Tag Archives: Ant-Man

Countdown to ENDGAME | Ant-Man


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Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther | Avengers: Infinity War | Ant-Man and the Wasp | Captain Marvel

Ant-Man

ant man

Take a few minutes to remember the flavor of Ant-Man:

In recent years, Marvel has mined its back catalog and made movies of characters with far less name recognition than Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Thor. The trend started with the smash Guardians of the Galaxy and continues with Ant-Man. What they have done is proven that superheroes sell if they are handled correctly.

Ant-Man is handled correctly from start-to-finish. Part caper, part family drama, part high-concept heist movie, Ant-Man has a terrific cast (Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas are all terrific) and propellant plot and a just the right touch of irreverent absurdity to make it a real delight.

This was a “creative tension” movie with original writer/director Edgar Wright bowing out and star Paul Rudd and new director Peyton Reed stepping in to finish the project. Rumor has it that Wright did not want to play in the Marvel sandbox and participate in the universe building that is now incumbent in these films. Frankly, it is hard to imagine Ant-Man without the Marvel Universe connections. They are part of what makes the movie such fun.

I gave Ant-Man  FOUR AND A HALF SUGAR CUBES out of a possible FIVE when I reviewed it upon its initial release.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and SHIELD operative
  • Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp
  • Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man
  • Hope Van Dyne
  • Pym Particles
  • Luis, Scott’s good friend
  • Kurt and Dave, Luis’ associates
  • Ant-tony, Scott’s flying ant

CONNECTION(S) TO ENDGAME:

  • There are no overt, infinity stone connections, though the Quantum Realm was a huge part of Ant-Man and the Wasp… more on that later.
  • If we understand that Infinity War finds a fractured Avengers team following the events of Captain America: Civil War, we have to note that Scott Lang faces off and gains measured respect from the Falcon who, in both the end of the movie and the post credit sequence (lifted directly from Civil War) is looking for Scott to assist the Avengers generally and, later, Cap’s off shoot team specifically.
  • SHIELD and Hydra also get shout outs and Hank Pym references Sokovia which also ties to Civil War which ties to the war of the Infinity variety.
  • More to come from Ant-Man and the Wasp…

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Ant-Man and the Wasp – A Movie Review


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ant man wasp

Peyton Reed director of Ant-Man and the Wasp and his team of writers, which includes star Paul Rudd (in very fine form here) had an unenviable task ahead of them when they set out to make their film. Knowing they were going to follow the massive Avengers | Infinity War they had to decide, if you will pardon the pun, to go big or go home.

Surprisingly – and effectively – they chose to go home or, at least, to stay close to home. Of all the Marvel Studios films to date, Ant-Man and the Wasp might be the smallest (okay, that one was totally unintentional – I caught it on my proofread!) in terms of stakes and scope.

Picking up over a year after Ant-Man and almost a year after Captain America: Civil WarAnt-Man and the Wasp opens on lovable hero Scott Lang (Rudd) who is holding up as well as he can under the house arrest he agreed to in exchange for his release from prison following the events of Civil War – somebody get me his lawyer if I get into trouble. Violating the Sovokia Accords in Civil War was tantamount to treason. A year of house arrest? Nice job, counselor. Scott is waiting for the day, coming very soon, that he can take off his ankle bracelet, bid farewell to spot inspections by the FBI and leave his home.

Of course, completing his sentence will not be that easy. It turns out Hank Pym (a very fun, very game Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly who is so good perhaps Marvel sound have titled the film The Wasp and Ant-Man) need help that only Scott can provide.

And off we go…

What is  bold about the movie is the change of pace tone it strikes. It is about as far removed from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as any one of these films to date and, following the heaviness of Infinity War, that is a surprisingly welcome change. The universe is not at stake. The fate of the world does not hang in the balance. The survival of the city is not in play. Rather there are personal goals at hand and family goals at that.

In setting the scale in this fashion, the filmmakers avoid one of the traps that hangs up superhero movies, namely how is tension created without building bigger mousetraps after bigger mousetraps? Ant-Man and the Wasp understands that its best assets are its sterling and delightful cast (Michael Pena is back as Luis!), the fantastic shirking/growing action scenes and a breezy plot (that may not hold up to very much scrutiny).

Paul Rudd is lovable, energetic and as excited by what he can do as the audience is watching him do it. He is all emotion and utterly convincing as a C-List superhero trying to simply be a dad. His comedic timing is spot on and his Ant-Man is the most grounded of all the Marvel characters – less silly than Star Lord and less angsty than Hawkeye. I could watch this shtick for a long time before it got old. Evangeline Lilly deserves a larger spotlight than she gets here, and the spotlight here is pretty large. Her Wasp is a no-nonsense, accomplished heroine who is more than capable of carrying the film and the caper on her own. Together, they are a wonderful team. The movie could have done a bit more with their dynamic, actually.

