The Civil War and Infinity War is coming. If there's anything Marvel Studios has been trying to hit us over the head with the past few years, it's that statement of fact. So it makes sense to introduce the audience to all of the players, particularly every member of the 'soon'-to-be-complete Avengers team. The most recent addition in the movie verse is Ant-Man!
I'll admit right off the bat that I didn't follow his storyline too much, or Wasp's. Even when I was younger I couldn't take the idea of him seriously. Changing your size while retaining your normal strength is one thing, but controlling insects (while making sense being that size) is something else entirely. And kinda gave me the creeps.
Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew!
But I felt the nerd obligation to see the film in theaters so there I went. Honestly, the trailers did make me interested. It seemed like they would take the concept of Ant-Man as the standalone hero and make it work for a feature length film. The result? It was...meh.
Logo via Marvel Studios
There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, but 'meh' is all I can really say about the whole thing. I honestly forgot that I had seen the movie a few hours after I got home, definitely not the norm when I usually go to see a Marvel film. I think that the main problem stems from a lack of creativity or spark of imagination in all of the wrong places.
The plot was one we've seen a million times and I don't feel that it fit well within the world of Ant-Man and the so-called genius scientist and technician our main characters are supposed to be. They show off Scott Lang's skills when he cracks Hank Pym's personal safe, but then try to make me believe that Pym baited Lang in the most convoluted way imaginable instead of simply contacting him directly. Pym could've hidden inside the house or even in the vault and asked Scott to help him right then and there instead of letting him just walk away with the suit. If Scott said 'no' to helping him then he could use one of his ants to plant something on him that he could say Scott stole. Then we'd still have the jailbreak scene, it would make for a cool introduction to the suit, and Lang can be guided how to use it the entire time by Pym. Solved! In the film there's no way Hank would know what would happen to his suit which is one of a kind and would be extremely dangerous if put in the wrong hands. What if Scott ended up selling it to get the money that he desperately needs? What if he never took the suit at all, being too disappointed at the lack of valuables? As for Scott, who would randomly put on a weird motorcycle suit and push buttons that could literally do anything WHILE you have the damned thing on?
Anyways, the rest of the film goes the way you'd expect it to, which isn't a good thing. After a training montage, Ant-Man gets ready for a heist, an idea which excited me as Marvel has never gone that route with a hero before. But the whole thing was underwhelming and asked me to care about things that they never bothered to make me care about in the first place. An ant that Scott named gets killed? Bummer. Scott and Hope get caught kissing? Oh well, good for them, I guess.
When it came to the acting department, Paul Rudd seemed to have a hard time finding his footing as a superhero the whole film. I think he's more than capable of pulling off a role like this and he did come close many times, but he wasn't given enough to work with in my opinion. Evangeline Lilly broke through the monotony a few times whenever she and Michael Douglas (playing her father Hank Pym) had scenes together and I genuinely liked how the two played their strained relationship. But in every other scene her character lacked, well, any character. Michael Douglas was by far the best actor of the ensemble. Being the veteran that he is that's not too surprising, though.
The villain, Yellowjacket (aka Darren Cross), was by far one of the weakest I've seen so far in the Marvel 'verse. His only reason for being the bad guy is because he's gone insane. Not from some traumatizing event caused by the hero (Yeah, Hank snubbed him but it never felt like it effected him to THAT degree) but because of some particle thing that happens just from being around the technology that made the Ant-Man suit. So why hasn't Hank Pym or his daughter gone insane? They've undoubtedly been around that technology far longer than he has! I'm pretty sure a line is said in passing somewhere where they say that he was already a bit crazy but that's a really weak premise to base any bad guy on. I'd get it if Cross's evil plan was more focused on destroying Hank Pym but from the very beginning he's more focused on making these suits weaponized so they can sell them to the military and of course Hydra as we learn later. He didn't even look particular villainous or intimidating, though throughout the movie I felt like he belonged in the wrong comic book franchise.
