Review: ANT-MAN

Smaller than your average Marvel movie.

ANTMAN

Ant-Man is a solid film. Aside from the occasional [and sometimes ham-fisted] wider-Marvel-Cinematic-Universe nods, you could quite easily watch it in isolation and not even know it was part of said MCU.

And that’s no bad thing.

Ant-Man has a wit and, with a wink and a nod to its source material, it knows its hero is/can be predominantly perceived as rubbish too. And best of all – it has fun with it.

ANT, MAN

Paul Rudd gives a good turn as our eponymous cat-burglar-turned-mini-superhero; carrying enough pathos and drive to make you believe that he would make the mistakes he makes. I guess that’s another aspect of what makes Ant-Man a good movie: you believe that any minute the lead could get a complete pasting – call it the ‘Indiana Jones’ effect, if you will.

Corey Stoll takes a break from catching catching poorly-plotted vampires and strikes a perfectly good rent-a-villain pose and, as antagonists go, he’s not so bad. I read recently that’d be good if just sometimes superhero movies weren’t about THE WORLD IS AT STAKE! and instead focused on smaller issues. The recent Netflix take on Daredevil tackled this challenge brilliantly. Ant-Man does a similar job here. Stoll isn’t out to take-over the world per se, he just wants to be [redacted].

Michael Douglas, as Dr Hank Pym, discoverer of the Pym Particle – the particle that makes molecule size control possible, is great – in all ages.

It’s no spoiler to say that the film opens in 1989 with a flashback to Pym’s earlier days. And, rather brilliantly, the specials effects boffins have done an incredible job.

 

So casual.

EDIT: Vulture has a great piece on how they did it.

If you know how hard this is to do, you’ll understand how awesome it is to make it look effortless.

Anyway, in Ant-Man, he’s our Obi-wan Kenobi.

Evangeline Lilly on the other hand, I can’t work out if it’s poor character building in the writing phase or just lack of belief in the material – but there’s something that doesn’t land for me. Not sure why. I’ll think on it.

And finally, Michael Pēna…

MP

…the guy who steals every damn scene he is in. He just nails it.

Ant-Man is a great little heist movie and I mean it when I say it: the more I think about it, it really doesn’t feel like a Marvel movie at all. Yeah there was a bunch of stuff about the original director leaving and, in some instances (if you know Edgar Wright’s work) you can feel his presence/absence in the film. But Ant-Man is here and this movie is better than no movie at all.

And it’s genuinely good!


In closing: I wasn’t sure I would like Ant-Man that much.

To be honest, I was quite close to not going to see it at the cinema all.

But I’m really glad I was wrong.

With a healthy combination of humour and action, Ant-Man is my surprise of the summer. You should find out if it’s yours too.

PS. Stay ’til the end: there are two post-credits sequences.

No Comments »

Jurassic World of Brands

Saw Jurassic World.

It’s pretty good.

Funny in the right places, cheesy when it needs to be (and knows it) and with enough careful nods to the original to make it a very satisfying watch indeed.

In short: JW gets the JW seal of approval.

One thing though.

Like most blockbusters these days, there is a large amount of product placement. Everything from our hero’s drink of choice, to the sponsorship of the ‘innovation exhibit’ at the park itself. Again, the film is aware of this and even makes a joke of it during a pre-action sub-plot.

But.

THIS IS ACTUALLY A THING THAT LEGITIMATELY HAPPENS IN THE FILM:

1. Dino does Sea World
This scene (that’s been in every trailer) of an ancient dinosaur doing the Sea World thing for the park’s guests. It’s great!

Shark dino

2. Cue: big splash and soaked audience.
See? Totally doing the Sea World thing.

splash

3. Our two young leads have an awesome time!

wow

So much of a great time in fact that the elder one turns to the younger one and exclaims:

‘Wow!’
‘That was so cool!’, replies his little brother.
‘Want to see something really cool?’
‘Yeah!’

And, I KID THEE NOT, the film cuts to:

4. Introducing the Mercedes Benz GLE Coupe!

MERC SHOT

Straight up.

Not kidding.

