film, Marvel Films

Movie Review: Ant-Man

Sometimes the superhero we need isn’t a big powerful person, but rather a teeny tiny man with an army of ants. Ant-Man was a Marvel hero I had heard about prior to his big screen debut in 2015, but at the same time I did not know too much about as the moniker has been held by three different men. When the trailer first came out my first thoughts were “this looks decent, maybe.” However when I finally watched the film, it exceeded my expectations. If you haven’t seen Ant-Man here is your spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been recently released from prison and struggles with finding a job. Needing the money to pay child support to his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) to take care of their daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), and to be seen as a father by Cassie instead of Maggie’s police officer fiancé Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), Scott reluctantly joins his old cellmate, the talkative Luis (Michael Peña), in a heist. Scott cracks the safe but only finds what he thinks is a motorcycle suit. Disappointed he still takes it, but gets more than he bargained for. After putting on the suit Scott discovers, much to his shock and horror, the suit has the ability to shrink himself down to the size of an ant. The owner of the suit, former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) sees something is Scott and wants him to become the new Ant-Man; Scott at first wants nothing to do with the suit, but does agree. Hank, along with his estranged daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), train Scott to control the suit, but not to push the power; Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother Janet wore a similar suit under the guise of the Wasp and disappeared (presumed dead) when she went into a subatomic quantum realm disabling a nuclear missile. Scott soon learns why he was picked to be the Ant-Man. Hank and Hope believe that Hank’s former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is making his own shrinking suit, called the Yellow Jacket, but wants to sell it to Hydra. Scott, along with Hope, Hank and Luis have to stop Cross before it is too late. I probably shouldn’t say any more, but we do get an appearance from Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie) when he and Ant-Man clash at Avengers HQ.

Ant-Man was much better than I thought it was going to be. I did not really picture Paul Rudd as an action/superhero star, but now I cannot imagine anyone else playing Ant-Man other than him. Evangeline Lilly is fantastic as Hope; she is tough with her father and Scott, while at the same time someone that can protect herself against the bad guys. Michael Douglas is great as Hank; tough yet funny at the same time if that was possible. Michael Peña is hilarious as Luis; the guy talks way to fast I actually had to put on the closed caption in order to read what he was saying. Stoll is good as Cross, but there have been better villains in the Marvel universe so he isn’t exactly memorable. Greer, Fortson and Cannavale are good additions to the movie and finally it was great to see Anthony Mackie as Falcon; he’s one of my favorite supporting superheroes.

The film itself is not the best, but not the worst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The story was compelling and the special effects were top notch. Let me put it this way the final battle between Scott and Cross takes place on a Thomas the Tank engine train set; it was both intense and hilarious. The sequel will be coming out this Friday, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and I cannot wait to see Lilly in the flying Wasp suit. Before you go see that movie, I would recommend watching the first one just to get an idea of what to expect; unless superhero movies are not your go-to films.

based on a book, based on true story, classic, film, Marvel Films, musical, must see

What Movies are Perfect to watch of the 4th of July?

First and foremost Happy Independence Day to everyone here in the United States. I hope you have a great day no matter what you are doing; hanging by the pool while someone makes burgers and hot-dogs or spending the day inside (hopefully with air conditioning) and watching some patriotic movies. Whether it is something about our founding fathers or a movie that makes you feel patriotic. Today I want to do something a little different today other than a review. I’m gonna give you some movies I feel are perfect to watch whether it’d be today or just to make you proud of waving the American Flag. Here are some of my picks in no particular order. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

