Tag Archives: Ant-Man

Rogers vs. Stark better than ‘Batman V Superman’

Why is Captain America: Civil War better than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice? Here’s three reasons:

  1. Civil War looks real. The big fight scene in Batman V Superman, where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman go mano a mano with the Zod monster, looks like a video game. Not a good video game, either. I even laughed at one point, where Wonder Woman almost looked like she was glued onto the top of a scene, like a pre-schooler’s arts-and-crafts project. The beauty of the big fight scene in Civil War, where Team Cap and Team Stark go at it, is just how good it looks. Even when Ant-Man goes gigantic, the CGI is so well-rendered that it never takes you out of the moment. It’s not as if some of the Marvel movies haven’t had a similar problem to BvS – yes, Thor, I’m looking at you – but Civil War doesn’t fall prey to that lack of suspension of disbelief.
  2. It’s all about the story. What was Superman’s storyline in Batman V Superman? The exact same damn story line from the first Superman movie: Should Superman use his power or not? Zod’s crew threatens Ma Kent in first movie to get at Superman; Lex Luthor threatens Ma Kent to get at Superman in the second movie. Pa Kent gives Clark advice in the first movie; his dead ass gets dragged out of the grave to give Clark the same advice in the second movie. You would think in a movie two-and-half hours plus long you could cut the redundant stuff. Batfleck wasn’t a Daredevil-size mess, but I wasn’t all that impressed what they did with the character beyond the big showdown battle with Superman. What was the point of Holly Hunter’s/Senator Finch’s story? I’m not sure, other than it made the movie longer. Plus, Gal Godot was not well used. Wonder Woman is played primarily as a flirt/foil for Batman, then wastes our time showing us the other DC heroes that aren’t in the movie in a scene that could have been cut to half the time it ran and tacked on as a prologue in the credits … ya know, kind of like Marvel? Civil War advances not only the stories of both Captain America and Iron Man as well as introducing Black Panther, it also gets at the main themes of the Marvel universe: Should the unending power of our heroes be checked by some sort of civilian/military/non-hero leadership? What is the cost of our heroes using those powers? What is the responsibility of heroes to those without powers? No redundancy here, just good writing and development.
  3. The new characters. You know what I figured out from watching the brief introduction of Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg? That I have no interest in seeing individual movies for any of them, probably not even when they join up and become the Justice League. It does look like Wonder Woman is going to be done right, so I’ll probably check that out. But there are valid reasons Aquaman is universally mocked – he won’t be all that interesting if the villain chooses to show up in, say, Arizona or the Sahara – and getting Khal Drogo to play him isn’t going to change my mind. If I cared about The Flash, I’d be watching the CW series, which I’m not. And my only knowledge of Cyborg comes from Teen Titans Go! with my son. Between that show and this brief introduction, my world is not being rocked. But look at Spider-Man and Black Panther in Civil War. I’ve never read anything involving Black Panther prior to seeing Civil War, but I’m stoked for that stand-alone. I thought Chadwick Boseman was good, and the little bit of back story provided makes me think I need to see the Panther as a main character. After four atrocious films and one average flick, it’s nice to see Spider-Man actually look like the goofy kid with super powers that we know from the comics. I thought the hype on Spidey was a bit over done leading up to the latest Captain America flick, but it turns out the hype was for real. Maybe it will actually be enough to wash the taste of Toby McGuire’s Peter Parker from my palate. A miracle, indeed.
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Marvel’s big mistake

I’ve been a pretty big fan of the recent Marvel-verse run. Sure, it’s had its duds – the second and third Iron Man films, Thor: The Dark World, etc. – but some quality films have come from it, such as both Captain America flicks, the Avengers movies, as well as some pleasant surprises in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man.

Recently, though, I’ve started to lose that loving feeling. My big gripe over the course of these super hero flicks has been that, with the exceptions of Ant-Man, most of the movies end up with some big, repetitive, city-destroying scene. On occasion, the films have been so focused on the big climax or that particular film’s place in the Marvel-verse that the rest of the film suffers for it, such as Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s not been enough to turn me off of the Marvel film franchise, but my fandom has definitely decreased.

Then I watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones. And now I’m wondering if I’ll bother with any of the rest of the Marvel films.

In the theatrical releases, Marvel has to play it broad. These are big, expensive films that play to a huge global audience. The violence and language reflect that Marvel isn’t only trying to get the hard-core comic fans, but also the average six-year-old and his grandma out for an afternoon. I don’t begrudge Marvel this. It’s the Hollywood way, and they’ve done pretty well within those limitations.

But on Netflix, Marvel can get down and dirty. Daredevil was the only comic I ever really collected as a kid, so you can imagine what my reaction to Ben Affleck’s atrocity was back in 2003. I was interested when I heard about the Netflix version, but I didn’t have high hopes.

Boy, was I off on that one. Netflix’s Daredevil is everything I could want. Charlie Cox is terrific as the titular hero, weary, resigned to his role as the lone defender of Hell’s Kitchen, not afraid to chuckle at the dark humor of his situation. Elden Hensen as Foggy and Rosario Dawson’s Claire are strong and capable in supporting roles. Vincent D’Onofrio makes the Kingpin come alive in surprising ways, playing the incredibly violent crime boss as vulnerable, a wounded, love-struck man of vision whose goal for a better Hell’s Kitchen is shared by Matt Murdock, though the two differ significantly on how to make that happen. While The Avengers battle in the skies and tear down cities in a fight to save the universe, Daredevil is in the back alleys and basements of rundown buildings, brawling and bleeding to help his neighbors.

