2018 Summer Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Scott (Paul Rudd) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) suit up in Ant-Man and the Wasp. (Source: IMDb)

Ant-Man was one of the funniest films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite the ordeal with filmmaker Edgar Wright. It features one of the funniest actors in Paul Rudd as an awkward criminal fighting crime wearing a suit that makes him become the size of an ant. While the narrative brings little to nothing new to the table, its fast-paced humor, wonderful action, and funny characters makes it such a sleeper hit.

Rudd and co-stars Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, and Michael Peña reunite with director Peyton Reed to give another hilarious, fun ride in Ant-Man and the Wasp.

After the events of Civil War, former criminal Scott Lang (Rudd) struggles to be a good father to his fearless daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). One day, he reunites with Hope van Dyne (Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas). They learn about how Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) disappeared in the quantum realm in 1987. They help together to create a quantum tunnel to save her. With the help of Luis (Peña) and his security crew, the tiny heroes suit up while the “Ghost” (Hannah John-Kamen) and black market tech dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) are on their tails.

I cannot picture a better duo than Ant-Man and the Wasp (the first MCU film to feature a female character’s name in a title). Rudd and Lilly play off each other’s roles almost to perfection. Their interactions are almost impossible to hold in your laughter. Not to mention when Luis tells his stories with the funny narration (some of the best parts of the first film). It’s definitely not without its heart and wall-to-wall action. The chase through San Francisco showcases the breathtaking and funny special effects. Since 2008, these movies have gotten better with its visuals. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a great follow-up to Infinity War. It will be a quick eight months once Captain Marvel arrives.

3.5/4

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2018 Summer Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

 

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It all comes down to this in Avengers: Infinity War! (Source: The Wrap)

It looks like the summer movie season has arrived early this year. After a long, rough winter in Maine, it’s about time to see these superheroes try to save our planet once again.

Can you believe it has been ten years since Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) started to form the Avengers Initiative? A lot of superheroes have been introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe–from the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to Captain America (Chris Evans) to Asgardian god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to the Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper) to Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). With every single one of them teaming up to face their biggest challenge yet, it makes the scale of Avengers: Infinity War all the more gargantuan.

While this year brought us the future classic Black Panther, Anthony and Joe Russo are back in the director’s chair since Captain America: Civil War. They hit it out of the park once again in this hilarious, dark, action-packed, visually stunning epic that goes in many unexpected way and brings an emotional punch into its complex narrative. Josh Brolin’s Thanos is easily the most powerful villain in the franchise, who goes on his own mission to collect all of the six Infinity Stones, in order to not only take over the world, but the entire universe. While the movie is far from perfect, fans are most certainly in for a treat!

The MCU is far from over!

3.5/4

Movie Review: Black Panther

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Long live, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman)! (Source: IMDb)

T’Challa–otherwise known as the Black Panther–made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War. He is such a cool superhero! Dressing up in his black suit and panther mask, he grants super speed, strength, stamina. It was great to see him kick ass at the airport with Iron Man, Captain America, among others. Two years later, we finally get to see Black Panther’s solo feature. I can’t picture a better time to see it!

Black Panther is the first big-budget extravaganza from director Ryan Coogler. From the overlooked indie film Fruitvale Station to Creed, the miraculous entry in the Rocky franchise, he is becoming one of the greatest filmmakers of this generation.

After the events of Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns to his African homeland of the technologically advanced Wakanda. He takes the throne as the new king who wants to keep his people safe. However, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan, Coogler’s frequent collaborator) and his ally Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), a South African arms dealer, seek to overthrow him. While putting his country’s fate over the edge, he suits up and joins forces with Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead), Shuri (a scene-stealing Letitia Wright), and CIA agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman). Together, they must prevent the two from annihilation.

If I ramble on about this movie, I’ll spoil it for everyone. With a screenplay written by Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, this contains the humor and thrills as expected in an MCU film, as well as morals, politics, and visual wonder (great cinematography by Mudbound‘s Rachel Morrison!). Boseman is the perfect choice to play Black Panther, and he leads a marvelous cast featuring Jordan (as MCU’s best villain), Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya, and the legendary Forest Whitaker. Black Panther is officially my favorite film in the MCU, surpassing Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok. This is destined to be a classic!

4/4

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok

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Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) join to save the world in Thor: Ragnarok. (Source: Crave Online)

I enjoy Thor a lot as a character in the MCU. His first outing in 2011, directed by Kenneth Branagh (known for adapting some of William Shakespeare’s plays), had the right amount of fish-out-of-water humor, mythology, and action. While not perfect in any way, there is no doubt Chris Hemsworth was the perfect choice for Thor. The sequel, Thor: The Dark World, was quite underwhelming and, in my opinion, the weakest entry in the MCU. This time, there is no Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, and Stellan Skarsgård. New Zealand director Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) is the perfect choice to direct Thor: Ragnarok, in which it never takes itself seriously.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is back with a new haircut, new group, and a new motivation.. He finds himself on the planet Sakaar, ruled by the deadpan Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum). Without his trusty hammer Mjolnir, he must fight to the death against the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a duel, which excites him (“We know each other! He’s a friend from work!”). Why does he do it? It’s the only way for him to return to his homeland to prevent Ragnarok, destroying Asgardian civilization. Thor and Bruce Banner join Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Korg (Taika Waititi) to stop the evil Hela (Cate Blanchett) and save Asgard.

