FlixChatter Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

I can’t believe it’s been three years since Ant-Man came out. Perhaps because we saw the character in Captain America: Civil War, it felt like I had just seen him recently. This movie actually takes place following the aftermath of Captain America 3, which explains why Ant-Man isn’t fighting with his fellow Avengers in Infinity War.

The immensely likable Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang and here he grapples with the consequences of being a superhero and a dad. I love the opening sequence of Scott playing with his adorable daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) at his well-equipped home as he’s in house arrest (due to his involvement with the Avengers). He’s only days away of being a free man when suddenly he’s dragged back into his life as Ant-Man and re-team with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).

I’m not going to mention what the urgent new mission is, but those who saw the first film could probably guess what it is. Speaking of which, Michelle Pfeiffer shows up as a prominent character and she’s always lovely to watch. I wish the film would just focus more on that storyline, instead of overcrowding it with multiple plots. In fact, one of the main plots involving a ghost named Ava (Hannah John-Kamen) who can phase through objects is so boring and the serious tone feels off compared to the rest of the movie. Thankfully, for the most part Peyton Reed succeeded in creating yet another fun-filled Marvel adventure, thanks to the fantastic cast.

I love that this time Ant-Man sort of play second banana to The Wasp in many ways, especially during the action scenes. Hope is such a take-charge woman-with-a-mission character that she’s a natural born leader, while Scott is always one step behind. The dynamic works well and makes for some hilarious moments. Rudd is such comedic gold, even just him doing ordinary things around the house is funny! I truly can’t imagine anyone else in the role (another spot-on casting that Marvel Studios have done, just like Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man). The supporting cast are a hoot just like the original. I gotta say Randall Park as an FBI agent & Lang’s parole officer and Michael Peña (with his mad rapping style) as one of Lang’s bff/business partners are especially hilarious.

The quantum realm ‘science’ of the shrinking and expanding of the characters is never clear to me but what I love is that this movie knows that full well and uses it to its advantage. “So you just put quantum in front of everything?” Scott Lang quipped at one point during the discussion w/ Hank Pym’s former assistant played by Laurence Fishburne (ahah so now we’ve got Samuel L. Jackson‘s arch rival joining Marvel too, awesome!) I think the movie’s low point is the villains, what’s with Walton Goggins playing yet another lame villain after seeing him in the Tomb Raider reboot. He plays a low-level blue-collar criminal who wants to steal Pym’s technology to sell it on the black market. He’s once again outsmarted by a woman here as his character is absolutely idiotic. That said, and even with the plots and subplots piling up, this movie still moves along at a breezy pace with dynamic action scenes. I don’t normally care for 3D but this time I didn’t mind as it actually looks good.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the action scenes, especially the main chase scene through San Francisco, showcasing some of its landmarks. All of the shrinking and expanding scenes are hilarious and a joy to watch, especially when big Ant-Man rides a pick-up truck like a kiddy scooter! Oh and I’ll never be able to stop giggling every time I hear the name Antonio Banderas now 😛

I gotta hand it to Marvel Studio honcho Kevin Feige, under his leadership the Studio really thrives in creating a plethora of movies that have its own individual style yet ties in as a whole to the Avengers’ story. Like Thor: Ragnarok, this movie is mostly a comedy but more family-friendly instead of the more sardonic style of Taika Waititi’s humor.

The Ant-Man may be tiny but this sequel sure is a huge dose of fun! I don’t even mind watching it again on the big screen. Definitely check this out if you enjoyed the first one, but even if you hadn’t seen the original, I think you’d still enjoy it. Oh and Marvel fans, you want to stay for the mid-credit scene 😉

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So have you seen Ant-Man and The Wasp? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Ant-Man (2015)

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Marvel has been dominating the box office with their superhero flicks for almost a decade now and it’s inevitable that they’re going to bring out some of the lesser-known superheroes to the big screen. Even though it’s not well known to non comic book readers, Ant-Man movie has apparently been in development for many years. For anyone who’s been following the movie business, you’ve probably read the development dramas of this movie, from director Edgar Wright leaving the project to script changes and so on.

