Movie Review: “Ant-Man”

Starring
Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Peña, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Wood Harris
Director
Peyton Reed

Believe it or not, a big-screen adaptation of “Ant-Man” has been in development since the so-called MCU was just a twinkle in Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige’s eye. It’s been a decade in the making, and a majority of that time was spent under the guidance of director Edgar Wright. Many people didn’t think it would ever get made, and when Wright left the project only weeks before production was scheduled to begin, citing creative differences, it nearly broke the internet. You have to respect Wright for maintaining his integrity by refusing to kowtow to the bigwigs at Marvel, but Feige deserves credit for holding his ground as well, because considering its troubled production, “Ant-Man” could (and probably should) have been a disaster. Instead, it’s a funny and fast-paced superhero film that serves as a welcome breath of fresh air compared to the typical end-of-the-world summer blockbusters.

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a gifted thief and ex-convict who’s trying to put his life back together for the sake of his young daughter. And he gets that second chance when he’s recruited by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) – a genius inventor who’s hidden his groundbreaking particle technology, which can shrink a human down to the size of an ant, from the rest of the world – to break into his company’s research facility and thwart his power-hungry protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), from replicating the technology. Cross plans to militarize his version of the Pym particles, which he’s dubbed Yellowjacket, and sell it to the highest bidder for the purpose of creating the ultimate super-soldier. Sound familiar? In order to protect the weapon from falling into the wrong hands, Scott must assume the mantle of Ant-Man using a suit that grants its wearer increased strength while microscopic and the ability to telepathically control an army of ants.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Movie Review: “The Gallows”

Starring
Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford
Directors
Travis Cluff & Chris Lofing

“Here lies the found footage genre. It had a good run.” That might as well be the tagline for the new horror movie, “The Gallows,” because if the countless other found footage films suffocating the market didn’t already kill the genre, then surely this is the final nail in the coffin. Though the movie was bankrolled by Blumhouse Productions, which has made millions from micro-budgeted horror flicks like the “Insidious” and “Paranormal Activity” series, “The Gallows” is just the latest in a long line of amateurish junk that the studio has been cranking out for years. The benefit of making films on a small budget is that you only need a few hits to offset the losses on your many flops, and sadly, “The Gallows” is destined to fall into the latter category – yet another footnote in Blumhouse’s cinematic game of Russian roulette.

In 1993, Beatrice High School student Charlie Grimille was horrifically killed due to a prop malfunction during the theater department’s production of “The Gallows.” 20 years later, the school’s students have mounted a revival of the failed stage play (and the fact that the school board didn’t have a problem with this highlights the level of stupidity on display in the film), with football jock Reese (Reese Mishler) landing the coveted lead role despite his complete lack of experience or talent. Reese is noticeably nervous about making his acting debut, so when his friend Ryan (Ryan Shoos) suggests that they break into the school at night and destroy the set so that the play gets cancelled, he reluctantly agrees to tag along. (And of course they record the whole thing, because why wouldn’t they want evidence tying them to the crime?) But after the two guys – along with gal pal Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford) and drama queen Pfiefer (Pfiefer Brown) – mysteriously get locked inside and begin to experience creepy occurrences, they learn that the vengeful spirit of Charlie still haunts the school.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Movie Review: “Self/less”

Starring
Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode, Natalie Martinez, Michelle Dockery, Derek Luke, Victor Garber
Director
Tarsem Singh

Nobody makes movies like Tarsem Singh. The polarizing visionary always brings his colorful personality to all of his projects, whether it’s a thriller (“The Cell”), a swords-and-sandals action pic (“Immortals”), or his adult fantasy masterpiece, “The Fall.” Tarsem tells stories through images, not only through dialogue. His latest film, “Self/less,” is his most story-heavy picture to date, but once again, he energizes a familiar tale with his bold eye.

The man responsible for some of New York’s most beautiful buildings, Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley), is dying. The billionaire industrialist is filled with regrets; he once thought his checkbook was sufficient enough to take care of his daughter, Claire (Michelle Dockery). Hale wants a second chance at life, and he receives it in the form of “shedding,” a procedure that transfers one’s consciousness to a young, healthy body. The company responsible for the technology is led by Albright (Matthew Goode), and his dream is to give the most important and influential figures – or failing that, the richest – more time on Earth. Hesitantly, Damian accepts Albright’s very pricey offer, and after the procedure, he’s no longer himself, but Edward (Ryan Reynolds), a young, handsome and retired millionaire. Damian is meant to start a new life in New Orleans where he can’t contact anyone from his past, but when he starts seeing Edward’s memories, Damian begins to ask questions about who he is and whose body he’s taken over.

