Friday, July 17, 2015

Ant-Man Review

Director:  Peyton Reed
Cast Headliners: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Corey Stoll
Original Release Date: July 17th, 2015

It’s been a while since the Marvel cinematic universe has had a classic style origin movie. The kind of movie where an average guy gets incredible powers that the must learn to control to save the day. But these people never really end up being that simple, whether they’re a billionaire or an orphan in world war 2. Ant-Man manages to break fresh ground in a different direction for the MCU and offer a surprisingly fresh experience.
In this case the movie sets up a world where Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has created the Ant-man suit and been the hero before (shown via some surprising flashbacks. Cameos like these are some of the film’s strongest moments).  He entrusts the suit, after a series of events, to burglar Scott Lang ( Paul Rudd) whom he trains with his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to foil the plans of the villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
The titular suit allows its wearer to shrink down to miniature size and communicate with ants. This leads to some exciting sequences and moments as unexpected situations are turned into explosive battlefields or acrobatics tests for Scott. The ants are given great characterization too and it will make one be amazed in ways they didn’t think possible.
While the visuals are mostly great this is one of the movies that is on the lighter side of action in the MCU. When fight scenes appear they are short but oh so sweet and once again the surprises are GREAT whether they be big or small. 
The film is actually moreso of a comedic heist. The jokes are hilarious and come from great lines by Rudd and especially from his fellow accomplice Luis (Michael Pena).  Pena’s abstract performance is definitely a highlight and it can be inferred that he’s working on material that ex-director of the flick Edgar Wright once worked on.  Peyton Reed did a fine job stepping in to finish things and the pace is mostly good though the simpler scope makes things feel like so much has happened at once.
The movie does manage to have a solid plot however ramping up from the most street-level life since Daredevil for Scott to its crazy finale.  But where one will laugh and be amazed by its wacky world in the course of the movie it cannot be said that they will remember Paul Rudd’s performance. He’s got charisma and laughs but he’s mostly just kind of “there” as a reactionary force.   The same goes for Corey Stoll as the main enemy Yellowjacket, who is moustache twirling evil from the first nanosecond he’s on screen.
Luckily, there is a great dynamic between Scott Lang and his mentors Hank  and Hope Pym.  Douglas gives a performance to outdo everyone else in the feature and has some emotional moments with his daughter.  His talent is not wasted here and he makes every scene he’s in enjoyable with his strong characterization which surpasses the main hero but perhaps that makes since for he was the original. Lilly is also great and at one point mentions that it should have been her in the armor suit and I do concur.    The rapport is best when this trio is joined by Luis and other friends of Scott for this is a movie where the best enjoyment is gotten from “hahaha” instead of “ dang awesome”.
Ant-Man manages to both be an effective slight twist on a more traditional Marvel superhero origin movie while also offering some great surprises and connections to a larger world.  It’s a palate cleanser end to their “phase two” of movie projects and its simple pure fun isn’t going to make cinematic history. Though there’s much more than meets the eye with this small hero who offers big entertainment and is worth the time to a fan of unique laughs and heists.  8.63 out of 10

Monday, July 6, 2015

Terminator: Genisys Review

Terminator: Genisys
Director:  Alan Taylor
Cast Headliners: Jai Courtney, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger 
Original Release Date: July 1st, 2015

            Terminator Genisys is tricky.  Is it a sequel or a remake or a reboot? Well it’s a bit of everything above. It starts with the continuing fight of John Conner (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney as the protagonist who offers little in the way of screen presence or coolness) and the human armies in the post-apocalyptic world controlled by Skynet.  Events transpire to send Kyle back in time to the era of the original Terminator film.
            Large parts are spent with Kyle meeting a changed  from what he had been told to expect for the era Sarah Conner (Emilia Clarke ) and her surprise friendly “Pops”  terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as they deal with threats including a younger arnie look-alike terminator and a liquid foe as well straight out of the second film (Lee Byung-Han who doesn’t do much). This is followed by a jump to a changed 2017 in this “twisted “ timeline where , much like the third film, they must stop  Skynet from being turned on.
            While it touts itself as a “whole fresh new Terminator film” it’s very much a greatest hits of tropes from the franchise. There’s some thrilling chase scenes and action moments, and an impending sense of dread. But despite its smorgasboard of features and actors it can feel messy at times.  The plot gets into some repetitive silly stuff towards the end and some action drags on. That’s not even to mention some jokes that fall flat.
            However when the action comes through it can be pretty neat (especially when the film’s subpar CGI doesn’t appear). There’s also a very great humorous performance by Arnie as Pops who manages to give this film a neat semi-satirical identity and who has the films best lines and moments. Emilia Clark is a decent replacement Sarah Connor as well although she’s by far no khaleesi with this hammy script.
            It’s messy and halfbaked and rehashing a bit too many past tropes but in a way Terminator  Genisys also feels like a attempted tribute to the franchise. It didn’t come far enough to that point unfortunately but its not without its simple enjoyment. 6.8 out of 10