“You Can Do It. You Can Do Anything. You’re The World’s Greatest Grandma…”
Tasked with being the first Marvel release to follow on from the universally accepted awesomeness of Avengers: Infinity War, Peyton Reed’s second instalment of Scott Lang/Ant-Man’s own MCU journey hits cinemas this week, reuniting audiences with a large proportion of characters from 2015’s excellent origin story as it delves deeper into the notion of the quantum realm and the hopeful return of Michelle Pfeiffer’s (mother!) Janet van Dyne, the original embodiment of The Wasp who was lost many years ago in order to save the world from nuclear disaster. With a zippy pace and a childish playfulness which parallels completely with the two preceding Marvel releases within 2018, Ant-Man and the Wasp undoubtedly falls into the MCU category of “great fun but not particularly necessary” alongside previous examples such as Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming, and whilst come the closing credits Reed’s movie falls down under the weight of much better entries within the ever-expanding Marvel Universe, the razor-sharp comedy and fundamentally likeable characters at the heart of the drama all succeed in making Ant-Man and the Wasp a thoroughly enjoyable throwaway superhero ride.
With the Bond-esque sensibility of Black Panther and the gargantuan epic space opera of Infinity War proving to be two of the strongest entries within the MCU so far, it’s fair to say that Reed’s latest follows closest to that of a down-and-out comedy, one which stays well away from the R-rated expletives of Deadpool to keep within the remit of 12A rated family friendliness, but also one which feels comfortable poking fun at not only its’ titular character’s fundamental absurdity but the genre itself, with a bundle of well constructed gags eager to please casual and die-hard MCU fans alike. With each of the primary cast all thoroughly enjoying themselves, the dryness of Michael Douglas’ aged Hank Pym mixed in with the brilliance of a Paul Rudd who seems to have been born for the leading role offers the chance for constant giggles, a feat not undone when the movie switches to a more dramatic tone in order to introduce not one, but two leading villains in the form of Hannah John-Karmen’s (Ready Player One) Ghost and Walton Goggins’ (The Hateful Eight) excellent arms-dealing criminal, Sonny Burch. With the action and spectacle offering a much more expansive usage of the shrinking technology utilised by the movies’ heroes, a concluding car chase wraps the film up nicely, leaving the tone of the film within the up-beast positivity in which it began, and even with a post-credits sequence which ties into the mould of the universe set up within Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an MCU movie which is undoubtedly great fun, but one which too feels oddly irrelevant considering the dramatic turn the franchise has taken in wait for next year’s concluding arc to the MCU as we know it.
Overall Score: 7/10
DAN – With the release of Peyton Reed’s Ant Man this week, the mammoth of a machine that is Marvel continues to ever-grow and seemingly swallow everything in its’ path, regardless of the competition at hand. With Comic Con last week seemingly handing the hype trophy over to DC due in part to the explosion of Batman and TV related goodness, cast interviews and movie trailers, particularly that of the eagerly anticipated Suicide Squad, it seems obvious that DC are staging an attempt to sway the Marvel machine off its’ course for the time being even though they still hold the award for best comic-related movie ever in the form of The Dark Knight. So with DC winning the hype-race at Comic Con, Marvel have seemingly decided to take a seat back from the fire-fight for the time being and allow us to revel in the formation of a new Avenger in the form of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, the incarcerated criminal who unwillingly undertakes the role of Ant Man under the guidance of Micheal Douglas’s Hank Pym, a retired former S.H.I.E.L.D agent who had once previously been the occupier of the famous Ant Man suit. Where before Marvel films have seemed to undertake a very similar, formulaic layout, Ant Man points more towards the spectrum of Guardians of the Galaxy, particularly in terms of its’ high comedic value, something of which makes Ant Man one of the most enjoyable Marvel entries so far, and ultimately concludes Phase Two of the MCU in a rather cool and collective fashion.
The entire reason for why Guardians of the Galaxy succeeded so well last year was the unexpected turn it took from the rather similar and over-used Marvel film blueprint for almost all entries in the MCU up to its’ release, with it combining a underlying comedic element and self-mockery to the fundamental questionable concept of a team of heroes that combined a tree and a talking raccoon. Add in a scorching soundtrack and a well-chosen cast, Guardians of the Galaxy truly was one of the highlights of last year, let alone in its’ own expandable universe, and Ant Man swiftly follows suit by once again being another Marvel related success which combines a huge riff of comedy, due in part to the influence of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish who left half-way through production, and a wonderful cast, strongly spearheaded by the one-two of both Rudd and Douglas. Compared to the spectacle of most MCU-related movies, it was actually quite refreshing to see Ant Man take more of a low-key approach, with the action only really taking place in the final act of the film after some interesting and highly enjoyable character development in the first two-thirds, with scenes in which the miniaturisation was used in a hugely comical manner being one of the many highlights of the film.
