ANT-MAN IS GOOD SUPERHERO FUN – NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS

Ant-Man

I suppose it’s something we somewhat take for granted but it’s hard to believe that Ant-Man is the 12th Marvel Studios superhero movie! The mere fact that I can write the words “superhero movie” is already a minor miracle considering that these were rare once upon a time. So I enjoy the superhero movie phenomenon as long as I can.

But seriously folks, compared to other action-adventure blockbusters franchises, superhero movies have generally been good entertainment, value for money and relatively well written to boot! Sure, there have been a couple of exceptions but overall, it has been a good run since the first Iron Man.

And that’s the movie that Ant-Man most feels like – it’s the origin story of a man in a suit which grants him super powers – and for most part, director Peyton Reed (who took over from Edgar Wright) has done a commendable job in keeping the movie well afloat despite its problems in pre-production.

The difference between Iron Man and Ant-Man is that with the latter, there is now a vast backstory to contextualise the tale. This applies especially to this Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Ant-Man, where we now discover that Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne had been working with SHIELD (as Ant-Man & Wasp) in the 80s. Also, instead of Yellowjacket being one of the manifestations of Pym’s insanity, it is a separate (villainous character, altogether). All this serves to give greater depth to the MCU.

In addition, there is a marked lighter tone to Ant-Man that is similar to that encountered on Guardians of the Galaxy, which puts Paul Rudd (Scott Lang) right in his element. The means by which Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits Lang as the new Ant-Man is cleverly handled with the first sequence where Lang shrinks down, a wonder to behold! Evangeline Lilly provides Lang with an apt foil – as Hope Van Dyne (Pym’s estranged daughter) and the possibility of another female Marvel superhero (stay for the post-credits scene!).

There is an unevenness about how the film ends, which is not helped by the two post-credits scenes but perhaps that’s the idea – to make us geeks feel like the MCU is one ever continuing story. For what its worth, Ant-Man has earned its right to be part of the tale’s unfolding.

Ant-Man is showing at cinemas now. 

GEEK OUT! ANT-MAN INTERNATIONAL TRAILER PROMISES MUCH FROM THE END OF PHASE 2

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Ant-Man opens on 16th July and might be a good indicator of where Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is headed. This new international trailer (from Japan) highlights a little bit of our protagonist Scott Lang’s back story and also some history regarding Hank Pym and the Ant-Man suit.

By all accounts, it appears that Ant-Man is set up to take over from Iron Man in certain ways even as Robert Downey Jr winds down his MCU involvement. This movie is looking funny, exciting and a key MCU jumping point. Expecting the post-credits scenes to be epic!

GEEK OUT! TO THOSE WHO DISLIKED AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

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If you have read my spoiler-free review, you would be aware that I loved Avengers: Age of Ultron and consider it by far the best superhero movie ever so far. However, based on numerous online comments, it has become de rigueur to label the movie as a disappointing sequel to the first movie, with the common criticism being that the movie has too much going on. My first reaction to this is — have these people ever read an actual superhero comic book before? Probably not. In that regard, I believe that director Joss Whedon made Avengers: Age of Ultron for us geeks and for that I am certainly grateful!

— SPOILERS ALERT —

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GEEK OUT! AGENT CARTER – AND IN THE END…

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In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers speaks to an aged Peggy Carter and tells her “knowing you helped found S.H.I.E.L.D. is half the reason I stayed”.

When Agent Carter was first announced, perhaps many thought that the story of how Carter “helped found S.H.I.E.L.D.” would be told. Instead, what we got was how Carter was marginalised at the SSR but still ultimately played a major role in stopping Leviathan from executing a diabolical plot to kill thousands of innocent people and take revenge on Howard Stark.

This final episode of the mini-series does what one expects it to, and with much aplomb. Hayley Atwell, Dominic Cooper and James D’Arcy provide the star power as Carter, Stark and Jarvis as required, whereas Chad Michael Murray (Agent Thompson) and Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) are functionary at best. So while Agent Carter was a fun ride into the post-war MCU, hopefully subsequent mini-series will explore more seriously the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Carter’s role in the same.

Agent Carter has done well to make connections with MCU films (unlike say, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and has exploited well the strengths of having a shared universe. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

GEEK OUT! THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE FILMS – LEGIT OR HYPE?

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10 films that have changed the face of the movie industry. 10 films that exist within an unprecedented shared universe. 10 films that have collectively grossed over US$7 billion worldwide. Yes, there’s no doubt that commercially, the MCU films have done fantastically well but what about creatively? Can the films stand up to critical scrutiny or is their popularity a product of marketing hype and nothing more? Let’s investigate.

IRON MAN (2008)

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You know the story. Grossing over $500 million worldwide, Iron Man was an unexpected mega-hit for Marvel Studios’ first venture, marking the comeback of Robert Downey Jr and making the movie industry sit up and take notice. The post-credits scene was used for the first time, to introduce the concept of the MCU to movie audiences as Nick Fury said the words “Avengers Initiative” as a promise of things to come. Putting aside the milestones, it’s worthy to remember that this Jon Favreau-helmed film was very well made with strong performances from Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Terence Howard (James Rhodes). The age of Marvel (films) had begun. (9/10)

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