ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018)

July 4, 2018

 Greetings again from the darkness. The mystery of why Ant-Man was not involved with the battle for the galaxy in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR has been solved as director Peyton Reed returns to helm the sequel to his 2015 hit ANT-MAN. The reason is very simple: Scott Lang/Ant-Man was under house arrest for his role in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. Yep, an ankle monitor sidelined this superhero for the biggest, baddest clash with Thanos. Somehow, this seems fitting for the most “normal” and grounded of all the Marvel characters, as Scott (Paul Rudd) is just a guy trying to overcome his petty thief tendencies while becoming a better father.

The story picks up two years after “Civil War” and Scott has only 3 days of house arrest remaining. An unusual “dream” is the cause of his reluctant reunion with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hank’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). A remarkable laboratory (quite the sight-gag), that could also be carry-on luggage, is the source of Hank and Hope’s mission to bring back mother Janet (the original Wasp, Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm.

It’s at this point, if you are a Marvel Universe fan, that you might ask yourself … so the story is about trying to save one person who has been gone for 30 years?  Yes, that’s a bit less pressure than being charged with saving the galaxy, which is common occurrence in other Marvel films. Look, this isn’t rocket science. Umm, well, it’s quantum physics, which is way more complicated … but the point is, Ant-Man is the Marvel fluff piece. Its purpose is to be light-hearted and entertaining, rather than burdensome and ominous.

There may not be an overabundance of depth to the story, but it is overflowing with entertainment value. There are four new writers (along with Mr. Rudd) for this sequel, and they offer up a nice blend of personal redemption, crazy action sequences, and heart-felt emotion. The villains aren’t even all that bad. Walton Goggins (“Justified”) is Sonny, a greedy dude who just wants the other-worldly Pym technology, and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is after that same technology, but only for self-preservation. Her own molecules are separating, causing a fast track to death – despite the help of Hank’s old partner, played by Laurence Fishburne.

The age-reversing effects we saw on Michael Douglas in the first ANT-MAN are also used this time on Mr. Fishburne and Ms. Pfeiffer. It’s quite something to behold. Michael Pena returns as Scott’s motor-mouthed partner, and he displays some pure comic genius in the truth serum scene. Randall Park plays the hapless FBI agent in charge of keeping track of Scott, but it’s Abby Ryder Fortson as Scott’s daughter Cassie who steals every one of her scenes … and possibly sets the stage for the Ant-Man franchise to carry on to the next generation.

Only a certain level of seriousness can be attained for a movie that blasts “The Partridge Family” theme song “Come On, Get Happy”. Or that awards Paul Rudd with a certain trophy designation. Or that has a character scream “You got Pezzed!”. However, a level of respect is earned with some terrific action – giant and tiny – as well as an exceedingly creative chase scene through the streets of San Francisco. There is a post-credit stinger that ties the film into AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. It’s brilliant, but also caused quite the outburst from my fellow viewers. If you enjoy playful and amusing (and you should), then the team of Ant-Man and The Wasp (comedian and straight man/person) will put a smile on your face – just watch out for the seagulls!

watch the trailer:

Advertisements

FOREVER MY GIRL (2018)

January 18, 2018

 Greetings again from the darkness. To determine if this is your type of movie, you need only answer one question: Are you a Nicholas Sparks fan? Even though this is based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin and not Nicholas Sparks, no normal person would be able to tell the difference, as the formula and story structure is very familiar (even the marketing campaign capitalizes on this). Perhaps that is the key to the success of movies like this – the stories are like a warm, comfy blanket to some folks.

Picturesque (and fictional) St Augustine, Louisiana is the setting for the love story of Liam and Josie. Things get off to a rocky start as the jilted bride is stranded on her wedding day. The film jumps ahead 8 years and we find that Liam (Alex Roe, THE 5TH WAVE) is now a country music superstar with a drinking problem and a duct-taped flip phone, while Josie (Jessica Rothe, HAPPY DEATH DAY) is a successful business owner and single mom. It’s at this point where you could most assuredly guess what happens next, as predictability and commitment to the formula are the mission.

Bethany Ashton Wolf is the writer/director and her film benefits from the presence of star-in-the-making Alex Roe and the precocious Abby Ryder Fortson as Josie’s daughter. Mr. Roe spends much of the movie in various stages of sweat (I guess that’s supposed to be sexy?), but the camera loves him and he has a unique approach that sets him apart from the endless line of pretty boy actors. Young Miss Fortson has already played the daughter of ANT-MAN and she has the ability to come off as normal kid, rather than an actress playing a kid.

John Benjamin Hickey (Liam’s dad), Gillian Vigman (publicist), Tyler Riggs (Josie’s brother), and Peter Cambor (Liam’s agent) fill the supporting roles, and it’s Travis Tritt who adds an all-too-brief touch of authenticity to the music and local saloon. The movie is exactly what it portends to be … nothing more, nothing less. If it’s to your taste, it’ll be that soft comforter that brings you serenity. If it’s not your style, it will likely be as itchy and scratchy as a new wool horse blanket.

watch the trailer: