Ant-Man · Film · Marvel · MCU · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

Ant-Man and The Wasp – Review

ant-man-and-the-wasp-5ae82eac36ee2Don’t miss The 602 Club and Cinema Stories reviews!

A mini review for this film feels appropriate. Ant-Man and The Wasp is a nice reprieve from the galaxy spanning peril and overstuffed buffet that was Infinity War. This latest Marvel film’s biggest strength is it’s scope. The story lends itself to being more about the characters which is perfect. The first Ant-Man was a good introduction to this world and Ant-Man and The Wasp fleshes it out wonderfully.

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly shine throughout the entire film and their chemistry is outstanding. Michael Douglas is given even more to do as Hank Pym, as the character is explored in more depth and Michael Peña, with the rest of the crew add some great comedy relief along the way.

Where Infinity War felt like part of a movie and so connected to the other MCU films it was almost a burden at times, Ant-Man and The Wasp is almost the exact opposite. Much like the Guardians series, the Ant-Man films fit within the MCU, but never at any point during the movie do you feel the weight you do when watching something like Infinity War. It’s refreshing to just be able to enjoy a movie on it’s own terms. This feeling lasts until the mid-credit sequence when the weight of the MCU crashes into the Ant-Man with the snap of a finger. It was inevitable, but it did leave me feeling like this became just a stepping stone to Avengers 4 more than an important story in it’s own right. This doesn’t ruin the experience, but it did personally dampen some of my enjoyment.

Ant-Man and The Wasp is a fun movie with lots of heart and some neat action scenes. In many ways it has some of the most comic book/sci-fi ideas in the MCU with the quantum realm, shrinking and expanding all adding to the far out nature of what’s happening. The movie also nicely sidesteps Marvel’s villain issue in a very clever way. In the end, the movie feels like an issue of a comic book in a larger story, but it’s an enjoyable issue to be sure. Ant-Man and The Wasp is rated 3 1/3 out of 5 stars

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Film · Iron Man · Marvel · Movie Review · Movies · Uncategorized

Avengers: Infinity War – Review

Infinity_War_Dolby_poster_1This review contains Mild Spoilers. Don’t forget to look for The 602 Club and Cinema Stories reviews out next week!

Never in the history of film has their been a build up like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For over 10 years and through 18 films, Marvel has carefully laid out the pieces to it’s master puzzle for Infinity War and the forthcoming Avengers 4. Now, part one of the juggernaut has arrived and the question on everyone’s mind is, “Does it live up?”.

Thanos

Shrouded in mystery and relegated to end-credit sequences for most of Marvel‘s ten years, he finally comes out of the aether and becomes the saga’s most formidable villain. For all the accolades Marvel has received, it’s greatest area of weakness has been it’s villains. To say this has been fixed in Infinity War is more complicated than a “yes” or “no” answer.

On the plus side for Thanos, he’s what you hoped when it comes to the challenge he presents to these heroes, especially since he does achieve his goal by the end of the film, he does rewrite the universe, leaving only 50% of it alive. The downside is the explanation as to why. Apparently, in the past, on his home planet of Titan, the population had grown too large. Thanos’ solution, just arbitrarily pick 50% of the people, from every walk of life and kill them. Shockingly enough, his people’s leaders reject this idea and it leads to the destruction of his home world.

Ergo he believes the only way to save the entire universe is to enact his aforementioned plan, but on a universal scale. So you could say it does make sense, but only from the most warped point of view and that view is compounded by his god complex. He believes himself to be a god, who is the only one willing to make the hard choice and the power to enact it. He sees his plan as a form of mercy, since those that are left in the universe will have “better” lives as a result.

This leaves Thanos as a middle of the road villain in the Marvel universe. He’s definitely the strongest and most challenging foil for the entire line up of heroes, yet his motivations only raise him slightly above mustache twirlier.

Only Part One

The most frustrating thing about the movie is that it is all set up for the coming, Avengers 4. It’s not bad, but it’s never great. No characters get to truly shine because there is just so much going on, your focus is always divided. And most frustratingly, the “gut punch” moment near the end, is moot, as we know it will mostly be washed away with the coming of part two. Sadly this film feels more mandatory than marvelous.

On top of all this, the action in the movie is rather banal, which is surprising since the Russo Brothers have given us some of the MCU’s most memorable action set pieces in Marvel. There are none of the stand out moments like the Cap vs Winter Soldier or the Cap vs Iron Man moments from Winter Soldier and Civil War, respectively. Instead the action devolves into clichéd CGI battles that lack the heart or character focus which has been a hallmark of the previous Russo entries.

The best thing the movie does is cull the hero herd for part two. Fans know, moving into this final chapter of the first ten years of Marvel, that some of these heroes will not make it past the next Avengers. With the heroes left on the board, the next film will have the time to full make their end what is should be.

Conclusion

Infinity War is a mixed bag that has the effect of one being served a gourmet burger and then only being given a minute to eat it. There is so much happening, yet there’s so little pay off, leaving the audience unfulfilled, wanting a better movie and resolution. We all know the conclusion is coming in 2019, so now that the compulsory is over, we wait and wait and wait. Infinity War is rated 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

 

Faith · Film · Friendship · Marvel · Movie Review · Movies · Redemption

Ant-Man Review

BF_Payoff_1-Sht_v8_Lg-1309x1940Ant-Man is the next film in the ever expanding cavalcade of characters in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The film tells the story of white collar convict Scott Lang as he tries to get his life back on track so that he can be the man his daughter thinks he is. Little does he realize that his cat-burgling ways will be the very thing he’ll need to help Hank Pym save the world.

The Second Time Around

One of the strongest things about Ant-Man is the idea of redemption. Scott wants to change, but like so many of us, when our backs are against the wall we retreat to the things that we know instead of doing the hard work to change. So often we are unaware of how our unwillingness to evolve affects those around us. It’s a symbiotic relationship, our actions have an impact on the world and the people around us. Hank Pym remains Scott of this vividly when he says, Second chances don’t come around all that often. I suggest you take a really close look at it. This is your chance to earn that look in your daughter’s eyes, to become the hero that she already thinks you are.” It’s a brilliant reminder that our lives are not lived in a vacuum, our misbehavior will resonate through our sphere of influence in ways seen and unforeseen.

The path to change is difficult and for so many of us, we become so entrenched in our waywardness that we begin to believe we’ll never escape the black hole we’ve created. Again the movie here reminds us that redemption is not a lone ranger sport. Hank believes in Scott and supports him. “Scott, I’ve been watching you for a while, now.” he says, “You’re different. Now, don’t let anyone tell you that you have nothing to offer.” For change to happen we need and advocate, a champion, someone to remind us who we can be. Hebrews speaks directly to this when it says,

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

There is someone out there who understands us completely, redemption is not through work but though rest in the work of someone greater.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

BF-09314_R2.0Hank again reminds Scott of another important truth about making the world a better place when he says, “It’s not about saving our world. It’s about saving theirs.” There is a good reason for us to do hard things now, to make difficult choices, for ourselves and for the world; because what we do or don’t do will affect the world we leave our children. What will their environment be like? What will their economy, schools and society at large be like? We cannot live egomaniacal lives and expect the next generation not to suffer. We must be willing to sacrifice monetary pleasure for a more sustainable future. It’s about what we leave behind.

Conclusion

Ant-Man is a lot of fun. There is noting revolutionary in it, it will probably not blow you away but it is saved by the great performances of Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilley. Each one makes you care about the character they play and bring you into a story that otherwise is par for the Marvel course. This film is rate 3 and a half mini sheep.

Check out The 602 Club discussion.

Avengers · Comics · Film · Marvel · Movie Review · Movies

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Review

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-IMAX-HR-3In 2012 Marvel did something with it’s heroes that had not yet been seen from either of the two major comic companies, it put its biggest superhero team on screen, together. It had one of the biggest opening weekends in box office history and is now considered a classic. The question became, “Can you ever top this?” The Age of Ultron is now upon us and as the sequel to The Avengers, it has very big shoes to fill. Luckily it does have some intriguing themes.

Mad Scientists

There is an interesting conversation that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have about being mad scientists. Tony is already responsible for creating the Ultron program that has run amuck after he tried to bring it to artificial life. Tony believes that merging the construct that Ultron was creating for himself with Jarvis, he will be able to create Ultron’s doom.

It raises some very interesting questions. As Tony and Bruce work, they are meddling in things they don’t completely understand, their motive is pure but their methods are flawed. They are taking terrible risks. The alien technology they are trying to use has barely been studied and the consequences of their actions has already created one “Murder-bot”. You’d think they would have seen The Terminator and Skynet and learned something. Tony willing does not tell the rest of the team about his creative activities feeling there is no time to discuss it in committee. He also does not want to be told yet again that he should not be meddling in things he doesn’t understand. Tony and Bruce have not seemed to consider that just because one can do a thing does not mean one should.

These men want peace. They want to proactively protect the world. Captain America reminds Stark that every single time someone has acted preemptively, innocent people have ended up in the crosshairs. There must be responsibly in creation and Tony cannot see the line of how his will to protect could actually create the world’s greatest weapon. There is often a good chance that one will become the thing they hate if they are not careful. Ultron is very much a mirror for Iron Man, it is one of the strongest themes in the film, the hubris of thinking you can control everything through technological creation. History shows us that humanity is it’s own worst enemy, creating it’s own doom from which we desperately need salvation.

