Forget everything you think you know.
So speaks the Ancient One to Mister...forgive me, Dr. Strange. It's also a good reminder for the audience, as well, though judging by my theatre, everyone was ready for a new kind of trip. Marvel's doing something hard, something almost more difficult than tossing RDJ into a powered suit and seeing what shakes out. They have to build it again, but in a world where we already have so many pieces and a comfortable sense of what's happening. The success and shine of Winter Soldier and Civil War have spoiled us with solidly continuing storylines that have built upon everything that came before, with Ant Man and Doctor Strange opening up new worlds (the Quantum Realm and, well, the entirety of the multiverse, respectively) that are harder to ground in reality. The only current franchise that has attempted that has been Thor, and it's not an uncommon belief that those films tend to be the weakest of the offerings we've have over the last decade. This is the ground that Marvel has to win to bring Infinity Wars to the screen, and, honestly, Phase 3 looks to be shaping up pretty well.
The current cycle of sword-and-sandal films has been riding the wave of the success of Gladiator since 2000, and its end has been projected many times. In the introduction to his edited anthology Of Muscles and Men: Essays on the Sword & Sandal Film, scholar Michael G. Cornelius projected that these films, hereafter referred to as neo-peplum films, were already seeing a periodic decline in 2010/2011. After Gods of Egypt (2016) had performed poorly at the box office, Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter noted that other recent neo-peplum films such as The Legend of Hercules (2014) and Pompeii (2014) had also performed under expectations, thus also mimicking Cornelius’ thoughts that the cycle was in a rut.
There have been so many wonderful films at this year's HollyShorts Film Festival, but the second Documentary block had some of the most moving films of this year's festival. These documentaries, while short, were incredibly powerful and very entertaining.