Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Image is property of Marvel Studios

Ant-Man and the Wasp – Film Review

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Judy Greer, Michael Peña, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer

Director: Peyton Reed

Synopsis: With Scott Lang (Rudd) still under house arrest, Hope van Dyne (Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Douglas) believe that they may have uncovered a clue as to how retrieve Hope’s mother from the Quantum realm…

Review: Sometimes you have to wonder, is Marvel intentionally picking on the smallest hero they have to follow and pick up the pieces in the wake of a cinematic juggernaut? It was 2015, when we were first introduced to Scott Lang, and his chance encounter that led him to becoming the titular hero, all while following in the wake of Age of Ultron. Now three years later, and the torch is once again passed to Ant-Man once again who must step up, in the aftermath of the earth-shattering events of Infinity War.

However, as was the case in 2015, turning attentions on its smallest (and sometimes biggest) hero provides a much welcome comic relief that helps lighten the mood. We find Scott, after running away to join Cap in Civil War has consequently been put under house arrest. However, his quantum realm foray in the last film triggers a potential lead to Hope’s mother, long since believed to be lost there several decades ago. Scott finds himself teaming up with Hank and Hope once again in a bid to find her. All the while, new threats emerge hoping to steal some of Pym’s rather fantastic tech for their own mischievous purposes.

You all look like insects from this height…

The film does follow its predecessor in a lot of ways, not least of which is how zany it is. Same universe though it may be, it feels like it is another world away from the likes of Black Panther. The story is also similar, lots of chit-chat about ants, as well as some science-y lingo and of course, as you would expect at this point from Marvel, lots of humour. When you have an actor well known for his comedic chops like Paul Rudd as your leading man, you know that you’re going to get a charismatic and funny performance, and once again Rudd delivers exactly that.

Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas are also on excellent form once more, with the former finally able to get her wings as the new Wasp and take some bad guys down. Though not all of the humour works unfortunately, Michael Pena’s very funny flashbacks from the first film are once again called upon, but this time it feels a bit forced for the sake of an extra laugh or two.

What Edgar Wright would have brought to this franchise, we will almost certainly never know. Nevertheless, Peyton Reed proved he was an assured choice to direct the first film and once again, he directs the action sequences with a zippy energy that keeps the plot moving along at a steady pace. However while it should keep the attention throughout, there is nothing here that will likely stick in the mind of the audiences once we hit the credits. The story does try to have a more personal edge to it, but this again is a bit hit-or-miss. And while there is an attempt to flesh out chief villain Ghost (John-Kramen), she does unfortunately fall into the category of somewhat disposable MCU villains, likewise for Walton Goggin’s smarmy businessman.

For the most part, the film stands on its own two feet (or should that be wings). It is an undeniable blast of colourful and fun insect sized entertainment, there is nothing here to leave a lasting impression. As for where it stands in relation to the seismic events of Infinity War, make sure you stick around for the mid credit scene, as that is one that is likely to have a very significant impact for MCU films to come.

Retaining the eccentric humour of the first film, competently acted and directed by all concerned, but ultimately, there is not enough sting in this one to rank it up there with the very best film to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Posted in 2000-2009, 2010-2019, Film Feature

Ranking all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films

Marvel 10 years

In this era of superhero movie dominance that are making the studios mega bucks, and the actors into huge stars, there is without a doubt one studio that is firmly leading the way, and that is Marvel Studios. Back in 2008, in the first post credits scene of Iron Man, the prospect of the Avengers Initiative was teased. 10 years later and from that one film has spawned an enormous universe filled with colourful characters aplenty.

With a now considerable 20 movies of their Extended Universe graced the big screen, there have been some truly spectacular flicks, and so it is time for me to rank all of these movies so far from worst to best (up to and including Ant-Man and the Wasp). Please bear in mind, that these are my picks, and so I very much doubt you will agree with all of my choices. You might completely agree with me, or maybe you will hate my list altogether, it is all good! Having different opinions is what makes movies and discussions about film so entertaining. So with that all said and done, it is time to Hulk smash into this list!!!!

22. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Speaking of The Hulk, it is where I begin my list. I’m pretty sure if you ask people do they remember this movie, the answer would probably be no. It has become the forgotten movie of the MCU especially since they recast Mark Ruffalo in the role for The Avengers, replacing Ed Norton as everyone’s favourite green rage monster. As a result, this movie has probably slipped from many people’s minds, and for good reason. Norton did a decent enough job as Bruce Banner, and the story was interesting enough, but never truly gripping enough to be memorable.