I will defeat you Superman! Oh-I mean Ant-Man!
The best part of the film had to be the fight scenes. With such a specific power I was hoping they would get creative with the choreography and do something different from what we're used to seeing and they always delivered.
Ultimately, Ant-Man didn't have any real soul to it. It lost it's main voice as soon as Edgar Wright was out of the project and the script got three more writers working on it. Too many voices for any project means the end result will be a muddled mess and that's exactly what happened to Ant-Man. My hope is that Ant-Man will finally find his place amongst the rest of the Avengers in future movies, very much like how well the Hulk has been working in the Avengers franchise despite the lackluster films he'd been featured in before.
What did you think of the film? Am I missing something? Tell me in the comments below.
So, it would appear that Dinosaurs > The Avengers. Let's talk about that. (As always: Be warned, here there be spoilers!)
Cue the John Williams music.
When I was a kid I loved, loved, loved, dinosaurs! Heck, I still love dinosaurs, though I'm really just an overgrown kid, so no surprises there. The very first Jurassic Park movie came out when this love that I harbored was in full bloom, and it instantly became one of my favorite films of all time! It was a movie about a fricking theme park filled with actual, real, live dinosaurs that escape and wreak havoc. Who wouldn't love that!? Plus, it introduced visual effects that blew the audience away at the time. When I watched Jurassic Park for the first time in theaters (I kind of snuck in with my older cousin, sorry, Mom) my kid mind exploded, because I was instantly transported to Isla Nublar where ancient reptilian creatures roam.
Thanks, George Lucas.
The movie was a huge hit, and became the highest-grossing film worldwide until Titanic was released four years later. Evidently, I wasn't the only kid to be engrossed, and the kid in every adult simply couldn't resist. Nothing seems to have changed as once again, the infamous park has taken the number one spot in box office records beating BOTH Avengers films.
The world is just a bunch of excitable kids, isn't it? That would explain a lot, actually...
As is the case whenever anything is popular in Hollywood, a sequel has to be made. And the Jurassic Park franchise got to have two before 'Jurassic World', The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 3. Both films (IMO) were terrible. The second one became too stupid and preachy while the third was filled with the most incredibly moronic characters I'd ever seen. So when I heard about the newest addition to the franchise I was initially skeptical. My thoughts were that if the sequels failed to bring anything new or interesting to the table than why would Jurassic World be any different? Then I saw the trailer...
And this guy...
Right away I had a good feeling. I was already seeing things I'd never seen before and never realized I'd wanted to see. My mind was made up right there that I'd see the new film and give it a chance. This was what I thought of it.
Earlier, I mentioned that the first Jurassic Park movie managed to actually transport me to the theme park and that I was completely engrossed. Jurassic World did the same. The park they show you is so similar to real theme parks (Think Disneyland or Sea World) but with the awesome inclusion of Dinosaurs. There is a petting zoo filled with baby dinosaurs (some of which kids can ride), a sea life show where the audience gets splashed, an attraction where you can go canoeing with dinosaurs bathing next to you, etc. You even see characters pass a Starbucks and Pandora shop! If a park like this actually existed, the movie shows you exactly what it would be like. And that adds to the 'realism'.
Oh, why can't this be a real thing!!??
We're also introduced to some new concepts about dinosaur behavior when we meet Chris Pratts' character who is the resident Velociraptor Trainer. Yes, you heard me right. His character trains the deadly killing machines from the first movies by using dead rats and a 'clicker' that's normally used on dogs. This idea, while borderline ludicrous and dangerous, is still incredibly fascinating and watching his character with them in any scene is absolutely captivating. That's the films major strength. It has amazing and unique ideas and knows exactly how to make them entertaining for the audience. It's visually breathtaking and will leave you entranced until the credits roll! All of this being said, it has some problems. For instance, this guy never takes his shirt off. :-(
If you're looking for the layered and multi-faceted characters from the first Jurassic Park, stop right now. You're not going to find them. Every single main character is a 'broad stroke' character, meaning that they have one trait they're known for and nothing else. Yes, we see some development with the director of operations (Bryce Dallas Howard) going from cold, business driven aunt to kickass "I'm-gonna-sick-a-T-Rex-on-you-to-save-my-nephews" aunt, but not much else can be said. The nephews may as well be called 'wide-eyed, younger genius brother' and 'teenaged angsty older brother'. At one point the movie gives us a scene where the younger one reveals that their parents are getting a divorce, visually upsetting both kids, and then we never hear about it again. In fact the boys go right back to going on rides and smiling and laughing like nothing is wrong.
