Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man

Plot: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant Man is really the only Marvel film I haven’t specifically gone to see in cinema in the last five years. I finally sat down to watch it a while ago, and it halfway confirmed my suspicion that a movie about a superhero the size of an ant would be silly, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t end up enjoying myself quite a lot.

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Anyone who has ever seen Clueless will tell you that Paul Rudd is the most adorable person to have ever person’d (not a word, but going with it). He also hasn’t aged in the 23 years since Clueless and looks exactly the same, adorable person he was back then (although with a lack of photographic evidence I can’t really comment on whether he was as ripped back then). He takes on a big role and sort of becomes an Avenger as Scott Lang, an engineer who has some bad taste in friends, and is recruited for a big role when he steps out of prison.

Joining the Ant Man cast is Evangeline Lilly, as Hope, the daughter of inventor-technology-extraordinaire Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hope is smart and successful and plays a double agent between her father and the rapidly mentally deteriorating ex-protégée of Hank and current evil person and CEO of Hank’s brainchild company Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). She’s also love interest of Scott Lang, because plot reasons, and she’s also not allowed to put on the suit – initially I was like poor move Marvel, not allowing her to put on the suit because of her lady parts, but the movie does try to explain it as daddy has lost mommy this way and can’t lose his daughter this way too (I’m not convinced, but at least the sequel is titled “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, where Hope becomes the Wasp. Hope is great, looking amazing in her black suits and amazing hairstyle and kicking ass while being a central part of the plot. I also really enjoyed Michael Douglas, it is good seeing him look so well after his cancer diagnosis a few years back, and he adds gravity to the movie and manages to deliver some snide remarks and sarcastic comments while he’s at it.

One of the best things about Ant-Man is Michael Pena’s performance as Luis, Scott’s former cellmate and criminally-inclined-but-still-cool-person. Not really sure why Marvel would want to tap into the stereotype of Mexican criminals, but Pena manages to make his character a hit and especially hits it off with his amazing storytelling skills.

I also enjoyed seeing Judy Greer again, she’s great and as always after seeing her in something, I wish I could see her become a leading lady in a film. She’s been in Hollywood for ages and yet has never been the sole focus of a film, which is a shame in my opinion. I liked how she wasn’t portrayed as the villainous ex-wife of Scott, but rather a mother and an ex-partner who would be open to allowing more visitation rights to the seriously cute Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) once Scott sorts himself out.

I enjoyed Corey Stoll as the villain, but I really wish there were just a bit more depth to the backstory and more explanations why he lost the plot quite so badly and turned from protégée to “I want to kill everyone” type of person. He quickly becomes the madman, and I don’t always understand why.

I also suffered some confusion, and would advise people to watch Marvel films in the order they come out in, because I got the events quite mixed up in my head at a stage.

Ant-Man had a lot of good things going for it, and it is as warm hearted as a Marvel superhero movie can and will get. I missed out on Ant-Man and The Wasp in cinema (cry cry cry) but will definitely watch it when I can. I hope that Hope gets her chance to kick some ass and become part of Luis’ excellent storytelling skills.

Rating: 7.5/10

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Movie Review: The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017)

Lego Ninjago Poster

Plot: Shunned by everyone for being the son of an evil warlord, a teenager seeks to defeat him with the help of his fellow ninjas.

In an unexpected turn of events, I consented to watch the Lego Ninjago movie Sunday night. There are a number of films which I’ve seen, and wanted to see, in cinema this year, of which Ninjago didn’t even register as a possibility. However, I was under obligation to adhere to the “birthday-person-is-allowed-final-word” clause, and I sat down and watched Ninjago.

I suspect Lego is laughing all the way to the bank. It is pure genius business decision, and contains enough adult humor to entertain parents while stressing them out – every child that sits through one of these films will end up wanting some new Legos (hell, I think a lot of adults end up wanting new Legos after a film like this). It is a feast for childish imagination and is bright and colorful and really very excitable. I want to sanctimoniously preach to the parents who had their children out of bed on a Sunday night at our 20:30 screening, but I guess that is beside the point. It is child based and sweet, although it does pale in comparison to 2015’s Lego film. It is funny and cute but lacks some of the sharp dialogue that has become expected in animation films.

