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?
Tomb Raider and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Roar Uthaug
ANOTHER video game movie!? Haven’t we tried that like forty times already!? Well that’s a bit unfair. I’ve always maintained that a good chunk of them are actually pretty good for their respective genres such as the first Mortal Kombat, and we’ve rebooted the video game franchise since the LAST time we were making films off of this series, so an updated interpretation with brand new Lara Croft could really be something if they get the right people behind it! Does this manage to be the first video game movie to be one that EVERYONE thinks is good instead of just me? Let’s find out!!
Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) is the daughter of a world renowned… business man I guess (Dominic West) considering her family is renting that building from Iron Fist, but she doesn’t hang around much anymore since her father disappeared several years ago. Instead, she spends most of her time MMA training and working in the Gig Industry; riding her bike for fun AND profit! However, an associate of her father (Kristin Scott Thomas) has to bail her out of trouble due to a situation that REALLY wasn’t her fault (how do you get arrested for getting hit by a car!?) and she insists that Lara give up this lifestyle to finally claim her birthright and the millions of dollars that go with it. All she has to do is sign the documents confirming once and for all that her father is dead (is that a thing? Does a family member have to sign those in order for a missing person to be declared dead?) which she’s been reluctant to do as she still thinks he’s out there somewhere. She might just be right about that when she finds her father’s secret laboratory where he left a final message for Lara; telling her to burn all his research to the ground and to not look for him. Naturally she doesn’t do that because who WOULD just give up after getting some pretty solid evidence that could lead to where he is, and so she enlists the help of a fisherman (Daniel Wu) whose father was connected to Lara’s and the two set off to some MYSTERIOUS ISLAND! The good news is that it’s not Skull Island and teeming with giant monsters. The bad news? Well there are a bunch of dudes with guns looking for something on the island, and the head dude named Vogel (Walton Goggins) thinks that Lara might hold the key to finding it. Will Lara be able to find what these men are looking for as well as finding her father in the process? What are the sinister plans that Vogel has in store once he locates this mysterious artifact? You know, we keep going on about her dad, but are we SURE that her mother is dead too? All I’m saying is that if Angelina Jolie doesn’t show up in the sequel, I’m going to be VERY disappointed!
The Hateful Eight and all the images you see in this review are owned by The Weinstein Company
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Like the rising of the tides, the phases of the moon, and the DiCaprio Oscar denial, Tarantino comes back once again to give us a well written update of one his favorite films as a kid. Now Django Unchained was a REALLY good movie, but it was weighed down by some less than stellar decisions throughout like the excessive use of… that one word, and how little Django got to do in his own movie before the third act. Oh, and let’s not forget the baffling inclusion of horse tricks at the end and the terrible acting chops of Quintin himself. Still, this movie seems to be much smaller in scope and looks to be much more focused on being an ensemble piece than any one person’s movie which gives Tarantino plenty of opportunities to fill his scenes with his trademark dialogue (and fill these bodies with his trademark amounts of excess blood and gore). Is this going to be a step up for the iconic director, or is this the sign of a trend towards being an ALMOST amazing director instead of an amazing one? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with the bounty hunter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) being begrudgingly picked up of the side of the road by John Ruth (Kurt Russel) who’s also a bounty hunter and is taking Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to hang in a nearby town of Red Rock for her crimes. Unfortunately, there’s a blizzard coming and the driver O.B. Jackson (James Parks) isn’t inclined to risk it, so they head to a nearby waystation that’s delightfully called Minnie’s Haberdashery, though they find another straggler in the snowy wasteland along the way in the form of Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims to be the new sheriff of Red Rock. Once they arrive, they find Oswald Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe Gag (Michael Madsen), former Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) as well as Bob (Demián Bichir) who’s running the place in Minnie’s absence. Now John Ruth doesn’t trust any of these mother fuckers and none of them seem to be good wholesome people in the first place, but there’s nothing John can do with the blizzard blocking all means of travel, so they have to share this tiny space until it clears up. Will this be a peaceful affair as these nine strangers (yes, there’s nine instead of eight of them) get to know each other, or will things erupt into a cacophony of violence, blood, and racial epithets? Well I’m sure you can guess which route this movie takes, but is it at least super captivating to watch, right!?
American Ultra and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Nima Nourizadeh
Did someone finally remake Natural Born Killers? No? That sacred cow hasn’t been milked yet? Eh… give it time. Until then, we’ve got the next big film from Max Landis. No, he didn’t direct it. He wrote the movie and it’s his big follow up after Chronical, and we all know how well things turned out for the OTHER guy who made that movie! All joking aside, Chronical was one of the best examples of not only the found footage genre but the super hero genre as well. The story was complex and heartfelt while still being an exciting and unique take on portraying super powers in film. Can Max Landis pull off another hit with this film about a stoner sleeper agent, or will he be doomed to the same fate as Josh Trank whose sophomore slump is easily the biggest disaster of the year? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg) who’s some dipshit loser in West Virginia with a lousy job, a drug problem, and a condition where he has panic attacks whenever he tries to leave town. The only good thing the sad sack has going for him is his sad sack girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) who’s only slightly more functional than he is in that she doesn’t nearly burn the house down due to her own absent mindedness. Mike is certainly trying to do better by her, but this is a guy with no ambition and little imagination. Aside from his doodles about an astronaut ape, he barely gives off any signs of conscious thought other than guilt for being lucky enough to find Phoebe and the fact that she loves him just as much as he loves her. Of course, things aren’t as simple as they seem. Being a man child movie, our hero has to have some super ability that they didn’t really earn, and in this case it turns out that he’s actually a decommissioned CIA sleeper agent with skills to rival James Bond… despite being MAYBE twenty five (at least as far as the movie is trying to sell the premise as). Of course, being an unstoppable badass who ain’t doing shit to no one, some pencil pushing mother fucker (Adrian Yates played by Topher Grace) decides that Mike needs to be eliminated and sends out a bunch of goons to 86 the bastard. The original leader of the program that turned Jesse Eisenberg into teenage Terminator (Victoria Lassetter played by Connie Britton) gets wind of this and is doing what she can to keep him alive while he starts to remember the skills he had in the past. Can he survive these attempts on his life and get his girlfriend through this ordeal safely, or will the weight of these revelations be too much for him to handle?