The villains are of course interested in making dinosaurs into weapons now that they see you can train them, which is a nice change from 'let's steal them for our own park', but when your villain is a clear cut douche bag from the beginning and tries to reason with a velociraptor by talking to it, there's no way I'll be taking them seriously. And I would bet all of my life's savings that Chris Pratt took his role because his character speaks in nothing but trailer speak and one-liners. That and his character has a scene where he rides a motorcycle next to velociraptors.
I'm not going to be too harsh on the plot of the movie being about the incredibly poor decision to make a dinosaur hybrid that will scare their patrons more, because the entire idea of cloning any dinosaur is a pretty poor idea. But still, using cuttlefish DNA? A fish I know about ONLY because of its' ability to blend into surroundings? Really?
While you might think that this would take you out of the movie and ruin the entire film, it strangely doesn't. There's a tongue in cheek tone throughout the film and I couldn't help but wonder if the cliches were intentional. Plus the film never takes itself too seriously, there's no underlying message about animal cruelty or man vs. nature, it's a fun and exciting romp in a dinosaur park and nothing more!
Personally, I think nothing else is really needed.
If there's going to be another installment, I'd like to see the same director and writer(s) work on it. Just think of what else they could cook up and imagine for us! I only ask that they try to make their characters more complicated and less cliched. Then you'd have a classic to last throughout the years, much like the one that started it all.
What did you think of the movie? Comment below to let me know!
I'm gonna transform into "Old Lady Phoebe" for a moment. Back in my day, the 90s, Memorial Day was the official 'start' of the summer movie season. Nowadays, it seems like summer movie season starts sometime in February, (I kid). Image: WB
Being that I'm a bit old school, I still like to use the end of May as my official starting point for my summer movies. It just fells more authentic that way. All that being said, this week, I'll present you with my list of summer movies that I'm looking forward to. I'll be doing it in the order of their release date.
San Andreas: May 29
This one stars hulky hunk, Dwayne 'The Rock?' Johnson, and was written by Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse. Cuse is currently the show runner of one of my TV guilty pleasures, Bates Motes, on A&E and making it aware that he was the real talent behind the success of Lost. I gauge this on the success he is having post Lost as compares to his partner, Damon Lindelof. This movie falls into the 'disaster' genre as it's about a big earthquake that threatens America's west coast. I'll be honest, it looks like a pretty fun ride and features a pretty decent cast including Percy Jackson's, Alexandria Daddario, Fantastic Four's, Ioan Gruffurd and The Rhino himself Paul Giamatti. This movie is a good way to kick-off the summer as seems to feature everything a summer movie should, a hero trying to save someone they love and stuff either exploding or being destroyed.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Universal
Jurassic World: June 12
I love dinosaurs and always have. As a kid, I used to make my toy dinosaurs eat my little sister's dolls. When I discovered Jurassic Park, I flipped out, and watched it so many times I broke the VHS. The subsequent sequels we okay, but nothing seemed to capture the original emotions and excitement the original had. It's been a long time since we've had a Jurassic movie and I think the wait will have been worth it. This one features fandom's new Harrison Ford, Chris 'Star Lord' Pratt, and appears to want us to relive the first movie by having the story take place in a newly reopened park. I have super high hopes for this one. With better CG technology to create the dinosaurs I expect some ferocious dinosaur action.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Paramount
Terminator/Genesys: July 1