  1. Yankee Doodle Dandy. This 1942 biographical musical follows the true story of George M. Cohan (James Cagney) as he takes Broadway by storm; although his ego gets in the way a lot. Featuring songs such as “Over There” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy”. This film means so much to me because it was one of my grandmother’s favorites. Knowing George M. Cohan was so proud of our flag, and he was born on the fourth of July, makes me happy to be a musical fan as well as an American.
  2. Air Force One. I did a review for this 1997 film, but let me give you a quick recap. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) has to rely on his former military training when terrorists, led by Egor Korshunov (Gary Oldman), hijack Air Force One and threaten to kill everyone on board unless their dictator is released. One of my favorite Harrison Ford films outside the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises; this film showed just what would anyone do to protect their family; also who doesn’t cheer a little when Marshall says “Get off my plane.”
  3. 1776. Yes another musical but at least it takes place leading up to why we celebrate the fourth of July. This 1972 film, based on the Broadway musical sees the Continental Congress as they make tough decisions; including whether or not independence from England is worth it. Starring William Daniels (yes, Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World) as John Adams, Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson and Virginia Vestoff as Abigail Adams this musical gets your feet taping and flag waving.
  4. Jaws. Maybe not a movie about war or the American flag, but this 1975 film helped start the phenomenon known as summer blockbusters at the movies. Jaws is about a town being threatened by a great white shark and the three men wanting to put the shark down for good. The film does take place over the Fourth of July weekend, so I guess that counts.
  5. A League of their Own. Baseball has often been called the American past-time, and this 1992 film just might be one of the best sports films of all time. Starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and Lori Petty the film takes a look back at the short lived All American Girls Professional Baseball League which took place during World War II. We watch as the girls have to deal with sexism, getting the public’s attention and proving they can be just as good as the men. A true classic film if I may say so.
  6.  Hidden Figures. I don’t want to call this film a surprise hit, but I’ll admit that I did not expect to see this 2016 movie to appear at so many award shows. That being said it is still a fantastic watch. When it looks like the Russians might beat the U.S. to space three brilliant African American women working for NASA step up to make it possible. Staring Taraji P. Henson as mathematician Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as supervisor, and later computer expert Dorothy Vaughen and Janelle Monáe as engineer Mary Jackson. The film also features Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Mahershala Ali as people who either stood in the way or made a path for them to succeed. A movie about change as well as patriotism.
  7. The Rocky franchise. I know many will say Rocky IV is the most associated with patriotism, and that may be true, but I think not enough credit is given to the other films (at least the first three in addition to the fourth.) The franchise follows boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) as he does from underdog to champion while finding and keeping the love of Adrian (Talia Shire). Everyone loves the underdog story, but I’ll admit the 1985 fourth film in the franchise is probably the more patriotic of the franchise; Rocky fights a Russian boxer named Drago (Dolph Lundgren) on Russian turf after Drago kills Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the ring. On a side note I cannot wait to see Creed II this fall.
  8. Independence Day. Come on, how was I not going to put this 1996 film on here? When aliens arrive to take over the world, military forces must team up to combat the menace. Starring Will Smith in one of his breakthrough movie roles, Bill Pullman as the president of the United States, Jeff Goldblum and Vivica A. Fox this film showed when a force wants to fight, we are gonna fight back.
  9. Captain America: The First Avenger. I had to put one superhero movie on here and this 2011 film might be the most American of them all. The origin of one of the most popular comic book heroes is brought to life as Steve Trevor (Chris Evans) is transformed into Captain America. While starting of as joke, Steve soon proves he has the strength and heart of an American hero as his fights off a secret organization known as Hydra. Admittedly this is the weakest origin film of the Marvel movies, but it was one heck of a start to the Captain America part of the franchise.
  10. Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Another underdog story, but this time it involves politics. Released in 1939, Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is taken under the wing of Joseph Paine (Claude Rains) a crooked senator. The simple-minded Smith is at first destroyed by the newspapers and politicians, but after a little help Smith rallies for the people and earns their respect, as well as the respect of the Senate. James Stewart does a phenomenal job and his speech reaffirming what America is truly about is one of the best parts of the movie.

I hope everyone has a great Independence Day. Is there a film missing from my list that is one yours? Please leave a comment of what film and why it is great for the Fourth of July.

