Brandon's Corner: Ant-Man Review *Spoiler Free*

antman*The last paragraph expresses short analysis* Ant-Man - not Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Darkman, Sandman, Vectorman, Omega Man, or Hugh Jackman  - tells the tale of a burglar, Scott Lang played by Paul Rudd, who is way too skilled at what he does. One day he is caught in theft, then is hired by legendary scientist, Hank Pym played by Michael Douglas, to become the Ant-Man. The Ant-Man is the wearer of a highly sophisticated, break-through piece of technology that allows its wearer to shrink themselves while increasing their density/strength so they can kick butt. That way, our protagonist can fight evil and all that jazz. . . Actually, not really. "I want you to break into a place and steal some shit.", says Hank Pym to Scott Lang. From there on out we are lead on a heist movie with the likes of the lovely Evangeline Lilly, the droll Michael Pena against the evil overlord Yellow Jacket played by Corey Stoll.

So does this film fall on its face as many hope it would due to the falling out between Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios/Kevin Feige? If you don't know what I'm talking about, this video by Beyond the Trailer's Grace Randolph is quite informative.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQJNVv_rqpo

Surprisingly, this film works. Not as well as it might have albeit, but it works nonetheless. What really saves Ant-Man is the casting. Paul Rudd was the perfect choice as the lead of the film. He balances the tightrope act of being hilarious while still showing dramatic depth to be believable. I might not go as far as to say that this performance is the next Chris Pratt's Star Lord, but it comes really close. Paul Rudd really is what drives this forward through its quirky premise and dialogue that just wouldn't have worked with a lesser actor.

Michael Douglas playing the veteran/mentor of the film is another reason Ant-Man works so well. He is there to provide the gravitas that simply wouldn't have been there without him. His chemistry with Paul Rudd is impressive. We completely buy the relationship between two people from entirely different worlds connected by similar goals. Both have issues with their families, but are trying to rekindle/strenthen relationships. I could go on to mention Michael Peña and Evangeline Lilly who are also solid, but it really is Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas who are what's special about the film. They bring a maturity and sincerity to the story that otherwise wouldn't have been there.

AntMan556fa275ccbd1Part of this simply comes from the way the story is structured. There is an intimacy to the script. It isn't a world trotting blockbuster extravaganza we've seen before. Instead we hone into a couple characters and, for all intents and purpose, one location. Because of this, we get a chance to see a more intimate development of one the most fascinating powers in the MCU. Ant-Man's powers, let's be honest, are a little bit incredibly cheesy. That being said, with the right visuals, and the way the film embraces its own quirkiness - it generally works really well. Scott Lang's interaction with his insect counterparts provides that light hearted fun as well as brilliantly constructed visuals.

The film isn't perfect though. Sure, I could go on to state pacing issues, excessive cheesiness, and a plot that is too simplistic; but none of those are cringe worthy. What is though, is Corey Stoll as Yellow Jacket, our villain. Once again, we don't have to look past the baddie to see the biggest problems with most Marvel Movies. Yellow Jacket is a weak villain. Sure his fight scenes are cool enough, but the dialogue and overacting for the most part from Corey Stoll just becomes frustrating. There doesn't appear to be much depth to the script or his character. To be fair he has one or two good acting moments and they at least in certain scenes try to flesh him out more, but in the end we are just given a stereotypical antagonist who is a weak plot device.

A weak villain and a few small issues aside, Ant-Man is one of the funnest movies this year. It really is a breath of fresh air to have a super-hero film that is a little more intimate study of a couple character than an all out war for the fate of all mankind. Paul Rudd is hilarious and brilliantly brings depth to a character I hope many of us will love for a long time to come. Michael Douglas, of course, is also great and provides that emotional weight and sincerity to scenarios that otherwise could have been too far-fetched to be emotionally invested in. Let's not also forget the supporting actors, including but not limited to Michael Peña and Evangeline Lilly, as they ground the film in its quirky yet sincere style. All of this is embellished by some beautifully executed special effects and creative visuals which provide much of the humor and joy for the film. That is to say Ant-Man is worth seeing in theatres on the biggest possible screen, which is more than I can say for most blockbusters out there.

