#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!

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, the spoiler #review

AS ALWAYS, I intend to spoil the absolute everloving shit out of this movie.  I intend to do this as one post and hopefully in less than 3,000 words, but we’ll see.  If you haven’t seen Avengers: Infinity War yet, well, maybe get on that before reading this.  Although the damn movie has already made a billion dollars and it’s only been in theaters for a week, so the likelihood that you’re reading this blog and haven’t seen the movie yet is maybe not super likely.

That said, and yes I’m still filibustering for Facebook, wouldn’t it have been better if the movie had been called Shuri and Her Friends?  I mean, c’mon:

Shuri-as-Iron-Man-and-Spider-Man-1

Badass.

Okay.  Real review begins now.  Here be spoilers, motherfuckers:

avengers-infinity-warI was not prepared.

I need y’all to understand just how unbelievable that statement is to me.  I’ve been buying comic books almost every Wednesday for over thirty years.  I recently went out and bought the original Infinity War trade paperback (which is terrible, by the way) to refresh myself on the source material for the story.  I had said to multiple people that my preferred way for this movie to end was for Thanos to snap his fingers and then the screen to fade to black and the damn movie to be over.

I had, I thought, considered every imaginable combination of characters dying, both informed by real-world stuff (Downey’s contract is up!  Holland is already filming the next Spider-Man movie!  Black Panther has made more money than any rational person ever imagined!) and the knowledge that this is a comic book movie and they can basically kill whoever they want because the two movies in between Avengers 3 and Avengers 4 are set before Avengers 3 happens.  They have time to fix it.  And Thanos wins in the original series!  Everyone’s going to die!  I knew this already!

And somehow never once in any of those conversations did “Thanos is gonna choke Loki to death in the first ten minutes of the movie” come into my head.  Loki?  They fucking killed Loki, and they killed him first?

Oh.

Shit.

I was not prepared.

There were screams in my theater– actual fucking grief-induced screams– when Black Panther died.  I had to choke back a sob at Steve Rogers’ “Oh God,” his last line in the film. And I completely cracked when Spider-Man died in fear and disbelief in Iron Man’s arms.  I have never heard a theater as quiet as mine was for the few seconds after the film ended, as everyone processed what had just happened.

I was not prepared.

This movie should not have been possible, guys.  First of all, it is the eighteenth fucking Marvel movie.  No other series in film history has done anything like this; the James Bond movies are the closest thing and they have no real internal continuity to them.  Star Wars and Star Trek have done a ton of movies each but, well, we’ll dodge a lot of controversy and say that they’ve both had ups and downs and at least one real reboot in there as well.  And neither series is at eighteen movies yet, much less eighteen movies over just ten years.  How the hell am I not tired of this yet?  How the hell is everyone not tired of this yet?  What Satan-born devil-deal allows them to wring this much emotional reaction out of the eighteenth fucking movie?  How the hell did they write a movie where the main villain has to collect six different McGuffins and not have the entire middle chunk be boring as hell?

It’s impossible.  It should have been impossible.  And yet … God, I’m at the point where trying to rank these movies is the basest lunacy, especially since they’ve been on such an amazing roll since fucking Captain America: Civil War, which somehow came out just two years ago, and I’m still occasionally overcome with The Giddy about Black Panther.  But if it’s not the best movie they’ve done, again, it’s amazingly close.

Marvel movies catch shit for, other than Loki, not having especially compelling villains.  Thanos is an outstanding character, and they took his weak-ass motivation from the original comic series and tossed it into the trash heap in favor of making him basically an environmental terrorist.  He kills half the goddamn sentient beings in the universe and you understand why he did it.  He throws his adopted/stolen daughter off a cliff with tears in his eyes so that he can kill half of the universe and his motivations make sense.

Let that shit roll around in your head for a second.

That sentence wasn’t supposed to be italicized but fuck it I’m leaving it that way.

There’s so much going on in this movie that’s worthy of at least a few hundred words of geeking out about that I’m honestly paralyzed right now trying to figure out what to talk about.

