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 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…

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

desolation of smaug.jpg
Image is property of Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Films and New Line Cinema

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Film Review

Cast: Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Kenn Stott, Graham McTavish, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Aidan Turner, James Nesbitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans

Director: Peter Jackson

Synopsis:  The Dwarven company along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey continue their quest to reclaim their homeland of Erebor. However, the villainous Smaug is waiting for them and evil is beginning to stir in Dol Guldur…

Review: A fiery return to Middle Earth and with the Desolation of Smaug comes a bigger and better adventure than An Unexpected Journey. The first instalment suffered from a slow start and thus it took its time to get going. Despite this,  it was still a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. However, this second instalment wastes no time and immediately picks up from where the first film ended, as the company of Dwarves along with Bilbo and Gandalf continue their quest to reclaim Erebor.

Right from the get go, this film is immediately packed with some great scenes. From being chased from a bear-man to battling spiders that almost feast on our gang of little heroes. From there we have an enthralling chase down a choppy river as the Dwarves flee in wooden barrels, whilst being pursued by the pack of Orcs that continue to hunt them, as well as a group of elves led by Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). While these two characters did not feature in the work of J.R.R Tolkien, and while that may upset some of the die hard Tolkienites (hardcore fans of Tolkien’s work) they were both excellent characters who were exciting to watch and memorable.

On the subject of memorable, there is a character (or should I say beast) that is very memorable and is one of the best villains that has been put on the big screen in a long time. This beast is of course, Smaug the dragon, voiced and motion captured by the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch. This beast was ENORMOUS and very menacing. The dialogue that Smaug and Bilbo share in this film is wonderful. With the sinister voice of Cumberbatch that sent shivers down my spine,  this villain was superb and the scenes with him are among the best in the film.

Martin Freeman continued to excel in the role of Bilbo and Sir Ian McKellen was also ontop form as Gandalf.  A number of the dwarves within the company unfortunately do fade into the background, but there are those who come to the fore, Thorin (Richard Armitage) being one of them. He is the strong courageous leader that he was in the first film. Meanwhile the elderly Balin (Ken Stott) is another member of the dwarf company that shines through as the wisest member of the company.

Unlike the first film, this adventure does not suffer any pacing issues and is packed with action in almost every scene. The arrival at Laketown does slow things down but this is not  bad thing as the audience need the time to breath with all the action that leads up to it. Again there were a few CGI issues as some things did not look as authentic as they could have been. However, on the whole, this film is very well executed and is one of the best films of the year. It is packed with great action scenes and boasts one of the best villains in modern cinema. Be prepared for a fantastic cliff hanger that is definitely going to ensure you will want to come back to Middle Earth for the third and final instalment…

The stakes are upped considerably from the first film, delivering incredible action and a magnificent performance from Cumberbatch as Smaug the dragon, can we go back to Middle Earth now please?

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