Personal Preference: 4/5

Critical Analysis: 3.75/5

Brandon's Corner: Ant-Man Review *Spoiler Free*

antman*The last paragraph expresses short analysis* Ant-Man - not Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Darkman, Sandman, Vectorman, Omega Man, or Hugh Jackman  - tells the tale of a burglar, Scott Lang played by Paul Rudd, who is way too skilled at what he does. One day he is caught in theft, then is hired by legendary scientist, Hank Pym played by Michael Douglas, to become the Ant-Man. The Ant-Man is the wearer of a highly sophisticated, break-through piece of technology that allows its wearer to shrink themselves while increasing their density/strength so they can kick butt. That way, our protagonist can fight evil and all that jazz. . . Actually, not really. "I want you to break into a place and steal some shit.", says Hank Pym to Scott Lang. From there on out we are lead on a heist movie with the likes of the lovely Evangeline Lilly, the droll Michael Pena against the evil overlord Yellow Jacket played by Corey Stoll.

So does this film fall on its face as many hope it would due to the falling out between Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios/Kevin Feige? If you don't know what I'm talking about, this video by Beyond the Trailer's Grace Randolph is quite informative.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQJNVv_rqpo

Surprisingly, this film works. Not as well as it might have albeit, but it works nonetheless. What really saves Ant-Man is the casting. Paul Rudd was the perfect choice as the lead of the film. He balances the tightrope act of being hilarious while still showing dramatic depth to be believable. I might not go as far as to say that this performance is the next Chris Pratt's Star Lord, but it comes really close. Paul Rudd really is what drives this forward through its quirky premise and dialogue that just wouldn't have worked with a lesser actor.

Michael Douglas playing the veteran/mentor of the film is another reason Ant-Man works so well. He is there to provide the gravitas that simply wouldn't have been there without him. His chemistry with Paul Rudd is impressive. We completely buy the relationship between two people from entirely different worlds connected by similar goals. Both have issues with their families, but are trying to rekindle/strenthen relationships. I could go on to mention Michael Peña and Evangeline Lilly who are also solid, but it really is Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas who are what's special about the film. They bring a maturity and sincerity to the story that otherwise wouldn't have been there.

AntMan556fa275ccbd1Part of this simply comes from the way the story is structured. There is an intimacy to the script. It isn't a world trotting blockbuster extravaganza we've seen before. Instead we hone into a couple characters and, for all intents and purpose, one location. Because of this, we get a chance to see a more intimate development of one the most fascinating powers in the MCU. Ant-Man's powers, let's be honest, are a little bit incredibly cheesy. That being said, with the right visuals, and the way the film embraces its own quirkiness - it generally works really well. Scott Lang's interaction with his insect counterparts provides that light hearted fun as well as brilliantly constructed visuals.

The film isn't perfect though. Sure, I could go on to state pacing issues, excessive cheesiness, and a plot that is too simplistic; but none of those are cringe worthy. What is though, is Corey Stoll as Yellow Jacket, our villain. Once again, we don't have to look past the baddie to see the biggest problems with most Marvel Movies. Yellow Jacket is a weak villain. Sure his fight scenes are cool enough, but the dialogue and overacting for the most part from Corey Stoll just becomes frustrating. There doesn't appear to be much depth to the script or his character. To be fair he has one or two good acting moments and they at least in certain scenes try to flesh him out more, but in the end we are just given a stereotypical antagonist who is a weak plot device.

A weak villain and a few small issues aside, Ant-Man is one of the funnest movies this year. It really is a breath of fresh air to have a super-hero film that is a little more intimate study of a couple character than an all out war for the fate of all mankind. Paul Rudd is hilarious and brilliantly brings depth to a character I hope many of us will love for a long time to come. Michael Douglas, of course, is also great and provides that emotional weight and sincerity to scenarios that otherwise could have been too far-fetched to be emotionally invested in. Let's not also forget the supporting actors, including but not limited to Michael Peña and Evangeline Lilly, as they ground the film in its quirky yet sincere style. All of this is embellished by some beautifully executed special effects and creative visuals which provide much of the humor and joy for the film. That is to say Ant-Man is worth seeing in theatres on the biggest possible screen, which is more than I can say for most blockbusters out there.

