Ant-Man

Up next is our take on Marvel’s next feature film, Ant-Man. Directed by Peyton Reed, and starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lily, this film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.

The next installment in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man, introduces us to Scott Lang (Rudd), an ex-con trying to care for his daughter. Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas), creator of a super suit called the Ant-Man suit, asks Lang to be his successor as the hero known as Ant-Man. Lang, at first reluctant, takes over the responsibilities, his first task fitting his niche: robbery.

7 out of 10

In recent years, American moviegoers have had urgent hunger pangs for comic book movies, and Marvel Studios is more than happy to serve move after action stuffed movie. Their recent release, Ant­Man, highlights the lesser known hero from his reintroduction into the world as an ex­-convict and eventually follows his journey to save the world. Scott Lang is the unassuming hero who teams up with scientist Henry Pym and uses Pym’s shrinking technology to become the Ant­-Man and avert imminent global destruction at the hands of insect sized weaponry.

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As all superhero movies carry out, the protagonist must become accustomed to his/her newly acquired powers and then fight overwhelming odds to save the world and their loved ones whom the villain has placed in mortal peril. From Spiderman to Iron Man, and finally to this latest installment, the same pathway of events dictates Marvel’s feature films and you would think we are all sick of the repetition. But the box office says otherwise­ and for that matter so do I. The painfully predictable screenplay is no new curveball, but how can any audience member be too critical of the entertaining action adventure flick? It has fist fights, high speed chases, guns, rockets, and explosions that blow up both the enemies and your mind. Only the most crotchety, grumpy, pouty old man would refuse to enjoy a fun movie like this one.

Marvel did a good job creating the miniature world of Ant­-Man; the enormous bathtub that Scott first finds himself was a fun perspective. Special effects and CGI animations certainly lent a hand towards the world of the insect sized hero as he runs through ant tunnels, ventilation shafts, and even keyholes. However some stunts in this movie were leaning towards being too ridiculous to appreciate, including the large, winged ant that became Scott’s trusty flying steed, and the clever but silly means of their breaking and entering that included titanic references and floating rafts built from ants. But when all said and done, Ant-­Man certainly boasted fun and exciting scenes; however, the humorous personality that Marvel wrote in was perhaps my favorite aspect of the movie.

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Similar to what I enjoyed in Guardians of the Galaxy, there was a slight carefree and self-teasing tone that Ant-­Man showcased; proof that director Peyton Reed was still willing to poke fun at the absurdity of a tiny hero. The A-list actors all brought along their own sense of light and dark humour, with Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Michael Douglas as the infamous and somewhat mysterious Henry Pym, and Corey Stoll playing Darren Cross, a brilliant but power obsessed scientist the main ANTagonist… (Heh). The whole cast partakes in the funny, sarcastic tone of the movie that brings a necessary and humorous air to the film. Douglas’s witty chides and ironic jokes towards the under qualified and overwhelmed Paul Rudd reminded the viewer of the silliness when the plot line began to intensify.

Ant­-Man is not my favorite superhero movie and it seems somewhat unjust to call it in itself a “great” movie, but the new take on a Marvel film does not go unappreciated. Good acting and funny interludes appropriately accented the insect hero movie, and although the plot could get tedious given the theme of ants, the action remained fun and engaging, while the slightly self-deprecating tone enables this feature to soar into the box offices and even into my happy  memories as a fun night out with friends.
~Simon

6 out of 10

Since the exhaustion of all superheroes is sadly (or not, depending on how you see it) within realm of possibility these days, Marvel is now tasked with taking some of the comics’ spacier ideas and crunching them down to realistic, bite-size editions for audiences.

A thunder god? No problem. A frozen Captain America from the 40’s? Sure thing. That weird team of space outcasts with the tree and the talking raccoon? Surprisingly, that one turned out fine.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

But they’ve hit a bit of a snag with “the guy who can shrink and talk to ants” it seems. It’s a tough sell. Marvel used to escape with less stupid than cool (The latter usually negates the former) but now Ant Man has presented a noticeable uptick in goofiness. By the time I walked out of this, I was shaking my head and confirmed the stupidity of it all with my friends,
in fact.

I was still laughing though and that counts for something. While there was a lot (and I mean a lot) of suspension of disbelief required, I can’t help but feel the movie’s aware of a lot of its ridiculousness and it toys with it from scene to scene. This is Marvel after all and it’s junk food. As long as you know you’re paying for junk food by now, you should be fine.