Personally I didn’t know anything about Ant-Man, the idea of a superhero the size of an ant just sounds too silly to me and didn’t really care about the movie version. Fortunately, the movie was very entertaining and I don’t mind seeing it again.    AntMan1AntMan2

After being released from prison, Scott Lang (perfectly-cast Paul Rudd) is trying to go straight because he wants to spend more time with his daughter. Lang was sent to prison because he tried to do the right thing, but in life doing the right thing doesn’t mean you’re going to be appreciated. He met up with is buddy Luis (Michael Peña) who tells him that he’d found a new gig that will make them a lot of money. Lang declined the offer because he wants to find an honest job but because he’s an ex-con no one will hire him. So after couldn’t find a steady job, Lang finally agreed to listen to Luis’ gig. According to Luis’ sources, there’s a house that belongs to a retired old man who’d stashed away some valuable items in his safe. All Lang has to do is break in and take whatever is in the safe and they’ll be rich.

Unfortunately when Lang got into the safe, all he could find was a weird looking suit, which he took. The suit and the house belongs to a man named Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Pym has been following Lang for years because of his skills as a thief. He and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are trying to break into a highly secured building and they need Lang’s help. Unlike other Marvel’s superhero flicks, the scope of this film was quite small and the whole plot is actually a heist rather than a full-blown superhero story we’re use to seeing. We still get to see the usual hero learning to control his new power and so on. But the tone of this film was definitely on humor and lighter side and I’m glad they went that route.

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All the performances by the actors were great, I mentioned that Rudd was perfectly cast and he truly embody this character. He’s charming, quick witted and you want to see him succeed. Instead of the usual hero whose motivation to save the world was because he lost something important to him, here Lang is just a guy who wants to do the right thing and see his daughter. Douglas was also great as Pym, he has the same amount of screen time as Rudd, I didn’t want to talk too much about his character because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who wants to see this film.

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Lilly played the tough female lead and I thought she did a good job; I’m so glad the filmmakers didn’t make her into another damsel in distress type. Of course in this kind of movie, there’s always going to be the token minority/comic relief character and here I thought Michael Peña was very funny. Some of the jokes didn’t work but most of them had the audience laughing. The villain in the film is played by Corey Stoll, even though they tried to give him some motivations as to why he’s evil, he’s still a one dimensional bad guy.

This is still a Marvel comic book film so they need to show us some big action sequences and director Peyton Reed delivered on that end. I was surprised because his background is mostly in comedy but I thought he did a great job of staging the cool and kind of inventive action sequences. If you’re on the fence about seeing this film in 3D, I highly you seek it out in that format. Once Lang became the Ant-Man, the film showed some really eye-popping 3D effects.

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I didn’t really have any expectations for this film and I’m glad I saw it because it’s very entertaining and a lot of fun. In fact, I think this maybe the only comic book film from Marvel that the whole family can enjoy. Color me impressed.

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So have you seen Ant Man? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Last Vegas

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Hollywood seems to love making movies about bachelor party and here we have another one. Instead of having a bunch of young actors going to Vegas and behaving badly, this time we have a bunch of older actors going to Vegas and behaving like their younger selves. Four men in their late 60s who’ve been friends since childhood decided to go to Sin City and have a crazy bachelor party. After a brief flashback scene introducing to each of the characters, the film fast forwards to present day where each of them are now way past their prime.

Sam (Kevin Kline) is now retired and living in Florida with his wife of 40 years; Archie (Morgan Freeman) is living with his son and daughter in law and he’d just had a stroke; Paddy (Robert De Niro) is living alone, still mourning the death of his late wife. One day Billy (Michael Douglas), who’s still a bachelor even though he’s almost 70 years old, called them up and said he’s going to get married to his very young girlfriend, she’s in her early 30s. Billy it seems is the most successful of the bunch, he lives in a beach house in Malibu and is a head some big investing firm and oh yeah he also dates a woman young enough to be his granddaughter. Seems to me Douglas was playing the older version of Gordon Gekko but a nicer version of Gordon. Archie and Sam suggested they throw him a bachelor party and meet in Vegas. Billy agrees but he wants everyone to go, apparently he and Paddy have lost touch and haven’t spoken to one another in years. Archie and Sam said they’ll talk to Paddy and convince him to go.

