Ant-Man and The Wasp


Viewed – 08 August 2018  Cinema

I really enjoyed the first Ant Man movie and thought it was a fun concept with some excellent effects and comedy.  This follow up has Paul Rudd’s Ant Man under house arrest following his actions during Captain America: Civil War and when Michael Douglas’ scientist and his daughter discover a way to possibly retrieve Douglas’ wife from the Quantum Realm, they turn to Ant Man for assistance.

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Not the deepest of storylines and one of the failings of this sequel which is mostly surface level entertainment more interested in gags and some slick action than having anything new to say that wasn’t already covered by the last movie.  The house arrest subplot also seemed shoe-horned in to tie-up loose ends from other movies.  I’d also add the pointless appearance from Walton Goggins (in his unending quest to be forgettable in every movie he appears in), and that motor-mouthed friend who like last time balances awkwardly between funny and annoying … even if he still gets some of the movie’s best lines.

Thankfully then, this energetic romp is bolstered by plenty of memorable sequences and welcome support from Lawrence Fishburn who plays a rival to Douglas.  The relationship between Ant-Man and his little daughter is also really charming (if underdeveloped since last movie).  I should also mention the mysterious, bad-ass character of ‘Ghost’ – an assassin who can phase in and out of form, enabling them to walk through walls etc who nearly steals the movie.  For such a concept Ant Man never stayed in shrunken tiny perspective for long enough for my liking, preferring to jump in and out of sizes … but usually to great comedic effect (the school sequence).  So quibbles aside this was still a solid follow up, but hopefully for the inevitable Ant Man 3 we’ll get something with a little more ahem… scale.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Ant Man


Viewed – 16 January 2016  online rental

Yes it’s taken me a while to get around to this one and perhaps my slight fatigue with the amount of comic book movies being churned out was a factor, but I can’t argue with the quality of the output and this latest is no exception.  Paul Rudd plays a down on his luck former cat burglar newly released from prison and trying to rebuild his relationship with his young daughter and ex-wife.  However the lure of the criminal world is always in the background thanks to a trio of never-do-well friends he’s forced to shack up with.  At the same time a high-tech company is on the verge of a breakthrough to create a suit that can shrink a man down to the size of an insect, but are missing that key formula that only former company boss Michael Douglas knows.

Ant-Man

This was a fun movie, with Paul Rudd mostly known for comedies on fine form with a few good one liners and suits the character well.  An ageing Douglas also adds some acting weight to proceedings and we also get Lost’s Evangeline Lilly looking hot in a black haired bob as Douglas’ daughter.  With thoughts back to Honey I Shrunk The Kids I got a buzz out of the shrunken perspective, to the point I wish the movie had stayed in that mode for the majority of the run time.  However that would not make for much variety and so we get an army of ants at Ant Man’s command and a villain out to create his own suit.  Casting of the main bad guy could have been better (what is he out of again?) and the three friends are little more than annoyances rather than being particularly likeable.  Ant-Man’s circumstances leading up to becoming a hero, are also pretty contrived, which ultimately stops this becoming a classic.

AntMan Douglas

But the action is very well done, the jumps from a shrunken Ant Man to full size and different plays with that are very well realised and the effects were state-of-the-art.  Above all I still had a good time with this.  One of Marvel’s more obscure creations, granted – but I was left thirsty for more.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies


Viewed – 16 December 2014  Cinema

Although with mixed feelings over this trilogy compared to the seminal masterworks of The Lord of the Rings, I was still optimistic walking into this final entry in director Peter Jackson’s fleshed out (and fleshed out) adaptation of J R R Tolkien’s classic novel.  We join Bilbo and his merry band of Dwarves, headed by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) housed up in the misty mountain following resident dragon Smaug having broke free and now laying siege to the nearby city of Lake Town.  With riches beyond compare and the search for the Arkenstone underway, Thorin has become corrupted by the greed and lust to take his place as King, and only Bilbo has the power to help having stolen the stone in case it made the dwarf leader even worse.  Meanwhile with the mountain now dragon-free, armies begin to approach for their share of the gold, and war looms.

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Immediately this is a more dramatic and action-packed entry in the middle earth cannon and things are kicking off pretty much from the start, with the lead up to conflict pretty tense.  However the corruption of Thorin and the Dwarves hanging around the mountain is a tad drawn out and I was eager for something to happen – and oh, did it!  A massive,  immense battle with legions upon legions of elves, orks, humans and dwarves all fighting … yet it was also pretty difficult to care all that much when it seemed like everyone was just out for a bigger piece of the pie – battle for middle earth (or helm’s deep for that matter) this was not.  So then I was beginning to really find the dwarves annoying and wishing they’d never gone on their fabled journey, pissed off a dragon, causing countless deaths as a result.  The whole quest as I’ve said before just not really seeming as necessary as what we see in LOTR.  Are we really meant to care?  No, and not even the director does it seems when the much sort after Arkenstone gets forgotten about entirely in the final act (but will no doubt re-surface in the extended edition…).

That being said this was still a real treat for CGI fans and does boast excellent fight sequences (the showdown between Thorin and the Ork baddie especially) and good turns from Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel and Sir Ian McKellen as the always excellent Gandalf.  Martin Freeman’s Bilbo remains solid for the lead, yet still lacks the personality or depth of the likes of Elija Wood’s Frodo Baggins or Viggo Mortenson’s Aragorn.  As a conclusion, this had plenty of energy and spectacle but lacked some of the wonder, diversity of locations and the sheer fantasy appeal of the other movies in the series … and for me remains the weakest of the trilogy.