The sheer wackiness of Scott Lang (played by an A-game Paul Rudd) and his funsized misadventures is also galvanized by the Marvel Universe stuff that plays out in the background of the film. We’ve established Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are great at table setting and, voila, its larger story has become a safety net for any of the film at hand’s shortcomings (I can always leave one Marvel film excited for the next regardless of what the center stage character delivers). This is the beginning of the third wave (or “phase”) of the Marvel Universe and it’s the first to kick off without a major hero lead; for the most part, it does a solid enough job.

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There are also just some pretty cool, creative scenes where Rudd’s character learns the ropes of (nearly) being an Avenger. They definitely have fun with the shrinking and growing powers of his suit and, for what it’s worth, they do actually make some of the more outlandish powers easy to swallow and interesting.

The villain is pretty forgettable but over the top, goofy and fun enough (Same for the sideline characters). Villains do tend to be the soft spot for the dear MCU and Ant Man sadly isn’t an exception. It looks like Loki is gonna keep his throne as the best Marvel antagonist on the block for a while longer.

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Was this movie more evidence that Marvel is phoning in a formula of cheeky jokes and references to smooth over stupidity? Maybe but I’ve been anxious about that as a fan for a while now. I’m still not quite tired of it yet and neither is the viewing public it seems. People are starting to notice it though and that could maybe spell a bit of trouble for our superhero framers and their investors in a good few years.

(I still never tire of some good SHIELD drama though).
~Zach

Thoughts on… 2015!

Hey readers!

2014 was a great year for movies, both in action blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy and indie dramas like Nightcrawler, and in less than two months the Oscars will crown Hollywood’s best. Some of Screenwars favorite movies of the year include Whiplash, Nightcrawler, Captain America 2, Gone Girl, and Birdman. But as we ring in the new year, it’s time to look ahead and check Vig and Will’s seven most anticipated films of 2015. (because five wasn’t enough for Will)

Number 7

St. James Place
First, I’d like to briefly acknowledge the films that didn’t make it. Joy, Spectre, Mockingjay Part 2. All are movies I will definitely see, but just didn’t make the list. St. James Place, on the other hand, did make the list. With Tom Hanks leading, Stephen Spielberg directing, The Coen Brothers writing, and an incredibly interesting premise about a Cold War spy, what isn’t there to like about the film? It should definitely be in the running for the top awards in 2015.
Joy
Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, a struggling housewife turned entrepreneur, in this upcoming film from golden director David O. Russell. In recent years Russell has helmed such films as The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle, all character driven dramas with fantastic casts. And with Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro joining Lawrence here, Joy should prove to be one of 2015’s rousing successes.

Number 6

Ant-Man
Honestly, anticipation for Ant-Man may be a bit of a strong word. Nervous may be the better word. If Marvel is going to slip up anytime soon, it will probably be with Ant-Man. With creative differences endangering the film early on, it looked as though the film would be a disaster. Nevertheless, it recovered, and Paul Rudd, Michael Douglass, and Evangeline Lilly headline the hopefully successful final sequence of Marvel’s phase two.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II
Though Mockingjay Part 1 was a critical disappointment due largely to its dearth of action and tension, the second part of the Hunger Games’ final installment will hopefully be the action-packed finale we are all hoping for. Harry Potter arguably reached its greatest heights with the concluding Deathly Hallows Part 2 and given the unbelievable cast assembled for this new Hunger Games film, here’s to hoping we will see the same thing mirrored in Mockingjay. At the very least, teens will come out in droves for this one.

Number 5

Jurassic World
We have been witness to three Jurassic Park films, with only one of them being remotely good. Luckily for the series, the first one is a classic and its legacy is, for the most part, still in tact, still making 2015’s Jurassic World so heavily anticipated. Chris Pratt stars, hot off his breakout year with starring roles in The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, and will be sure to give this film the star power and comedic touch it needs. He will be supported by Bryce Dallas Howard and Jake Johnson in a movie that looks to bring relevance back to the Jurassic universe after two straight duds in the series. 
Inside Out
There were some fantastic animated films this year – most notably The Lego Movie, Big Hero 6, and How to Train Your Dragon 2—but we were robbed of the yearly Pixar feature. In Inside Out, we get a look at the inner working of the mind of a teenage girl and the emotions that battle for control of her head. Featuring the vocal talents of Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, and Lewis Black, all comedy stars, Inside Out will surely be a massive hit for all ages and a film that will contend for Academy Awards next year. We should expect nothing less from the creator of Monsters Inc. and Up.

