Review: Ant-Man

Director: Peyton Reed (Bring it On, The Break-Up, Down with Love, Yes Man)
Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Producers: Kevin Feige
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Peña
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 117 min.

 

 

My original posting of this review can be found on LetterBoxd

 


One thing a superhero movie, or any blockbuster, should never be is boring. Unfortunately, that’s the quickest criticism I would make of Ant-Man, which out of everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe should have had the uniqueness to avoid that description the most. At this point in the game, being the 12th film in the franchise and the closer of their Phase Two, it’s no surprise that Ant-Man follows the Marvel formula from start to finish, but Guardians of the Galaxy just last year showed that you can be on the MCU factory line and still bring a flesh flavor to the mix that excites more often than it succumbs to tedium. Even with the much-discussed departure of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, this film had all the potential to be the quirky and charismatic jolt of energy that the franchise needed to stave off the fatigue it’s been plagued with increasingly the past few years of dolling out one overfamiliar entry after the next. Director Peyton Reed comes from a unique line of comedies, Anchorman director Adam McKay worked on a new draft of the script and right alongside him was star Paul Rudd, an unconventional and exciting choice to lead a big superhero extravaganza. So why did Ant-Man turn out so dull?

Maybe it was the tired plot, as Marvel’s patented routine of bland, one-dimensional, practically non-existent villains sees its newest member in the form of Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross, saddling a very talented actor with a character who doesn’t even warrant a second glance. The moment you meet this guy there’s no real sense of threat to him, so instead you sit back and wait for whatever is going to happen to wash him away so he can join Malekith and Ivan Vanko in the annals of nobodies. Cross got his feelings hurt when his mentor, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), wouldn’t share his big secrets with him so instead he spent decades trying to create what Pym did in order to…. um…. uh….. revenge…. or….. ? Well how about this, how about Pym’s sad story about his deceased wife leading him to neglect his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who now works for Cross but goes back to her father for help when she discovers what he’s going to do with this dangerous new technology. You see, the whole relationship is built around the fact that Pym has been hiding the truth of what happened to Hope’s mother and there’s this really big emotional moment where he finally tells her, letting her know that he hid it all these years, ruining his relationship with his only child and causing her to abandon him, because…. um…. crap…. well…. the movie needed an emotional scene?

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 337 – Hand on the Tiller

Another week another episode of quality TV. Quality of course being an understatement as we bask in the best television (and Matthew McConaughey) has to offer in “True Detective.” With nothing playing in the January mutliplexes, we time travel back 30 years to continue The 1984 Project. Sitting around the marijuana campfire, we lament the demise of The Doobie Brothers, drink full bottles of Jose Cuervo and bask in the Jungle and Lite-Jazz adventure that is Romancing the Stone. The Watch List this week is brief with Joe Dante and Ken Burns. And just for fun, there is a very quick Top 5 list in the mix. No time for the ol’ in and out, we’re just here to read the meter.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


show content


show content


show content

 


 

[mp3player width=560 height=76 config=cinecast.xml file=http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_14/episode_337.mp3] DOWNLOAD mp3 | 68 MB
if player is not working, try alternate player at bottom of this post

 

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

New Trailer for Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra”

This is Soderbergh so I’m already sold on seeing this last picture of his (as I’m sure many among us are). As such, I haven’t actually bothered to watch the trailer embedded below but for those that are maybe on the fence, take a gander at Michael Douglas (Liberace) and Matt Damon (Scott Thorson) doing their “way too gay for Hollywood” thing under the direction of master film maker Steven Soderbergh. I’m sure it’s very sparkly!

If you’re not already subscribed to HBO, you might want to get on that soon as Behind the Candelabra airs Sunday, May 26th at 9pm.

Blindspotting: Moonstruck and Fatal Attraction

BlindSpotMoonstruck6

.
The year was 1987. It was a tumultuous time…A breathless population tried to come to terms with the loss of Shelly Long from Cheers while simultaneously trying to choose sides in the great “Debbie Gibson or Tiffany?” debate. Fortunately Spuds Mackenzie and the announcement of Euro Disney were there to quell the public’s fears (not to mention the arrival of Prozac).

Side note: there was also the premiere of a little upstart cartoon series called The Simpsons which created an industry of people quoting and borrowing humourous ideas from it – something which continues today unabated.

BlindSpotFatalAttraction4
BlindSpotMoonstruck5

In the movie houses, adultery was on the minds of the American film-goer as two of the year’s biggest releases used it as a central theme. Both Fatal Attraction and Moonstruck had characters cheating on their spouses (and almost-spouses) with varying degrees of consequences – none of which appeared to be lasting. Through different approaches and styles (one a sharply written comedy/drama, the other a consistently paced thriller), they each seem to end up at the same conclusion: infidelities certainly can’t be swept away, but don’t worry since you’ll be forgiven. Since Moonstruck’s main arc really deals with two suffocating people who stumble into each other (and subsequently allow each other to blossom), that’s likely not the fairest assessment of the film. But I’ll get to that later.