This is either going to be great or a big pile of doo-doo. There's no grey area for this one. Mostly because ala JJ Abrams Star Trek, this one 'changes everything' and wipes out the James Cameron canon completely. This one features a pretty good cast and gives us back what this franchise has been missing since Terminator 2, Arnold. I want to be excited for this as sci-fi is my #1 genre, but based on the trailers, I'm having a hard time. I did a captain Picard facepalm when recently the latest trailer revealed that John Connor himself is now an advanced a Terminator. Seriously?! You gave away your big plot twist in the trailer? Hopefully, there is something else that happens in this movie that makes it worth watching.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Disney
Ant-man: July 17
Like most movie fans, I was seriously bummed when Edgar Wright walked away from this movie last year. I've seen every one of Wright's films and love his style and humor. Without Wright, it's possible the world wouldn't even know about his pal Simon Pegg. When Marvel announced soon after the split that they hired a new director who's precious film was a dancing movie and the film's lead Paul Rudd was going to take a stab at a re-write, all of fandom began to get nervous. Even many industry folks were beginning to whisper that this could be the mighty Marvel's first misstep since the success of Iron Man. Then the trailers hit and for me at least, all those worries got shelved and forgotten like 90s Rob Liefield comic books. This movie looks awesome and appears to provide audiences with both comedy and action. Although it won't be as unique as an Edgar Wright film would have been, I think this film will be a bit 'out there' yet still fit into Marvels bigger picture.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Sony
Pixels: July 24
Adam Sandler. It seems these days you either hate him or really hate him. As far as it goes for me, I've really have never seen any of his movies except for The Wedding Singer (my mom's #1 movie of all time), so I really don't have strong opinion on the guy. Since I'm not in his key demo of teenage boy, I haven't had the chance to get sick of his apparently tired gross out humor. So after all these years, it seems our paths have crossed, as one of my interests, video games had collided with one of his projects. This film was based on an Oscar winning short film of the same name and is directed by Chris Columbus. Now I don't know much about Sandler, but I do like Chris Columbus, if you don't know, he's the man that brought us Gremlins, Home Alone, and translated the world of Harry Potter off the page and onto the big screen. I'm a fan. The trailer looks fun, it has GOT's Peter Dinklage in it, and its one of the few films this year that isn't a reboot, sequel or based on a book/comic. Consider my excitement level primarily based on curiosity.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Fox
Fantastic Four: August 7
Here we go again, another shot for Marvel's 'First Family.' Maybe this time it'll be good. It's been hard to judge this one as it has been shrouded in mystery. One thing that is certain is that its director is allegedly crazy. Soon after filming began for this movie, wild stories began to be reported about his nutty on set behavior, and said behavior, is what got him fired from the upcoming Star Wars anthology film Boba Fett. All the gossip aside, this movie seems to be taking cues from the Fantastic Four Ultimate storyline written by Mark Millar. In the story, the Fantastic Four were created by time travel experiment of Reed Richards. This hard sci-fi edge may work for comics, but will probably miss with most audiences that prefer less though provoking concepts in their summer movie diet. I was a fan of the Ultimate Fantastic Four (even though it was penned by Millar) and like heavy sci-fi, so consider me more excited than most for this one.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE: Image: Lionsgate
Sinister 2: August 21
I think everyone can agree that the original Sinister caught all us horror fans a bit off guard. "A horror movie with Ethan Hawk?" we said. Come on. Then we saw it and were surprised to be taken down a dark and terrifying road of physiological horror akin to The Shining. What I liked about the first Sinister was the mythology it created. It gave us a new horror 'monster' like Freddy or Jason and also felt real by having elements of a Creepy Pasta. I feel like there is more to know about in this world and I'm excited to return to its spooky world.
PHOEBE EXCITEMENT SCALE:
There are a lot of other movies coming out this summer, but these are the ones that have a geek like me the most excited. What are yours? Leave them in the comments below.