Number 4

The Hateful Eight
This is tentatively put on here because after Tarantino’s outburst about the script leaking, who knows if this will actually come out this year. Regardless, this film looks to be great. Samuel Jackson and Quentin Tarantino always produce gold, from Pulp Fiction to Django Unchained. Channing Tatum, Bruce Dern, and Tim Roth join Jackson to give this film a superb cast, one that will give Tarantino plenty of talent to work with. The Hateful Eight, at least in concept, will continue Tarantino’s string of great films and perhaps be a contender for Best Picture. 
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers is the third-highest grossing film of all time, and I fully expect Age of Ultron to gross even higher, given the seemingly ever-increasing desire for superhero tent poles. Marvel studios has had a string of massive financial and critical successes, including Captain American: The Winter Solider and Guardians of the Galaxy and with Joss Whedon directing Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Hemsworth, look for Age of Ultron to be a critical success and the highest grossing film of the year, the decade, and maybe of all time.

Number 3

The Revenant
Could Leo finally get that Oscar? It looks possibly with The Revenant. The film is about fur trapper Hugh Glass, who is robbed and abandoned by his companions after being mauled by a bear. Surviving and out for vengeance, the film follows Glass, played by Dicaprio, on his quest for vengeance against his companions who left him to die. Directed by Alejandro Inarritu, coming off a hit in Birdman and starring DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Domnhall Gleeson, this film certainly has the star power to be great. Supported by an extremely interesting premise, watch for The Revenant in best picture discussions next year.
Spectre 
Spectre will be the 24th Bond movie and will ostensibly begin the exploration of the criminal organization that dominated the first – and the consensus best – Bond movies that starred Sean Connery. My major complaint with Skyfall was that it felt too much like a typical action film rather than the suave Bond films that we’ve been accustomed to, but with the throwback to the original films that we saw at the end of Skyfall, Spectre has the potential to be one of the best Bonds yet. Oh, and joining Daniel Craig and Ralph Fiennes will be Blue is the Warmest Color lead Lea Seydoux and Quentin Tarantino-favorite 2-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz.

Number 2

Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens
Of course this is on here, it was just a matter of whether it was first or not. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fanatic in the world, but the original trilogy is arguably the best series of all time. I wholeheartedly trust JJ Abrams with this film, who has directed two great Star Trek films and definitely has a great grasp on the sci-fi genre (he also built a replica of Millennium Falcon, so yay practical effects!). By the looks of the first trailer, Episode VII will not follow the path of prequels and disappoint us all.
The Hateful Eight 
Quentin Tarantino will make his return to the big screen with 2015’s The Hateful Eight. Tarantino’s story will feature two bounty hunters, betrayal, deception, and, knowing Tarantino, a massive amount of violence. Featuring Tarantino regulars Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth, the legendary Bruce Dern, and global superstar Channing Tatum, who just found his first fantastic dramatic role in Foxcatcher, The Hateful Eight will undoubtedly be one of the finest movies of the year and an almost definite Best Picture contender.

Number 1

Avengers: Age of Ulton
Drumroll please! The new Avengers is a hands down number 1 on this list. You all know my affection for superhero films, and with the Marvel Cinematic Universe rolling at full force, Age of Ultron looks to be one of the best Marvel films yet. Following perhaps Marvel’s best year yet, one that featured Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers 2 heralds a star-studded cast that adds Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen to the mix. Joss Whedon is also back at the helm directing what looks to be Marvel’s biggest film yet. The first trailer was sick, and the leaked details about storylines (CIVIL WAR!!!) regarding Marvel’s phase three only make this movie all the better, making it my most anticipated film of 2015.
Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens
Words can’t describe just how excited I am for this movie. Empire Strikes Back is one of my favorite films of all time, featuring fantastic characters, a compelling story, and groundbreaking visual effects. Despite the trilogy of prequels that did all they could to ruin the Star Wars legacy, with JJ. Abrams at the helm and Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, and Andy Serkis joining the original cast of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, I’m confident The Force Awakens will be more reminiscent of the original trilogy rather than the prequels. In a year full of sequels to blockbuster franchises, three of which are on this list, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is by far the most anticipated movie of 2015.

 

What movies are you most excited for in 2015? Let us know in the comment section below. Happy New Year!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and we want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. This week we’ll be tackling Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, sequel to 2004’s Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy. Directed by Adam McKay and starring Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Christina Applegate, it  is rated PG-13 for  sexual content, drug use, language and comic violence.

After leaving San Diego for New York, Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his wife, Veronica Corningstone (Applegate), lead great lives with their son Walter. However, when the boss (cameo by Harrison Ford) of the WBC decides to fire Ron and promote Veronica, Ron leaves his family and moves back to San Diego. He struggles for months on end until he is offered a job at the new 24 hours  a day news channel. After accepting the job and getting his news crew, Brian Fantanta (Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner), and Brick Tamland (Carell), back together, Ron changes broadcasting history forever, gaining immortal fame with this new job in New York. However, Ron encounters various problems he must overcome: his new rival Jack Lime (James Mardsen), a burning desire to beat Veronica, and his inability to connect with his son.

