Ant-Man and the Wasp: A fun Respite from the Rest of the MCU

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After the big feat which was Avengers: Infinity War we have Ant-Man and the Wasp, one of Marvel’s smallest scale movie yet both literally and figuratively. Understand however that I am not saying this as an insult to the movie. On the contrary, I think it speaks volumes that the MCU is able to handle so well both large and small scale stories.

Alright, it’s obvious that I like the film but why is that? Well, the characters are enjoyable, the action is good, the special affects are well done and the humor is well…humorous. What is that? Sounds like any other Marvel film. Well….Yes.

Beyond the small scale nature of the film , Ant-Man and the Wasp really doesn’t bring much new to the able that we haven’t seen in previous films. Sure, there is more humor and character moments than Infinity War but that makes sense. Those areas are more present while there is less action scenes than Infinity War because, well, it’s not intended to be a giant action scene as Infinity War was.

So what do I mean by the small scale nature of the film? Most of the Marvel films have a tendency to be about a city, world or the universe being in danger. The only movies from the MCU that have really gone away from that model of story telling have been the Ant-Man movies and arguable Spider-Man: Homecoming. This is because Ant-Man focuses more on being a heist movie and trying to fix the Pym family problems. That is enough to make the movie different enough to make the viewer not role their eyes that they have seen the film before.

At the end of the day though this isn’t an amazing movie. It’s a popcorn flick through and through. If you enjoy Marvel, action or heist films this is for you.

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The Incredible 2: An enjoyable return to the world of supers

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The Incredible is one of the most loved Pixar movies of all time. Up there with Toy Story, Monsters Inc and Up. The Incredibles was always, in my opinion, the movie best suited to have a sequel from all the ones which Pixar produced. Why is that? To first understand why that is you should be familiar with the premise of The Incredibles.

Once upon a time heroes (known as Supers) fought along side the authorities to ensure that the world would be safe but when the collateral damage became too much, Supers were forced into hiding. Two of those Supers-Elastic Girl and Mr. Incredible-started a family with all of their kids forming superpowers that they must hide but when their father is in danger the family comes together to save him and become a superhero crime-fighting family.

Right there you have a very interesting premise for a movie series. You can focus on the angle of the family balancing crime fighting and their daily lives, you could discuss the issue of Supers still being banned or just a new villain with a standard fighting scheme. In essence think of how many films Marvel has been able to do and still be successful. Pixar has a similar potential in The Incredibles.

With all that background out of the way, What is Incredibles 2 about?  There are two main threads. One, Mr. Incredible trying to act as a single father and the second, Elastic Girl fighting crime trying to move public opinion about the Supers so that they can come out of hiding. In concept this feels like a natural progression for the Incredibles story to take and was it done well, well, kind of…

The scenes of Mr. Incredible trying to help the kids is relatable and often funny. It is nice to see the characters interacting with one another again as there is a sense of chemistry. Even though most of the ground which the film covers with the kids isn’t particularly new. A father trying to help his daughter get the boy, a father trying to help with homework there really is a sense of heart in the scenes which make them enjoyable to watch. The scenes with Jack-Jack were the source of the most of the comedy and was the most original part of Mr. Incrdible’s storyline but I did feel that it was also the one that posed the most problems. Specifically with what they did with Edna. However that doesn’t mean that they weren’t enjoyable.

Elastic Girl;s story I think was a little predictable. The movie sets up some new characters early on in the film which were clearly going to play an important role when it came to the main villain. Though I will say that I was a little off on where it was going (which was good because it they had gone the route I was expecting the movie would have been ridiculously predictable) the twist was still one that has been done many times before and will likely leave some viewers disappointed.

That being said, the villain themselves is not as good as the one from the previous film but I do think their motivation was a t least understandable. I do think that their plan was…problematic…but it did make for a good third act action scene.

One of the things that I think dragged this film down was the lack of originality and the lack of darkness that was present in the previous film. There was only really one dark thing in this film while there were several in the other which gave the sense of stakes and understanding of why the world is what it is. This film didn’t need to be as dark but at least a little more original as, when I left the theater, I felt like I had just watched another superhero movie. Noting ground breaking and nothing that I would feel the need to watch again in the near future.

