The Novice Cinephile

Exploring the world of cinema one film at a time.

Captain’s log, stardate 100056.22.

In 1995, Andy got a toy from his favorite movie. I feel like Andy, and I watched two completely different films. Lightyear takes us to infinity and beyond with the legend, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (Chris Evans). This film tells the story of Buzz and his first battle with his greatest foe, Zurg. Lightyear is a bizarre concept; this film is canonically in the Toy Story universe and serves as the backdrop for a character we’ve known for nearly two decades. With that said, the film struggles with what it wants to be.

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We live in an era where every franchise gets a reboot or a sequel. In the next two years alone, we’re the return of Star Wars, Rocky, Top Gun, and Indiana Jones. Returning to a film nearly 30 years after the original isn’t an easy task. How do you craft a story that honors the original, pleases the fans who waited almost three decades, and captures a new audience at the same time? Top Gun: Maverick manages to find that balance and create a film that’s so fun that it will connect with almost everyone.

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees Benedict Cumberbatch return as the Sorcerer Supreme’s understudy and takes us on a relatively short journey through the Marvel multiverse. The film picks up after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home and WandaVision, showing us Strange and Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff after both dealt with their own mini-crises post-Endgame. 

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Special thanks to Disney for providing early access to Moon Knight, episodes 1-4.

Marvel’s Moon Knight is the latest entry in the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe and takes us into the life of Steven Grant and Marc Spector. Both are played by Oscar Isaac, with Marc serving as the Avatar for the Egyptian god Khonshu. The series serves as an action-thriller as we unravel the mystery behind Steven’s dual identities and his connection with our antagonist, Arthur Harrow, played by Ethan Hawke.

Without getting into major spoilers, Moon Knight is about mild-mannered gift shop employee, Steven Grant, as he tries to overcome his Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). While the series does have its fair share of violence and action, it’s mostly exploring the titular character(s). The story is rooted in Egyptian mythology, and we discover what it truly means to be the moon god’s Avatar. The viewer gets swept away as we learn more about Steven, Marc, Khonshu, and Layla (May Calamawy.) 

Oscar Isaac has the unbelievable task of playing both Steven and Marc, but he somehow manages to make them distinctly different characters. This entire show is dependent on him carrying the series, and he delivered a stellar performance. Acting opposite yourself is no easy feat, but you honestly never even think about it. He’s that seamless. The entire cast is truly phenomenal. May Calamawy and Ethan Hawke are fantastic and help flesh out this supporting cast and world. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Marvel Studios and this world they’ve been crafting for the last decade.

Moon Knight is the first Marvel+ show about an entirely new character. There are no ties to the Avengers, SHIELD, or SWORD. We meet Steven Grant in episode one, and the show has to hook you from there. This allows the creative team to have a completely different tone and overall vibe separate from the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy. I honestly forgot I was watching a Marvel Studios production until the logo and fanfare started at the beginning of the next episode. By breaking loose of those Marvel ties, Moon Knight is able to create its own world where you aren’t thinking about infinity stones or the next big cameo. Steven and Marc’s journey is the sole focus.

Moon Knight brings something new to the MCU. A darker, violent, and intense tone we haven’t really seen before. Oscar Isaac is incredible, the story is intriguing, and the action is brutal. Do yourself a favor and watch Moon Knight as soon as you can. You won’t regret it. 

Moon Knight Premieres on Disney+ March 30th, 2022.

The Adam Project (L to R) Ryan Reynolds as Big Adam and Walker Scobell as Young Adam. Cr. Doane Gregory/Netflix © 2022

The Adam Project is a time travel story that sees Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds), a pilot from 2050, get trapped in the year 2022 on his quest to save the future. Once in the past, he meets his younger self, a 12-year-old Adam Reed (Walker Scobell). They must work together to restore the timeline after a mysterious threat endangers all of reality. Is The Adam Project worth watching, or is it better left as a relic of the past? Here are my spoiler-free thoughts.

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The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as billionaire vigilante Bruce Wayne, but that doesn’t really matter because The Dark Knight is taking center stage here. Batman is currently in Year 2 of his crusade and might have met his match when The Riddler (Paul Dano) starts a killing spree. With the help of Detective Jim Gordon (Jeffery Wright), an alliance with Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), and of course, the aid of his loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Batman will have to outsmart the Riddler and save Gotham City.

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Thank you to Netflix for providing access for early review.