I had no idea what to expect from Jessica Jones, and again I was blown away. I hadn’t been a fan of Kristen Ritter prior to JJ, but she really captures the alienation and fear of someone who has been abused and raped, forced to behave in ways she never would on her own, living with a shadow over her that just won’t go away. That abuse theme runs through the show and gives it an edge and purpose that all of the Marvel movies lack. Jess has had a hard knock life, and no matter what power she has, you’ll never see her in a cape, because she can’t even conceive a world where she’s a hero. Jessica is the damaged goods, not the savior, even when she is just that. In a Marvel-verse where the Avengers mostly strut around, preening, flexing and arguing about who is the biggest hero, Jess is a refreshing change.

The beauty is that Marvel realizes how they’re getting it right. Check out the Daredevil season two trailer above. Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane and Ray Stevenson combined don’t give me the thrill that I get when I see Jon “Shane” Bernthal in his role as the Punisher. As dark as season one was, Daredevil season two seems like it’s going to get even darker.

I can’t wait. Bring the pain, Marvel. But I may be leaving the movies for the kiddies and grandmas from now on. You’ve shown me a better way, and I’m not sure I’m interested in turning back.

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‘Ant-Man’ feels like missed opportunity

One thumbs up for

One thumbs up for “Ant-Man,” maybe. Two thumbs up? Not quite.

If Marvel was going to try something outside-the-box with one of its properties, Ant-Man was the perfect opportunity.

Ant-Man is a weird premise, a cat-burglar-turned-Robin-Hood in a suit that shrinks and expands him at will and allows him to communicate with and control his fellow ants from the natural world. Marvel hired Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), a guy who knows a little something about making ensemble films with weird characters, to write and direct. Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) called Wright’s Ant-Man story “the best script Marvel ever had.” Star Paul Rudd knows comedy and is just as comfortable going broad as he is trying something a bit more out there. Plus, there was no pressure for Ant-Man to be a huge hit. It didn’t have the budget or the starpower of The Avengers and its related solo films, and the Ant-Man character wasn’t nearly as high profile when compared to Marvel players such as Captain America or the Hulk, meaning not only less pressure regarding box office, but also reduced concerns about viewers’ expectations for both the character and the film.

But given the opportunity to change it up a little bit, Marvel stuck to its well-worn script. Wright was fired/left/whatever, and the powers that be brought in Adam McKay, the man behind the camera for films such as Anchorman and Talladega Nights. And that’s kind of what you get with his Ant-Man. Rudd’s criminal sidekicks – played hilariously by Michael Pena, David Dasmalchian and, of all people, rapper T.I. – are the equivalent the of Ron Burgundy’s Channel 4 crew. Evangeline Lilly’s Hope is a reeled in Veronica Corningstone, Michael Douglas suffices in the role of the Channel 4 news producer played by Frank Willard and Corey Stole’s Yellowjacket baddie is significantly less scary than Vince Vaughn’s Wes Mantooth.

OK, I’m pushing it with those last few comparisons. You get my point. Ant-Man isn’t bad, and in some ways – a Marvel film where no big city was destroyed! – it can stand toe-to-toe with the rest of the Avengers’ universe. I just get the feeling it could have been much, much better.

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Bad trailers=bad movies: 5 summer flicks I have no interest in seeing

5. Teminator: Genisys. I can see why the minds behind this thought it was a good idea, seeing the talent involved. But other than the John Connor twist – which is a pretty huge giveaway for a trailer – most of this looks like it could have been pulled straight out of the first few movies. Yes, you have a rich history to work with, but the last part of the Terminator franchise to escape from that shadow and be something fresh and interesting was the TV series, The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Add to that the problem of the last two Terminator movies having dulled my taste for the franchise, and not even Daenarys Targaryan as Sarah Connor is enough to make me reconsider this one.

4. Vacation. If I was a huge fan of the Vacation franchise, I probably would have ranked this higher, but I always preferred Chevy Chase in films such as Fletch, Foul Play and Caddyshack over his Clark Griswold performances. This film it looks like it could be worse than The Hangover II and The Zookeeper, combined.

3. Ant-Man. This is the lone time I have had zero interest in seeing flick that’s part of the Avengers’ Marvel universe. I thought Ant-Man was a bad idea when they announced it. Then Marvel kicked director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) off the project, and I really thought it was a bad idea. This trailer does nothing to change my mind. I’ve often thought that there are some things that just won’t translate well from comics, and I think this looks like example No. 1 of that theory. The truly unfortunate thing about all of this is I probably can’t avoid this film because of my daughter’s love of Paul Rudd, aka Bobby Newport from Parks & Recreation.

2. Poltergeist. How bad is this trailer? My 10-year-old, who occasionally will terrify himself so much that he’ll run the 7 feet from his bedroom to our living room at night just to not be in the dark, “scary” hallway, mocks this trailer every time we see it. Poltergeist just looks like another Insidious knock-off, now. An unimaginative, blatant, studio cash grab, nothing more.

1. Jurassic World. OK, so it isn’t just the trailer that makes this flick a no-go. Loved the first one, like a lotta folks, but the second one was awful. In the second Jurassic Park book, Michael Crichton envisions a chameleon-like dinosaur that is able to camouflage itself. When the movie hit theaters, I was excited to see what Steven Spielberg – the king of the big, fx-heavy summer blockbusters – would do with that. The answer: Nothing. And Stevie made up a new, significantly shittier ending. So I’m not getting burned again. This trailer, other than some new dinos, looks to be for a film that has nothing new to offer. Plus, if that one sex joke is the best they’ve given Chris Pratt to work with, the Jurassic minds are even more bereft of imagination than I ever would have expected.

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