Ant-Man & The Wasp

Year: 2018
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Forston

WRITTEN BY CHRIS GELDERD

This 2018 American superhero film is the sequel to 2015’s ‘Ant-Man’ and the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is directed by Peyton Reed and stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park and Michelle Pfeiffer.

One of the most under-rated Marvel superheroes launched in 2015 with his big-screen debut, bringing together a solid cast and adding more pieces to the MCU puzzle. In ‘Captain America: Civil War’, Ant-Man stole the show by becoming Giant-Man in an all to brief but highly entertaining appearance. Now it’s time for the inevitable sequel; one that not only surpasses the original, but lets core Marvel values shine brightly in a franchise currently clouded by recent doom and gloom.

Grab your popcorn and kick back. It’s time to have some fun once again.

This film belongs to Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly – it’s a film about partnership, about family, friendship and being. It’s ‘Ant-Man & The Wasp‘; equal heading, equal footing on marketing and everything in-between. Rudd doesn’t need to try too hard to be humorous, but he still manages to do it in a very heartfelt and endearing way, making Scott Lang stand out as one of the Marvel heroes simply wearing a super suit and uses his heart, head, and honour to fight evil, rather than gifted God-like superpowers.

On the other side of this duo, Evangeline Lilly holds her own across the whole film. She is ballsy, brainy and badass.  She’s a real humane hero who doesn’t become a damsel in distress. She clearly takes care of herself when the heat is turned up and, along with Rudd, shows some real heart and emotion that pushes the core themes forward. Rudd and Lily are equal, neither have greater ability than the other when it comes down to fighting the good fight, and none of them are there as a spare tool. It’s equality, and then some, and so much more enjoyable for it with them being together. The trailer used lyrics It takes two to make a thing go right. It takes two to make it outta’ sight.” Never a truer phrase in this case.

With a stellar supporting cast including veterans Michael Douglas (who has even more to do this time around thankfully) and the amusing guilty-pleasure comedy of Michael Peña who all add to the story rather than be expendable, new faces also add to the overall quality. Laurence Fishburne helps expand character relations and morals, Walton Goggins as our charming black market bad guy for hire and Michelle Pfeiffer as the original Wasp and wife of Hank.

Young Abby Ryder Forston as Cassie, Lang’s daughter, shines with as much warmth and wit as Rudd in her scenes and is a joy to see on screen. But it is Hannah John-Kamen who strikes a chord as Ava Starr – our ‘Ghost’ – who has a molecular instability thanks to reasons left to be discovered. She’s pushed as the villain of the piece, but is she? Director Peyton Reed tiptoes towards MCU cliché in her goals and actions, but each time pulls back from the brink to give us something a little different and unexpected. Her story is a sad one and while she is highly dangerous in what she does and why, it’s the journey she takes mirroring the heroes that add some great moments and thrills, thrills that come thick and fast, and help define “popcorn entertainment”.

We have a brilliantly choreographed car chase that involve trucks, motorbikes, Pez dispensers and Hot Wheels racers. We have a hotel lobby and kitchen fight, once more perfectly choreographed, that showcases Lily in full force. We also have eye-popping ‘Doctor Strange’-esque quantum realm travel and bone-crunching hand to hand combat. The whole pace of the movie is perfect, and the action compliments each development and progresses everything and everyone without being pointless.

There isn’t the need for city-wide destruction and mass genocide here. It’s a family-friendly film, but one that harkens a little more to classic Marvel themes before the stakes were as high as they could be and it felt things had peaked. ‘Ant-Man & The Wasp’ takes the threat of Thanos out of the equation for a couple of hours and reduces all pointless cameos and Avenger interaction to give Ant-Man both a fair stand-alone sequel but also presenting new ideas for the future of the franchise.

The humour is on top form where you will find yourself chuckling along a lot of the time without even knowing it thanks to the snappy character exchanges. Yet, fear not, the movie isn’t stupid nor does it rely on infantile humour to get the laughs. There is a lot of heart to this film – the narrative is more about family and faith over Infinity Stones and nuclear wars – so you will certainly be able to invest in the characters, what they do and why.

