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Cinema Dispatch: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Ant-Man and the Wasp and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Peyton Reed

The first Ant-Man is easily one of my favorite Marvel films and has always felt like an outlier in the MCU because (incoming pun VERY much intended) it knew the value of going small.  The fate of the world wasn’t at stake, it didn’t involve Gods, Kings, or vast armies of convenient cannon fodder; rather it was a heist film about a guy who basically just needed a job and got wrapped up in a while bunch of sci-fi nonsense!  It was fun, it was light, and it didn’t have the weight of a dozen other films dragging it down which, given my lukewarm reception to the more recent BIG TEAM UP MOVIES, is just the kind of Marvel film I could really use right about now.  Seriously, I couldn’t IMAGINE a better time to make a goofy palate cleanser than in the wake of Infinity Bore which I’m STILL feeling rather grumpy about and could certainly use something like this to take my mind off of it.  Does this manage to be the perfect antidote to the overly serious and bombastic Avengers film that preceded it, or does the specter of that film loom large enough over the MCU that even THIS series cannot escape from its massive shadow?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins in that period between Civil War and Infinity War where The Avengers are basically split up but no one is all that freaked out about it.  Spider-Man is doing his thing on the East Coast, Black Panther is dealing with his kingly duties in Wakanda, and it turns out that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been doing… nothing.  Yeah, it turns out that after helping Captain America in Civil War and taking a plea deal with the US government, he’s under house arrest and hasn’t been doing his Ant-Man thing in a while; especially since the Sokovia Accords (ugh…) have an odd stipulation that the people who MADE the tech he used are JUST as responsible as he is and need to face similar punishments.  Well jeez, I kinda wish we ACTUALLY had that with gun manufacturers, but what it means here is that Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne (Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly) are on the run and decidedly not talking to Scott for putting them in this situation in the first place… not that they could considering he’s under house arrest.  Jeez, kind of a downer way to start the movie, BUT things get better once Scott starts having night terrors about the Quantum Realm and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is the mother of Hope and the wife of Hank, and manages to get this message to those two who swiftly kidnap him MERE DAYS BEFORE HIS HOUSE ARREST IS UP!  It turns out that the two of them have been continuing their research while running from the law (pretty easy to do when you have the ability to shrink) and they’re VERY close to making a tunnel to the Quantum Realm (that place you go to if you shrink TOO SMALL and where Janet ended up after doing so on a mission) but apparently Scott has some connection to it and potentially to Janet due to him somehow escaping it in the first film.  Okay, so Scott helps them with the Tunnel and with any clues he may have about Janet from his dreams, and then they just drop him off at his house before the cops realize he’s gone!  Easy enough, right!?  Well… not exactly.  Throw in some wannabe gangsters looking to snag their research for profit (led by professional scumbag Walton Goggins), a mysterious woman who has bad ass phasing powers (Hanna John-Kamen) trying to steal their research for reasons OTHER than profit, and all of a sudden it looks like Scott might end up going to jail for twenty years because he got caught up in some giant caper yet again and could get caught out of the house at any moment by FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) who is just itching to put him away for good!  Can Scott, Hope, and Hank find out what happened to Janet and maybe save her from the Quantum Realm?  What exactly is the mystery phasing lady after, and just how far will she go to get her hands on their research?  When they get that glove away from Thanos, can we use the Time Stone to go back and make EVERY Marvel movie about Ant-Man and The Wasp?

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“Captain Ant-merica!  Guardians of the Colony!  Thor; Ragna-wasp!”     “Yeah, I’m sure Paul Feig is gonna put those on a marque.”     “Well you won’t know until you ask him!”

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Cinema Dispatch: John Wick: Chapter 2

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John Wick: Chapter 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment

Directed by Chad Stahelski

WOO!!!  JOHN WICK IS BACK!!  Now I wasn’t as over the moon as some people were with that first movie (), but I am never the less EXTREMELY excited to see what Keanu Reeves has up his sleeve in the sequel!  True, sequels to unexpected hits are almost universally terrible (*cough* Highlander 2, The Hangover 2, Taken 2 *cough*), but there’s not a whole lot of ways to screw up a formula like this; especially when what made it work the first time around was well choreographed and expertly shot action scenes; two things that Keanu Reeves and the returning director seem to prize above all else.  Can this manage to be as exceptional as the man himself and ACTUALLY be a good sequel, or has the air gone out of this series the same way the Matrix did when we got ITS sequels?  Let’s find out!!

The movie picks up RIGHT where the last one left off, namely with John Wick (Keanu Reeves) finishing off what remains of the Russian mob (his injuries have healed rather nicely considering how close he was to dying at the end of the last film) and getting his car back.  Of course, because of how much noise he made doing so, he gets a visit from a former associate who wants him to do a favor despite his insistence that he’s FINALLY going to retire.  This turns out to be a VERY bad move as the associate Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) then blows up his fucking house because of this.  Doesn’t kill the dog though!  No, he makes to the end!  Anyway, apparently Santino has a Marker with John which supposedly makes all of this make sense (spoiler alert: it doesn’t) as a Marker is essentially a blood oath where one party owes the other a one-time request that they MUST do or else… I don’t know, they die?  I mean, good luck finding someone to kill John Wick!  Hell, if that was even an option, why don’t you send THAT person to do the job for you!?  Well no one was asking for my opinion when they were writing this, so John takes the job, executes his target, and THAT’S when things go to hell as the target’s bodyguard Cassian (Common) was  an old friend but now a SWORN MORTAL ENEMY, and Santino betrays John and tries to have him killed.  I totally didn’t see that coming, especially when HIS bodyguard Ares is played by Ruby Rose and was giving John dirty looks throughout the first act (angry dirty; not sexy dirty).  So now he’s got Cassian on his ass, Santino trying to kill him, and oh yeah A SHIT TON OF OTHER ASSASSINS as Santino has ALSO put a hit on him just for good measure.  Will John be able to kill his way to Santino and finally get his retirement once and for all?  Well… PROBABLY considering how good he is at head shots, but does Santino plan to keep John JUST out of arm’s reach?  Who can John trust now that there’s a huge bounty on his head and hit men are coming out the wood work for his very valuable head?   How many suits does this guy go through on a daily basis!?