The action between The Hulk and his nemesis The Abomination just got a bit cartoonish at times and very CGI heavy, in a similar vein to the Star Wars prequels, and it was just a bit boring watching two forces matched in power fight one another and was nowhere near as enthralling as the other MCU movie that came out that year, but more on that later.

21. Iron Man 2 (2010)

This movie is a classic case of a studio just pumping out a sequel too quickly after the explosive success of the sequel. While this movie does have its moments such as the showdown in Monaco which was undeniably entertaining, and seeing Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in action for the very first time was awesome. The story did feel a bit rushed and uneven in terms of its pacing. There was potential for a really good story, but this was not fully realised.

Despite having two antagonists, neither really stood out (more on that throughout this post) and the movie struggled to recapture the brilliance of Tony Stark’s first outing as Iron Man. It is by no means a terrible film, but much could have been done to improve on it and definitely ranks as the weakest film in the Iron Man trilogy.

20. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

thor tdw

Full review

While the first Thor film was all about Thor learning what it means to be a leader and a warrior, all while being without his God-like power, in this film he had his hammer by his side at all times. While director Alan Taylor did bring some impressive visuals to this story, and there were some really solid and entertaining fight scenes. Furthermore, we got to explore the God of Thunder’s relationship (if you can call it that!) with his brother the mischievous Loki, brilliantly portrayed by Tom Hiddleston once again.

The real trouble here was, as is so often the case with MCU movies, the villain. Christopher Ecclestone is a fine actor but his portrayal of the Dark Elf Malakith left a lot to be desired, as he was another of the many disposable Marvel villains and he wasn’t memorable at all. His motivations for his actions were just not explained at all. Furthermore, Hiddleston’s performance as Loki completely overshadowed him.

19. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Full review

This film showing the origins of Steve Rogers as the iconic Captain America showed what the character was all about. A loyal and determined man who thanks to the super soldier serum is transformed into the awesome superhero, who is fiercely patriotic and just wants to serve his country. Chris Evans was an excellent choice to play him and he has done so right throughout his tenure as the character. The rest of the cast were also excellent with Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones all delivering excellent performances.

Equally great was Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, although his accent was a little dubious in places. This film was a bit light on the action scenes, but it was a perfect introduction to see Cap get his stars and stripes, and as we will see, the Captain America franchise only got better and better.

18. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

Full review

After their first glorious outing, it was inevitable that everyone’s favourite band of flawed but lovable collection of criminals turned heroes made a return to the big screen. The first film was such an enormous risk but one that paid off massively. Hence, it made perfect sense to continue in the bonkers style of the first one, as the Guardians meet a man who claims to be the father of Star Lord. The Marvel brand of humour has become such a staple of this universe and this one very much continues in that trend, whilst also crucially allowing the relationships between these characters to grow and develop.

However, there is a lack of emphasis on plot in favour of telling jokes, which while entertaining at first, quickly loses steam and this film really grinds to a sharp halt in the second act, and the story suffers as a result. Though it does pick up again towards the end, not every joke lands this time around. Much like the first film, the villain is also something of a let down. Though the film has another excellent soundtrack, the first film set such a high bar in terms of quality that matching it was always going to be a tall order, and this never reaches the first film’s lofty heights. Baby Groot though is still really frickin adorable though.

17. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Full review

When we were first introduced to him, Scott Lang was a guy in a tough spot just trying to do what he could for his young daughter, which in turn led him to becoming the Ant-Man. After running off to join Cap in Civil War, it landed him in a bit of bother that consigned him to house arrest. This changes when former associates Hope and her father need him for information concerning Hope’s mother, the original Wasp. After the earth-shattering events of Infinity War, and to a lesser extent Black Panther, a light-hearted blast of entertainment was exactly what the MCU needed, and the tiniest (sometimes the largest) hero Marvel has to offer delivered exactly that.

A very similar film to its predecessor in terms of going deep into the science-y world of Hank Pym, but with a much more personal story this time around, particularly for Hope. As she finally gets her wings and becomes the Wasp after her mother. The chemistry, especially between Scott and Hope is strong which helps to drive the plot forward, but while it passes the time, it is not nearly as memorable or impactful as other MCU entries, most notably the first Ant-Man film. The film itself is very enjoyable, but give a take a few scenes, is quite forgettable. Furthermore, despite an intriguing backstory, the villain once again left a lot to be desired.

16. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Full review

When the first teaser for this movie arrived, it exploded all over the internet, with Ultron looking like he was going to be the badass awesome villain that the MCU had been craving for a very long time. When the final product arrived, while it was still really enjoyable to watch and to see the Avengers reunited. The introductions of Scarlet Witch and Vision were welcome ones to the plethora of characters we have seen so far, and the action was, as is often the case with Marvel, really well handled.

However, despite being all badass in the trailers, the Ultron we got was ultimately a little bit disappointing, he had his moments of brilliance but was far from being the quality villain we had hope he would be. For all of his efforts, Joss Whedon couldn’t manage to make a film to go one better than the original, which is what a sequel should do. It was quality to see the team reunited, but a few of the side plots could have been very easily taken out of the finished product, and it wouldn’t have made too much of a difference.

15. Doctor Strange

Full review

The MCU up to this point had dabbled into many fascinating subjects, but until this movie, they had not dabbled in the world of sorcery and magic. It certainly was an interesting direction for the MCU to go in and ensures that the franchise retained interest for the audience. Benedict Cumberbatch was excellent in the titular role and it provided some of the most remarkable visuals that we have seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this point. One could make the argument that it did basically follow the formula that the first Iron Man did, and yes the similarities between Tony Stark and Stephen Strange are plain to see. However, as it was one that worked so well to introduce the MCU to the world, only makes sense to use it to introduce a new facet to the MCU.

Once again though, the villain is the real Achilles Heel of the film. Like with many Marvel villains, Mads Mikkelsen is an extremely talented actor. However it is the script does not give him the chance to become a villain on the level of quality like Loki, though he does have some decent moments, perhaps in no small part due to the rather intimidating eye make up that he and his minions acquire.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

Top 10 Best Films of 2015

2015, a year that broke box office records here, there and everywhere! A return to a galaxy far far away, more dinosaurs, more superheroes, a fair few spy movies, the revival of some long running franchises, and some original pieces of work thrown into the mix as well. It was a promising year for movies, and it some cases it delivered, some it did not. In any case, there were more than a handful of great movies that came out in 2015. With all that said it is time, now that some of those limited release films that came out at the end of the year have reached me here in the UK ( I am classing these as 2015 releases, as per IMDB) With that said, I now give you my picks for the 10 best movies of the year.

One thing to bear in mind, is that grades here do not matter, a film may get a high grade or the perfect grade, it will not necessarily mean that film will be the best film of the year, this is my list of my favourite movies that I had the most fun with or enjoyed the most.  Before I get into the body of my list I do have some honourable mentions, films that were awesome and that didn’t quite make the list with there being 10 spaces, but were still a lot of fun.

The first of these is Kingsman: The Secret Service, this movie knew it was a silly spy movie, but it was extremely entertaining and very violent in places, but the action was extremely exciting, and we got to see Colin Firth beat people up! Next up is Spectre, the 24th James Bond film. Now I know some people, including one very good friend of mine, did not like this movie at all but I thought it was a well directed film with some great action sequences, and a very sexy but badass Bond girl in Lea Seydoux. The villain played by Christoph Waltz was admittedly a little underutilised, and while it did revert to established Bond formula a bit too much, it was still a blast to watch, although it’s not on the same level as Skyfall or Casino Royale.  Third is The Walk, the new film by Robert Zemeckis, this was a gripping watch, telling the true story of Phillippe Petit, the man who strung a tightrope between the Twin Towers. While a little slow to get going, the scene where he walks the wire was among the most gripping scenes I saw all year.

10. Ant Man

Read my Ant-Man review

Image rights belong to Marvel Studios

When the year began and we had two new MCU films to look forward to, nearly everyone was more excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron than Ant Man, yet for many, the former was a bit of a disappointment, perhaps suffering from very large expectations. And while Ultron certainly was not a massive failure, it was not nearly as enjoyable as Ant Man. When Edgar Wright exited Ant Man, many thought it was a doomed project destined for failure, yet it came through in great style. Paul Rudd was tremendous as the titular character, Michael Douglas was fantastic as Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly was also in great form, it exceeded all expectations and ensured a sequel has been added into Phase 3 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

9. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Read my Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation review

mission-impossible-5.35209

The fifth entry in this franchise that continues to pack awesome action and among the handful of spy movies that were released in 2015, Rogue Nation is arguably the best, and has a claim to be the best Mission Impossible movie to date. Tom Cruise as usual doing all of his owns stunts including actually hanging onto a moving plane, as well as the introduction of the awesome Ilsa Faust played by the amazing Rebecca Ferguson, as well more awesome humour providing by the great Simon Pegg. Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay and direction was excellent and it’s no surprise that he’s back on board to direct the sixth film in the franchise.