Another strong reason this film seems to make great leaps forward to Marvel is the visual effects that stand amongst the best in the current franchise. There is no need for constant green screen and masses of CGI locations thanks to keeping things Earth based with practical sets and effects. The stand-out moments are the shrinking and enlarging of Ant-Man and Wasp. Split second transformations in the middle of breakneck fights are seamless and fluid, with the environment and characters reacting accordingly. Nothing feels jarred or loose. It’s tight, imaginative, entertaining and exciting. And when Ant-Man loses control of his suit’s regulator, there’s just more good fun to be had.

Ant-Man & The Wasp’ doesn’t try to compete with the juggernaut of ‘Infinity War’, it instead does the wise thing and distances itself far from it. If the bar to judge all MCU films hinges on ‘IW’, then you’ll find you miss out on these smaller gems that expand the forgotten heroes and their own stories.

However, for the ones who are worried, then don’t be. Events of ‘Infinity War’ are referenced in the film. How? When? You’ll have to find out for yourself and watch that Marvel cloud of doom and gloom smother the care-free fun you just had.

CHRIS’ RATING:

5

Teamwork Makes The Dream Work In Brand New ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ Trailer

“As Scott Lang balances being both a superhero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past”

Directed by: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeine  Lilly, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña

Release Date: August 3rd, 2018

12 Strong

Year: 2018
Directed by: Nicolai Fuglsig
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, William Fichtner, Rob Riggle

Written by Tom Sheffield

If you’ve read some of my reviews on here before, you’ll know I’m a sucker for films based on true events, such as ‘Deepwater Horizon‘, ‘The Founder‘, and ‘Jackie‘ to name just a few I’ve written about for JUMPCUT. So with ’12 Strong’ riding into cinemas recently I thought I’d add another under my belt!

Following the devastating 9/11 terror attacks, a highly trained team comprising of CIA paramilitary offices and US forces, ‘Operational Detachment Alpha 595’ (ODA 595) flew out to Afghanistan to begin a secret and highly dangerous mission to fight back against Taliban forces. Once there, the task force must work alongside General Abdul Rashid Dostum of the Northern Alliance to push the Taliban out of Mazar-e-Sharif for good.

Hemsworth takes the lead as Captain Mitch Nelson, who was just about to start a role working behind the desk in an office rather than on the front lines before the terror attacks. It goes without saying that Michael Shannon gives another strong performance, despite his character getting less screen time than probably deserved. Michael Peña, Trevante Rhodes, Thad Luckinbill, and the rest of the squad also deliver believable and fantastic performances, often resorting to humour and wise cracks to lighten tense and serious situations, however these don’t feels shoehorned in and are delivered like genuine banter amongst brothers in arms. William Fichtner only appears briefly in a handful of scenes as Colonel Mulholland, but he certainly makes an impression as he sports a shiny bald head (which I found very distracting!).

Fuglsig may not be a director you recognise the name of, but there’s a very high chance you’ve seen some of his previous work, which has mostly been commercials. One that might ring a bell is for Sony Bravia in which 250,000 colourful bouncing balls were let loose on the largest hill in San Francisco. It would seem producer Jerry Bruckheimer took a risk offering the director’s chair to Fuglsig, given his lack of experience on feature films, but all in all I think he did a reasonably good job on such a demanding film. The direction is good and it has a familiar feel to war films we’ve seen before, which is by no means a bad thing.

Lorne Balfe provides the accompanying score for the film and does an incredible job of keeping you in the moment. There are some truly heart racing scenes in amongst some slower, and quite frankly boring, moments but Balfe’s score fits in so perfectly to whatever is going on that it keeps you engaged. Another winner from Balfe!

’12 Strong’ has got a lot of heart and, from what I’ve read, doesn’t steer too far from the truth for dramatic effect, unlike other films based on true events, and it’s the solid cast at the forefront of this film that really make it what it is. It’s a real slow burner that never really has it’s BIG moment, but it does well to deliver edge-of-your-seat tension. The big, slow build up to the third act is definitely worth it as we witness the events that lead to the mission’s conclusion. I highly recommend seeking this out at the cinema if it sounds like your kind of film.