Lego Ninjago

Ninjago also has some seriously crazy moments and I couldn’t help but wonder which choice herbs they were smoking when thinking of the ideas they implemented. It was very weird. I liked Jackie Chan as Sensei Wu, Dave Franco as Lloyd Garmadon and Justin Theroux as the not-so-evil-supervillain Garmadon. Typing that out made me realize that this film barely had a plot or a conclusion (the end is particularly haphazard), but ultimately, for children, it is fine. Personally I enjoyed the first Lego film more, and I’ve been informed that Lego: Batman is a finer film than Ninjago.  However, Ninjago has some laugh-out-loud moments and it was bright, quirky and still not nearly as bad as I expected so all to them.

Have you seen Ninjago? If so, what did you think?

Rating: 6.5/10

Movie Review: The Martian (2015)

The martian Poster2Plot:During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive

Rating: 10/10

I have never, for any movie, given a full score on this blog. It stems from my grade four days where the teacher believed that nothing deserved a perfect score because then there wasn’t room for improvement (Such a cheerful woman).

Well, Mrs. Van den Berg, The Martian is perfect so I’m giving it 10/10. I can’t think of anything that annoyed me or should have been done in another way. The Martian is both a cinematic masterpiece and a feel good movie, which, as we know, is impossible to pull off.

Don’t be mistaken, you are going to sit and watch the Martian for a long time – it is very close to three hours. However, I did not even care about the time passing. Any shorter would have rushed the whole movie and it would not have been so good. Ridley Scott is in top form and I hope he stays that way. The pace of the movie is tightly controlled and he worked the cast to perform their best.

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I will question the sanity of the Academy if Matt Damon does not get an Oscar. The film also deserves the Oscar for best film. Mark Watney is perfectly written. He manages to be on Mars, stranded, dying, but still find a way to keep himself alive. He has made me more determined to pass Botany, because that shit saves lives. His humor and determination to solve problems, and the sad way he keeps himself sane and only loses it a handful of times makes him one of my favorite characters to ever be written.

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I will start the discussion of support characters with Melissa Lewis, played by Jessica Chastain. Jessica Chastain is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. She carefully picks her roles so she doesn’t end up with mediocre movies; she is phenomenally talented as an actress and is incredibly beautiful. Melissa Lewis made an amazing woman and commander, the way she managed her team and how she went about it. It makes me really optimistic that there were so many strong female character roles in The Martian – it is uplifting and not one of them were typecast or silly or dumbed down at the end.

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Continuing onto the crew, I thought that Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Pena and Aksel Hennie all did superb work as the other astronauts in the Ares III. They all had their independent roles and personalities and weren’t only there as seat fillers. I especially liked Alex Vogel’s (Aksel Hennie) love and commitment to his family. I found the smidge of romance injected into two of the character’s story really sweet and perfectly placed – it was only a very small part of the story.

Then the crew on earth had Sean Bean in, whose notable performance can be further celebrated by the fact that he did not die. It’s true, I’m not lying. They even injected a Lord of The Rings reference into one of his scenes, and I enjoyed that thoroughly. I really liked his character Mitch Henderson – Sean Bean can really pull of the quietly-dignified-but-still-disapproving look so well.

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I can keep on discussing further performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor, MacKenzie Davis and Donald Glover but I won’t as this is getting to a rather long review. However, I will briefly mention Kristen Wiig, who impressed me by not being another comedic role and who did a wonderful job as the NASA spokesperson.

The humor that was part of the movie was perfectly written in and beautifully portrayed. The many uses of ductape was probably a favorite of mine – it is everywhere in the film. The adoration for coffee was another favorite as well as the exasperation you saw on so many employees’ faces when they were told to get a job done faster than what made sense.

The camaraderie between the astronauts was hilarious and touching. It seemed as if they were real coworkers and their banter was endearing.