  • Rocket, the character with the most issues about friendship and belonging, is the last surviving member of the Guardians.  Yes, I know Nebula’s still out there, she doesn’t count.  And Rocket doesn’t know Groot is dead. (EDIT: not true. I misremembered where Rocket was at the end.)
  • I need to see Thor: Ragnarok again to decide how I feel about the idea that the Hulk is literally too terrified of catching another ass-whipping to come out.  This is, to put it mildly, an interpretation of Hulk that I haven’t seen before, and as a Hulk fanatic I’m kind of fascinated by it.  That said, if I have a gripe about this movie it’s that Banner seemed a bit too comfortable with his alter ego, and was verging a little too close to “C’mon, little buddy!” territory.  But again, I need to rewatch Ragnarok.
  • Is Gamora still alive?  Is she trapped inside the Soul stone?   What was with that brief scene of Thanos and baby Gamora right after the Snapture?
  • Serious kudos to whoever came up with “Snapture,” btw.
  • We’re all agreed that Dr. Strange knew what he was doing, right?  Because he went straight from “I will sacrifice you in a second for the Time Stone” to “Please take this and spare Tony” with nothing in between other than, well, seeing the future.  And he, unlike every single other character who died, seemed awfully serene about his own passing.  I feel like the possibility of him having fucked with the Time stone somehow is high.
  • Possibility: that Thanos is actually trapped inside the Time stone, and has been since he took it.
  • Wanda killed her lover for absolutely no reason.  It got them nothing, as Thanos just undid the death, and she died minutes later anyway.
  • Black Panther finally opens Wakanda to outsiders and dies for it.
  • Star-Lord’s character flaws are basically responsible for the death of half of the universe.
  • Tony’s worst nightmares– his best line in the movie was “Thanos has been in my head for ten years”– have come true right in front of him, and he has to survive to see the aftermath.
  • We don’t know if Pepper survived or not.
  • THE GODDAMNED RED SKULL HAS BEEN HANGING OUT AND GUARDING THE SOUL STONE SINCE 1945.  I don’t know that non-comic-book people recognize how big of a deal this is.  This is absolutely Chekov’s gun on the wall.  There is no way you let us know the Goddamned Red Skull is still alive and it’s just for a quick cameo.  I’ll be stunned if he doesn’t play a serious role in Avengers 4.
  • The fight between Black Widow, Okoye, Scarlet Witch and Proxima Midnight was amazing.  
  • They coulda thrown us a bone on the names of the Black Order, I guess.
  • If they killed Shuri offscreen, I riot.
  • No, seriously.
  • There is talk that there will be a time jump of a couple of years in between the movies.  All the talk about the deaths being meaningless if they’re erased is nonsense if that’s the way they go, because can you imagine what basic human existence will be like two years out if they actually let this storyline play out?  Holy crap.
  • Thor.  That is all.  Every second Thor was onscreen.  Ragnarok was okay but it wasn’t much with, y’know, the actual heroism.  Thor kind of reclaimed that mantle in this movie and it was amazing.
  • And Captain Marvel is coming.

This is barely a surface-scratch, folks, and I know that, but the alternative is to rattle on for twenty thousand words.  This was an amazing goddamned film and I need to see it in theaters again on one of my days off.  It takes a whole hell of a lot of movie for that to happen– I didn’t manage to see Last Jedi or Black Panther a second time, but I think for this one I’m gonna make sure that I do.  Now that Thursdays aren’t Dentist Day any longer (short side note: I survived the Great De-Cavityfying, and I’m no longer sure why “dentist” is a job when he drills my teeth for two minutes and assistants do everything else) I may actually have time and will at the same moment to go see it.  Just gotta beat God of War and then I’m all good.

So yeah.  See Infinity War.  That is all.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR spoiler-free #review

avengers_iw_poster.0

STANDARD CAVEATS APPLY:  I cannot always be trusted within the first couple of days after seeing a geek movie I really like.  I’m twelve hours out from this motherfucker.

This is the best movie ever made in the history of all the movies ever and if you haven’t seen this movie yet WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE JESUS GO SEE INFINITY WAR RIGHT NOW IF YOU CAN EVEN GET TICKETS BECAUSE I’M PRETTY SURE IT’S SOLD OUT FOR THE NEXT SIX WEEKS OH MY GOD I DON’T EVEN HAVE THE WORDS

 

HOW DID THEY DO THIS

HOW

 

THIS MOVIE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IMPOSSIBLE.  ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE.

 

THEY FUCKING

N

A

I

L

E

D

 

IT

 

OH MY GOD WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE GO SEE INFINITY WAR GODDAMMIT

 

NOW

 

NOW

 

NOW

DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD THANK YOU GOODNIGHT

#REVIEW: BLACK PANTHER

iOr, as I like to call it, Shuri: The Movie, Part One.  

Guys, I saw this movie almost a full-ass week ago, last Friday, and I’m just now getting around to writing my review of it because I’ve been waiting for The Giddy to go away so that I had at least a little bit of a chance of writing something that didn’t sound like I was pausing every couple of sentences to wipe drool from my mouth.

(One possible solution to that problem: long-ass sentences.)

I can’t do it.  Giddy is all I’ve got.  I loved this movie.  Loved loved loved loved loved loved loved this movie.  Every single fucking second, every character, every scene, every setpiece.  Every single character in this movie is amazing, every single actor and actress is gorgeous (I have identified myself as a cishet man for my entire life and fuck it I am making an exception for the Black Panther cast) and goddammit if Shuri doesn’t show up for at least a cameo in every Marvel movie from now on, if for no other reason than to make fun of Tony Stark, I will be gravely disappointed.

I said this on Twitter, I’ve said it in person to half a dozen people, I’m saying it again here: I already knew that Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira and oh holy god Angela fucking Bassett were goddesses and superior actresses and that I was going to love the hell out of them being in this movie.  I was wholly and entirely unprepared for Letitia Wright, who is absolutely amazing and steals every single scene she is in.  I have a Shuri Funko Pop sitting on my desk right now that I bought at the comic store yesterday and I am eagerly anticipating something with a better mold coming out soon.  I want a statue.