8.The Martian

Read my The Martian review

the martian

A real return to form for director Ridley Scott, whose recent films were disappointments to many, so to see him come back with a truly great movie was awesome to see. Matt Damon was brilliant in the lead role as a man who is left behind on Mars. The screenplay was sharp and surprisingly very humorous given the dire nature of his circumstances, and the rest of the very large cast were also great with the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Sean Bean all giving excellent performances, with amazing visuals and outstanding special effects that were almost a throwback to Scott’s early science fiction roots.

7. Mad Max Fury Road

Read my Mad Max Fury Road review

mad max

The fourth film in this franchise, and the film that could and should rewrite the book on how to film action movies. It was an utterly thrilling film filled with practical effects and mind blowing action sequences, with cars, explosions and flaming guitars to boot, and not a shaky camera to be found anywhere. Tom Hardy didn’t have much dialogue but he was excellent in the title role, but the person who stole the show was undoubtedly that of Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, showing Hollywood writers how to write an awesome badass female character who doesn’t need a man to show what a strong character she can be. Take note please writers and directors!!!

6. The Hateful Eight

Read my The Hateful Eight review

Hateful eight

The eight film by Mr Quentin Tarantino, and another superb addition to his near flawless filmography. A brilliantly shot film with wonderful cinematography, a terrific score by Ennio Morricone, and a tremendously talented cast including Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Samuel L Jackson, it’s not quite on the same level as Inglorious Basterds or Django Unchained, but it was still a well written and very entertaining film with a great mystery at its core that was just fascinating to witness on the big screen, of course with Tarantino’s signature dialogue and violence.

5. Creed

Read my Creed review

creed

The seventh instalment of this series, and it might just be the best the series has ever produced, certainly one of the best performances ever from Sly Stallone that has been ensuring he has received well deserved awards nominations and victories, but another top notch performance from Michael B Jordan. The fight scenes were tremendously well handled, and the story to boot, whilst taking many notes from the original, was an inspired decision as we have a new Rocky for a new generation.

4. Ex Machina

Read my Ex Machina review

ex machina

In this age of films when prequels, sequels and reboots dominate, it is always refreshing to see an original film be brought to the table and when they’re as thrilling, intriguing, and exciting as Ex Machina was, then that is a bonus. This was a mesmerising take on what is very familiar ground in the sci fi genre, artificial intelligence. The main trio of actors, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander were all magnificent in their roles in a beautifully directed film with a very sharp screenplay from Alex Garland which also marked his directorial debut.

3.  The Revenant

Read my The Revenant review

revenant

Sixth time lucky in terms of landing that elusive golden statue for one Leonardo DiCaprio?  He bagged the Golden Globe so here’s hoping but if he doesn’t win it for his terrific performance in this film, I don’t know what will win him the honour. His dialogue is minimal but he threw everything into this role and it was a gripping and enthralling movie from beginning to end, with another great performance from Tom Hardy who has had quite an extraordinary twelve months. The action scenes, most notably with the bear did not make comfortable viewing, but the cinematography was perfect, it was a visual masterpiece and is being bestowed with some well deserved awards and cemented Alejandro G Iñárritu’s reputation as a truly formidable director.

.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Read my Star Wars: The Force Awakens review

Image rights belong to Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Bad Robot Productions

The anticipation for the return of Star Wars was off the charts, with real pressure on the shoulders of JJ Abrams to deliver a satisfying film after the disappointments that were the Prequels. However, Abrams pulled through and ensured this franchise returned to form. Like with Creed, it did borrow a lot from previous films, but with seven films now in the franchise, there is kind of an established formula to follow that all six films previously tried to follow, with some being more successful than others. However, the story was thrilling with exciting new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren, as well as the old cast all returning. It got the new trilogy off to a perfect start, and is still raking in the dough.

.

.

.

.

.

1. Inside Out

Read my Inside Out review

inside out

The animation juggernaut that is Pixar has produced some of the most beloved animation films of all time. The likes of Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Incredibles all jump to mind. And after some sequels, they reverted back to the original ideas and produced what for me, might just be their best film yet, in Inside Out. This film, exploring the inner workings of a girl ‘s mind and her emotions after she moves home, was simply put, genius.  As human beings we all experience different emotions at significant moments in our lives, and to see this portrayed on screen was just a joy (see what I did there?) to witness. These animations do work on two levels that give lots for kids and adults to enjoy, but this film definitely panders more towards the adults with its story that will resonate with all who see it. Gorgeously animated with a mixture of great humour and some very emotional moments that will bring you to tears, and a tremendous cast of voice actors including Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black and Mindy Kaling. Inside Out is certainly one of the best animated films so far this decade, and my favourite film of 2015!