If anything, the film felt a little incomplete. Now, this may be because the film took so long to be released and but it feels like the film didn’t cover a lot of ground. I think if there is a third in seven years that may help fix that but we will have to wait in see. At the nd of the day this film is good but not great. It is a film that almost anyone can enjoy.watching at least once. Just don’t expect to be blown away by it.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

There are few people that touched kids in the same way as Mr. Rogers did. Though I did not grow up on his show I always had a level of respect for him and that respect has only grown after seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a film about Mr. Rogers’ life that has recently gotten a limited release.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? follows Mr. Rogers life from his discovery of the TV to his death. If you are not familiar with Mr. Rogers he was an entertainer that started his career entertaining/educating children in the early 1950s. His soft tone and willingness to delve into serious topics while never devolving into tropes that helped make other children’s shows successful made him stick out even today in the child entertainment industry.

This film focuses on some of the challenging issues which Rogers covered in his show, his beliefs in regards to kids, the struggles he faced in production as well as the contrast in his show compared to other children programs.

The movie is told mostly linearly but does cover side topics such as his stance on race which was not limited to a single period of time. This never took me out of the narrative however as there was a sense of warmth in the film as you watch this man who truly believed in what he was doing shape his own path. At the end of the movie I don’t think there was a single eye that wasn’t teary. Mind you, again, I didn’t grow up with his show but the movie still touched me. I recommend this movie no natter your familiarity with Mr. Rogers as you will will still get something out of this film.

The Seagull-A Depressing Watch

Going into a movie with no previous knowledge is always an interesting experience. Issues which come from expectations from knowing the source material or expectations from the trailer are removed. I wanted to mention this as this is how I went into The Seagull. The following review thus will not be influenced by previous knowledge of the source material beyond the basic information which was researched after the fact.

The Seagull is an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s play of the same name. Released in the late 1800s it was the first of his most famous works. This movie was originally released in 2015 but was picked up by Sony for a wider release this year.

Here is a brief synopsis of the film: Konstantine is a young aspiring writer. He has found that his mother is not receptive to his work and has taken solace in his love with a girl named Nina. Wanting to impress his mother, Konstantine puts on a performance for his mother and her lover, Boris (both of whom are visiting from the city) and others who live in the area with Nina playing the lead. When the the play doesn’t go well Konstantine begins to see his life crash down around him while Nina takes an interest in Boris.

If this movie sounds like a love triangle movie you are on the right track but there is far more to the movie than that. It is hard to summarize or put into words all the things this movie delves into. Depression, admission, humanity, and love as well as many other ideas. This is the main thing which I will praise about he film. lt sets out to tell a fairly complex story and succeeds in doing so. With acting that brought to life complex characters and writing that still left motivations up to the viewers imagination, the movie is a strong one.

That all being said, I still have a hard time recommending this movie. It is a rather depressing move and though there are parts of humor the movie never lets up the the sense that things are getting worse and worse. This is not a happy ending film. Yet it is also not the kind of  film that you will leave with tears in your eyes. The characters are well written but you are not going to care for what happens to most of them to much.  with that in mind I would not recommend this movie to a casual movie goer or even a more serious one unless you are going with someone else so that you can discuss the movie after. I think that is the best way this film can be consumed. As an analytical piece and not a piece of entertainment.

 

Solo

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Right now it is pretty popular to riff on the newest Star Wars movie, Solo but is it really worth the hate? The short answer is, sort of, but you are here to read a review so lets put a pin on that and get back to it.
Solo is a prequel to a New Hope. This means that the story takes place at a time when the Empire controls the universe. Solo, being on a planet with no future, decides to escape his world planet. In his escape, he leaves behind someone he cares about and vows to come back for her.
That…Doesn’t scream very Han Solo to me. And that really is the problem with this film. It doesn’t feel like a story that would belong to Han Solo. Han Solo is thought of as a tough guy who puts on a suborn act but actually cares. That doesn’t feel like the character that we got even though there are many callbacks to scenes from other films.
Some readers may be reading this post and be wondering about the fact that this is a prequel. Isn’t the point of a prequel to build up to the character to who we know and love? Well yes, that is what a prequel should do but the movie failed to do that. Did Han have an arc? He did, but he didn’t feel like the character he was for the later films. And though the film seemed to sequel-bait at the end so there is likely more movies which will get the character closer to the one which we know, the fact of the matter is, without proper character development in this film and a generic story this movie is just a generic adventure movie. Han Solo could have essentially been switched out with any character and the movie would have still worked. It didn’t need to be his story.
Understand, I am not calling this movie bad but middle of the road. It is the kind of film that you leave the theater thinking its fine but don’t put much more thought into it. The only reason why people are putting more thought into it is because the words “Han Solo” and “Star Wars” are attached to it.
So what is wrong with the story itself? The story is essentially made up of a series of heist and escape scenes, the kind that you have seen in other films. Likely the best part was the supporting characters such as the villain played by Paul Bettany and Lando Calrissian and his partner L3. The thing is these characters are not the focus so are only able to make slight variations from what you would expect from the tropes that re present.
In the end of the day however, this movie is to meh to say to either avoid or to watch. If you are curious, go watch it but if you are not, your not missing anything.