7 out of 10

Rating comedy movies such as this one is slightly different than rating a regular film. Judging it as a regular film is different than judging it as a comedy film. The rating I gave above is a rating of this film as a movie. However, in terms of a comedy, I would give this film a 9 or so. I did exactly what I wanted to do: laugh my ass off.

Whether or not you liked this movie may be heavily based on what you expected. If you expected a witty, smartly written movie, you may be slightly disappointed. If you were expecting a movie similar to the first one, you also may have been slightly disappointed. But if you just expected to laugh, then you’d definitely be pleased. Anchorman 2 is distinctly different than it’s predecessor. It is (somehow) more over the top, goofier, and stupider. It’s hard to hit it exactly the nose, but the tone felt different. The story and the characters  all had a different feel to them. This wasn’t a problem for me, but if you are someone who loved the first movie for that tone, then the change might be a bit of a bummer for you.

But as I said earlier, I laughed my ass off. This movie was so funny because of few things. 1) The acting and 2) The ridiculousness. You may ask how I can call this necessarily good acting, and that’s completely understandable. The cast won’t be winning any awards for their performances. Not to be cliched, but all these actors really become their character. Ferrell, Carell, Rudd, and Koechner really are a team and their actions and personalities are so whacky and really freaking hilarious.

The over-the-topness of it all also contributes to the hilarity of it all. The dialogue and the actions all tend to be… just weird, really. My favorite character is Brick Tamland, just because of how odd he is. The stuff that he says is so random, and so stupid, and as a result, it’s just so funny. I hope most of you remember “I love lamp” from the first film… Golden. Brick’s character is used even more prominently in this film, and it really works.

Another over the top, ridiculous scene is the fight scene towards the very end, when many A-List actors (Tina Fey, Sacha Baron Cohen, Liam Neeson) make cameos and at that point, it’s hard to figure out what is going on (but it’s still hilarious!!!). During this scene, I remembered asking myself what the hell I was watching. After digesting it, I’m still not sure, but all I know is that it was definitely one of the more entertaining films I’ve seen.

In the end, I’m giving it a 7 based on how it is as a film. It’s hardly a film that appeals to everyone, and it’s a style of comedy that you really have to be okay with in order to like the film. If you don’t like random humor, then this is not the film for you. Personally, I found it to be one of the funnier movies of the year and something that I really enjoyed watching.

8 out of 10

Comedy’s a pretty tough thing to do.

So far, I think this blog has really gone over drama and action. When making both of these types of these films, you’re usually playing one note (That’s certainly not terribly easy either). Comedy, however, has about a billion subtypes you can go into, each of which have their own fans and haters.

Anchorman, thankfully, played to a lot of those types. It’s a random, witty, and satirical masterpiece that eased its way from one-liner to one-liner thus weaving the entire movie into one ball of comedic quotables. In middle school, I couldn’t go a couple of months without hearing somebody, beaming with originality, saying “Stay classy ______” on the morning show. Aside from that, Anchorman doesn’t really have a plot. In fact, I don’t think I could give you a completely accurate summary whatsoever. And that’s what makes it so great.

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Comedy sequels, to say the least, do not have that hot of a track record. Typically, they turn out to be a re-tread of old jokes (That may have not been that funny in the first place) that the writers think are original just because more money was injected into them and they were “cranked up to eleven”.

Anchorman 2, however, takes a different direction than its predecessor in that it has a bit more of a plot (Emphasis on the “a bit” here) and it extentuates some of its characters. It sacrifices some of its talent with one-liners for some more broad and generally direct jokes (To be honest, I can’t quite quote that much off-hand).

But, to me, it was really worth it. It was an extremely satisfying tackle of 24-hour news (Without spoiling, Burgundy has some ideas which resemble the strategies of a few certain networks) coupled with a barrage of randomness and visual gags that I really appreciated.

If you are not into that type of humor in the first place (This seems like a poor choice for you then, doesn’t it?) then its going to be a long, tortuous ride for you. Thankfully, there may be enough zingers to keep you interested.

But whether you like it or you don’t, you must admire that it is trying something new. Anchorman barely references or echoes any of the jokes from the first and, if anything, that helps raise it to the level of the original. It had enough material from its predecessor that it could have Hangover 2’d this entire film but this was in no way lazy endeavor.

IMDB: 6.4
Metacritic: 61
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%