Personal Preference: 4/5

Critical Analysis: 3.75/5

Brandon's Corner: Avengers: Age of Ultron Review *Spoiler Free*

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-trailer-2-Marvel-Entertainment-YouTube_opt*The last paragraph expresses short analysis* Wow, I couldn't believe that Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man showed up with Wolverine!!! And Luke Skywalker too with R2-D2!!! Thank you Joss Whedon!!! I wish you would have showed more of Batman and Superman though. Their interactions with Neo and Yoda were a little under developed.

Taking a step back, what's this blockbuster extravaganza beyond proportions about? One day, Tony Stark, our beloved Iron Man, comes across the possibility of discovering sentient AI. Believing that the world is in need of something greater to protect it, he accidentally creates a homicidal maniac who wants to conquer the world.  It's, you know, the typical story. From then on it's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to vanquish this foe - simple enough.

I'll let you know right now to clear the air that I see a buttload of problems with this film. So why do I have my gripes? Is it because I call myself a movie reviewer that I feel the need to dissect something till there is nothing left? No, this isn't really the case. I just care very deeply and intimately for great storytelling. As sad as I am to say this, Avengers: Age of Ultron has some major problems with story.

Though let's be positive for a bit. Age of Ultron has some of the coolest and ridiculously fun action sequences I may have ever seen. They may not hold the emotional weight of other counterparts; but the utter hilarity and joy of seeing beautifully choreographed, explosive events that only grow in escalation, is a dream come true for many of us comic book fans.

The acting is also something to enjoy. Robert Downey (Iron Man) has the charisma to carry these films forever. Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) are also particularly good; as well as a few smaller roles that are great from people I won't name. Then you have all the merely passables. I could name them all, but that would be exhausting. I could gripe at length about Black Widow, but maybe my distaste of her character is clouding my judgement on her acting. Either way, I am sick of her, regardless if this is not a flaw to the film.

9f01ecc776445d3c10f2584facf1efbeThe cinematography is also enjoyable enough. The one-takes and the intimateness the camera shares with the characters during times of tribulation is noteworthy. This also extends again to the fight scenes that are well shot and and are executed with enough mastery that they don't have to be covered up with loads of shaky cam and quick edits. Everything is fluid and slick, without succumbing to looking completely like a cartoon (à la The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies).

Now it's time for my nerd rage...or geek rage... I always confuse the two. I know that many of you won't care what I have to say next, so you can skip to the final paragraph if need be, but I have to say some things. I believe Avengers: Age of Ultron is the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe film ever. Yeah, I said that. That begs the question why?

For one, the tone and flow of the film is all over the map. Age of Ultron appeared to want to be three different films at once. One is a struggle over AI. Another is an intimate character study on superheroes in between times of struggle. The last is a goofy blockbuster filled to the brim with crazy action. If Whedon somehow were able to combine all of these into something cohesive it would have been phenomenal. Instead, it feels as if all the ingredients that work well enough on their own were barely stirred together and baked into something misshapen and almost indigestible.

This extends to the flow of the story, as there almost never is any. Instead it goes from plot point, to plot point, to plot point rushing at break neck speed. This could be fine, if done with care, but it doesn't appear to be. One is easily able to drown in the desperate racing to reach the end game without sufficient build up, crowded with incomprehensible, illogical, rapid-fire exposition.

The last problem is the least of all, but maybe the saddest. Whedon felt the need to end just about everything with a quippy one liner for some reason. He is the king of one liners, and don't get me wrong, many of these lines are funny if not hilarious. There is just way too many, and quite a few that aren't funny at all. It is along the lines of a baker throwing as much frosting as possible on a cake. The end result while still sweet, is excessive and lacks any form of subtlety. This takes away from moments that could have had gravitas. Instead, we are given an ADHD film that doesn't know when to shut up.

This may become the most unpopular review I've ever written, but I don't care. A lot of people are going to praise this film till no tomorrow. They are going to relish the brilliant action scenes, forget about everything else and not see any of the flaws in the film. I am not one of those people. The tone, pacing, sudden plot shifts, lack of logic, exposition, execution, and even the excessive one liners (among other things) are a burden to get through. This is not to say that this isn't an enjoyable film. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Many of you, very likely, will love this film. That doesn't mean it is not a mess though. It also doesn't mean that it lacks some of the coolest fight scenes you've ever seen and that it killed anticipation for more MCU. It'll take something special wrapped in a miracle to kill these films.

Personal Preference: 3.5/5

Critical Analysis: 2.75/5