#REVIEW: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

ant_man_wasp_posterI wasn’t super excited to see the first Ant-Man movie when it came out back in 2015 and generally found it to be a pretty pleasant surprise.  Three years later, I was actually quite a bit more excited to see Ant-Man and the Wasp, but somehow it managed to be one of the very few Marvel films that I didn’t see on opening weekend.  Life basically intervened last weekend and I didn’t have time.

Here’s the thing, though: I’ve always loved the Wasp as a character, much much more than Hank Pym, and although I’d have preferred to have the classic Janet van Dyne version of the character I can’t really get upset about using Hope instead.  Scott Lang as a character has really never even registered.  But the Ghost?  The Ghost has always been an Iron Man villain– and a dude, to boot– but he’s one of my favorite Iron Man villains, so if you tell me the Ghost is gonna be the bad guy in a movie I’m gonna be there to see it.

tl;dr: Go see it.  It’s got some flaws but in general I think I liked it more than the first one and it’s a pleasant palate-cleanser for the unrelenting misery and horror that was Avengers Infinity Wars.  Mostly, anyway.

That’s long enough for the Facebook people, right?  Okay.  Spoilers ho!

And bullet points.  This is gonna be a random stream-of-consciousness bullet-point style review.

  • Let’s start with the Ghost, actually.  She’s awesome, and a fascinating character, even if this version has little to do with the canonical Ghost other than look (which is amazing) and powers.  That said, she’s ultimately kind of unnecessary to the movie as a whole and her part actually could probably have been cut and still left us with a decent movie.  But that’s the script’s fault, not the character’s or the actress’ fault.  I’ve never seen Hannah John-Kamen in anything before and I want more of her.
  • Actually, let’s just get all of the griping out of the way first: every problem with this movie is a problem with the script.  In particular, the movie could really have used a couple of science advisors.  Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne and Bill Foster are supposed to be geniuses; this movie is stuffed with them, and at one point they actually let Scott say “Are you guys just putting the word quantum in front of everything?” and unfortunately it’s supposed to be a joke but the answer is yes.  The science is Star Trek-level bad; at one point they literally reverse the polarity of something and Janet van Dyne takes over Scott’s brain for a moment to “rewrite an algorithm.”  Don’t ask, just understand that lazy-ass writers use “algorithm” to mean “sciencey thing that we don’t understand and don’t want to explain.”  It’s terrible.
  • On to the good stuff!  The actors across the board are great, even the ones with clearly bit parts, like the thug with no name who was always chewing on his rosary, or Truth Serum Guy.  Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun and they all made the movie really fun to watch.
  • The de-aging special effects, this time used on Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer, continues to be fucking amazing.  It’s going to be a big part of Captain Marvel since like half the cast will need to look 30 years younger than they are, and they’re getting creepily good at it.
  • When Fishburne’s Bill Foster turned out to be a sorta-bad-guy, I really wanted him to somehow end up being Lex Luthor, but it didn’t happen.
  • This is my favorite Evangeline Lilly role ever.  I liked her in the last movie but this one actually made me a fan of hers.  She can have her own movie anytime.
  • The fight sequences across the board, but especially anytime the Wasp or the Ghost were on-screen, were spectacular.  Very, very nicely choreographed action.
  • The repeated theme of dads and daughters throughout this movie, especially Foster and the Ghost’s pseudo-parental relationship, was really neat.  Much like the last one, this is a movie with much lower stakes than the rest of the Marvel films, and focusing on all the familial relationships everywhere was great.  The first few minutes, where a clearly out-of-his-mind Lang has constructed an apartment-sized amusement park for his daughter because he has nothing else to do, was great.
  • There were hints that I was going to get much more of my favorite version of Hank Pym (the gadget-obsessed, white-lab-coat wearing whacko of the West Coast Avengers) in this movie than in the last one and it absolutely came through for me.  The fact that the Macguffin for half of the movie was a literal multi-story office building shrunk down to the size of a piece of carry-on luggage was fantastic.
  • It also led to one of my favorite visual moments of the movie, where they shrink down the office building to reveal an army of FBI guys sneaking up on them behind it.
  • There were only one or two moments where the CGI was wonky, mostly in the scene where they’re infiltrating the elementary school (don’t ask) and Scott gets stuck at about three and a half feet tall.  They were using a lot of practical effects for that bit and it actually didn’t work very well.
  • And then, after all that good shit throughout the movie, that ending.  You bastards.

So.  Yeah.  Go see it!  We’re one movie closer to Captain Marvel!

IndyPopCon 2018, Day Three

Much of today was spent staring, glassy-eyed and half-asleep, into the middle distance rather than actively attempting to hawk books, and it also happened that frequently cosplayers whose costumes I might have wished to photograph chose to walk by at the precise moment that there was someone actually at my booth.  To wit, I don’t have nearly as many pictures today, but I suspect y’all will survive.

 

IndyPopCon 2018, Day Two

In accordance with prophecy, today was a much better day for sales; I’ve paid for my booth and then some and there’s still an entire day left for the con.  The cosplay contest was today, too, so folks brought their A game.  That picture of Iron Man down there was actually taken by my wife; I didn’t actually see him as he never entered the vendor floor, so my big winners were the Wookiee (who was at least eight feet tall; I should have gotten in the picture for scale) and Kratos, who was absolutely stone-cold perfect and is probably my favorite cosplay of the weekend so far.  Bonus points for the little girl in the BB-8 costume, who you have seen before, two years ago and hundreds of miles away.  Her mom’s reaction when I showed her my phone was all sorts of fun (and not in a “Why the hell do you have a picture of my kid from two years ago on your phone you creep?” sort of way, which was… well good.)