Thor: Ragnarok has a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe. Not only is it visually stunning and action-packed (how can you not smile when Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” is playing during the opening scene?), it’s also really funny (probably just as funny as Guardians). Waititi also does a great job expanding Norse mythology. Hemsworth proves he still has it; succeeding the physicality and emotional gravity of the story. The supporting cast is memorable. Waititi is known for starring in his own movies. Thor: Ragnarok is no exception. He provides some really funny lines as Korg, a rock warrior imprisoned on Sakaar. Blanchett is downright awesome as Hela, who plans on taking over Asgard. Great stuff!

4/4

2017 Summer Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man (Tom Holland) swings into action in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest in the MCU. (Source: Den of Geek!)

Who doesn’t love Spider-Man? The friendly neighborhood superhero who swings into action to stop crime in New York City? He’s one of the wittiest superheroes in the Marvel comics. He made his theatrical debut in 2002, starring Tobey Maguire, and has rebooted ten years later, starring Andrew Garfield. Spider-Man is rebooted yet again so he can show the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose boss.

He might have been brought in at the last minute. But—he exceeded everyone’s expectations in Captain America: Civil War. What worked was the authenticity of Spider-Man being played by an actual teenager. Tom Holland—who was 19 at the time—got the character right on the money.

It’s hard not to look forward to seeing him on the verge of becoming an Avenger. Spider-Man: Homecoming proves MCU is stepping up its A-game.

After Civil War, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) returns to living with his aunt May (Marisa Tomei) at his home in Queens. He goes to a private high school, where he is one of the smartest kids there. Not to mention being on the academic decathlon. However, school is getting rough, particularly with his frequent encounters with his bully Flash (Tony Revolori).

While Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is moving the Avengers Headquarters upstate, they remain his mentor. Things get worse when Spider-Man must face against Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), or the Vulture, who has plans of his own to take over the Stark’s business.

There is plenty to like here. One of the best action set pieces in the movie takes place on the Staten Island Ferry where Spider-Man saves the people on board after a weapon malfunctions. One problem, however, is that the ferry doesn’t allow cars after the 9/11 attacks.

Holland is the definitive Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He gets every one-liner and every web-slinging action pitch perfect! Keaton’s Vulture feels more like a real person than the previous Spider-Man villains. In terms of the MCU, he joins the ranks of Loki and Zemo as one of the best villains. But—in terms of the Spider-Man movies, he’s not quite as menacing as Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2. John Batalon steals the show as Ned, Peter’s awkwardly funny best friend. It’s hard not to get a laugh out of him.

2017 has been full of surprises thus far. Spider-Man: Homecoming is another great addition to the MCU, and easily one of the best high school movies of all-time.

3.5/4

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

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Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) walks out in style in Doctor Strange, Marvel’s latest entry in its ongoing film franchise. (Source: IMDb)

No other actor looked so cool putting on a cape than Benedict Cumberbatch.

Captain America: Civil War started this past summer with a bang. Not only was it a wonderful conclusion to the greatest film trilogy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also leaves the door open for one of the longest running film franchises; going on since 2008 with Iron Man. The audience introduces more characters leading up to—what might be—the biggest battle in film history (The Avengers: Infinity War). Doctor Strange, the latest MCU film, is a little more than your basic origin story.

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is one of New York City’s most brilliant neurosurgeons. One night, he gets into a car accident, causing him to lose his job due to serious damage to his hands. Strange goes on a journey to find a cure in Nepal. At Kamar-Taj, he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) shows him the astral plane and alternate dimensions. He reluctantly trains of becoming a sorcerer. When he learns that the enclave is at war with a team of evil sorcerers, led by Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson), Strange and his mentor Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) try to defeat the evil mastermind once and for all.

Scott Derrickson creates an origin story mildly different than the previous entries. Strange is a—literally and figuratively—broken protagonist who is willing to change. His spirituality is put to the test when he learns about controlling time. There is plenty of humor thrown in the mix. Notably, when he pokes fun at Master Wong (Benedict Wong) and his [one-word] name and using his wits to outsmart Kaecilius and his minions once they finally meet. There is an Inception-vibe through the stunning action sequences and visual effects, which is provided by Michael Giacchino’s magnificent score (powerful chorus, too).

Despite being somewhat formulaic and Mikkelson’s Kaecilius not quite topping Loki and Zemo as the best villain (a little bit more depth would have certainly done the trick), Doctor Strange provides enough wit and wonder to outweigh its flaws.

3.5/4

2016 Summer Movie Review: Captain America: Civil War

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Cap (Chris Evans) and others spring into action in Captain America: Civil War

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is now in its third phase. It has come a long way after the release of Iron Man. While Captain America: The First Avenger is nothing but a good old-fashioned WWII extravaganza, The Winter Soldier allowed directors Anthony and Joe Russo to bring politics into the picture while still providing the fun that audiences go see these movies for. Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America having their standalone feats, they saved the world twice in The Avengers and last year’s sequel Age of Ultron.

Now with Civil War, ranking with Guardians of the Galaxy and The Winter Soldier as the best MCU film, the Avengers face two new enemies: one of them being the government, who accuses the initiative of collateral damage. They come up with a law to control their actions causing Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to disagree with one another. Let the battle commence!

I’m not going to spoil too much of the movie. I can tell you that this is a movie that should not be missed! It’s funny. It’s exciting. It’s devastating as hell. Nothing but pure light-hearted fun.

4/4