Tom’s Rating: 6.5/10

Evangeline Lilly Takes Flight In First ‘Ant-Man And The Wasp’ Trailer

“As Scott Lang balances being both a superhero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past”

Directed by: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeine  Lilly, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña

Release Date: August 3rd, 2018

Ava DuVernay’s ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ Gets New Theatrical Trailer

“From visionary director Ava DuVernay comes Disney’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, an epic adventure based on Madeleine L’Engle’s timeless classic which takes audiences across dimensions of time and space, examining the nature of darkness versus light and, ultimately, the triumph of love. Through one girl’s transformative journey led by three celestial guides, we discover that strength comes from embracing one’s individuality and that the best way to triumph over fear is to travel by one’s own light.”

Directed By: Ava DuVernay

Cast:  Chris Pine, Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Deric McCabe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Zach Galifianakis

Release Date: March 23rd 2018

Chris Hemsworth Rides Into War In The First Trailer For ’12 Strong’

“The film the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11; under the leadership of a new captain, the team must work with an Afghani warlord to take down the Taliban.”

Directed by: Nicolai Fuglsig
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Peña, Elsa Pataky, Taylor Sheridan
Release Date: 26th January 2017

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Production Officially Begins On ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’

Marvel’s official Twitter feed just confirmed that production has begun on ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’, and marked the occasion with a brilliant video which shows where Ant-Man and The Wasp will spend their down-time between takes.

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are both returning for their respective roles, but this time Lilly’s Hope van Dyne will don her mother’s Wasp costume, as teased at the end of the first film. It was also recently confirmed that Michelle Pfeiffer has been cast as the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne, mother of Hope and wife of Hank (Michael Douglas).

Also recently confirmed as members of the cast include Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, and Randall Park, who has been confirmed to play S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Jimmy Woo. Michael Pena, T.I and David Dastmalchian are all returning for the sequel.

We also have an updated synopsis for the film, which is as follows: 

“From the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes a new chapter featuring heroes with the astonishing ability to shrink: “Ant-Man and The Wasp.” In the aftermath of “Captain America: Civil War,” Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.”

Director Peyton Reed has also just released a better look at the new logo for the film.

‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ opens in cinemas July 6th 2018

There’s Bad Blood In The First Trailer For The LEGO NINJAGO Movie

The latest bricktastic LEGO movie, ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’, swoops into UK cinemas this Friday and we already have a trailer the LEGO film that will follow it into cinemas later this year. The first trailer for ‘The LEGO NINJAGO Movie’ has arrived, following  a teaser trailer yesterday, alongside a synopsis.

If I’m honest, I didn’t really enjoy this trailer as much as I did the previous 2 LEGO movie trailers. But my initial impression is that maybe this film is geared to relate more to it’s younger target audience, unlike ‘The LEGO Movie’ and ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’ which have a much wider appeal. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say I might not enjoy this film when I watch it, but this first trailer doesn’t have me convinced I’ll enjoy it as much as it’s LEGO predecessors.

I have to say, this is yet another fantastic and strong voice cast for a LEGO movie. Warner Bros. sure know how to pick ’em! I just hope that this spectacular voice cast are not underused like some big named voices were in ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’. This will be a big step for LEGO if this film proves successful, and could pave the way for future films based on other LEGO characters and parts of the LEGO brand that don’t include iconic characters, such as Batman, such as a ‘Nexo Knights’ film. The possibilities are truly endless with LEGO. 

The official synopsis is:

A new animated adventure in Warner Bros. Pictures’ LEGO® franchise, “The LEGO NINJAGO Movie” stars Dave Franco, Justin Theroux, Fred Armisen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Peña, Zach Woods, and the legendary Jackie Chan.

In this big-screen NINJAGO adventure, the battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, who are all secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon, The Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting mech against mech and father against son, the epic showdown will test this fierce but undisciplined team of modern-day ninjas who must learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash their inner power of Spinjitzu.

‘The LEGO NINJAGO Movie’ is round-housing it’s way into UK cinemas on  13th October 2017

What’re your first impressions of the film from this trailer?

Written by Tom Sheffield

The Martian

Written by Chris Winterbottom
Edited by Nick Deal

Ridley Scott has had mixed results with his various filmmaking projects, during a career which has spanned almost 40 years, from exquisite masterpieces such as ‘Alien’ to the painfully dull ‘Kingdom of Heaven’. His name is synonymous with quality, yet for me, I am always sceptical when a new Ridley Scott film is released. ‘Exodus: Gods And Kings’ was a disappointment with both audiences and critics and ‘The Counsellor’ was highly divisive. There is always the promise of something great with a Ridley Scott film though, and it was no different when ‘The Martian’, with Matt Damon at the fore, was announced.

