“Ant-Man” Review

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SUMMARY: The film follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he bunks up with his cellmate Luis (Michael Pena) after he’s released from prison. After being fired from a minimum wage job due to his criminal record despite the fact he has a degree in electrical engineering, Lang decides to rob the home of inventor of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) but finds a suit instead that allows him to shrink to the size of an ant. Hank Pym hires Lang to break into his former company to steal back his research from the clutches of his former apprentice Darren Cross (Corey Stoll)

ANALYSIS: Paul Rudd is another addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s ever growing list of great leads. He provides the more comedic yin to Michael Douglas’s more dramatic yang. Rudd breathes life into the character of Scott Lang as a loveable rogue with a heart of gold. He may be a master thief but he also cares for his daughter. It’s nice to see Michael Douglas in another film considering he’s been ill for the last few years. Michael Pena is also great as the film’s main comedic relief. In my opinion, he deserves way more recognition for his performances.

Although his directing style is not as distinctive as Edgar Wright’s, Peyton Reed does a fine job in the director’s chair. As a director, he successfully combines comedy and action in this latest addition of Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s safe to say that Marvel fans have nothing to fear.

The visual element to this movie is outstanding. This film does a great job showing the environment from Scott Lang/Ant-Man’s perspective. It’s amazing how far CGI has come in recent years. This type of film would have been difficult to make even fifteen years ago. Not only that, the film has a unique action choreography thanks to having a superhero that can shrink to the size of an ant. The film uses these elements to its full advantage.

My main problem with the film is the main villain. He lacks subtlety so much, you can tell he’s the villain from a mile away. This is an unfortunate problem in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that affects even the best films in the franchise. This is in contrast to the great character development the ‘verse gives to its superheroes. The only interesting villain in the ‘verse is Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki as a sympathetic character (despite “Thor” being one of the weakest films in the entire franchise).

CONCLUSION: Despite the film’s shaky production that resulted in the resignation of Edgar Wright as director, “Ant-Man” is a fun action movie that has a lot of great comedic elements within it. It’s another great addition to the ever-growing list of films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

SCORE: 4.5/5

Regarding the Lafayette Shooting

As some of you may know, there was a shooting yesterday at the Grand 16 theater in Lafayette, Louisiana during a 7:30 screening of “Trainweck”. Unfortunately, two innocent moviegoers were killed in this heinous act. This was three days after the three-year anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting in which James Eagan Holmes killed twelve innocent people during a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises”. My heart goes out to the victims of this tragedy.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” Review

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SUMMARY: In this new entry of the Mad Max franchise, “Mad” Max Rockatanksy (Tom Hardy) helps Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and five brides escape from the clutches of cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) in the deserts of post-apocalyptic Australia.

ANALYSIS: In this age of oversaturated visual effects, director George Miller decides to go back to his roots in this installment of the Mad Max franchise. This includes using practical effects instead of CGI this time around. This decision may have been for the best as this is a well executed action film. I thought Kingsman: The Secret Service had the best action scenes of the year (the church scene stands out the most). I think that honor belongs to Fury Road at the moment thanks to its well-choreographed action scenes. Not only that, Fury Road also makes great use of its cinematography. The film uses its location so well, it becomes a character in itself. The film’s use of practical effects is a sight for sore eyes in this age of CGI. While many studios use (or overuse in this case) visual effects as a crutch for lackluster storytelling, Fury Road uses visual effects to enhance its storytelling.

While the action scenes are great, the movie has a great use of character development. Tom Hardy fits the role of “Mad” Max Rockatansky like a glove. Only time will tell if it’s iconic as Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the same character in the earlier movies. Hardy deserves more leading roles in my honest opinion. I’ve always admired Charlize Theron as an actress but her portrayal of Imperator Furiosa might be among her best roles. She has so much of a screen presence, it would have been her movie if “Mad Max” wasn’t in the title. Her character of Imperator is a very strong and well developed one with many layers besides being just a badass action girl. Not only are the two leads well developed but also the supporting characters as well. Fury Road’s emphasis on storytelling is what makes it a great film instead of just being a good one.

CONCLUSION: Not only is Fury Road just as good as its predecessors but also surpasses them in some ways. I’ve noticed that great writing is making a comeback not only in action movies but also in other genres as well. This is a trend I want to see in other movies.

SCORE: 4.5/5

“Jurassic World” Review

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SUMMARY: Taking place two decades after the events of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World has been operating successfully on the same island for nearly a decade. To remedy the problem of declining attendance, a new genetically modified dinosaur called the “indominus rex” has developed in order to attract more tourists. This proves to be a problem, however, after the dinosaur escapes from its enclosure and begins to attack anyone standing in its way.

ANALYSIS: I consider the first Jurassic Park to be a classic despite being just over two decades old. Despite being a huge summer blockbuster, it was also a great cautionary tale about the consequences of playing God with nature. Although The Lost World has its flaws, I thought it wasn’t that bad of a movie. The movie is like a fine wine, it gets better with age. I can’t say the same for Jurassic Park III. I see it as a shameless cash-in. How does Jurassic World compare to the previous movies?

Although the original Jurassic Park used mainly practical effects, it was lauded for its revolutionary use of CGI. What’s even more amazing is that the CGI still holds up two decades later. This film shows how far we’ve come in the development of CGI since then. While many blockbusters use CGI as a crutch instead of being used as a tool, this problem is nonexistent in Jurassic World. It’s refreshing that the franchise never lost its sense of wonder that was established in the first Jurassic Park.

Chris Pratt does fine in his portrayal of Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady despite not being as memorable as his previous roles in The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy respectively. I thought that the best actress in the movie was Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing, the head of operations of Jurassic World. Although I like her as an actress, she tends to be cast in otherwise bad films such as The Villager and Twilight: Eclipse. I hope this performance leads to better movies, she deserves it.

Although there are nods to the original Jurassic Park peppered throughout the entire duration of the movie (some are subtle…others not so), Jurassic World manages to work as a stand-alone movie in the franchise while retaining the message of the original. Although the story arcs intertwine nicely, some of the characters in this particular movie are one-note ones with very questionable dialogue.

OVERALL: Although it doesn’t compare to the original, Jurassic World is still a worthy addition to the Jurassic Park franchise. It’s still better than the average summer blockbuster.

SCORE: 4/5