Other highlights of the film included Ant Man’s accidental meeting with a fully-formed Avenger and the way the film included Easter Eggs and references to the MCU, particularly its’ attempt to signify its’ move away from the Avengers with Pym’s statement of them being busy “toppling a city somewhere”, rather tongue-in-cheek at the destruction caused in Age of Ultron. Such levels of destruction thankfully cannot be attributed to Ant Man however with the biggest moment of chaos being caused by an enlargement of Thomas the Tank Engine in a scene with produced chuckles from the entire screening audience. In terms of the problems, Ant Man does seem to bear resemblance to Guardians a bit too much resulting in a lack of freshness from Marvel’s POV, particularly when the latter was only released last year, whilst the plot thread of the Quantum Realm seemed a bit too rushed and jack-hammered in to be truly interesting. All in all however, Ant Man succeeds in being a rather entertaining and much welcomed entry into the MCU, and in my opinion beats Age of Ultron for best Marvel film so far this year. Up next, Fantastic Four. What a time to be alive.
Dan’s Score: 8/10
PETE – Dan has hit the nail on the head. Ant-Man was another one of the MCU’s films that honestly looked a bit naff. The trailers were lacking and it felt like the whole movie was pretty much summed up within them, yet like Guardians of the Galaxy, it was a huge surprise. The journey of an ex-con turned superhero was fantastic. Instead of dropping you into a story with characters who know their powers, their limits and strengths, we actually see a someone become a hero who doesn’t have infinite wealth or training to begin with.
The story was great fun. Ant-Man always seemed a but dull to me but Marvel have the uncanny ability to create characters that are so likeable and fun that make me want to run down to the comic store and dig into the back catalogue for a little more. Now as I haven’t seen anything involving Ant-Man, I can only say that I enjoyed the portrayal I saw, whether it is accurate or not. Paul Rudd simply doesn’t age and I’m sure for many years to come we could see him playing this role because he was great fun. His comedic wrap sheet means that he can execute lines on a whim and be extremely convincing doing so. Its the character that he can embody. Yet, considering Ant-Man is supposed to have a master degree, we really don’t see much about this at all but hopefully we can see it in his next outing.
It makes me wonder how people become evil in the Marvel world. The claims of righteous acts aren’t enough to justify it for me. When you watch a massive city/town lifted into the sky and the Avengers destroying this giant threat, why would you honestly think that your squishy body has any sort of chance. The ending for said villain was rather quick and honestly it felt a little rushed. The sequence was fantastic fun but it was to short compared to the entirety of the movie but nevertheless, it isn’t the typical way we see Marvel villains go and is rather liberating to see it so.
Marvel are great when it comes to visuals but it does feel as if Ant-Man’s budget was a little smaller in the CGI department as all the backgrounds in the miniature scenes lacked fidelity as looked very fuzzy. As for the rest, the ants look awesome and the giant scenes tended to uphold the general trend set by Marvel. The music was on point and the action was explosive and funny all at once. Is it better than Guardians? No. Is it worth your time? Hell yes. Its great and I really can’t wait until he makes an appearance in other instalments and we get a lot more cameos. PS – That SHIELD cameo was pretty damn epic! 8/10!
Overall Score – 8/10
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Moving on to the actual meat of this post. Finally, after a year, the next instalment in The Hobbit series has finally arrived. Pumped up with the exciting news of Legolas coming back and busting some Orc butts, I was thoroughly prepared for moments of badassery and witty commentary. However, that is for a little later. My hopes were high for this movie. I have even put off releasing a “Top 5 of 2013” list until this was released. Unfortunately, it was a wise decision. My expectations had clouded me and left me grasping for more meat on the apparently succulent bones.