‘The Martian’ takes Scott back to the familiar territory of the science-fiction genre, something he attempted to do with the recent ‘Prometheus’, which met a luke-warm reception at best. Based on an acclaimed novel of the same name, ‘The Martian’ sees Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, stranded on the Red Planet after a fierce storm hits and the rest of his crew flee without him. Watney is presumed dead, finding himself alone on this alien land with only meagre supplies, his grit, determination and will to survive keeping him company. Get an idea of what is to come by watching the trailer.

The film seems interesting to me and promises to be a simpler project for Scott, who is more accustomed to directing films that are epic in every sense of the word such as ‘Gladiator’. For a while he was fancied (although I debate this) as the David Lean or John Ford of the modern era, creating huge expansive movies in the epic genre; a genre that was previously dormant in Hollywood. It says a lot about Scott’s portfolio of work, that a movie spanning millions of miles, between Earth and Mars, appears to be a much more intimate and elementary project than he is used to.

The idea of a man stranded alone in a foreign place is not a new concept and the idea reminded me, to some degree, of the plot of ‘Cast Away’. Just replace the island for a planet and you may see the similarities. Although it does promise to be much more than just a simple “lost in space film”. Scott’s movies, particularly those set in space, often have great big philosophical mutterings embedded in the story. ‘Alien’ was concerned with the fear of women and ‘Prometheus’ simply asked “how did it all begin?” I have no doubt that ‘The Martian’ will have plenty of thematic exploration in the film to keep us interested, and will have us talking about it days after we’ve seen it. I love films that ignite the audience’s intellect, making them question what it all means, creating debate between friends and family.

I have not read the source material, written by Andy Weir, although I am now going to pick up a copy in preparation for this movie. It has proven to be very popular and even the one and only Tom Hanks stated he will be first in line when the film is released. The film clearly has some high-profile backing, not to mention a quite brilliant cast ensemble, particularly Jessica Chastain who is one of the finest screen talents working today. It is surprising to see Kristen Wiig on the cast sheet, an actor who we have seen mostly in comedies rather than sci-fi epics. But Wiig is a capable and watchable screen presence and I am looking forward to seeing her in a film completely at odds with anything she has done before. We might see a change in her career, much in the same way Jonah Hill has transformed his. From working in Judd Apatow movies, to being nominated at the Academy Awards twice for his work on ‘Moneyball’ and ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’, it is clear that Hill was prepared to challenge himself. Perhaps Wiig will have a similar career trajectory, maybe even a nomination or two will come her way. When you consider the cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena and Kate Mara, it’s impossible not to be impressed.

Matt Damon is another actor I feel is underrated. He doesn’t have the classic leading man look and yet, like Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hanks himself, he is insanely charismatic. An important quality of the film is to be focussed predominantly on his character alone; big responsibility indeed. He will have to deliver a terrific performance, and carry the burden of being on-screen for such a long time; much like Hanks did in ‘Cast Away’ or Sam Rockwell did in ‘Moon’. Damon was actually concerned about the role saying that it was too similar to the one he played in Christopher Nolan’s epic ‘Interstellar’. I can see his point, although Scott has been quick to nullify the issue by saying the films are nothing like each other. It’s fair to say then, that on this evidence, ‘The Martian’ will probably have a more existential philosophical tone rather than the hardcore physics exam-like tone that existed in Nolan’s film. 

We get a “lost in space” film annually now, and ‘The Martian’ is undeniably this year’s installment, but I am looking forward to this film immensely. Despite being a fan of all the actors involved, I am somewhat disillusioned by Ridley Scott’s work. I really want this to be as great as it looks, but I have the overwhelming fear that it will be a great big let-down. The film’s UK release is penned in for 30 September, a period that is stranded between summer blockbuster season and the time where awards panels are on the lookout for contenders, which is never a good sign. But with a cast this good, a story so simple and with source material to fall back on, it is the first Ridley Scott film I truly believe, with all my heart, has to be great. Fingers crossed.