Monthly Archives: July 2015

Ant-Man

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by David Roberts

Out this weekend is the new addition to The Avengers roster, and the first origin story in years : Ant-Man. Starring Paul Rudd Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Ant-Man is a heist movie about a Scott Lang (Rudd) who can shrink down all small like with a special suit so he can steal someone else to save the world. A little like Oceans 11, except if Ocean was Paul Rudd and could shrink, (and the other 10 were 10,000 and all ants) it is a shift in genre from the more typical action movies that the blanket term ‘Comic Book Movie’ would imply.

Ant-man is one of the more controversial super heroes for people not already neck deep in Marvel Comics, and to many people was indicative of Disney running out’ve ‘the good’ superheroes to choose from. A man who can shrink down to a small size and gain super human strength, as well as gaining the ability to talk to ants, is considered to be more ‘unrealistic’ compared to the other heroes with at least one foot in reality. Examples include gamma radiation turning an angry man into an unstopping killing machine, or A Norse God/Alien shooting lightning out’ve a hammer that only he (until recently MCU-wise) has been able to lift, usually with his shirt off. Talking to ants and changing size was going to be one suspension of disbelief too far.

Also problematic was the production of the film in thh first place where Adaman ‘Joe’ Cornish and Edgar ‘Hot Fuzz’ Wright had written a fully fleshed out script which was rumoured to be too funny. So funny, in fact, that anyone who read it died or were seriously injured. Survivors claimed they never wanted to watch another Disney movie again, as they new it could never be as good. Deciding to find someone who could make the film a bit more serious and a little less like award winning movies ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Attack the Block’, they found a friend in Adam McKay, writer of such underwhelming but popular films as The Other Guys demonstrating a very real difference in American and British sense of humour. To his credit he also did Anchorman.

Perhaps this is why the movie seems a bit underwhelming and confused in tone a lot of the time, Paul Rudd is one of the few actors who has made me cry with laughter, even during his less successful movies, such as Wanderlust. In Ant-Man his comic timing is under used, and a lot of the jokes have fallen victim to Disney pushing the trailers so hard that you have heard a lot of the jokes before you go in. Ant-man sometimes feels like a children’s film that they went back to, and then added swearing into when they realised that a lot of the audience was going to be at least 15 years old and new at least four or five words for ‘poo’. The film was at times inconsistent, spending too much time on showing us how much of a lovely guy Scott Lang (Rudd) was, where the rest of the first two acts seemed to be set aside for Michael Douglas to yell at someone, or for Evangeline Lilly to storm out’ve a room.

Despite all this I absolutely loved this movie start to finish, all those wee niggly issues are not going to make you feel any less happy about what is going on. Scott Lang is such a truly lovable character that allowing Rudd to take centre stage as a character with depth as well as his great comic timing made him an absolute delight to watch. His motivation for becoming Ant-Man was believable and didn’t feel like a plot-line being crowbarred in just to get to the part of the film where he has to try to stop bad things happening. In the same way that Whedon had used all The Avengers personality traits to create problems, solutions and fighting styles, Ant-Man makes mistakes and bad decisions that feel like they are part of the characterisation and don’t feel forced resulting in very smooth transitions to what could otherwise have been disjointed, unrelated scenes. There are great references to previous films further cementing the film in the MCU and at least three, on first count, in relation to upcoming films. This includes a very exciting throwaway line about some kid that can climb up walls.

It’s hard to imagine anyone sitting through this and not enjoying it, though I was left with the feeling that I needed to see it for a second time to appreciate it. I’m not sure if that was because I watched it at 10.30am after about 6 hours sleep or because I had a chicken madras the night before that left me feeling like I had come in contact with Extremis from Iron Man 3. Some of my fellow journalists had already seen it at the time and said that, with a second watch, the film was much more enjoyable.

It is easy to forget that we haven’t seen a proper origin story since Captain America : The First Avenger which was four years ago, not including the Guardians Of The Galaxy Movie since it kind’ve brushed over the origin side of things. Apparently Rudd has already started filming his role in Captain America : Civil War next year and his character is so well developed that I can see the next Avengers movies being a lot more fun, I can see Scott Lang being as crucial to the feel of Infinity Wars as Tony Stark was to The Avengers. So as they go this one was very well paced, though it still felt a wee bit slow to begin with but it was a fantastic ride and I would happily will pay to go and see it again.

4/5

P.S There are not one, but two credit scenes at least one of which will make you clap with joy.

Magic Mike XXL – Review

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Suns. Guns. Buns and Magic Mike XXL are out this weekend in cinemas near you and me. A film starring Channing Tatum and Amber Herd this is a sequel to the original Magic Mike and follows the team of Male Entertainers on their last blow-out performance at the apparently very real Stripper Convention.

It’s a film about strippers hanging out on a bus, they find themselves all being forced by life to go their own separate ways, and give up the life of taking their clothes off for the amusement of many, mainly, women. The screening I was at was sponsored by the Northern Whig and therefore I was given two cocktails on the way in so please take in to account that, with my alcohol tolerance being similar to that of a shivering baby mouse who also happens to be fasting, I may have enjoyed it more than I would have. Though I did enjoy it a hell of a lot.

The film shifted focus somewhat from the original, where Mike was originally the mentor to the ‘new kid’ in XXL, while still the main protagonist, Magic Mike has the new role as the leader of the group of guys and the only real antagonist is their collective self esteem. A very feel good movie, though cheesy, it feels like it was perhaps trying to gear towards an audience of men as well as women and I am definitely surprised by how much I enjoyed myself.

The film begins with Mike who has been running his own furniture company, where he makes really interesting and popular furniture out’ve things he has found on the street or in bins. After throwing out Ice Cream left by his seemingly ex girlfriend from the last movie he starts some sexy dancing, with visual innuendo sparking all over the place. After eventually getting sick of dancing by himself, he finds out that a main character from the previous film has died and this makes him really want to take all his clothes off in front of people for money.

The great thing about this film is that is fun and daft, there is no reason to take any of it seriously and it doesn’t invite you to, aside from what I’ve interpreted as a pro-feminism look at the equality of women in relation to men but also in relation to each other. The under lying message, if there is one, is that their job isn’t just about being clothed and then being naked, but about helping their customers have a good time and even help heal their difficult lives. Though this sounds like the kind’ve lie you would tell yourself as a stripper to keep yourself away from the heroin, within the confines of the film it is a very pleasant view point and all the female characters are respected. There are frequent casual uses of female actors that are used to great effect by being just normal looking people. Some of the women are over weight, or older and the film doesn’t spend any time drawing attention to this, which both gives the film a foot in reality as well as a pleasant non judgemental look at a male stripper show. It is hard to imagine how a film that is essentially about men taking their clothes off how I could elicit such meaning, but it left me feeling good. The visual jokes had me in tears laughing, though as I mentioned there was a lot of gin involved, I would say that if you are homophobic or if rainbow flags annoy you because they make you question things about yourself, that this film may make you uncomfortable, other wise it is very entertaining.

Magic Mike XXL is a funny, feel good movie with a non-judgmental tone that isn’t, in the words of a man in the queue, ‘just a film for girls’, whatever that means.

4/5