The story opens on Loretta (played by Cher), a tax accountant who seems to have the market cornered on frumpy. She’s unsure about the marriage proposal she’s just received from Johnny (Danny Aiello) because she’s had bad luck before – in fact, very bad luck since her previous husband was killed by a bus. Now she insists that everything be done just right including the actual proposal (she even makes Johnny do it all over again by getting down formally on one knee in the restaurant). When he tells her he has to fly to Italy for his dying mother, her biggest concern seems to be that they set an official date for the wedding. She doesn’t actually want or need him to help, but just agree to the date since all he’ll have to do is show up. It’s quickly established that Loretta isn’t exactly passionately in love with Johnny and even tells her mother (played in Oscar-winning form by Olympia Dukakis) that she doesn’t love him. Her Mom’s response of “Good, when you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can” sets up the issues she has with her own husband (Vincent Gardenia in a possibly too spot-on casting choice). But back to Loretta for the moment…

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 184 – Death Lottery

 
The 4 hour barrier is broken as The Documentary Blog’s Jay Cheel joins Kurt and Andrew on the longest Cinecast ever – you know it is even longer than the previous epic length TIFF show. What do we talk about? For starters, Kurt & Jay examine the Let The Right One In remake, Let Me In (*SPOILERS*), in painstaking detail, and how not to process American remakes of foreign language films. Next we move along for a solid hour on Never Let Me Go (*SPOILERS*) which keeps going on the vibe of comparing source material to eventual film adaptation and why you probably should not do that. More Carey Mulligan talk as Andrew skims and sums up Wall Street 2 with out spoilers. Then, a spoiler-free discussion on Catfish follows, although only Jay caught it, so it is more of a discussion on fake/faux-Documentaries, and ‘narrative-ethics’ which leads to more more talk on I’m Still Here, with a little Last Exorcism and The Blair Witch Project to round things out. Next we move along to the avant garde and barely-narrative Cannes Palme D’Or winner, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and a lot of other films we watched: An overview of the “Middletown” documentary series, a bit of Daybreakers-Redux, a bit of Season 6 of “LOST” (you guessed it, with *SPOILERS*), and more avant garde cinema with Last Year At Marienbad. We also debate the finer points of Steve Buscemi and the cast and crew of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.” Finally (finally!) at around the 4 hour mark, our DVD picks round out a show that carried us well into the wee hours of the night recording. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed chatting. It may be long, but it is a solid and whip-smart show this time around, although we are biased on that front.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!

 
 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_184.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_10/episode_184-alt.mp3


 
Full show notes are under the seats…
Would you like to know more…?

Wall Street 2 International Trailer

 

I still have trouble with Shia LaBeouf in the principle role, but I must say that with each subsequent bit of marketing, the 20 years on Wall Street sequel is looking better and better. With the Rolling Stones featuring heavily on this trailers soundtrack, it seems (just a bit) that Oliver Stone is taking a page out of the Scorsese playbook.

“I once said, greed is good. Now, it seems it is legal.”

Despite being one of the centerpieces of the first trailer, it remains a knock out line and probably should be on the poster. Michael Douglas is clearly reveling in one of his more well known rolls. When are we going to get Romancing The Stone 3?

The International trailer for “Money Never Sleeps” is tucked under the seat.

Would you like to know more…?

Soderbergh’s Liberace Biopic Forges Ahead

LiberaceIt feels like I need a tracking spreadsheet dedicated to Steven Soderbergh. To say the man is busy is an understatement; he’s downright prolific and though some projects are falling through the cracks, others are just getting started.

We already know that his next project is the martial arts actioner Knockout but it looks like Soderbergh will follow that up with the previously announced Liberace, a biopic about the famed performer.

According to Collider, Soderbergh recently told a French newspaper that they had already done wardrobe and costume tests with Michael Douglas who will play the titular role of Liberace. Matt Damon is also signed on to the picture in the role of Scott Thorson, Liberace’s longtime companion.

Soderbergh insists that Douglas “amazed” him though I still can’t see the actor portraying the role of the flamboyant performer. Could this be a possible run at Oscar for Douglas? Sure sounds promising.

Economy Rules Supreme: Wall Street 2 & Atwood Coming to Big Screen

Wall Street Movie StillWhat better way to revive the economy than with a couple of movies about the problem? Granted, one of these is likely to make more money than the other but I’m willing to bet that the little film will be the more poignant of the two.

In recently announced news, Oliver Stone has, after much discussion (and likely concession considering that earlier this year he dropped out of the sequel he has just agreed to) signed on to direct a sequel to the popular Wall Street. It looks like Michael Douglas will be reprising the role of all business no heart money maker Gordon Gekko while Spielberg fave Shia LaBeouf is in talks to star as a young trader. I like Stone and I don’t so much mind that he’s re-treading old ground but it’ll be interesting to see what he does with Gekko 20 years later. This is likely to be inflammatory and rub a whole lot of people the wrong way. Go Stone!

In only mildly related news, the National Film Board (NFB) has picked up the rights to Margaret Atwood’s “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth”, a collection of essays which was originally presented at the Massey Lectures. I’ve yet to read the collection but apparently it’s a look at debt through “personal reminiscences, literary walkabout, moral preachment, timely political argument, economic history”. We are talking about the NFB here so I would not be surprised to see an innovative approach to the material.

Wonder what’s next. Maybe a Boiler Room sequel?