Disney, film, must see, Pixar

Movie Review: Incredibles 2

I stated this in my review to its predecessor and I’m gonna paraphrase it again. It has been a very long time since we’ve seen Pixar’s superhero family on-screen; there is a segment in the beginning featuring the actors and Brad Bird stating it and thanking the viewers for their patience. Was it worth the wait: 100 percent yes. This is still in theaters so I’m going to be as careful as I can be, but just in case, a spoiler alert is being issued. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Taking place immediately after the first film Mr. Incredible aka Bob Par (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl aka Helen Par (Holly Hunter) and their children: Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner replacing Spencer Fox) and baby Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile) confront the Underminer (John Ratzenberger) but fail to stop him. Because of the damage their caused their friend from the super relocation program Rick Decker (Jonathan Banks taking over from Bud Lukey after he passed away) tells the Pars the program is being shut down for good. That same day Bob, Helen and their long-time friend Lucius Best aka Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) are contacted by Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), the head of a telecommunications company called DEVTECH. Winston, along with his genius inventor sister Evelyn Deavor (Catherine Keener), wants to make supers legal again; but they want Elastigirl to be the face. Winston provides the Par family with a house while Helen goes out stopping bad guys. Bob watches the kids, but is clearly upset that he is not out in the field; however he wants Helen to succeed for the kids (and his) super future. Bob soon has to cope with a few things: helping Violet capture her crush’s attention, Dash with math and (easily the best part of the movie) Jack-Jack’s new powers; yes plural as in more than one. Bob does get help from Lucius and longtime friend/costume designer Edna Mode (Brad Bird). Meanwhile Helen, along with a gaggle of supers including her biggest fan Void (Sophia Bush), have to fight a villain calling themselves the Screenslaver who hypnotizes anyone looking at a monitor. As far as I can go without spoiling the rest of the movie, but before I go into my review there is there is something I have to say. As you may have read the movie does have multiple flashing sequences which may cause someone with epilepsy to have a seizure so please be careful.

While I admit the sequel is not as good as the first film I believe it lived up to the hype. Having most of the cast back, in addition to the new characters, was amazing. The Par family is still as relatable as ever, even with the addition of powers. Bob is clearly struggling with staying on the side, but knows what he has to do to help Helen which makes him a good husband and father. Helen may have been reluctant to step back in the spotlight, but I thought she handled it well. Watching Violet and Dash become great supers is a joy, Lucius stepping up as uncle and Edna as aunt (kinda but it’s still great to see her) however I think we can agree the best part of the movie is Jack-Jack. I can honestly say sitting in the theater watching nearly everyone freak out when Jack-Jack showed a new power was hilarious; I know babies can be a struggle but imagine one that can teleport, multiply, burst into flames, laser eyes, demon baby and so much more. If you have the chance to watch Incredibles 2 in theaters go and do it, especially to get out of the heat.

film, must see

Movie Review: Jurassic World

If you were to tell fans that there was going to be a fourth Jurassic Park movie after the let’s say not fantastic sequels I do not know if they would have agreed. However in 2015 the long awaited Jurassic World premiered, and in my opinion it was better than anyone thought it was going to be. Ok so the science wasn’t exact as anyone in that background has explained; I get it but this is called science fiction for a reason. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Jurassic World has been open for many years and is still going strong. Despite dinosaurs still being “wow” many who invest in the park, including owner Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) want to see more; encouraging Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong and the only original cast member to appear in the movie) to create more genetically modified dinosaurs, much to the annoyance of park control room employee Lowery (Jake Johnson). Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), the park operations manager and doesn’t seem to get that these are living creature, observes the newest addition to the park, the Indominus Rex; a creature created with T-Rex DNA and other parts deemed classified. At the same time her nephews Zack and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) visit the park, after their parents Karen and Scott (Judy Greer and Andy Buckley) send them away possibly in order to avoid talking about their upcoming divorce, but are stuck with Claire’s assistant Zara (Katie McGrath). Another park employee, and one Claire had a bad first date with, is Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) a Navy veteran who is researching raptor intelligence. He works closely with four raptors, having built a bond of trust with them; however he refuses to train them for military use which is what head of InGen security Vic Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) wants. Masrani wants Owen to look at the Indominus enclosure to ensure everyone’s safety; Owen believes that because she was raised in a cage alone she is going to be dangerous. Claw marks on the cage look like the Indominus escaped and Owen (along with two others) go in to check it out; and that’s when the “fun” begins. Because of the mixed DNA, the Indominus can mask heat, camouflage and is incredibly intelligent. Owen just barley escapes as the dinosaur becomes loose in the park, endangering many lives including Zack and Gray. Owen and Claire team up to find her nephews and must find a way to stop the Indominus. About as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

