and the musicianship is once again at a great level (Gavin’s drumming prowess and ingenuity is staggering, and wonderfully locks with Jon Sykes bass), and it is a good album, but…

To me there’s less of an epic mix of feels through the songs emotionally, instead seeming to keep a very steady, almost one dimensional, feel to the whole, which, sometimes works well for some bands.

In saying that though, it is still a good standard rock band album, as opposed to the progressive rock band that they have been designated as. There is a lovely sense of melody and harmony that flows throughout, giving it potential for radio friendliness.

So, after all that I’ve said so far, it’s one that I will come back to, because I want it to really grab my attention more, because at the moment it’s not up there, but I sense an inkling in those bits I pointed out, that I will eventually like this album a lot more in the future!

Quick response – Panther by Pain Of Salvation

Reviewed September 6th 2020

After the release of the fabulous album In The Passing Light Of Day, main creative light of the band Pain Of Salvation Daniel Gildenlow has pieced together an equally fabulous follow-up.

The band’s music has continued to grow since Road Salt One, now nicely filling a great niche in the area between progressive rock and progressive metal, wonderfully incorporating elements from both!

This album takes the musical cues from their previous releases, and takes it up to that next step, creating something that is definitely them, but at the same time something new!

The lyrics continue that strong emotional feel that Daniel has become great at doing, as well as the wonderful way that he matches melody to lyric. He’s one heck of an emotional singer!

The music is wonderfully epic, going through numerous musical landscapes, once again perfectly matching the lyrical point of the songs. The fact that all of the members of the band, including Daniel himself, are such proficient musicians, helps to push that really well.

This album grabbed me from the very first moment, and never ever let me go! A truly great album in my opinion!