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Trick question.  Anything John touches is automatically bulletproof.

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Cinema Dispatch: Passengers

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Passengers and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Morten Tyldum

I’ve started watching Parks and Recreations recently and seeing Chris Pratt in that film has started to color my perceptions of him as a leading man.  Sure, Guardians of the Galaxy still holds up as he’s still playing up to his comedic strengths, but every time I see the poster for this movie with him and Jennifer Lawrence blandly starring back with their chiseled Hollywood looks, it’s just gotten harder to take that seriously when all I can think of Burt Macklin: The best FBI agent ever!  Still, the guy does have a HUGE amount of talent and more than enough charisma to carry a movie, so maybe he’s the right fit to bring some humanity to this kind of science fiction story and can hold his own against an actress of Jennifer Lawrence’s caliber.  Does Passengers manage to give us a compelling story anchored by two great performances from some of the most bankable names in the business right now, or is this a giant misstep that will be stain on their relatively strong careers up to this point?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with everyone’s favorite member of Mouse Rat in a giant space mall that’s hurtling through the galaxy at a preposterous rate but still too slow for anyone to if they had to manually control the damn thing.  That’s why the ship is on autopilot and presumptive hero Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) along with the other five thousand people on this ship are in hibernation pods and riding out this long journey to the new space colony on Homestead II.  Unfortunately for Starlord, there’s some malfunction that wakes his ass, and ONLY his ass, before everyone else with no way to go back to sleep and is trapped alone on this space ship for the next ninety years.  At first it’s not all bad considering he sort of has the run of the place which is full of video games, movies, and sushi, and he even has a friendly robotic bartender (Michael Sheen) to air his grievances at.  Eventually though, he manages to taste every variation on the tuna roll, got the high score in the latest instalment of Just Dance, and manages to drink half the ship’s wine cellar within about a year, so doing this for another 89 of them isn’t all that appealing.  He basically has two options at this point; kill himself or wake someone else up to keep him company.  Well we wouldn’t really have a movie if they went with the former (that actually would be a pretty awesome short film) so he JUST SO HAPPENS to fixate on a writer named Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) and eventually cracks open her hibernation pod and pretends it was an accident just like his was.  Will she be able to fill the silence that has driven him to the brink of madness and give a reason to live once again?  What could he possibly do to make up for essentially kidnapping her and ruining her life as she’s doomed to suffer the same fate as him, and what will happen when she finds out the truth?  Well there IS an airlock.  I’m pretty sure she could have some fun with that.

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“WAS IT SOMETHING I SAID!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Zack Snyder

The day has finally come where DC and Warner Bros step up to the plate and take their best swing at catching up to Marvel before being left irrevocably behind the curve.  There is so much about this movie that could go right and can also go horribly wrong.  It’s the first movie that not only has Batman and Superman together, but is also the first appearance of Wonder Woman.  It’s taking a lot of inspiration from one of the most revered Batman stories of all time.  It’s setting up a DC universe that intends to rival that of Marvel Studios.  All of this CAN be great if they can pull it off, but the sheer magnitude of this release and the expectations from not only fans but the studio itself does not bode well for a director who is already hit or miss an on screen interpretation of Superman that has gotten heavily criticized.  Can they pull off the impossible as effortlessly as The Last Son of Krypton would, or is this going to be an atomic bomb of a mess that will shake Warner Bros to its very core?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins at the end of Man of Steel, only now we’re following Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as he tries to save people in the city of Metropolis while Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Henry Cavill) are having their big smack down.  Needless to say that there’s not much he can do (especially outside of his Batman suit) and has to more or less sit there as the city falls apart around him due to these two men who have come from the sky and could crush all of humanity.  Cut to a year and a half later, and we see a world that is very much split on Superman.  Sometime between then and now there was apparently enough people who LIKED Superman to make him a memorial in the middle of Metropolis, but for the most part he’s being attacked on the news and constantly questioned about his true motivations.  One such Superman naysayer is Lex Luthor (Jessie Eisenberg) who is trying to manipulate the US military and members of Congress to give him access to all the resources they have on Krypton (mainly Zod’s ship and his lifeless corpse) as well as permission to import some Kryptonite that was found in India.  While Lex is working on that, he’s also working surreptitiously to undercut Superman’s acts of genuine good while laying traps and breadcrumbs for Batman (who I don’t believe he knows is actually Bruce Wayne) to become even more resolute that Superman has to be stopped before he becomes a true threat to humanity.  Along the way, we’ve got Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) keeping Superman’s spirits high while he grapples with a world that hates and fears him (Lois is also working on a story about clearing Superman’s associate with something bad that happened in Africa), and we also have Bruce’s faithful butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) trying to steer him on the right path and away from Superman.  Still, the punch up is inevitable if the title is any indication, and the two of them have to hash out their differences before eventually working together to fight Doomsday alongside their new ally Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).  Will they be able to stop Lex Luthor and his plans to… do bad things I guess?  Will the world FINALLY accept Superman after he fights ANOTHER city destroying bad guy?  Are they SERIOUSLY gonna try to launch an expansive DC film universe off of this movie?  Can we just get to Suicide Squad already?

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“What the fuck is going on!?”

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