Tag Archives: Evangeline Lilly

Ant-Man and the Wasp

ant man and the waspThe very definition of superhero fatigue is seeing the latest Marvel instalment and having nothing to say. Not a speck of inspiration. Is that Ant-Man’s fault? Only partially. It’s very by-the-numbers, it doesn’t add anything to the ongoing MCU saga, and it’s hard to go back in time prior to Avengers: Infinity War, when we know half of these people will soon be dust (and also, soon after that, not dust anymore so the MCU can keep churning out sequels).

But also, when we’ve had a run of Marvel movies with spectacular visuals and fresh takes on flagship heroes (Thor: Ragnarok), timely and thoughtful takes on nationalism with a fully realized villain (Black Panther), and massive, galaxy spanning tales crammed with practically every hero there is (Infinity War), Ant-Man feels so small. While that’s entirely fitting for Ant-Man, it is a drastic change of pace from those three prior MCU films in particular, and the one-upping arms race that has been the MCU since the start.

Jay said some time ago (maybe on the site, maybe just to me) that the coming-of-age moment for superhero movies was when subgenres started popping up – superhero satire (Deadpool), superhero western (Logan), even superhero rom-com (this movie!). So maybe it’s time to get past this shared universe thing and evaluate Ant-Man as an actual movie. And on its own, it’s a team effort featuring a lot of memorable characters, a nice will-they, won’t-they featuring charismatic leads (and equals), and an entertaining way to spend two hours at the movies.

Overall, though, it’s a good thing we have a break in the MCU schedule until next spring, because I badly need one. Of course, you can be sure that I’ll be in line when the next superhero movie comes out, dragging Jay along like always.  What can I say? I’m addicted, always have been, but it’s to the point where I need something stronger to feel as good about these films as I did in the early days.

 

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Little Evil

Little Evil is not an exceptional entry into the genre, but it’s a quirky little horror-comedy hybrid that’s just clever enough. This film is of the ‘possessed child’ variety but the focus is on Gary (Adam Scott), the demon child’s stepdad. Step-parenting is hard, y’all! And it’s slightly harder when your new wife’s kid is the spawn of satan. You really get put through the ringer. And of course his Mom (Evangeline Lilly) is always going to take her darling son’s side – how dare you suggest that he might be, you know – a little evil? He’s an angel! Besides, how much trouble can a 6 year old really get into, even if he is the Antichrist?

99e58ff3fb9373b5bb8760617c7674f23bddd0d1Director Eli Craig clearly has some fondness for the genre, and little odes to other possessed-kid movies pop up from time to time. Another thing that pops up is Craig’s own mother, Sally Field, as a social worker who thinks Gary just isn’t trying hard enough. It’s a small but terrific role for her – possibly the kind of role only her son could ask her to play.

The film’s weakness is that it never fully embraces its own identity. It doesn’t go full goofy, but it can never be full horror. The result is perfectly watchable but a little frustrating knowing what it might otherwise have been. It also sort of neglects little Lucas (Owen Atlas, the titular Evil himself). We don’t know him well enough to judge whether he truly wants to bury people alive, or whether he’s just not fond of Mom’s string of boyfriends. Our early impression is that he likes to dress like he’s in ACDC and he’s mostly silent, only talking through a creepy goat hand puppet. He’s only just turned 6, still small enough for us to feel naturally protective over, so if you want me to contemplate stabbing him through his unholy heart, you’d better give me good reason and some to spare.

All in, this is a fairly throwaway movie. The beats are familiar, it’s just that Gary’s merry band of misfits consists of a step-dad support group. There are some laughs to be had here, and if you’re a fan of horror, it’s fun to play Where’s Waldo with the references. This is Netflix original content, and it’s streaming there right now.

Ant-Man

 

Ant-Man reminded me a lot of the first Iron Man movie (which started this recent superhero craziness) so it makes a nice bookend as we close out Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a small, focused and mostly self-contained movie about some good-hearted criminals who can’t be that good at their jobs since they all have served significant time in prison. But for whatever reason, Michael Douglas takes a liking to Paul Rudd. And really, it makes sense because Paul Rudd seems like a guy who you could trust with your superhero suit. So after a fairly long lead in, Paul Rudd learns to be Ant-Man and saves the world

The thing about superhero movies is: the plot doesn’t matter anymore. Every origin story is going to be the same, more or less. What separates the good from the bad is whether the movie (a) feels new or novel in some way; (b) makes you care about the characters and/or the outcome, even after having seen like 30 movies in this genre; and (c) makes you want to see the character join the Avengers/Guardians/Justice League for their next movie. On those criteria, Ant-Man is a smashing success.