Why We Fight

This is really well done in the movie. The ideas of why these heroes do what they do. They are on the side of life and will do whatever it takes to protect it. That means that they do fight to kill and take out the threat. Vision reminds the heroes that even though Ultron is a unique creature, its aim is total annihilation of the world, therefore there is only one choice. Honestly it’s the best reason I’ve seen in a comic book movie for taking out the villain for good. As a hero you are protecting life by making sure the destruction planned by the bad guys can never happen again. Now of course there are people the heroes will go up against where these measures will not be needed, but something like Ultron or Zod, these are treats that have to be eliminated.

The Movie 

GDgeek_2015-May-03While the movie has some good themes, it feels extremely busy with not enough narrative focus. It is as if it’s trying to serve too many masters. the film is trying to finish the second phase of the Marvel franchise, set up the third phase, as well as tell a compelling story. There is so little explanation for the things happening on screen and if you blink you’ll miss the small amount that was there. From the enhanced twins, to Thor’s sight bath, so much is glossed over and never fully fleshed out; partly because it’s feels like it’s just set up for the next action scene. The action is good and there is a moment near the end of the movie that looks like splash pages from Avengers comics which is a lot of fun. Yet, it’s nothing revolutionary and it might just be because theirs so much action to digest that it begins to wash over you like a raging waterfall.

There are new characters in the movie, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision. Vision and Scarlet Witch are the two most interesting, with Vision stealing some scenes from the likes of Thor. Quicksilver, who’s character was seen in Days of Future Past (albeit with a different actor) and who’s scene was the stand out in that film gets nothing like that here. It’s as if they realized there was not topping that so why bother trying.

The rest of the main characters play off each other with ease. It’s a well oiled machine at this point. Unfortunately there are some things that get short shrift, like the romance between The Hulk and Black Widow. This really deserves it’s own movie as does Black Widow herself. The humor and banter, a Joss Whedon trademark are well represented with Captain America’s line about Iron Man watching his language getting huge laughs. It was also nice to see Hawkeye get something more to do than be mind-controlled. Renner gives some of the best lines in the film, bringing a humanity and levity to the craziness. He seems to be speaking as much to the audience as Scarlet Witch when he talks about a flying city, evil robots and he’s got a bow and arrow and how none of this makes any sense. It’s a nice wink to us in the seats.

Conclusion

This is a competent Marvel movie. All the actors and action are good, it’s the story that bogs down the film with the weight of all that’s it’s trying to accomplish that left me underwhelmed. It feels formulaic, as the plot is much the same as the original Avengers – team ends up fighting amongst itself, gets beat down, gets a pep talk from Fury, saves the day. One of the pitfalls of Marvel’s cinematic universe is that there is not always enough distinction between the films. I one of the things that made Winter Solider so good, it continued on the Captain America story while feeling fresh and new. Here’s hoping that Anthony and Joe Russo can bring that same sensibility from their work with Cap to Avengers: Infinity War part one and two. Age of Ultron is rated 3 out of 5 Captain America shields.

Film · Iron Man · Marvel · Podcasts · Trek.fm

The 602 Club 24: The Dr. No of the Marvel Franchise

tsc-024-th-squareIron Man.

Some movies spend years languishing in development hell and Iron Man was one of the longest. From 1990 to 2005 it bounced around from studio to studio; it wasn’t until 2006 that Marvel acquired back the rights and decided to use it as the launching pad for it’s own studio as well as a cinematic universe that the film would finally materialize.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Jose Munoz, Andi VanderKolk and Daniel Proulx to talk about Iron Man. We discuss the long production history of the film, our first thoughts, realism in comic book movies, The cast, the villain, story, music, direction and ask if it still holds up. 

Agent Carter · Marvel · Superheroes · Television · The 602 Club · Trek.fm · Uncategorized

The 602 Club 20: We Were Fangirling

tsc-020-th-squareAgent Carter.

Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Solider both left us with the impression that Peggy Carter continued to be a respected member and founder of what became S.H.E.I.L.D. Yet what if the road to founder was a little rougher than was first thought?

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by agents Andi VanderKolk and Norman Lao to talk about the Agent Carter mini series but before that we take time to remember Leonard Nimoy and his life. We discuss whether Agent Carter should have been Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D., things we liked and didn’t, the characters, the importance of a good foil for the hero, continuity, women at work after WWII and our ratings.

Comics · Marvel · Podcasts

The 602 Club 5: All My Skyes

TSC005 Thumbnail SquareMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In 2008, Iron Man came sauntering on to our movie screens and the Marvel cinematic universe was born. Flash forward to the fall of 2013 and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hit television screens promising big-time Marvel action in your living room each week.

In this episode of The 602 Club, host Matthew Rushing is joined by Darren Moser and Norman Lao to talk about Marvel and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Together we discuss the continuity the show shares with the films and the problems that causes, as well as the benefits. Darren shows the world why the panel should be writing for television as they dig into the characters and, lastly, we wonder if Agent Carter should have been on the show all along.