Birth Of The Dragon-A Martial Arts Movie That Has No Kick To

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Bruce Lee is one of the most famous actors in history and is a great subject for a film unfortunately the creators of Birth of the Dragon seemed to think otherwise. Instead of focusing on Bruce Lee the story of Birth of the Dragon focuses on one of Bruce Lee’s students who falls in love with a girl and develops a connection with Wong Jack Man, a martial arts teacher who Bruce Lee faces in battle in the film. Having an “every man” lead isn’t a bad thing however when the center piece of the film (the battle between Wong Jack Man and Bruce Lee) doesn’t include the main character of the film in any meaningful way there is a problem.

That being said, Bruce Lee in Birth of the Dragon is a rather unlikable character. He is very focused on fame and has a lot of pride. The fact that he is such an unlikable character in the film makes me wonder if that was why he wasn’t made the main character of the film…Especially since it doesn’t feel like he grew a lot between the the beginning and end of the film.

The character that was handled the best in the film was Wong Jack Man. I would have loved if he had been the focus of the film Especially since he isn’t a famous figure in the West but instead we had an “every man” character who I can’t remember the name of.

You are likely wonder how the actual fighting was in the film. The fighting was well done and enjoyable to watch. There were two main action set pieces and I enjoyed both of them. However if your main draw to the film you can just wait for the scenes to be posted to Youtube.

Though I am speaking quite negatively about the film I am not saying that it is terrible. The film just made a lot of poor decisions that the good parts of it couldn’t make up for. This is the kind of film you can have in the background while you are doing homework or could watch on an airplane and not feel like you wasted your time. That being said, I cannot recommend you actually spend money on the film unless the film is of a heavy interest to you.

Oscar Results

So, I figured now (way after the Oscars) would be a good time to reflect on my predictions. I didn’t do great at predicting but hey, I got Best Picture right which is an accomplishment in itself.

Best Picture

Prediction: Moonlight

Winner: Moonlight

So my theorizing was rather spot on here. I will say when I was watching the Oscars I was surprised by how many wins La La Land didn’t pull in but with the winner of Best Director being announced I started to think La La Land will win. So I ended up being surprised by the results like everyone else.

Actor in a Leading Role

Prediction: Ryan Gosling

Winner: Casey Afflect

This one surprised me-Ryan Gosling did a great job in La La Land and in a night where Manchester by the Sea didn’t do so hot it was even more surprising.

Actress in a Leading Role

Prediction: Natalie Portman

Winner: Emma Stone

In hind sight I do feel that Emma Stone earned her Oscar. She did take on a complex role and sold it very well.

Best Supporting Actor

Prediction: Lucas Hedges

Winner: Mahershala Ali

I am very happy with the winner, and honestly Mahershala Ali was the person I was rooting for anyways.

Best Supporting Actress

Prediction: Viola Davis

Prediction: Viola Davis

Well deserved Oscar. I just wish her speech was a little more structured than it was. Even so, she had one of the three most memorable speeches of the night.

Best Animated Film

Prediction: Zootopia

Winner: Zootopia

A good choice in a year of great animated films.

Cinematography

Prediction: La La Land

Winner: La La Land

Lets be frank here: La La Land was, from the beginning basically guaranteed to win this and the music categories.

Best Costumes

Prediction: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Reading more into the costumes from FBWFT I was impressed about the thought process that went into the material and color selection for the costumes. With that in mind I am even more happy than before about the HP movies series getting its first Oscar win.

Directing

Prediction: La La Land

Winner: Damien Chazelle

The more I come to understand about La La Land the more I feel Damien Chazelle put his heart and soul into this film. I have not seen any of his other films but I have the feeling that from now on he will be one of the most sought out directors in Hollywood.

Best Documentary

Prediction: Life, Animated

Winner: O.J

A correction from my previous post. Life, Animated is not an animated film like I thought it was. As I had not seen any of the films in the documentary category I went off of a general understanding of the films to select who would win. That being said, I would of never expected a movie about O.J to ever win. I will say that the speech which was given when receiving the award made me feel a little better about the win though.