I felt like this was something new and a movie that could have stood on its own. I cared about Ant-Man and wanted him to succeed. And after seeing Ant-Man, I hope that he joins the Avengers, if nothing else so we can see him interact with all of them.

And if/when Ant-Man jumps to the team, i hope Michael Pena tags along. He’s the funniest part about this movie and a huge reason why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Which was a lot, so i give Ant-Man nine subatomic superheroes out of ten!

Adding to the fun were the rumble seats, which are called D-Box at Cineplex for some reason. They were hard to choose over VIP at Lansdowne (food and alcohol delivery to my seat is the best thing i can think of) but now they’re in Gloucester too so that makes them easier to recommend. I would pay the extra money again for an action movie.  Just be sure to turn the chair to its max setting, because obviously you want the most shake available! It’s not quite up to par with all the immersive movie rides we recently went on at Universal but it’s still fun and worth a try for the punching effect by itself. I look forward to trying them for Southpaw.

The Hurt Locker

Like everyone else, I watched The Hurt Locker the year it came out. It was dutiful, really. The subject matter didn’t interest me but its female direction was like a monkey with a typewriter. That sounds awful, I know, but honestly, it was a bit of a sideshow. Just 10 years ago, you rarely if ever heard about a female director, period, let alone one who was taking on a project so classically masculine. A war movie, for christsakes. But Kathryn Bigelow didn’t just ‘take it on’, she was so fucking good at it, even boys had to admit it was great. “A near perfect movie,” one had to admit. “A full tilt action picture” said another. Gosh. It was so undeniably good that the biggest consortium of white men ever, the Acamedy, could do nothing but award in 6 Oscars (of 9 nominations), including Best Picture AND Best Director for Ms. Bigelow. Fuck yeah!

But I didn’t like it.

MV5BNzkzZDFhZTUtMWQwYi00MzNhLThiODItNmRlMDhlODZjZDMzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Rewatching it, I get why. Jeremy Renner plays hot shit Staff Sergeant William James, a…bomb guy. Pretty sure that’s the technical term. He gets all dressed up in a quasi-astronaut outfit and defuses bombs (ideally). His unit has only about 30 days left in their Iraq rotation when he’s assigned to them (their last guy got blown up) and they immediately want to throw him right back. He rushes into combat like he’s got a death wish, and worse, he puts his fellow soldiers at risk too. Sergeant Sanborn (Anthony Mackie), his subordinate, is particularly disturbed to be working so closely with what appears to be a straight-up crazy, reckless person.

This movie is rife with unapologetic toxic masculinity, and it was fucking hard as hell for me to make it through. In the army you don’t get to choose not to follow a whackerdoodledoo into combat, but from the comfort of my bed (it’s on Netflix atm), you betcha I was yelling obscenities at my TV.

Grudgingly, I can appreciate some of the craft in this movie that I was probably willfully blind to a decade ago. Bigelow uses hand-held cameras and an incredible 100:1 shooting ratio to make this film feel real – almost like a documentary. It’s also relentless. One scene barely ends before the next bout of trouble is upon us, usually already in motion.

I like the ending, what it reveals of James’ character – namely, that he’s happiest when he’s staring a ticking bomb in the face. But that’s essentially also my problem with the film. That his disregard for his own life is going to get everyone else in his company killed along with him. That their only move toward self-preservation is to kill him. Imagine being in Baghdad and contemplating that. That his risk taking and complete indifference to the rules somehow make him this bomb cowboy action hero when in fact, in real life, it makes him a moron and a liability. Personally I rooted against this guy, this “hero” because as much as I don’t really love watching people get turned into jam, at least it would give the rest of this unit a fighting chance. War is tough enough as it is. We don’t need to “up the ante” on a bomb squad in an active war zone. That should have been enough. Crazed war junkies intent on obliterating themselves likely would have been weeded out back in basic. The Hurt Locker is just punishing, and I get that the Academy didn’t want to give Best Picture to Avatar (I haven’t seen that one at all), but, ahem, I do believe Up was also in the running that year.