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Once they arrived in Vegas, they ran into a pretty lounge singer Diana (Mary Steenburgen), who works at a crappy casino. Right away she caught the attention of the men, Billy and Paddy seems to be quite fond of her. There’s a little love triangle plotline that involves these three characters that I won’t discuss here but I thought it worked out well and wasn’t as clichéd as I predicted. They also ran into a young punk at the casino (Jerry Ferrara, Turtle from Entourage), at first you think he’s the antagonist but later in the movie, he became sort of a sidekick to these men.

Each of the actors got their fair shares of screen time, Kline and Freeman looked like they had a blast in their respective roles. The movie focuses mostly on the friction between Billy and Paddy and I thought Douglas and De Niro did a great job of playing those roles. With a movie like this, you’d think these actors would just show up and earn an easy paycheck but they looked like they’re having a great time and we the audience believe that they’re friends for real.

Director Jon Turteltaub whose last three movies were big-budget action spectacles, the always fun National Treasure films and the awful looking The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; went back to his comedic comfort zone and crafted a fun film. Nothing was over the top in the movie and he kept the pace moving fast. There’s not a laugh out loud moment in my opinion but there’s enough humor in the movie that kept me entertained for 90 minutes.

If you’re a fan of any of these talented actors then I think you’ll enjoy this movie, think of it as a PG version of The Hangover and the fun vibe of the Ocean’s movies. It has some clichéd moments but they’re well-executed.

3 out of 5 reels


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What do you think of Last Vegas and/or the cast here?

Music Break: The American President (1995)

Welcome to another edition of the Music Break series! Apparently I skipped one in October with the TCFF festivities. Well for this week, I was raking my brain to see what soundtrack I would highlight. Well, given today is post-election Wednesday, I figure it’d be fitting to highlight this Oscar-nominated score as Barrack Obama has been re-elected to stay on as The American President!

This film by Rob Reiner is one of my favorite rom-coms ever! Even though it does have political theme, the movie is more about the relationship between the widower commander in chief Andrew Shepherd and an environmental lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade. In the movie, the popular Democratic President was also running for re-election. I love Michael Douglas and Annette Benning in this film, they have such an effortlessly playful chemistry and the dialog is full of wit, thanks to Aaron Sorkin’s script. No wonder it ranks number 75 on AFI’s Greatest Love Stories in American Cinema!

One of my favorite part of this movie is the lovely music. It has that dignified, ‘presidential’ feel to it but also kind of romantic.

Composer Marc Shiaman has frequently worked with director Rob Reiner, previously on When Harry Met Sally and A Few Good Men. He’s been nominated for Oscar five times, starting with Sleepless in Seattle (1994), The American President (1995), The First Wives Club (1997), Patch Adams (1999) and South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut (2000).

It’s interesting to note that this movie inspired Sorkin to write the TV show The West Wing, and Martin Sheen got an upgrade from playing the White House Chief of Staff to playing President Bartlet on the show. Though the film’s president is from the Democratic party, the music apparently transcend party lines. According to its IMDb trivia, the theme was also used as the background music in ABC television’s coverage of President Ronald Reagan’s funeral.


What’s your thoughts on today’s movie music?

FlixChatter Review: Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’

The one thing I found appealing right away is of course the cast: Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton… and the femme fatale, a real mixed-martial arts fighter Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh confessed to the Hall H panel at Comic-con that he ‘discovered’ Carano fighting in a cage whilst watching TV on a Saturday night. According to this NY Post article, after he’d been fired from directing the Brad Pitt starrer Moneyball, he said he decided to make ‘an action flick that looked beautiful.’ Upon seeing Carano, he ended up building an entire script based on her.