To call Jurassic World a huge success would be a big understatement. Grossing 500 million the opening weekend, and one of the fastest films to reach a billion dollars, it was obvious how much people missed seeing good dinosaur movies. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are fantastic as the leads; Pratt is great at action and comedy while Howard’s character evolves from little miss perfect to running in high heels towards danger (p.s. that really impressed me I can barely even walk in heels.) The rest of the cast is spectacular; I personally enjoyed Johnson, Khan, Robinson, Simpkins, Wong and D’Onofrio performances. I thought the script was definitely better than the first two and lived up to but was not as great as the first one (obviously.) The special effects were much more improved; although you can still tell they are computer generated they still make the dinosaurs life like. The Indominus Rex was a very good monster, although the Mosasaurus was also impressive to look at. Of course it was good to see Rexy again at the end of the film. Overall I think Jurassic World did live up to the hype it had prior to the film premiere (and I may even call it a must see), and we can only wait and see if the sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom in theaters now can grow the story more. I will try and see that as soon as possible. In the meantime if you haven’t seen Jurassic World I would rent or DVR it as soon as possible.


Movie Review: Jurassic Park III

I think we are all in agreement when I say this film is the weakest of the Jurassic franchise so far. Released in 2001 this was the first of the Jurassic Park franchise not to be based on a book, and the first to be without Steven Spielberg; which may or may not be contributed to its poor reception. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) has become famous after the first Jurassic Park, but he couldn’t be more than annoyed about it. He and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) still talk and collaborate on projects but are no longer together; Ellie has married a man named Mark from the State Department and they have two children. One day Dr. Grant is approached by a seemingly wealthy couple, Paul and Amanda Kirby (William H. Macy and Téa Leoni) who say they will finance his dig if he accompanies them on a tour of Isla Sorna. Desperate for money, he agrees. Along with his assistant Billy Brennan (Alessandro Nivola), Dr. Grant goes with the couple and their mercenaries Udesky (Michael Jetter), Cooper (John Deiehl) and Nash (Bruce A. Young) to the Isla. When they want to land, Grant objects and gets knocked out. Grant soon realizes the truth: the Kirby’s are not rich or even together; they are a divorced couple looking for their son Eric (Trevor Morgan) and Amanda’s boyfriend Ben (Mark Harelik) who have been missing after parasailing near the island. Because of their stupidity the group is attacked by a dinosaur called the Spinosaurus. Grant and the group have to find a way to find Eric and Ben as well as find a way to get off the island.

While it was great to see Grant and Ellie again in another film that is about as good as the film gets. The writing and special effects failed to live up the hype after the first two films, and the characters were bland at best. I would also like to add that having another dinosaur other than the T-Rex being the big bad dinosaur was not a good idea; although I did enjoy the fight a T-Rex had with the Spinosaurus. While this is not a bad film compared to other dinosaur movies, I think unless you really liked the Jurassic franchise this one is not worth watching.

based on a book, film

Movie Review: The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Because one island full of dinosaurs wasn’t enough right? Released in 1997 the sequel to the massive hit Jurassic Park was not as well received; could be any number of reasons but I’ll get into that later. However I think we can agree out of the original sequels this is the better one. As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Four years after the events of Jurassic Park Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) is invited to John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) mansion, where he also briefly reunited with Lex and Tim (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello). Hammond explains that his greedy nephew Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) is now in charge of InGen, the ones responsible for creating the dinosaurs, and wants to use the secret island of Isla Sorna where the dinosaurs were originally living before moving to Isla Nublar for the park, as collateral damage for not just the prior events but for a lawsuit by the parents of a little girl who was attacked on Sorna. Hammond wants Malcolm to help document the dinosaurs in order to create public support in protecting them and he agrees, only after learning his girlfriend Dr. Sarah Harding (Julianne Moore) is already there. Malcolm, along with engineer Eddie Car (Richard Schiff), video documentarian activist Nick Van Owen (Vince Vaughn) and inadvertently Malcolm’s gymnast daughter Kelly (Vanessa Lee Chester) arrive on Isla Sorna and soon discover Ludlow’s real plot of bringing the dinosaurs into San Diego for a theme park, while the leader of Ludlow’s team Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) wants the Tyrannosaurus Rex, by luring it out using its injured baby (yeah that had BAD IDEAS written all over it.) About as far as I should go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