The set pieces are truly inventive and fun to watch. Peyton Reed does a remarkable job keeping them fresh and distinguishing them from the kind of action we have seen in prior films. There is some creativity at play here and the effects benefit greatly from being experienced on the big screen.

The plot of Ant-Man and the Wasp is intended to be light and airy. It succeeds. Perhaps too well. If there is a draw back its found in the success of these films. We expect them to be layered thematically, to swell with emotion, to make us cry while we laugh. Infinity War set that high a bar. Ant-Man and the Wasp is not that movie. It is something different. Once I allowed myself to settle into that, I had a great time.

You will, too.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP receives FOUR GIANT SALT SHAKERS out of a possible FIVE

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Countdown to INFINITY… Ant-Man


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ONE A WEEK UNTIL Avengers Infinity War opens in May!

Captain America: The First Avenger | Iron Man | The Incredible Hulk| Iron Man II Thor | The Avengers | Iron Man 3 | Thor: The Dark World | Captain America: The Winter Soldier | Guardians of the Galaxy | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | Avengers: Age of Ultron | Ant-Man | Captain America: Civil War | Doctor Strange | Spider-Man: Homecoming | Thor: Ragnarok | Black Panther

Week Thirteen: Ant-Man

ant man

Take a few minutes to remember the flavor of Ant-Man:

In recent years, Marvel has mined its back catalog and made movies of characters with far less name recognition than Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Thor. The trend started with the smash Guardians of the Galaxy and continues with Ant-Man. What they have done is proven that superheroes sell if they are handled correctly.

Ant-Man is handled correctly from start-to-finish. Part caper, part family drama, part high-concept heist movie, Ant-Man has a terrific cast (Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas are all terrific) and propellant plot and a just the right touch of irreverent absurdity to make it a real delight.

This was a “creative tension” movie with original writer/director Edgar Wright bowing out and star Paul Rudd and new director Peyton Reed stepping in to finish the project. Rumor has it that Wright did not want to play in the Marvel sandbox and participate in the universe building that is now incumbent in these films. Frankly, it is hard to imagine Ant-Man without the Marvel Universe connections. They are part of what makes the movie such fun.

I gave Ant-Man  FOUR AND A HALF SUGAR CUBES out of a possible FIVE when I reviewed it upon its initial release.


KEY INTRODUCTIONS:

  • Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and SHIELD operative
  • Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp
  • Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man
  • Hope Van Dyne
  • Pym Particles
  • Luis, Scott’s good friend
  • Kurt and Dave, Luis’ associates
  • Ant-tony, Scott’s flying ant

CONNECTION(S) TO INFINITY WAR:

  • There are no overt, infinity stone connections, though the Quantum Realm may get some play in the upcoming movie
  • If we understand that Infinity War finds a fractured Avengers team following the events of Captain America: Civil War, we have to note that Scott Lang faces off and gains measured respect from the Falcon who, in both the end of the movie and the post credit sequence (lifted directly from Civil War) is looking for Scott to assist the Avengers generally and, later, Cap’s off shoot team specifically.
  • SHIELD and Hydra also get shout outs and Hank Pym references Sokovia which also ties to Civil War which ties to the war of the Infinity variety.

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And There Came A Countdown To INFINITY…

Avengers Infinity War will open on May 4. Let me go out on a limb here: it will be one of the most successful movies of all time. I cannot wait for it.

You are among the millions who have watched the trailer, right? No? Take a moment. Click below. I will wait.

Okay, the question is: how do you get ready for Avengers Infinity War? What should you do and how should you do it?

We here at And There Came A Day are here for you. Last week, I saw a a tweet that suggested that, if you watch one Marvel movie a week beginning in the first week of 2018 and screen a subsequent Marvel film weekly, you will complete your preparations the very week Infinity War opens.

I intend to follow the schedule below (which in NOT the order in which the movies were released, but the order in which they took place) and post my reviews weekly.

We will see how it goes… I suspect it will go very well.

Get ready, world, for the Avengers to assemble again!

January 1 – 7:  Captain America: The First Avenger

January 8 – 14:  Iron Man

January 15 – 21:  The Incredible Hulk

January 22 – 28:  Iron Man 2

January 29 – February 4:  Thor

February 5 – 11:  The Avengers

February 12 – 18:   Iron Man 3

February 19 – 25:  Thor: The Dark World

February 26 – March 4:  Captain America: The Winter Soldier

March 5 – 11:  Guardians of the Galaxy

March 12 – 18:  Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

March 19 – 25:  Avengers: Age of Ultron

March 26 – April 1:  Ant-Man

April 2 – 8:  Captain America: Civil War

April 9 – 15:  Doctor Strange

April 16 – 22:  Spider-Man: Homecoming

April 23 – 29:  Thor: Ragnarok

April 30 – May 6:  Black Panther

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Can’t Be Civil, Can You?