Soderbergh with his muse

So was this a good move on Soderbergh part?

After seeing this, my answer is a resounding YES. I like the director’s style in filming this, consistently keeping Mallory Kane, the black ops super soldier [ex-Marine, natch!] as the main focus from start to finish. Right away we find out she’s betrayed by the people who hired her on a mission in Barcelona and the rest of the film follows her hot on the trail to exact her vengeance. Yes, it’s a simple story, this is no twisty espionage thriller so there’s no convoluted plot to deal with. Soderbergh simply creates a vehicle for Carano to be her bad-ass self and it works!

I’ve heard people comparing this to Angelina Jolie’s SALT. Now I haven’t seen that movie and there probably is some similarities, but if these two were to be in a fight together, no doubt Carano would take Jolie’s bony frame down in a matter of seconds. Y’know she made me think that she could practically take down the rest of the Expendables cast, ahah.

Don’t I look like James Bond? Complete with my kick-ass Bond girl!

The action sequences are the reason to watch this film. It’s done without the overblown fast cuts, or slo-mo or nauseating hand-held style employed by many action directors [just as Ted has pointed out here]. Those are done supposedly to make the sequences look cool but it’s hard to see just what the heck is going on. No, Soderbergh filmed the fight scenes realistically, you could see every punch/blow/kick the characters endure. The most intense one is in the clip shown at Comic-con, involving the Bond-like Michael Fassbender [as an MI-6 agent no less!]. So going in I already knew his fate, ahah. But still that is one kick-ass fight scene, woof!

This is not an *acting* film for everyone involved, especially for Carano who never acted before. That said, Carano acquits herself well as Soderbergh is smart enough not to give her long monologues or complicated emotion to convey. Now of course I wish there’s more character development in play, I wish there was a bit more background on Mallory, but y’know what, there’s a certain appeal to its minimalism. In fact, my hubby said it reminds me of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï in its stark simplicity and pacing. We didn’t really know much about Alain Delon’s Jef Costello either, but it’s still interesting to watch him in his journey.

Run Mallory Run!

The star-studded male cast don’t exactly show their range but they’re still fun to watch. They all seem well aware when they signed on that they won’t be given much to do than being the next target of Carano’s vendetta. In the case of Bill Paxton as her author dad, his character is given a bit more emotional weight, but not by much. The ending does seem abrupt but also brilliant at the same time. It ends with an expletive uttered by a character who realizes that his blissful island life with his model girlfriend is about to go um, haywire.

I feel like giving Soderbergh’s other works a watch now. I haven’t seen too many of them, but Out of Sight and Traffic are some of his best films I’ve seen so far. I appreciate his unorthodox style and his effort in experimenting with different genres.

Final Thoughts: Gina Carano certainly makes for a convincing action star whilst still retains her feminine aura. This dynamic action thriller will please any action fans with its high adrenaline-stunts and gritty fight sequences. If you’re a fan of Soderbergh’s other works, this one is definitely worth a watch.

4 out of 5 reels

Have you seen this movie? Well, what do you think?

Five Memorable American Movie Presidents

Happy President’s Day!

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In celebration of American presidents in the past 234 years, here are five actors who’ve played the role of U.S. Commander in Chief in the past couple of decades:

Michael Douglas – Andrew Shepherd in The American President (1995)

This movie is full of great scenes between Douglas and his love interest played brilliantly by Annette Benning, but this telephone banter that ends up with the prez asking her out is absolutely endearing. Of course there’s also the rousing speech that’s arguably one of the best movie speeches ever, and one that’s worthy to be in one of my top 20 favorite scenes list.

Morgan Freeman – Tom Beck in Deep Impact (1998)

Cool and collected even in a major crisis. With a regal stature and deep, soothing voice, Mr. Beck is the kind of leader we all wish to have suppose a giant meteor threatens to wipe out the entire humanity. ‘We will prevail. Life will go on,’ he said in the movie, and as implausible and absurd as the circumstances seemed to be, we’re somehow inclined to believe him.