Best Editing

Prediction: Arrival

Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

I was generally surprised by how many wins Hacksaw Ridge received. I stick by that Arrival should have won.

Best Makeup and Hairstying

Prediction: Star Trek Beyond

Winner: Suicide Squad

Though Killer Croc’s makeup was quite impressive, I think Start Trek did a better job in making interesting designs. Also, the idea that the DCEU won an Oscar before MCU is really strange.

Best Score

Prediction: La La Land

Winner: La La Land

Not surprising. Though I honestly don’t think the score was the best from the nominations.

Best Original Song

Prediction: Audition

Winner: City of Stars

Though not my favorite song nominated, I was pretty sure La La Land was going to win in this category. My selection of Audition was arbitrary.

Best Production Design

Prediction: La La Land

Winner: La La Land

Called it!

Best Animated Short

Prediction: Blind Vaysha

Winner: Piper

Piper is adorable but I feel it deserves an award for visuals more than story. Still, I can’t hate that it won. It’s just so cute.

Sound Editing

Prediction: La La Land

Winner: Arrival

I am happy Arrival got an Oscar… I just wish it was in one of the main categories. It is a great movie I feel that it was robbed of the recognition it deserved.

Sound Mixing

Prediction: Rouge One

Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

I don’t really have a strong opinion on this.

Visual Effects

Prediction: Kubo and the Two Strings

Winner: The Jungle Book

I stick by that Kubo and the Two Strings should have won BUT The Jungle Book was a good choice. Though I only felt the animals looked real in one scene, the backgrounds were amazing.

Oscar Predictions…

…Basically doing this as last minute as possible but lets have fun with this. I will make this brief and in an hour  you can see how wrong I was. Lets go!

Best Picture-Moonlight

Well, the obvious choice is La La Land but I have noticed that for the past few years the favorite to win usually ends up losing so I am going to bet on the movie that does most of the usual Oscar nods besides La La Land: Moonlight.

Actor in a Leading Role-Ryan Gosling

The winner of the night-even if it doesn’t win best picture-will be La La Land. Ryan Goling did a great job in the movie and I don’t think the Oscars are going to reward that.

Actress in a Leading Role-Natalie Portman

I always feel that if a picture is not nominated for best picture but gets a best actor nomination that its for a good reason. Emma may end up winning for La La Land but I think Natalie’s portrayal of Jackie might just be able to win out.

Best Supporting Actor-Lucas Hedges

Honestly, I would prefer Mahershala Ali to win but I think Manchester by the see is going to pull of a win.

Best Supporting Actress-Viola Davis

She has been nominated for best supporting actress in the past and with Fences I think she is going to be able to win her self a statue.

Best Animated Film-Zootopia

With all the buzz Zootopia has gotten and the winning streak Disney has been on I think the winner is obvious.

Cinematography-La La Land

Though Silence is a good contender, La La Land is going to win this one I am certain.

Best Costumes=Fantastic Bests and Where to Find Them

I know this is a long shot but I really do feel the film should win.

Directing-La La Land

Theoretically it would make sense for best directing to go to the Best Picture winner but I do thing the choreography does give La La Lnd and edge over Moonlight.

Best Documentary-Life, Animated

Again, bias over reality talking here, but I do feel that an animated film takes a huge amour of effort and what was accomplished with Life, Animated makes it a worthy winner of this category.

Best Short Subject Doumentary-Unknown

I am unfamiliar with all of these shorts. Next.

Best Editing-Arrival

This something that I am usually not impressed by. That being said, Arrival really did impress me.

Best Foreign Language Film-Unknown

Though these movies might be great, I am not familiar with any of them unfortunately.

Best Makeup and Hairstying-Star Trek Beyond

The makeup was quite impressive in the movie.

Best Score-La La Land

A best picture nominated musical winning a music award? Makes sense.

Best Original Song-Audition

Though How Far I Go SHOULD win I will repeat what I said. A best picture nominated musical winning a music award? Makes sense.

Best Production Design-La La Land

Another category which is hard to imagine anyone else winning though I will admit I am not familiar with Hail, Caesar so maybe that one has a chance.

Best Animated Short-Blind Vaysha

The kind of thought-provking story that the Oscar loves. I don’t have a lot of certainty that the short will win but it has a strong chance.

Best Live Action Short Film-Unknown

Not familiar with any of these.

Sound Editing-La La Land

Though the competitors have a good chance in this category.

Sound Mixing-Rouge One

At least I hope it will win.