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This needs little introduction, but I will say this: don’t turn away until after the title card…

 

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Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – A Movie Review


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mission impossible rogueLet’s get this out-of-the-way first. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation  is the best of the five films. There is no question of this. Period. Best.

If you haven’t seen this movie, go. Right now. That’s the mission. Accept it.

I am likely to go see it again.

What’s remarkable about Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is that they’ve been making these movies for almost 20 years now; Mission: Impossible opened in 1996. At that time, Tom Cruise was already a star. Young and confident, Cruise was very good in the original Mission: Impossible film as young Ethan Hunt, a relative new-comer to the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) whose faith in the system is shaken by his mentor’s betrayal of Hunt’s team. Mission: Impossible was certainly a solid movie and Cruise was very good but nowhere as good as he is in this movie.

As a seasoned Ethan Hunt who has been through the wars as-it-were, Cruise commands Rogue Nation. He’s so good that he manages to avoid one of the most significant issues with movies like this. Normally they need a strong villain. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation doesn’t need a great villain. It has a pretty amazing Tom Cruise working with a fun team of supporting agents – the returning Simon Pegg is particularly delightful.

On the poster and in the previews are images of Cruise hanging on the side of a plane (notice I write “Cruise” and not “Hunt” because, famously, Cruise did the stunt himself) trying to thwart a weapons deal. It’s a stunning scene and Cruise looks every bit the action star doing it. It’s hard to believe he’s 53-years-old. One of the coolest things about the plane stunt is that sequence opens the movie. Once it’s complete, if there’s time for the audience to catch its breath and think, the reflection might be “wow – director Christopher McQuarrie (who puts on quite a show here) just gave us his best stunt and the movie isn’t 10 minutes in yet.

Wrong. The best comes later and, unlike prior Missions, the best has as much to do with the plot, which is clever and quick, as it has to do with the action.

In the film, Hunt is searching the world for an organization called “The Syndicate” – and this is a nice throw-back to the television series as The Syndicate was a long time foe of that group. The Syndicate functions as an anti-IMF and no one, save Hunt, believes it exists. Yes, this is pretty standard fare – an agent against the world – but we want to see Cruise in this scenario and he makes it work.

The actions of Hunt in the earlier films have caught up with him as the IMF is dissolved and folded into the CIA as a result of those events (like the destruction of the Kremlin in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol). Alec Baldwin is playing a great character named Alec Baldwin – er, I mean, Alan Hunley – who is doing his best to shut down Hunt and the gang. Jeremy Renner’s Brandt tries to defend the team to no avail, but the chemistry between the two actors clicks as it does later when Renner and Cruise share the screen.

Frankly, Cruise is like a point guard in the movie – his every move makes his co-stars look better.

Disavowed by the government, again, Hunt has to prove the existence of The Syndicate in order to clear the names of those on his team. He is partnered with Rebecca Ferguson’s Isla – a secret agent who may be double (triple?) crossing Hunt or maybe not. Ferguson is really very good in this year of strong women in action roles and holds her own with her magnetic co-star.

Thus begins a very typical (and that’s a GOOD thing) Mission: Impossible plot with enough twists and turns to support the increasingly outrageous action. There are car chases. There are motorcycle chases. There are fist fights and shoot outs. There are incredible set pieces.

All of this is hung on the strength of the plot and the steadiness of Tom Cruise. The movie doesn’t fail to recognize that Hunt is older, it embraces the fact. If Cruise’s Hunt isn’t invincible anymore, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is all the better for the change.

We need Mission: Impossible 6 in front of the camera. Now.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION receives FIVE SECONDS BEFORE THIS MESSAGE SELF-DESTRUCTS out of five.

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Ant-Man A Movie Review

Ant-Man


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For the duration of this review, I am going to try to resist making any kind of size pun. We’ll see how successful I am.

Last summer, Marvel Studios seemed to learn with the late summer blockbuster success of Guardians of the Galaxy which followed the blockbuster success late spring of Captain America: The Winter Soldier is that releasing a smaller movie following a big one might be a very good way to continue to build the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Next summer they will try it again with Captain America: Civil War in May and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in August. Will they strike the same kind of gold this summer with Ant-Man? Maybe not as much gold as they minted with GotG, but surely enough.

Ant-Man is the second Marvel Studios release this summer following the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. As such, it has existed in the shadow of that extravaganza and that has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s been a blessing in that expectations for Ant-Man are nothing like the expectations for Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s been a curse in that people seeing Marvel Studios’ movies have come to expect a grandiose, intricately connected film that references Captain America and the Avengers and Tony Stark and plays into the tapestry of that universe.