Verdict  3 /5

Top Ten Television Crushes


Inspired once again from a post over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of  A Beginner Blogger, thought I’d post what female characters / actresses I’ve crushed on in television… Not quite as easy as my movies list (click!) I’ll admit, but interesting to compile none the less … in no particular order.  Warning… slight spoilers may appear.

Rachel Green in Friends

rachel

A fan favourite but the ‘every guy’s ideal girlfriend’ appeal of Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ in the hit sitcom is the basis of why Aniston continues to be one of the most likeable actresses around today.  Her on/off love story with on-screen boyfriend ‘Ross’ was also one of the highlights of the show.

Daphne Millbrook in Heroes

daphne millbrook

Arrogant but spunky, an expert thief who has the ability to run like The Flash but hides the fact she was actually a paraplegic before her ‘powers’ kicked in … so a vulnerable side too.  Played wonderfully by Brea Grant.

Maggie in The Walking Dead

maggie

Tough, very attractive and her often troubled love affair with on-screen husband ‘Glenn’ really makes this show increasingly watchable.  Helps that Lauren Cohen’s a fine actress too, and can handle a machete like a ruthless killer.

Joan Holloway in Mad Men

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When I first saw this red haired bombshell, I thought … wow, who is this actress?  Yes her character may be a bitch, but as seasons continued, we did get to see a gentler side, and damn, that face, those lips…I could go on.  Christina Hendricks is what they were talking about when they coined the phrase ‘…and God Created Woman’.

Kate Austin in Lost

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Evangeline Lilly’s vulnerable, feisty and sexy performance as the duel love interest of both ‘Jack’ and ‘Sawyer’ really held this complex, often infuriating but non the less enjoyable show together.  Great to also see Lilly now appearing in The Hobbit movies…makes for a wonderfully alluring elf.

Jane in Breaking Bad

Lewis Jacobs/ Still Photographer, 2008

Jessie’s ill-fated girlfriend, the manipulative and sexy Jane as played by the beautiful Kristen Ritter may only have a small appearance in the acclaimed show, but her legacy lingers on throughout.  Also those dangerously seductive lips and eyes…ahem.

Sam in E.R.

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Played by Linda Cardellini, this tough talking, single mother may have the ex husband from hell and a troubled son, yet her beauty and vulnerability make her one of this long-running shows best characters.

Buffy in Buffy The Vampire Slayer

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Ok the fan boy in me was tempted to go for Willow, but really this is crushes and Sarah Michelle Geller’s tough, quirky and sexy Buffy summers is the reason this show was such a massive success.

Taylor Townsend in The O.C.

taylor

Played by the gorgeous Autumn Reeser, this character appeared air-headed bimbo but was actually very funny and adorable … helped she was stunning too!  Must be all that Californian sun.

Dr Jennifer Melfi in The Sopranos

Melfi

From the acclaimed mob drama, how could I forget the smouldering sexiness of Dr Melfi, as played by the lovely Lorraine Bracco?  Made for a big part of the TV show, and the on/off sexual chemistry between her and the late James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano was almost unbearable … even if it never went ‘there’ between them…

Have you any favourite TV characters that got you all hot under the collar?  Feel free to post a link if you have a list of your own.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug


Viewed – 20 December 2013  Cinema

I enjoyed the last film in this planned trilogy.  Although more light hearted and therefore seemingly light weight compared to the grandeur of The Lord Of The Rings, it was still a joy to return to such a richly detailed and magical world as Middle Earth.  We catch up with Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his band of merry Dwarves in their quest to reach the lonely mountain and dethrone a sleeping dragon from their home.  A hefty task for sure, but as explained in the opening, the real reason these Dwarves are so desperate to reclaim their home and their gold is because it houses a powerful crystal that will enable lead Dwarf Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to claim his rightful place as the Dwarf king.  Erm, could have done with that being said in the first movie, if you ask me…

The-Hobbit-Smaug

Once again this is a fantastic setting, full of grand locations, brilliantly conceived villages, castle ruins, vistas – its a real treat for the eyes, and New Zealand is again showcased to a stunning degree.  More serious in tone this time, with thankfully no Dwarf songs and surprisingly no Gollum (!) but what we do get is greater attention to individual characters, with better focus on each Dwarf rather than them blending into one another like last time.  Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf is great as ever, and I warmed more to Freeman’s Bilbo this time.  Add to this a returning familiar face in the shape of Orlando Bloom’s Legollas, aided by Lost’s Evangeline Lilly as a warrior elf looking every bit the part (and scrumptious to boot!). 

Yet this movie’s undoing, unlike the previous one which seemed to fly by – is that it really does feel long and drawn out.  Many scenes are stretched, and you get the impression some could do with being cut entirely (the whole Legolas, Tauriel and Killi love triangle).  It’s clear to me that this is a story that could have been summed up in two movies more than three (which was the initial idea) but of course box office receipts mean lets get as much as we can out of this, even if the material just isn’t there … and that’s a fact that’s beginning to show.  However, the movie remains full of character and has great sequences (the dragon encounter especially) and looks amazing throughout – but regardless, two movies in and it still lurks in the shadows of ‘Rings – and seems unlikely to escape that.

Verdict:  3.5 /5