Getting right too it, one of my annoyances was the year gap between the movies. If you don’t have the time to re-watch the previous films in a series, it’s no easy feat to remember where exactly it all left off. But ignoring this fact, it is very easy to get into the swing of things when the travellers didn’t actually get very far. Considering that the story is no considerable difference in the movie apart from them FINALLY making it to the mountain of the Dwarven kingdom and the introduction of a few new characters.
The new/returning characters are really good to see. They hold enough screen time to really illustrate their stories and build upon their roles. Hopefully, it will continue into the next instalment as some characters were unfortunately lost in the mix and easily forgotten when you’re jumping from 4 or 5 different locations. My personal favourite from the Lord Of The Rings series is and will always be Legolas. He is wise, courageous and generous to those around it. Surprisingly, he holds more of a grudge on the outside world and orcs. Appearing distasteful at the thought of dealing with matters that do not concern his people. Coldly indifferent and yet struck by love for Tauriel, of which she is not permitted to react to by his fathers orders.
The elements really do show a much darker side to him. Something a little more raw and interesting, especially when moments refer to Gimli (Having not met until the Fellowship of the Ring, Legolas makes a joke about one of the dwarves son who is Gimli!). Now obviously, Legolas is not at the forefront of the movie, although he is a bit of a gimmick to draw in more sales, we do see this for other characters. Smaug; the giant ass dragon that is reputedly voiced by none other than Cumberbatch. I use the term reputedly for many reasons, one being that they did so much work to his voice, it sounded NOTHING like him. Genuinely, I couldn’t tell it was him. If I had to pick out of a list, I would have picked the hulking great big dude with the awesome moustache, not the lanky, fairly intelligent (I presume) Mr Cumberbatch with the face of a babies ass. Ben, as I shall now call him, also voiced the Necromancer, who also sounded nothing like him! Once again, as we see with Legolas, he is very much a tool to draw in money to fund Peter Jackson’s need for overpriced cameras.
On the topic of overpriced cameras, which I would like but can’t afford but would kindly take to any offer that chooses to come my way, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU USING GO PRO’S!? I shit you not, a sequence which involves a lot of water, some barrels and general chaos was plagued by disgusting shots that dives under the surface with a lacking resolution and quality compared to the rest of the entire film! A big budget movie can afford something far more advanced than a GoPro. Don’t let a boy do a man’s job. I’m also incredibly shocked by a lot of the CGI. At points, it was saddening to watch. Nothing fit into place and never reflected the light and surrounding effectively, thus making them obscure and vividly annoying. It’s easy pickings but could have been avoided easily. It’s almost as if they handed me a fish on a silver platter and begged me to slap them with it because they have some kinky fetish. The rest of the footage was half decent and the CGI that went into Smaug was fairly impressive. Shame it was never transferred equally.
Now to the cast! We have a really big range of stars that perform their roles brilliantly. No qualms can be brought against them. Although he held little screen time, Luke Evans (Bard/Giroin) was a possible favourite of mine. He maintains an air of mystery that I hope is explored in the next film. Stephen Fry pops in for a short role, completely juxtaposed to the Fry we know and love. A pig of a man, driven by greed with an unkempt moustache and wardrobe to boot. It’s great to see him play someone vile for a change compared to the typically nutty guy who is always on the good side. According to IMDB, even Stephen Colbert made an appearance as is rumoured for the next film too.
The question to be asked about the Lord Of The Rings franchise is what draws us too it? The magical world?, an exciting story?, or just pure action? Personally, I feel it’s always been the perfect combination between all points and the action was always something that excited me. Vast battlefields and skirmishes across middle earth. The brilliantly choreographed fights that built upon elements of light hearted humour in a dark world in some of the most aggressive wars. We still have elements of the epic fights and action with the comic relief within them but we also have to deal with much slower action. The cause, blame and my hatred falls upon 3D. Because fast images in 3D will cause motion sickness and can’t be viewed easily, the scenes have to be longer to counter this issue. This also causes another issue. I prefer 2D. I tend to despise gimmicks and my beloved Hobbit has been tainted by it, marginalising those who watch it in 2D who notice the loss in pace.
Finally, one last point. If another movie ends with a cliff hanger as big as this, then demands we wait a year until the next part, I may have to sue for emotional compensation. I think my overall score for it will be a 7/10. I didn’t want to be so brutal but I can’t agree with the IMDB public vote on this one. There were too many issues for me to simply ignore.
So, yeah. Tell me what you thought of it in the comment section and if you could subscribe or share this about, it would be much appreciated!