(Okay, one tiny flaw: I didn’t realize how much I want a Riri Williams movie until I saw this one, if only because I want Riri and Shuri to have whatever the teen girl equivalent of a Science Bros movie is.  Picture the stinger at the end of Avengers 4: We look over the shoulder of a young black woman as she reads an article on her computer about Tony Stark’s heroic death in battle with Thanos.  The camera stays behind her as she stands up and opens her closet to reveal a suit of gray armor inside it.  Come on.  Make this happen.)

I’ve had a few people ask me if this is my new favorite Marvel movie, and I’m not sure.  It’s top-tier, absolutely, up there with the first Iron Man and Avengers and Civil War.  And even of those three I’d put it above Civil War just because only Iron Man and Avengers got me to this level of long-term giddiness after I saw them.  So, how about this: as of now, after one viewing, it’s my favorite Marvel movie that I didn’t literally spend decades waiting to see before it came out.  I think that’s probably fair.

Go see it, right now.  And then go see it again.  It’s wonderful and you’ll love it.

In which apparently these assholes are real

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These are not the assholes to which I am referring.  I’m a big fan of one of them and I’m sure the other one is a perfectly nice person.

The news hit earlier this week: that Brian Michael Bendis had signed an exclusivity contract with DC Comics.  This news probably means precisely nothing to you unless you’re a fairly hardcore comics person; if you aren’t such a person feel free to skip this post entirely as it will hold little relevance to you.

For me, it was really Goddamned bad news.  Now, to be perfectly clear: I don’t begrudge Bendis a single dime of the no-doubt enormous check DC has written him for this; the man has the unquestioned right to do whatever he wants with his career.  He doesn’t have to ask me shit, and he doesn’t owe me anything.  But as Bendis has become, for me, the definitive Spider-Man writer over the seventeen years he’s been writing the character, and as he invented Miles Morales, who for me is now a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, and as he’s also currently writing both Jessica Jones, which I love, and Iron Man, who is my favorite comic book character of all time… well, the news that he wasn’t going to be writing any of those books anymore is insanely Goddamned depressing.  I’ve been reading Iron Man since I was nine.  He’s had a lot of writers during that time.  Jessica Jones is great but I can live without it.  But the idea that I won’t be able to read any more of Bendis writing Miles is deeply upsetting.

I mean, I’ll get over it.  I’m sure whatever he ends up doing at DC is going to be pretty awesome.  But… shit.


So anyway, I went to the comic shop on Wednesday, as I do.  And I (no doubt as 90% of his customers for the day had done) asked the owner (who, by the way, is the cover artist for Skylights) what he thought of the news, and we got into a brief conversation about it. Now, Casey pulls my books for me every week, and it’s literally his job to know the tastes of the various people who frequent his store, so he knows good and well I’m a fan.  And I’m reasonably sure he is as well.

This dude comes up behind me while we’re talking.  This isn’t unusual, mind you; I’m at the counter, so “behind me” is the place where other people who want comics will naturally end up.  And I hear him mumble under his breath:

“Yeah, maybe Marvel will finally start getting good again.”

I glance at him and don’t respond, opting to continue my conversation with Casey, who gets a very brief pained expression on his face and then also moves on.  I’ve seen this guy in the store plenty of times before, and as much as my physical appearance screams Comic Book Guy to most normals this guy has me beat by at least a few levels.  Anyway, we conclude– I’m not enough of a dick, and Casey is too much of a professional, for either of us to monopolize the counter when there are people waiting.

“See you next week,” I say, as I damn near always do, and I head for the door.  And then this guy starts in on Casey.

“Yeah, he’ll probably end up getting Justice League, and then he’ll make Batman gay, and Superman black, and who knows what else he’s going to ruin…”

…and it hits me.  Bendis is married to a black woman, right?  His kids are biracial.  He was pretty explicit that he created Miles Morales because he thinks (correctly) his kids need superheroes to look up to.  And not for nothing, the person running around in red and gold armor in the Marvel universe right now is a black teenage girl named Riri Williams:

DCkTigaU0AANPMP

Holy shit.  This guy is one of those fuckers who thinks Marvel screwed up comic books by getting too much brown in them.  One of those stupid, stupid bastards.  Right here!  Right in front of me!  Trying to argue with me, in fact!  Or at least inflict his stupid opinion on the guy who owns the comic shop, somebody who by definition really can’t argue back, after making at least a halfassed attempt to insert himself into our conversation and being rebuffed.

Most of this is unfolding in my head as I’m walking to my car.  And I resist the urge to go back into the store and start some shit, because part of me thinks that this type of racist asshole needs to be made unwelcome everywhere he goes all the time forever and ever, but the rest of me really doesn’t want to start a row inside this guy’s comic shop.

That said?  Next time I see Casey, I’m asking him for permission.