…..

Kevin Kline – William Harrison Mitchell in Dave (1993)

One minute Dave Kovic is just a regular guy who does uncanny impersonation, the next he’s in the same bedroom in the White house with the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver). Kline’s brand of mischievous humor is perfect for this role, and this scene where he sings the entire chorus of Anne in the middle of a traffic stop is a real hoot! Equally memorable in this flix is Frank Langella as Chief of Staff Bob Alexander. A decade and a half later, he scored an Oscar nomination playing a historical president Nixon in Frost/Nixon.

Apparently isn’t the only time he plays the prez, he played the role of the 18th US President Ulysses S. Grant in the Western action-comedy Wild Wild West with Will Smith.

Bill Pullman – Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day (1996)

Whitmore’s freedom speech is unabashedly mawkish, sure, but hey, if some giant aliens were about to annihilate the entire earth population, I think one’s allowed to get just a tad sentimental, no?

….….

Donald Moffat – President Bennett in Clear and Present Danger (1994)

The confrontation between President Bennett and an infuriated Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) in the Oval Office remains one of my fave scenes of the movie.
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The President:
How dare you come in here and lecture me!
Jack Ryan:
How dare *you*, sir!
The President:
How dare you come into this office and bark at me like some little junkyard dog? I am the President of the United States!

….
Of course my favorite line comes from the heroic CIA analyst himself after Bennett’s spiel on who gets punished for ‘Reciprocity’ (from IMDb quotes page): “I’m sorry, Mr. President, I don’t dance.” Bennett’s expression as Ryan walked out is priceless! The 80-year-old Brit has played a US president twice, the other time as historical prez Lyndon B. Johnson in The Right Stuff.


Hmmm, I just realized all of them on this list are from the 90s. It’s pure coincidence really, I guess I can’t really remember one memorable movie prez of the last decade. They all seem to be the daft caricatures: the doofus version Dennis Quaid played in American Dreamz, the sleazeball one in Love, Actually (Billy Bob Thornton), and Tim Robbins in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Any other movie president(s) stick out to you?

Random Thoughts: Today I Celebrate Being Alive

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Molly Ringwald and Michael Schoeffling in "Sixteen Candles"

Hello folks, the title of my post isn’t meant to be anything philosophical. It’s simple really, today is my birthday 🙂

I was hoping to post my Inglourious Basterds review but I didn’t have enough time to finish it, and I kind of want to watch Adaptation that just arrived from Netflix. I realize there aren’t too many movies about birthdays. The most famous one is probably Sixteen Candles, that 1984 John Hughes classic about a girl whose 16th birthday didn’t turn out to be exactly what she expected. I guess I can relate. Nearly a couple of decades ago, I lost my mother on exactly my 16th birthday. In fact, one minute I was in the kitchen cutting cakes to bring to school the next day (it’s a cultural tradition where I came from), and the next we’re in the emergency room. Suffice to say, there was no candles nor cake that day, let alone some cute boy like Michael Schoeffling sitting across from me 😦

In any case, now that I think about it, there was one flick about birthdays that I remember liking. It’s called The Game, directed by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club), about a wealthy businessman who gets a strange birthday present from his rebellious brother which turns out to be a live-action game that consumes his life. It starred Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, prior to his critically-acclaimed projects and Oscar win as he didn’t get top billing in the posters. If it had been released now, he’d surely be featured equally as Douglas.

Check out the trailer:

It’s a gripping mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat. One twist after another kept you guessing the entire time, it’s like a giant puzzle packaged in a nifty thrill ride. Sure, it’s got plot holes the size of Texas, but Fincher’s a gifted filmmaker that pulls you just so that you’re willing to suspend your disbelief. But beneath all the action and bizarre sequences, it carries a message about appreciating one’s life and that the best things in life money can’t buy. Not a bad birthday message, don’t you think?