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There are a lot of things I want to keep on mentioning – I never want to forget how much I enjoyed this film the first time I saw it. Its success lies in being so human – Mark Watney does nothing that makes you pity him, but his lonely fate on Mars is heartbreaking to behold. His crew’s anguish in leaving him behind and how the citizens on the planet band together to bring him back home was a glimpse of the good side of humanity. NASA seems to be fangirling about the Martian as much as we are, and that makes it even more fun. I can’t help but think The Martian coinciding with the discovery that there is water on Mars isn’t a PR dream for them right now.

We probably can’t be friends if you dislike this movie. I am sorry. Go watch it, go like it, and come talk to me.

Blinspot 2015: Fury (2014)

Fury poster

Plot:April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened Army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Outnumbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Rating: 9/10

I’m going to keep this as short as I possibly can, because the gushing will be unbearable and irritating for you all at some stage. This movie is AMAZING. For over two hours you are nailed to your seat and drawn into WWII at a stage where the war isn’t quite done yet, and the men on the ground are still battling nonstop with the Nazis, especially aiming to shoot the SS soldiers. Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) and his crew Boyd Shawn (Shia LaBeouf), Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal) and Trini Garcia (Michael Pena) are dealing with the loss of one of their team when they are given Norman (Logan Lerman), a clerk who has been drafted as an assistant driver. Norman is dragged into the warfare he never thought he would enter, and in time he starts seeing Wardaddy not as a monster but someone who takes the task of keeping his men alive very seriously. Facing unspeakable horrors together, Norman quickly finds his guts and becomes part of the team.

The directing is sharp, clear and brutal. It shows how merciless the war was – children hanged for not fighting for Hitler, bodies being driven in by trucks piled on top of each other, men burning alive, starvation and innocent people dying for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is thus more than your average war movie addressing the lives of the brave soldiers (I actually always see that as War Propaganda) – this movie takes you to ground level and reminds you of what the men of the previous generation went through.

The relationship between the characters is intense and intricately portrayed. I couldn’t help but speculate on the intensity of the relationships formed between those four men who have been in the inside of a tank together for three years. At the start of the movie they don’t seem all that close, but the reason is obvious: they are dealing with the death of one of their own. As the movie progresses the sense of brotherhood is really strong and the knowledge that these men are cemented together despite their vastly different characteristics.

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The performances are all top notch, but most notably I would have to say Brat Pitt, Logan Lerman and Shia LaBeouf stood out above the rest. Brad Pitt just stunned me by this gut wrenching performance and the layers he added to the character. The grief on his face every time he witnessed more death was excruciating. The battle weary way he carried himself whilst still being the leader was very significant to the success of his role.

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Shia LaBeouf… I am not the world’s biggest fan to his personal life because he wants attention so bad. However, in roles like this and Lawless he reminds me how capable he is as an actor. Boyd “Bible” Shawn was such a sweet man and the horrors of the war reflected so clearly in him. I think that he managed to hold onto his religion all the time during the war was powerful, as I think most men just dump it along the way because they simply see too much to still believe in a higher power.

Logan Lerman had me thinking all the time “What an amazing kid”. That said, he is only two years younger than I am but he seems much younger than the rest of the war weary team members. I felt such sympathy with his character and his struggle to adjust. It’s obvious that he wasn’t planning in being part of the fighting in the war and is by nature a kind person who would rather spare human lives. He is initially treated very roughly by Wardaddy but the reason why makes sense – he needs to toughen up if the others want to survive.

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I’ll just quickly mention that I also really enjoyed Michael Pena and Grady Travis as the remaining two main characters, and really enjoyed seeing faces like Jim Parrack and Scott Eastwood in here.

The story flows well and keeps a good pace – I really couldn’t detect any dip in the story. The ending is magnificent and so suspenseful – I was cringing and yelling and filled with admiration for our boys.

I’m sure it is very obvious that I really enjoyed this film and I am exceptionally glad it was on my Blindspot list! HIGHLY recommended, although sensitive viewers should probably steer clear.