“Spider-Man: No Way Home”
Marvel is ready to take the quantum leap into the next phase of its cinematic universe. Post “Endgame,” and with a bevy of television series now crowding its Disney+ catalogue, Marvel is taking its franchise multiversal. A botched spell from Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) rends the fabric of space-time, unleashing the full potential of Marvel’s intellectual property. Any character from any time is liable to descend on this iteration’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and his girlfriend Mary Jane (Zendaya). The premise to “Spider-Man: No Way Home” guarantees a glut of spectacle and fanservice and a gushing revenue stream for Disney. (12/16; Capitol Showplace and Paramount Twin Cinema)
“The Matrix Resurrections”
The original “Matrix” movie, from 1999, holds up as one of the most exhilarating and original science-fiction action films ever made. Unfortunately, its sequels burrowed so deeply into the layers of simulacra that, by the end, audiences were more befuddled than delighted. This franchise reboot seems to be a return to form. Lana Wachowski is back in the director’s chair, and Thomas Anderson, a.k.a. Neo (Keanu Reeves), is once again unwittingly captive to the hyperreal simulation known as the Matrix. With help from a gang of leather-clad cyber vigilantes, he must learn the truth and free humanity from its computer-code shackles. “The Matrix Resurrections” is the rare blockbuster in which explosions don’t come at the expense of beauty. The colors burst with brilliance. The fight scenes have the elegance of pyrotechnic ballet. Savor this visual feast on the largest screen you can find. (12/22; Capitol Showplace and HBO Max)
“Don’t Look Up”
There’s a gaping disconnect between the scientific certainty of climate change’s catastrophic effects on human civilization and human civilization’s response to that certainty. A suitable metaphor might be something like a giant, planet-destroying meteor hurtling toward Earth. That exact scenario is the inciting incident to Adam McKay’s new film, “Don’t Look Up.” When two low-level astronomers, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, sound the alarm for Earth’s imminent demise, they’re met by a vain and superficial news media, politicians complacently reliant on polls and donors instead of proactive governance, and corporations concerned with profit over posterity. McKay is one of Hollywood’s foremost satirists of power and stupidity, counting “The Big Short” and “Vice” among his earlier projects, and “Don’t Look Up” appears to be one of his most lacerating critiques of modern hubris yet. (12/24; Netflix)
“Licorice Pizza” is a recipe for movie bliss. The title comes from a now-shuttered chain of Southern California record stores (hence the abbreviation L.P.). The time is 1973; the place, the San Fernando Valley. The actors, Alana Haim, from the sisters pop trio HAIM, and Cooper Hoffman, son of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, are young and spirited. Hoffman’s Gary is a burgeoning teenage entrepreneur, full of schemes and ambition. Haim’s Alana is a photographer’s assistant wading in the uncertainty of her mid-twenties. Together, their loose, unbridled energy serves an ebullient script from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, whose filmography includes modern masterpieces “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood.” Anderson’s newest promises sun, comedy, rambunctiousness, and a whole lot of heart — the perfect escape for a snowy winter’s eve in Central Vermont. (12/25; Savoy Theater)
Travis Weedon is a writer and film lover. He is a freelance contributor to Seven Days and a programmer at the Savoy Theater.