Ant-Man Review: The movie follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief and his mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a master scientist. In Pym's younger days he wore the Ant-Man suit, which allowed him to shrink to microscopic size but retain all his strength. This ability is thanks to "The Pym Particle" that allowed him to shrink distance between molecules. Pym, who used his particle for good was frightened that his invention would fall into the wrong hands even to the point that his board voted him out of his own company that invented the technology in the first place. Enter Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) the new CEO of Pym Technologies that is on the verge of unlocking The Pym Particle and use the technology to create an army of micro soldiers. In order to stop Cross Pym enlists Lang, who is fresh out of jail to don the Ant-Man suit and defeat Cross from the inside. Pym's estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who has gained the trust of Cross and is his adviser is displeased that her father has picked Lang for the operation feeling it's her duty to ultimately defeat her employer.
What works: It's refreshing to see Marvel return to their roots with a story that focuses on a single character. The Age of Ultron released earlier this summer was masterful at planting the seeds for future installments in the ever growing "Marvel Cinematic Universe" but fell short to develop the characters themselves or give good reason why so many characters needed to be involved in the story. The movie is a homage to 60's and 70's heist films and Lang's fellow parolees (played by Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and rapper T.I.) add a lot of fun humor as they help their friend "be a hero" while becoming heroes themselves.
What doesn't: If you're looking for something new, you won't find it. Marvel Studios has a firm formula in place to draw audiences to the theater and they succeed masterfully. One of the broken parts of their formula is the ability to create compelling villains. Ant-Man partially succeeds with Darren Cross compared to their many past efforts but I still felt he was there to be a disposable villain to prime Ant-Man for his eventually membership into the Avengers.
Final: Highly recommended. Very refreshing to see a superhero movie that's focused on the viewer having fun. Reminded me very much of Robert Downey Jr.'s first Ironman movie.
This documentary was fascinating. Back in 1998 shortly before Fox Studios revitalized the superhero franchise with Bryan Singer's X-Men, Warner contacted Tim Burton to do a movie titled "Superman Lives" with Nicholas Cage as Superman/Clark Kent and Christopher Walken as the villain Brainiac. After seeing interviews from the conceptual artists, to Tim Burton to the former president of Warner Bros. it makes me wonder how this film would have been received upon its release. As one of the screenplay writers Kevin Smith says reflecting on if he wished it had been made - "F*^k you, take my money."
Inside Out Review: Inside out tells the story of the emotions of an 11 year old girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) who are Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). To establish the characters we are introduced to Riley's very first emotion Joy who is quickly accompanied by the other emotions as Riley starts developing as a human being. Joy, the strongest emotion finds herself in a conflict with Sadness when Riley's parents (Kyle MacLachlan & Diane Lane) relocate from Minnesota to California for a job opportunity. The emotions operate in a central command center (Riley's mind) which stores her core memories and define her as a person. After a mishap, the core memories are scattered throughout her brain along with Joy and Sadness who must return to central command with the memories to realign Riley's personality.
What works: Pixar has created another masterpiece. Wonderfully developed characters with perfect voice actors to portray them (Anger, Fear & Disgust are worth the admission price by themselves). The imaginative environments and other supporting characters that make up a person's mind and personality are brilliant. The story also treats adult viewers with humorous takes on how things get stuck in our minds, how our emotions influence things that frighten or disgust us and a reminder of profound sadness of how we forget things that make us so happy during our age of innocence. Pixar proves once again that they are the masters of modern animation films and this film can stand equally beside any of their other classic films.
What doesn't: It's difficult to find something wrong with such an excellent movie but searching through other reviews online I've noticed some parents have been critical of the film because it's tough for their younger children to relate to the subject matter. I can see that. Of all of Pixar's films I would certainly consider this the most "mature" material in their library.
Highly recommended to see Inside Out. Very refreshing to see a family movie that injects humor for adults that is relatable on a human level without insinuating sexual innuendo or "adult situations".
Changing up reviews. Getting away from star ratings.
Terminator: Genisys Review: The latest film begins in the future previously established in the past Terminator films with John Connor (Jason Clarke) and his friend Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) defeating Skynet, the A.I. program that ultimately eradicates humanity through nuclear war. Before Skynet is "turned off" it goes through a last ditch effort to save itself by sending a Terminator android into the past to kill Connor's mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke). John Connor responds by sending his friend Kyle after the Terminator to protect his mother. Kyle is sent back to 1984, the year the first film takes place but he realizes that timeline and events of the first film have drastically changed. Instead of finding a scared waitress with zero combat experience, he finds Sarah already prepared for his arrival and partnered with a Terminator (Arnold Schwartzenegger) that was sent by an unknown party to protect her back in 1973. The three join forces to leap throughout time to once again fight Skynet that keeps correcting its failures as time progresses to the inevitable nuclear destruction known as Judgement Day.
What worked: The expansions of time lines are explained well throughout the film. Arnold is a pleasure to watch as the Terminator a role that was rather joyless to watch in the 3rd installment. Skynet's new plan to succeed is interesting even though it was sadly spoiled in the trailer.
What didn't: Much like Jurassic Park, you can only play "what if" so many times within this franchise. It's on nonstop loop. The Terminator travels back to kill someone to prevent Connor's birth, it fails, Judgement Day happens, Connor defeats Skynet and the Terminator travels back in time. I accept iconic roles are hard to recast but Emilia Clarke didn't sell herself as tough and Jai Courtney is just simply awful. He has the charisma of a toaster.
Final: I recommend seeing it. It's a good movie for nostalgia purposes and watching Arnold back as the T800 is a lot of fun. But after this? No more please unless the next one finally breaks the cycle.
Ted 2 Review: Ted 2 picks up a year after the first film with Ted (Seth MacFarlane) marrying his sweetheart Tammy Lynn (Jessica Barth) while his best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) mopes over his divorce. It doesn't take long for marital bliss to wear off and in an effort to fix their broken marriage Ted and Tammy Lynn decide to have a baby. One problem - Ted isn't considered "a person" but a piece of property revoking his marriage, employment, citizenship and any attempt to adopt a child (he's a teddy bear so he has no reproductive organs). He and John hire civil rights attorney Samantha (Amanda Seyfried) to fight for Ted's civil rights to restore his status so he can move on with his life and marriage. The movie also includes Sam Jones, Patrick Warburton and Giovanni Ribisi returning from the first film and Morgan Freeman. Ted 2 has some genuinely funny gags and jokes but misses the flow of the first film. I remember the unrated trailer from the first movie and thought all the good jokes would be in the trailer. Boy, was I wrong. The first one hit the accelerator and didn't let up even until the end of the film. This movie's transition pieces sadly moves at a slug's pace to the next gag. Also, picked on for her useless character Meg in Family Guy, this film was missing Mila Kunis's Laurie. She was a much stronger and likeable character compared to Amanda Seyfried's Samantha. Final Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars