Tag Archives: Michael Pena

Cinema Dispatch: Ant-Man and the Wasp

AMATWCD0

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?

AMATWCD1

“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!”

Continue reading

Advertisements

Cinema Dispatch: A Wrinkle in Time

AWITCD0

A Wrinkle in Time and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Ava DuVernay

I actually have read the book that this movie is based on, and what I remember about it is… that I read the book.  Yeah, the big concern that I had with this film after seeing the trailers is that this material is NOT gonna be easy to adapt as the source material is pretty abstract and kinda confusing from what I recall which can work for a book that you’re supposed to sit there and absorb at your own pace, but is less likely to come together as well when put on the big screen.  Still, while the trailers were very vague and didn’t give much of an indication of what the story would be about, the imagery was striking and the director behind it is someone who is coming up in a big way in Hollywood, so maybe there’s a chance to pull this adaptation off given the resources behind it.  Will this be the next touchstone for all ages cinema like ET, The Neverending Story, or about eighty percent of Pixar’s output, or is this one of those films that goes big and then fails hard?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the story of Meg Murry (Storm Reid) who is the daughter of Dr. Kate Murray and Dr. Alex Murry (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine); the latter of whom just up and disappeared four years ago and leaving his family to wonder what the heck happened to him and if he will ever return.  Naturally this doesn’t sit well with Meg who’s been having trouble in school lately due to bullying from kids who… I guess think it’s funny to make fun of a girl for her dad disappearing, and really only confides in her little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) who’s surprisingly smart for his age and has started making friends with three mysterious women who just randomly show up every once in a while.  After a particularly rough stretch at school where Meg bashes a girl’s face in with a basketball (TOTALLY deserved by the way), she makes a new friend in the form of Calvin (Levi Miller) who seems to be at least a tertiary part of the three mysterious women’s plans, and said mystery women finally confirm for Meg that her dad is STILL alive somewhere.  The only catch is that he’s halfway across the universe, BUT that won’t prove to be much of a problem because it turns out that humans can ACTUALLY travel across time and space using only the power of their minds; something that the three mystery ladies demonstrate by taking her, Calvin, and Christopher Wallace to the last known location of their dad which is some planet very far away.  We learn that the three mystery ladies are in fact Miss Who, Miss Whatsit, and Miss Which (Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey) and they’re some sort of cosmic entities that exist to help people across space and time fight injustices across the universe; and THEY manage to do it WITHOUT a blue police box!  So now that Meg and Christopher Wallace have a solid lead on where to find their dad, what will they (along with Calvin) have to face in order to find him?  Well, PROBABLY the black mystery ooze floating through space known as The Darkness as well as The It (no, not THAT It) which is growing and expanding at an alarming rate and will surely make it to Earth before too long.  Will Meg, Charles Wallace manage to save their father from whatever it is that has kept him under lock and key for the last four years?  What can The Misses teach this trio of children about the universe that will prepare them for the fight ahead?  Did Ava DuVernay manage to make a more psychedelic and drug fueled film on Disney’s dime than Doctor Strange!?  One SPECIFICALLY aimed at young kids!?

AWITCD1

“I AM INTERFACED!!”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: My Little Pony: The Movie

MLPCD0

My Little Pony: The Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate and Hasbro

Directed by Jayson Thiessen

It took them seven years to do this?  We’ve had at least four equestrian girl movies, not to mention a slew of Hasbro properties making it to the big screen, but one of the most successful reboots of all time was put on the back burner until now!?  Well better late than never I guess, though the trailers leading up to its release have certainly strained my credulity on that expression.  Still, trailers aren’t always accurate and I’m certainly a big enough fan of this series that it wouldn’t be THAT hard to keep me at least mildly entertained.  Can the team behind such a successful television series make a successful leap to the big screen, or was this as ill-fated a project as… well pretty much all the OTHER Hasbro films that we’ve gotten so far?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with yet another friendship festival that’s hosted by the Princess of Friendship (how much of Canterlot’s tax revenue is straight up pork for Twilight’s pet projects?) and they’ve even managed to get the one and only Sapphire Shores… I mean Countess Coloratura… I mean Songbird Serenade (Sia), to make an appearance!  Twilight Sparkle (Tara Strong) along with her assistant Spike (Cathy Weseluck) and her friends Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack (Tabitha St Germain, Andrea Libman, and Ashleigh Ball), seem to have everything under control and are ready to set everything in motion, but then a fleet of very intimidating airships descend upon the capital of Equestria and start demanding their complete and utter surrender!  It turns out that this is the opening salvo for a maniacal dictator known as The Storm King (Live Schreiber) and is being led by a mysterious pegasus with a broken horn named Tempest Shadow (Emily Blunt) who somehow manages to take out the three other princesses, Celestia, Luna, and Cadence (Nicole Oliver, Tabitha St Germain (again), and Britt McKillip) without the slightest bit of resistance!  Either this is one bad mother of a pony or the Princesses need better security!  In any case, the Twilight and her friends manage to escape but don’t have much to go on other than a mysterious message that Celestia shouted out before she was defeated and captured by Tempest Shadow; seek the queen of the hippos who lives beyond the badlands.  Not sure how hippos will help in this situation unless you dropped them on Tempest, but with nothing else to go on they begin their journey outside of The Shire… I mean Equestria, hoping to find a way to stop The Storm King and Tempest before it’s too late.  What will our little ponies find outside of the comforting boarders of Equestria, and will they know how to deal with such strange and frightening environments?  What is Tempest REALLY after in all this, and what does the Storm King have in store for all of them once he arrives in Canterlot?  Is the answer to all these questions Friendship?  I bet it’s gonna be Friendship.

MLPCD1

“See, THIS place could use a WHOLE lot of friendship!”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: The LEGO Ninjago Movie

TLNMCD0

The LEGO Ninjago Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher, and Bob Logan

What, another one of these already?  Didn’t we JUST see the one with Batman a few months ago!?  Clearly Warner Bros has hit on something big with the success of both The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie, and I can only assume it’s what will keep them afloat while this DCCU thing burns itself out.  Still, they seem to be moving at quite a quick pace with these and to top it off, this is based off of their Ninjago line of toys which is something that a lot of movie going audiences might not be familiar with.  Can The LEGO Formula succeed for a third time in surpassing audiences expectations, or will this be the LEGO straw to break the LEGO camel’s back and shatter it into a million pieces that’ll be really annoying to clean up?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is set in the world of Ninjago; a land full of anime nerds who have surrounded themselves in Asian culture; to the point that they have a bad guy named Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) with robots who is in constant need of walloping by a bunch of ninjas with robots.  Seems simple enough, right?  Well you’re WRONG, because this is a LEGO movie and if there’s ONE thing LEGO movies are known for, it’s daddy issues.  It turns out the Green Ninja’s secret Identity is Lloyd Garmadon (Dave Franco); the son of the bad guy who’s always wrecking things and is therefore rather unpopular at school despite his alter ego being one of the beloved protectors of the town.  With his fellow ninja friends Kai, Jay, Nya, Zane, and Cole (Michael Peña, Kumail Nanjiani, Abbi Jacobson, Zach Woods, and Fred Armisen), they’ve managed to maintain peace in this town despite there being much unrest within Lloyd himself who REALLY doesn’t like his dad, and rightfully so!  Still, things can’t go on like this forever and he eventually screws up badly enough that not only has Lord Garmadon taken over the city, but he ALSO unleashed a horrifying monster as well which is wreaking havoc all over the place!  His only option now is to go on a Ninja Quest with his Ninja Master Wu (Jackie Chan) and his Ninja Buddies to find the ULTIMATE ULTIMATE weapon that will stop the monster and free the town.  Can Lloyd manage to redeem himself for his failure to protect the town while ALSO finding a way to get past his daddy issues?  Will Lord Garmadon realize the error of his ways and reconnect with his neglected son?  How can they be stealthy when they don’t even have proper articulation!?

 

TLNMCD1

Oh, well there you go!  Just put them in giant robots!

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (My Little Pony: The Movie)

TTMLPCD0

My Little Pony: The Movie and all the images you see in this trailer talk are owned by Lionsgate and Hasbro

Directed by Jayson Thiessen

Despite being such a popular series with a fan base that is heavily invested in the creative side of the process as much as it is in the show itself, there really hasn’t been much said about the My Little Pony movie that’s been in production.  Heck, it honestly feels like Equestria Girls, which was a spin off that only got a limited theatrical release, had MUCH more fanfare and anticipation surrounding it than something Hasbro is actually risking quite a bit of money on.  Okay, there’s no way we’re talking Transformers money here, but there’s no way a feature length animated feature with celebrity voices THIS famous was less than what they invested in freaking Jem and the Holograms which had its first trailer out five months before its release compared to four months for this film.  Still, an uneven marketing campaign doesn’t always spell doom for a film (*cough* Wonder Woman *cough*), and even if it’s a sign that the studio doesn’t have faith in the final product… well go ask Newmarket Films how that worked out with Donnie Darko.  Either way, let’s find out!!

Okay, so there’s no getting around it.  The movie looks PRETTY terrible based on this trailer.  The first thing you’ll notice is that the art style is quite different from the series which isn’t ALWAYS a bad thing (watching it for the first time, I was somewhat reminded of the changes made for the Spongebob Squarepants movie), but it doesn’t come off as an IMPROVEMENT and there are clearly areas where they were cutting corners; most notably with the copious use of CG for the buildings and backgrounds.

TTMLPCD1

WHERE THE HELL ARE ALL THE TEXTURES!?  Did they just forget to render them!?

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: Collateral Beauty

cbcd0

Collateral Beauty and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by David Frankel

Is it that time again for Will Smith to try and win that Oscar he’s been so desperately seeking for some time now!?  Hey, since DiCaprio got his we need another underdog to root for, and Will Smith is as good a candidate as any.  Well… except that HIS Oscar bait films tend to be stuff like Concussion where he’s a boring scientist while Leo jumped off mountains and did massive amounts of drugs trying to get his.  This movie, just from the awkward title, doesn’t inspire much hope that The Fresh Prince is ready to put himself out there in something fun and risky to win his Academy Award, but then maybe this movie doesn’t need any of that and is a truly moving film in its own right.  We can only hope…

The movie begins with Howard (Will Smith) and Whit (Edward Norton) as two best buddies as the heads of some advertising company that seems to get motivational Howard Speeches on a daily basis.  That is… until the tragedy.  We jump straight to three years later where Howard has gone from The Fresh to Hancock (well… Hancock without the fun) and is now spending his days building up elaborate domino sets instead of working.  Not only that, but he’s so preoccupied with the grief of what happened (it doesn’t take long before we find out his daughter died) that he’s letting the company gone down the tubes financially and can’t even be bothered to sign the company over to Whit as well as Simon (Michael Peña) and Claire (Kate Winslet) who could save the company if Howard would just give them the authority to do so, though I’m not sure what the law is about letting someone literally sit on his ass all day while all his employees are left to watch things crumble.  Eventually, our trio of good buddies decide that Howard needs to either lose his fucking mind or get better (it’s never quite clear which one they’re going for) and decide to Christmas Carol his ass using actors (Keira Knightley, Jacob Latimore, and Helen Mirren) who will play Love, Time, and Death; all three of which are concepts that Howard has been writing letters to as a way of expressing his internal frustration and rage.  Will this strange plan to convince Howard he’s seeing his delusions come to life make him deal with his problems, or drive him further into his unhealthy state of mind?  Will he eventually seek help from a local support group led by Madeleine (Naomie Harris) which seems like a less risky way for him to deal with his daughter’s death?  Seriously, isn’t there like a MILLION ways this plan could go horribly wrong!?

cbcd1

“Without love in your life, you couldn’t even appreciate the time you had with her, and-”     “Oh!  I see you have a guest!  What will she have?”     “Wait, you can see her!?  She can see you!?”     “Uh…”

Continue reading

Cinema Dispatch: The Martian

TMCD0

The Martian and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Ridley Scott

Oh yay!  Another Ridley Scott film, because the last one was so good.  Well despite his shaky track record as of late, there’s no denying that the man is one of our greatest living directors and a movie like this is right in his wheelhouse while also being an original science fiction property as opposed to going back to the Alien well.  Can he manage to make a great movie with so many excellent resources at his disposal, or will he still manage to screw it up like he did with Exodus and Robin Hood?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) who is part of the Ares III manned mission to Mars.  While on the planet’s surface, the crew gets word of a big ass storm coming their way so they have to leave the mission early, and by early I mean RIGHT THE FRAK NOW!!  Apparently they didn’t see it coming until five minutes before it hits.  The astronauts on the planet (including Mark) try to make it to their recon ship in the midst of the downpour of… whatever the hell it is Mars starts raining down in a storm (rocks I think).

“I think I’ve got a rock in my shoe.”     “DEAL WITH IT!!!”

“I think I’ve got a rock in my shoe.”     “DEAL WITH IT!!!”

Continue reading