Visual Effects-Kubo and the Two Strings

This film DESERVES the win considering everything which was accomplished in the creation of the film. This movie and The Jungle Book are the only ones which I can say truly broke new grounds in visual effects but considering how Laika has been a trailblazer in stop-motion animation I feel that they deserve this Oscar.

Best Writing-Fences

Either that or Arrival…Again, we will see but I think both deserve the recognition.

Please note: I apoligize for any writing errors in this. I just wrote out my thoughts informally for this. I have not seen all of the films but have seen clip and am familiar with the stories of most. I think this will be interesting. We shall see how I did with the predictions. Enjoy the Oscars everyone!

-Otno

 

Lost Alice Luke – A Flawed Entrance to Wonderland

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Lost Alice is the newest app released by Shall We Date. I was not sure what to expect from this new visual novel as the last time a preexisting property was used as a basis for a game (Sherlock) it was an entertaining addition to Shall We Date’s library but the other attempt (Oz) is one of the worst visual novels which Shall We Date has released (though it has improved). So, how does Lost Alice fair?

To start with, I have only read one route and that’s the Mad Hatter’s (Luke). Luke is a likable character to follow and has a very nice design. In fact, all the characters have very nice designs.

The characters are likable in the story. My favorites being the Red Queen and the Chess King. I am excited to see the Chess King’s route that is for sure. In addition, it is nice to see so many female characters in the game. There is usually only one or two characters which are “friend” characters (in other words, ones that you won’t date) so it is nice to have four in this story.

However, I think that the creaters got carried away with the characters. That is, they spend too much time talking rather than doing anything to advance the story. The story starts strong with “Alice” not remembering who she is and if she is not careful she will eventually lose her name. This is very interesting… To bad the story decides to drop the plot for chapter upon chapter of talking. With the exeption of the first meeting with the Chess King there is no conflict in the story to be seen until the end when the story remember that it had a plot. I understand building characters and their relations but that doesn’t need to be the whole second act!

Do I recommend the story? Well…No. At least not for now. I suspect the next story that will be release d will be better than the first batch (though I will check out the other two stoies to see if they are any good). For now, there are better visual novels that are worth your time.

The Space Between Us – A Cluttered Mess of a Movie

I saw an advanced screening of The Space Between Us and it is exactly what it looks like from the trailers: a cluttered mess.

Garner is a boy who was born on Mars. He is stuck on Mars with only scientists as company as his body cannot handle Earth’s atmosphere. He eventually is able to come to Earth with the understanding that he would need to be carefully monitored to make sure that he would be ok but soon after arriving he escapes and searches for the girl who he hade been talking to while on Mars and to find out about his father.

Sounds like a lot right? It most certainly is. There is a movie that could be made about Gardener’s life on Mars alone. There could be a movie about him learning about Earth and another for the search of his father. Instead, we get all of these elements squished into a two hour movie. Mind you , if the movie’s elements were done better this wouldn’t be an issue but most of them were handled poorly.

Garner’s life on Mars was only shown breiefly and, as a result, I wanted to know far more about it than was shown. I would have enjoyed watching Garner growing up on Mars and  seeing the new experiences of science through his eyes but by the time we see him in the film, he is already bord of his life on Mars.

The scenes where Garner is learning about life on Earth are a lot of fun. They were the best moments of the film. However, these moments are constantly interrupted with the romance subplot (oh did I forget to mention that? Just add it to the list of story elements that make this movie a mottled mess). The leads have good chemistry but its just the same old romance plot that you’ve seen in most romances.

The father storyline was the one that was suppose to have a “big twist” but the twist was one that I predicted almost as soon as the film started. Honestly, the father’s part of the story may open the most plotholes in the whole film. But since I want to avoid spoilers I won’t go into why this is.

The acting is generally good. Garner was awkward without being annoying and the romantic interest (Tulsa) was at times over acting but generally her performance was likable. Nathanial (the one that created the Mars program) is the worst however. His actor, Gary Olden is chewing on the scenery of the film and its distracting.

My final thoughts on the film are this: watch the trailer of the film and, if it seems like something you would enjoy, go see it. I know I have been harsh on the movie but honestly, a lot of the issues I had with the movie were not surprising as a result of the trailer which I had previously seen for this movie.

This movie won’t amaze you and it won’t be a new sci-fi classic (like why the release date was changed from December 16th to February 3rd as to not compete against a classic sci-fi like Star War) but it is a film with merits with solid acting and a continuously moving story. For me however, one watch was more than enough.