(Also, and for the record, any time I take a picture of a kid at one of these things I tell the parents I’m planning on posting the picture to the site and get specific permission from them for it.  I also usually give them a card so they can come look if they want.)

The other highlight was someone recognizing me from the previous IndyPopCon and coming over to tell me she loved Skylights and wanted to know what to read next.  I’ll have a sequel by the next time I come to this con, dear, I promise.

 

IndyPopCon 2018, Day One

Not the greatest day of sales ever, but Friday never is.  Check out the cosplay, though.  Notably missing: the Shaggy cosplayer who I didn’t ask for a picture because no one around me could decide if he was cosplaying Shaggy or just looked like it, or the young woman who was definitely not cosplaying Domino but was nonetheless a dead ringer for a slightly younger Zazie Beetz.

#REVIEW: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (non-spoiler) and DEADPOOL 2 (spoiler)

My reviews of the last couple of Star Wars movies have been a million words long, but I don’t think Solo is going to need that treatment.  I’ve done spoiler reviews and non-spoiler reviews for them, and I think this is probably the only review Solo is going to get. Since it’s going to be shortish, I’m gonna go ahead and review Deadpool 2 here as well, but I can’t review that one without spoiling something big.  So we’ll do Solo first.  solo-a-star-wars-story-tall-A.png

And the tl;dr review is this:  it’s good enough.

It was going to be hard under any circumstances for Solo to blow me away.  I never really felt the film was necessary, and unlike Rogue One, which I also didn’t think was necessary, the trailers and such never really grabbed me and forced me to be excited about it.  It is better than any of the prequels and it is better than The Force Awakens, a movie that I was jazzed about initially and has done nothing but sink in my estimation since then.  Is that damning with faint praise?  Possibly.

The million-dollar question about this movie was always this:  is Alden Ehrenreich good enough to fill Harrison Ford’s shoes?  Can he convincingly play this character?  And the answer, to me, is an unqualified yes.  I had no problems with Ehrenreich’s performance at all– in fact, I think his portrayal of Han in this movie was leaps and bounds ahead of Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Han in Force Awakens.  

In general, the acting in this film is quite solid across the board, and if anything (okay, minor spoiler incoming) the only gripe I have about the film is that I wanted to know more about just about every character who they decided to kill off.  I thought basically every character that had more than a couple of lines was really interesting, but some of them unfortunately we aren’t going to see again.  There’s one major surprise and one “subverting expectations” sort of surprise toward the end of the film, and in a movie where you basically know everything that’s going to happen going in, actual surprises have more impact than they might otherwise.

Yes, Donald Glover is spectacular as Lando Calrissian.  Scary good, honestly– his first few lines are delivered with him offscreen, and I seriously thought they’d brought in Billy Dee Williams to overdub him.  He’s doing a voice thing, and it’s perfect.  I didn’t think he ran away with the movie the way a lot of people seem to, but he does a very very good job.

Obligatory Turk/Scrubs video break:

 

So.  Yeah.  Not an essential addition to the canon, but a solid effort, especially given what a trainwreck the movie was expected to be before it came out.  I will allow them to do a second one if they must.  Especially if it delays the newly-rumored Boba Fett movie.  Please, please don’t make a Boba Fett movie.

I’m so tired of Boba Fett.

cable-dom-deadpool-2-1526934768566_1280w.jpg

And now, on to Deadpool 2.  This one will spoil a major event that none of the pre-movie stuff even hinted at, and although it happens damn near immediately once the movie starts, you probably don’t want to know about it.  Last chance to bow out!

I’ll start off with the good stuff, actually: you are probably going to have more or less exactly the same reaction to Deadpool 2 that you had to Deadpool, and if you haven’t seen Deadpool you may as well go see that instead because it’s a better movie.  It is, in most ways, exactly the same film, only with a slightly expanded cast and budget and much more entertaining cameos and the one thing that really pissed me off that I’ll get to in a minute.  Josh Brolin is pretty good as Cable, a character I’ve never really had much interest in, and the Juggernaut is my favorite X-Men villain so it was great to see him, especially after the godawful portrayal Vinnie Jones did in X-Men 3.

I want Domino to get her own movie.  Now, please.  And if we could get a movie with Negasonic and her girlfriend, maybe with Colossus around, that’d be just peachy.  Because I love all of them.

That said, killing off Vanessa right away pissed me off, and even though they undo it at the end of the movie I can’t unwatch the two hours I spent being pissed off that they killed her for no fucking reason at all.  Think about it: imagine the movie without Vanessa dying right away.  Damn near nothing changes.  You lose a few scenes of Deadpool kvetching about it and maybe they have to do a little bit of a rewrite of his motivations for wanting to save the kid?  But that’s it.  Her death is pointless, and undoing it at the end doesn’t help.  I’m tired of movies and books and whatevers that motivate the main character by killing off their girlfriends and/or wives right away, and it threw a pall over the entire rest of the movie for me.

So, yeah: it’s a Deadpool movie, and that’s a good thing, and the cast and the couple of new characters they added are fun and interesting, but fuck you for killing off the female lead ten minutes into the movie.  I can’t forgive that, as it turns out.


I’m up to four patrons!  Which is better than I thought I’d do, honestly!  But more would be super awesome.  Join the club of the coolest people in the world.  You’ll get a new Jayashree story right off the bat, and I’ll be adding at least one more microfiction by the end of the weekend!  Plus all of my Patrons get thanked by name in any forthcoming books.  You want your name in books, right?