Ant-Man doesn’t set up that way. With a sharp focus on two primary characters, Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, Ant-Man is more a passing-of-the-torch legacy story than anything else. The trick here is that, before the movie, there was no torch to pass. That Douglas’ Hank Pym was hero-ing around in the Ant-Man suit in the 1970s and 1980s was a revelation. Before this movie began, one might have thought Bruce Banner’s Hulk or Tony Stark’s Iron Man were the “first” superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not so fast. As it turns out, SHIELD had been associated with at least two heroes prior to Banner’s experiments and Stark’s suit, prior to Nick Fury becoming the Director. Those two heroes are Ant-Man and… well, no spoilers here.

Michael Douglas is wonderful as Hank Pym, an aging scientist desperate to see his creation – the Pym Particle – not used for evil. Douglas balances the right amount of gravitas with a certain sprinkling of twinkle in his eye to make Pym far more than a secondary character and a simple plot device. Douglas shines in his scenes with Paul Rudd and also has great chemistry with the underused Evangeline Lilly, who plays Hope Van Dyne, his somewhat estranged daughter. Much like Robert Redford who was in last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Douglas plays the entire movie straight with no knowing winks to the audience or no air of superiority over the material. This is a credit to Douglas as he spends a lot of time shoveling exposition and talking about things like communicating with ants. He’s a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The opening sequence of the film is, in-and-of-itself, proof of that.

Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne isn’t served nearly as well. Though she is very good in the movie, Ant-Man continues a somewhat troubling trend for Marvel Studios’ films, namely that they don’t know what to do with a strong female character. Much has been written about this and I won’t delve too deeply into it here. Suffice it to say that, while Lilly is a welcome addition to the movie, has great rapport with Rudd and is a nice addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she is all but superfluous to the goings on here. One can easily envision a version of this movie without her character appearing at all from strictly a plot perspective, and that’s a shame, Marvel Studios has to do better with its women.

What Marvel Studios has done with its casting is truly remarkable. They have found almost perfect actors to inhabit their lead roles. Ant-Man is no exception. Paul Rudd makes a fine superhero, at least a fine superhero of the Ant-Man variety. The characterization written here (and Rudd did a polish on the script) is completely in the actor’s wheelhouse. Witty, intelligent and down-on-his-luck, Rudd’s Scott Lang is a modern-day Robin Hood trying to listen to the angels of his better nature to work his way back into his daughter’s life. Rudd makes the scenes with his daughter work. The audience never questions the relationship. He also displays the appropriate amount of “WTF?” as he learns about the Ant-Man suit, about the ability to communicate with insects and about Hank Pym’s plan.

His plan, simply, is a heist and Ant-Man is very much a well executed heist movie. It hits all the heist-movie plot points, including pulling together a rag-tag band of professionals to assist in the final gambit. Of these, Michael Pena’s Luis really stands out and has the most heroic moment of the film – if not of any Marvel film. Watch for it near the end of the movie. Give me more Pena, please. Find a way, Marvel. You’re smart folks.

Ant-Man is at its best when it plays as an action-comedy. Rudd is, primarily, a comedic actor and seeing Douglas run through some of the same paces reminded me of his Romancing the Stone and War of the Roses days. There are laugh-out-loud moments to be found here and the action, especially the sometimes jaw-dropping “micro-world” action, is very much up-to-snuff.

As I wind down the review, I note that I’ve not mentioned Ant-Man’s antagonist in the movie one time. The reliable Corey Stoll plays Darren Cross, a former protegee of Hank Pym’s, who is ready to unleash terror on the world… yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. White guy, corporate power broker wants to make some money in despicable ways. We’ve seen this before and, while the two-dimensional Cross, who eventually puts on a “Yellow-Jacket” suit with very similar powers to the Ant-Man suit, is fine as a villain, he is absolutely no more than that. Hey, Marvel, while you’re fixing your problem with women in your movies, take a look at your villains, too. Giving Stoll some interesting character ticks doesn’t make him a fully developed character.

Peyton Reed directs the film and he had the unenviable task of replacing genre fan guru Edgar Wright, who had developed the movie over a number of years. Wright has a unique voice. Marvel Studios is obviously looking for a more “house” voice and Wright apparently chafed against those constraints. Reed stepped in with little prep time and with a lot of Wright’s material at his disposal. He manages to be true to Wright – there is some really crazy stuff happening here and some moments and lines that are so bizarre they must be left over from Wright’s development – while slotting Ant-Man nicely into the pantheon of Marvel Studios’ films. That’s something of an impressive high-wire act.

Though there is A LOT at stake in the movie (Hank Pym reminds Lang and the audience of that any number of times), director Reed keeps the audience centered on what’s really going on: Scott Lang taking a shot at redemption and trying to become a better parent. That these very themes also spill over to Hank Pym’s character arc is very nice symmetry, indeed.

ANT-MAN receives FOUR AND A HALF SUGAR CUBES out of a possible five.

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