So there you have it, my best films of 2015. What were your picks? Comment below and tell me what were your favourite movies of 2015, or feel free to tweet me at @TTSilverScreen, and be sure to like me over on Facebook!

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Ant-Man (2015)

Image rights belong to Marvel Studios
Image is property of Marvel Studios

Ant-Man – Film Review

Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Judy Greer, Michael Pena

Director: Peyton Reed

Synopsis: Scott Lang, a one time crook and master-thief, is seeking to re-establish himself in society after a spell in prison, yet Dr Hank Pym, is seeking to recruit Lang to become a new superhero, one that involves stealing  and a large amount of insects…

Review: When the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off back in 2008 with the roaring success of Iron Man, audiences may have wondered: where is this leading? Will audiences get sick of it? What nonsensical gimmick are they going to try and pull off next? When last year’s smash hit Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced, question marks were raised, a talking tree and a raccoon? Have Marvel lost their marbles? Yet the naysayers soon shut up as Guardians came out blew everyone away, becoming a critical and commercial success.

Similarly, when it was announced that an Ant Man film was in the works, there was scepticism, particularly when long time writer/director Edgar Wright left the project after having been attached to it for a long time, with creative differences being cited. Would this latest gamble for Marvel work? In short, well yes, yes it absolutely did.

ant man

The departure of Wright may and probably will leave audiences wondering what he would have brought to this, but fear not as Wright’s replacement, Peyton Reed, stepped up to the mantle in terrific style. The story focuses on Scott Lang (Rudd) who has just been released from prison and is seeking to reconnect with his daughter. Yet his luck is gone, and he resorts to his familiar petty thief ways in order to earn some dough. Yet this presents itself with the perfect opportunity as Dr Hank Pym (Douglas) wants to recruit Scott to take on the role of the Ant Man in order to prevent Pym’s rival Darren Cross from unleashing chaos on the world by making a replica of Pym’s original shrinking formula.

With this now being the twelfth film in the MCU, and after this summer’s blockbuster Age of Ultron, Marvel was in the position of having to reinvent the franchise in order to keep things fresh, and avoid things becoming stale. While there are similarities with a number of previous MCU films,  Ant Man does offer something new and unique enough to ensure that the wheels on the all powerful Marvel bus are not coming off.

Paul Rudd really shines in the role of Scott Lang who is tasked by former Ant Man Hank Pym (an electric Michael Douglas) to become the Ant Man and pull off a daring heist, which again feels fresh as a superhero heist movie is a very rare thing. Rudd brings charisma, humour and charm to the role, which is complemented superbly by the comedic timing of Michael Pena. Guardians certainly packed plenty of laughs, and through a script with contributions from Wright, Joe Cornish, Paul Rudd and Adam McKay, the humour is again excellent and adds a lot to the film.

With Age of Ultron, Marvel wheeled out their titan characters once more, there was that big scale spectacle as the whole world was at stake. Thus with this tale, there was a bit of downsizing to do (quite literally). But with that downsizing of scale, there is no downsizing of story, heart and excellent characters that add more strong characters to the ever growing Marvel Universe. Principally, Paul Rudd absolutely shines as the titular hero and delivers a superb performance. When it was announced that it would be Scott Lang and not Hank Pym taking up the mantle, eyebrows were raised but Rudd pulls it off in magnificent style, with some great comedic timing which, 60% of the time, works every time! The action sequences are handled and executed very well , and when our titular hero shrinks in size, the audience is along for the small but exhilarating ride. Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas as father and daughter are also excellent and their fascinating backstory could lead to a sequel should Marvel decide to roll out Phase 4.

Yet as with many Marvel movies, the real let down here is the villain, the Yellowjacket. (Corey Stoll) While admittedly one of the stronger MCU villains in recent years, there was a lot that could have been explored more deeply with his character, which was ultimately not utilised to as great of an effect as it could have been. Nevertheless, Ant Man has proved to be the exciting close to Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that everyone was hoping it would be. Phase 2 brought us a lot of greatness but it feels like Marvel is about to step it up another gear as all attentions will now be turning to Phase 3, as war is coming.

Hilarious, action packed, with some great character additions to the MCU  a golden lead performance from Paul Rudd and expertly handled action sequences. Let the excitement for Phase 3 begin now…

a