“Self/less” is more of a thriller than a summer action movie; it’s a high-concept detective tale. Screenwriters David and Alex Pastor manage to tell a personal story, and like all good detective stories, they follow a detective haunted by his past. Damian Hale’s journey is as engaging as the film’s ideas. Ryan Reynolds hasn’t always had the best luck with studio films, especially in the summer, but he’s given more to work with this time around. There’s an actual arc for him to communicate.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Movie Review: “Minions”

Starring
Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush
Director
Kyle Balda & Pierre Coffin

It’s easy these days to take for granted the influence that Pixar has had on storytelling for animated films in particular and child-friendly entertainment in general. Prior to the release of “Toy Story” in 1995, there was no guarantee that adults would be entertained at all by a child-friendly film, never mind be entertained as much as the kids were (even Pixar’s now-parent company Disney was guilty of that), and in fact, most movies didn’t even bother pretending to appeal to both kids and adults. As Exhibit A, I submit 1994’s “Monkey Trouble,” starring a pre-“American Beauty” Thora Birch. Nobody likes this movie.

Pixar destroyed the notion that animated movies were simply kids’ stuff, and made films that were literally fun for the whole family. “Minions,” on the other hand, is a throwback of sorts to the pre-Pixar era, the movies that make a couple of dated references to give the parents a chuckle, but are otherwise devoid of a single plot piece or angle that would engage anyone from tweens up. In fact, the movie has no story at all. It’s just one ridiculous setup after another, and none of it makes any sense, but that’s almost beside the point; the minions, much like the “Penguins of Madagascar,” are simply funnier in small doses.

The opening credits show the evolution of the minions from the dawn of time, gleefully following behind the biggest fish in the sea and then land animal, as Geoffrey Rush gently explains to us that their life’s purpose is to serve the world’s most despicable creature (more on that later). That creature changes a number of times over the years, but after a mishap involving a certain vertically challenged army general, the minions go into hiding…and completely lose their sense of purpose. Minions Kevin, Stuart, and Bob dare to seek out a new evil ruler, and after a long journey lands them in New York (it is now 1968), they have found their new boss: Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), the most villainous villain alive. The minions impress her, and she hires them for a job: steal the crown of Queen Elizabeth (Jennifer Saunders, holler!). At this point, the film’s screenwriter presumably fell asleep for weeks on end, and his screenwriting software finished the job.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Movie Review: “Terminator Genisys”

Starring
Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jai Courtney, Jason Clarke, J.K. Simmons, Byung-hun Lee, Matt Smith
Director
Alan Taylor

“Terminator Genisys” marks the second sequel to a seemingly dead franchise this summer. Following the massive success of “Jurassic World” comes the fifth “Terminator” movie to date. The last two sequels were failed reboots, and for good reason, as neither of them had the intensity or awe James Cameron brought to the original films. “Terminator Genisys” doesn’t recapture the series’ former glory, but it is an actual “Terminator” movie, and it’s certainly more ambitious and entertaining than its recent predecessors.

The film begins in 2029, with John Connor (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) leading an ambush against Skynet. We see the events that influence Connor’s decision to send Reese back in time to save his mother, making this both a reboot and a surprisingly faithful sequel. Reese expects a helpless Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) back in 1984, but she’s nothing of the sort; she’s a trained, skilled soldier. At her side, once again to Reese’s surprise, is a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who Sarah refers to as “Pops.” For a reason that’s being saved for a potential sequel, someone sent the T-800 back in time to protect Sarah as a child, which answers one of the most of obvious questions in this franchise: Why doesn’t Skynet simply kill Sarah as a kid? Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese and the T-800 have to work together to prevent Skynet’s takeover and, surprisingly, defeat John Connor, who’s working for the bad guys this time around.

Screenwriters Patrick Lussier and Laeata Kalogridis rewrite the past, but they don’t erase it. There is no shortage of time travel talk in the film, and one of the key decisions made is to establish this as an alternate timeline, so the other timelines, meaning the first two films, still exist. Do the time travel rules always make sense? No, but neither does time travel. Sometimes, the less explained, the better – and the first hour struggles with that. There is a cluster of exposition in the setup, often explaining what we’re literally seeing. At first, Jai Courtney’s performance suffers because of how many questions and obvious statements he has to deliver, but once the wheels start moving, “Terminator Genisys” improves as it goes along.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Related Posts