We are headed back to the Inkwell Isles for more wacky adventures with Cuphead and Mugman! Things will be a bit different because you won’t be needing your gaming console or controller this time. The Cuphead Show! is the latest in a line of many video games making their way to our screens through movies and TV shows. Netflix is already leading the pack with shows like The Witcher and Arcane, changing the narrative around video game adaptations. Can Cuphead join its predecessors and officially break the video game curse?

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This is less of a review and more of my spoiler-filled thoughts and raw emotions. So, if you have not seen Spider-Man: No Way Home, please bookmark this tab and return after watching the movie.

I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.

May Parker – Spider-Man 2

I love Spider-Man. That’s not a surprising statement, especially for a guy who grew up in the late 90s and early 2000s. My first memories are of my parents taking me to Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. I grew up playing Spider-Man 2 (the video game) on my Playstation 2, watching the 90s Spider-Man cartoon, reading Stan Lee‘s and Steve Ditko‘s original comic books (they were hidden inside of the Sunday paper), and moving on to shows like The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

Spidey is in my DNA, but it’s never something I honestly thought about. I was always a fan, but my favorites were Superman, Batman, The Ninja Turtles, the Teen Titans, and even characters like The Flash and Aquaman. Still, I always had a love for the web-slinger deep down. Tobey Maguire‘s Spider-Man films are one of the reasons I love movies, and the grounded but lighthearted tone is why I tend to value these types of stories. Peter Parker is a character designed for children, and his stories, teach kids the basic but poignant lesson; with great power, there must also come great responsibility.

It’s a tired lesson at this point, but Stan and Steve wanted kids to develop a moral compass. If you can help others, you have to do so. In the comics, these words are a narration by Stan. The films and shows took creative liberty by having Uncle Ben, a casualty of Peter’s selfishness, utter these words before his death. A change that pushes the idea even further. Ben teaches Peter this lesson because he wants Peter to think of others, not just as Spider-Man (Ben doesn’t even know about that), but rather to grow into a caring and compassionate human being.

Steve Rogers, Clark Kent, Peter Parker, and Barry Allen are all cut from the same cloth. They are all good guys at their core. The twist for Spider-Man is that Peter can never win. He struggles, falls, and loses everything, but he never lets that stop him. Peter might even break, but he’ll always build himself back up. It’s what makes this character timeless. He’s someone every single person can see themselves in. That’s why he wears a full-faced mask. Anyone can be Spider-Man, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. You, too, can be Spider-Man, and fight for what you believe in. It’s a story about loss and how we bounce back from it.

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Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) vs. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)

The 18th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe takes us to the fictional land of Wakanda. Here, we’re introduced to a whole new side of the Marvel universe and go on a thrilling adventure with T’Challa, king of Wakanda, the Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman brings one of my favorite superheroes to life in this instant classic!

So, given that Marvel is the biggest franchise on earth and everyone on the internet has already watched Black Panther, this review will be slightly different. Instead of talking about if the movie is worth watching, we’re going to take a moment to appreciate this film and the legacy it leaves behind.

The character of Black Panther was created by comic book legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He made his debut in the Avengers and Fantastic Four series and went on to have his own comic book run. He was the first superhero of African descent and appeared years before heroes like The Falcon, Luke Cage, and John Stewart (Green Lantern). The relevance of this character has been a part of his origin since the beginning. T’Challa isn’t just a comic book character. He’s a symbol of the African-American dream. Continue reading

Love & Basketball is about two professional athletes who fall in love at first sight. Will the love of basketball drive them apart or be the force that binds them together?

We follow Monica Wright (Sanaa Lathan) from age 11 all the way to her late 20s. She dreams of being the first woman in the NBA and bonds with her neighbor Quincy McCall (Omar Epps), an NBA player’s son. Their shared love of basketball is the crutch of their relationship. It’s what brings them together, but also what drives them apart. Everything comes easy for Quincy. He dreams of playing the NBA (like his father), and scouts are constantly watching him. He’s a prodigy, so things come naturally for him. Monica is equally as talented as a player, but it’s harder for a woman to stand out in sports. She has to overcome challenges with her family’s disapproval of her being an athlete and the pressure of getting recruited for college.

This starts to drive a wedge between Monica and Quincy because as soon as Monica has a breakthrough, she has to make an impossible decision. Is the love of basketball more important than her love for Quincy? That’s the question Monica faces throughout the film. Continue reading