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What to watch this weekend: ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,’ abortion drama ‘Happening’

  • May 06, 2022

Summer movie season is here and kicking off in Marvel-ous fashion.

This weekend, Benedict Cumberbatch’s hard-luck sorcerer Doctor Strange returns in a superhero sequel directed by Sam Raimi, who had a few hit “Spider-Man” films in the early 2000s. In addition, “Grey’s Anatomy” alum Eric Dane headlines a faith-based thriller, and Netflix rolls out another coming-of-age film from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” filmmaker Sofia Alvarez.

Here’s a guide to new movies that will satisfy every cinematic taste, plus some noteworthy theatrical films making their on-demand debut:  

Summer movie preview:10 must-see films, from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ to ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’

Review:Benedict Cumberbatch’s freaky ‘Doctor Strange 2’ loses its way in Marvel multiverse

If you’re a mighty Marvel devotee: ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’

Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange returns for another solo adventure that has him gallivanting through alternate realities and seeking different versions of himself to help save a teenage girl (Xochitl Gomez) from a powerful enemy. Raimi puts onscreen one seriously bloody and gleefully dark superhero horror flick, though at the same time “Madness” too often settles for being “a Marvel movie” – with fan service and eye-popping cameos that, for at least this installment, don’t offer quite the usual satisfaction.  

Where to watch: In theaters

‘Family comes first’:Benedict Cumberbatch talks ‘Doctor Strange 2,’ ‘SNL’ and his multiverse selves

If you want to see the most timely movie of the week: ‘Happening’

The French drama already was resonant when it premiered last year on the film-festival circuit, but now seems like essential viewing given this week’s Supreme Court Roe v. Wade news. Anamaria Vartolomei plays a student in the 1960s – when abortions were illegal in France – who becomes pregnant and, fearing its effect on her final exams, weighs the emotional and legal consequences of a clandestine termination. Audrey Diwan’s expertly crafted film offers an unflinching look at the process as well as an extremely harrowing, poignant story.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you dig young romance: ‘Along for the Ride’

Netflix made a a cottage industry out of teen-oriented fare, yet this aggressively ordinary adaptation of the Sarah Dessen YA novel lacks the charm of “The Kissing Booth” or a “To All the Boys” entry. The summer before she heads to college, Auden (Emma Pasarow) travels to a small beach town to hang with her dad (Dermot Mulroney) and stepmom (Kate Bosworth). An insomniac who wants to break out of her introvert zone, Auden meets, begins to take nightly outings with – and, of course, eventually falls for – Eli (Belmont Cameli), an enigmatic guy haunted by a tragic past.

Where to watch: Netflix

If you enjoy the horror of isolation: ‘Shepherd’

The supernatural chiller stars Tom Hughes as a recent widower who escapes from civilization with his dog and volunteers to work as a shepherd on a remote Scottish island. The guy’s not quite fit for the gig since he’s afraid of heights, and he’s still in a bad emotional place after his pregnant wife’s death.  His psychological state only worsens when strange visions of shadowy figures and ghost ships begin to appear. It’s a freaky gem that effectively utilizes an atmosphere of foreboding doom and a pleasingly sinister twist.

Where to watch: In theaters (and on VOD Tuesday)

If you need a family tearjerker: ‘All My Puny Sorrows’

Alison Pill headlines the indie Canadian drama as Yoli, a struggling writer who comes home to help when her sister Elf (Sarah Gadon), a renowned concert pianist, attempts suicide. Yoli wrestles with Elf’s obsession with ending her life while also coming to grips with a death in the family that still affects the sisters and their mother (Mare Winningham). Pill and Gadon are especially impressive in the understated drama that explores the emotions of choosing between life and death.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play

If you like your films with faith: ‘The Ravine’

Dane and Teri Polo play a devout couple who are hit hard when a close friend (Peter Facinelli) is implicated in a murder-suicide of his family. The suddenness of the tragedy has them and other loved ones trying to figure out what happened, and even the afterlife enters the picture along with a mysterious older woman (Leslie Uggams). It’s a bit of a mess, with aspects of a straight religious film and secular crime drama, and the ultimate message of forgiveness is guaranteed to polarize audiences.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play

If you get lost really easily: ‘Escape the Field’

Like a poor man’s “Lost,” the survival thriller centers on a group of strangers (including Theo Rossi, Jordan Claire Robbins and Shane West) who wake up in a mysterious maze full of rotting corn stalks. Each is given a different item (a compass, a gun, a knife) and has to battle trust issues before they can solve puzzles and make their way to safety. The situation is worsened by a killer presence who’s hunting them. It’s a decent premise that’s undone by a head-scratching conclusion.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play

Also on streaming

  • The latest Michael Bay action extravaganza, “Ambulance” stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as bank-heisting brothers, and is now available on Apple TV, Vudu and Google Play.
  • “You Won’t Be Alone,” a folk horror film starring Noomi Rapace about a young witch who takes the form of her victims to learn about what it means to be human, is also streaming on VOD platforms.

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