I think everyone can agree that their favorite character from the first film, and maybe the entire Jurassic franchise, is Jeff Goldblum, and I did love him in this one. Normally supporting characters in one film are not so great with their own; however Goldblum is so good I thought he did fantastic. Moore is pretty good as Sarah and I enjoyed seeing Hammond, Lex and Tim from the first film. As far as acting goes the rest of the cast is not bad, but the script fails to live up to the hype after the fantastic first film (although to be fair that is a high bar.) This was also the last of the Jurassic movies to be based on a book. Special effects had come a long way in between the first and second film, however I think that is why The Lost World has pretty mixed reviews from critics and fans. The first one made it feel like the dinosaurs were real when you know that is impossible; this one kinda took away that magic. I will say seeing the T-Rex attacking San Diego is probably the best part of the movie while my favorite line in the movie is Sarah asking how they would find the T-Rex and Malcolm (whom already has fantastic lines in here) responds “Just follow the screams” (because that it literally the answer to where did the bad guy/monster went.) I think while The Lost World is flawed it is not as bad as I think the critics and longtime fans say; I will say the kills in here were probably the most brutal until the first Jurassic World. If you are starting the Jurassic Park franchise and are curious if this is worth the watch then I would say yes, otherwise put this on the maybe list.

based on a book, classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Jurassic Park

With the fifth film opening this Friday I thought it would be a great idea to finally review one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Based on the 1990 novel of the same time, this 1993 Steven Spielberg movie opened the door to a brand new world 65 million years in the making. For some reason if you haven’t seen the franchise here is a massive spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), his paleobotanist girlfriend Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician/chaos theorist Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are invited by industrialist John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), and a lawyer Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) to verify that Hammond’s new park is safe. When they get to the island called Isla Nublar Grant, Ellie and Malcolm are stunned (to say the least) that Hammond and his team, including Dr. Henry Wu (B.D. Wong), Ray Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson) and Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck) have recreated dinosaurs using DNA from mosquito and frogs as well as keeping the dinosaurs all girls in order to prevent breading; Dr. Malcolm quickly disbelieves this famously stating “Life finds a way” as well as dismissing the thought of controlling the dinosaurs. Grant, Ellie, Malcolm, Gennaro and Hammond’s grandchildren Lex and Tim Murphy (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello) go on a tour of the park, called Jurassic Park, and that is when things go wrong. A tropical storm hits the island at the same time Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight), who has been bribed by a competitor to steal embryos, cuts off the security system in order to get to where they are stashed. However because of his stupidity the power goes off as well and trucks with Grant, Malcolm, Gennaro and the kids get stuck right by the Tyrannosaurs Rex area (for those who haven’t seen the film this ends about as well as you think.) Everyone soon has to find a way to survive in Jurassic Park with not only the T-Rex but velociraptors after them until help can arrive. About as far as I should go without giving away the rest of the movie.

I actually avoided this film when I was younger because dinosaurs freaked me out (also seeing people getting eaten on screen makes me nauseous.) However when Jurassic World was coming out my curiosity was getting the better of me and I finally sat down to watch all three films. My reviews for those will come later, as for this this is clearly the best of the Jurassic films so far (not just my opinion but a fact.) This is widely regarded as one of the best films of all time; not just in dinosaur but in terms of Spielberg films as well. Everyone in the movie did a fantastic job acting wise, the script was fantastic and the special effects, given how computers were back in the 90’s, were amazing. The dinosaurs in here are either robotics and/or CGI are so well done you would think they were actual dinosaurs. Of course I cannot forget about the incredible music on the background, one of the most recognizable themes in film and why Jurassic Park won Oscars for its sound mixing, editing and visual effects. While I think the three sequels, as well as the upcoming fourth this Friday, are/may not as good as this one it was still a great way to start off one of the best film franchises of all time. If you haven’t watched the original Jurassic Park I highly recommend it, I’d even call it a must see. In the words of John Hammond: “Welcome to Jurassic Park.”