Absolutely this is what happens.

Jurassic World is a great film but free of product placement it is not. Laugh at it when you see it and you’ll have a fantastic time.

 

 

Ps. This film is not for kids.

1 Comment »

Review: GONE GIRL

NO. SPOILERS.

gone_girl_xlg

On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne reports that his wife, Amy, has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

The last time I reviewed a Fincher film on this website of mine, it was the 2011 Aaron Sorkin scripted, Facebook-flick, The Social Network. Since then he’s directed [a re-make of] The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well as a couple of episodes of [the rather fantastic] House of Cards.

GONE GIRL, the film of the book (no, I haven’t read it), is Fincher’s latest effort and boy, it is a doozy.

There are few directors that get me frothing at the mouth with every new production – Nolan, Tarantino, Aronofsky, to name but three. Fincher also sits in that list. I fell in love with his work when I saw Fight Club (mind-blowing) back in 1999.

After that I explored back through The Game (mind-f***) and Se7en (visceral) and then worked forward into Panic Room (meh) and then Zodiac (over-long, but good enough to forgive). I didn’t think Dragon Tattoo was superb. Serviceable, yes. Classic Fincher? Certainly not. Social Network was very good – and then House of Cards reminded me that I missed him in film. In short: to say I was looking forward to GONE GIRL would be an understatement.

So much so I’m just happily tweeting typos…

And I was not disappointed.

Let’s start with the cast: Ben Affleck, as husband-in-search-of-missing-wife, Nick Dunne is a masterclass on playing Mr Average.

Gone-Girl

Relationships are weird things and, in every relationship, people behave in different ways and in this, Affleck delivers (nothing about this film makes him a superhero, but the weight of the world that he carries throughout? He will indeed make a great Batman) – I like it a LOT when good actors remind you just how good they are.

Playing the disappeared-wife, whose back story is told through diary entries along the way, Rosamund Pike excels. I’ll be honest, I’ve never really taken to her much in the stuff I’ve seen her in but in this, probably her best and yet most challenging work to date, Pike is on top form. It’s not an easy journey her character goes on and, at times, it’s a tough sell. I can’t imagine anyone else nailing it as well as she does.  

Neil Patrick Harris gets third billing but it’s Carrie Coon who really should be next on the list. Playing Ben Affleck’s ever-supportive / ever-present twin sister, Margot, Coon grounds the movie with emotion and brings the audiences questions to life without verging too much into exposition. That’s not to be mean to NPH, mind. His short but impactful performance is just the right side of sinister – and that’s all you need to know.

About all of it, in fact.

Yes, Trent Reznor’s scoring of the film is outstanding. And yes, the 149 minute run time keeps you gripped from start to finish. But to say any more would be giving hints as to where the film takes you and I’m telling now, going in ‘dark’, without knowing a thing, is probably the best way to see this film. GONE GIRL is a twisting, turning tale of the darkness that occurs in relationships. The stuff you don’t see, the stuff that both deny. The stuff that all of us have seen – or at least heard of.

It’ll push you to your limits of belief and it will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It will thrill you, make you question those around you, and it will make you feel sick.

But it does it so well.

I really did leave the cinema completely stunned by just how good it was. Writing this now, several hours later, and I’m still thinking about it. At times, it reminded me of Social Network, at others, Fight Club. The dark humour that spills through the celluloid during the film’s third act is to be enjoyed and revelled in.

GONE GIRL is a fantastically dark film.

GONE GIRL is Fincher at his best.

GONE GIRL is my film of 2014.

It might be yours too.

See it.

_______

Related post: ‘UK Cinema Release Dates for you Calendar

1 Comment »

UK Cinema Release Dates for your GCal/iCal

Presenting –  ‘The COMING SOON Calendar’

coming_soon

Like going to the Cinema?
Use Google Calendar, Outlook, or iCal?
Then you might find this just a little bit useful.

Over the summer, I subscribed to a Google Calendar RSS feed that populated my diary with all the various games from the World Cup. What was great about it was that it kept itself up to date with scores, updated group matches, and even made sure the right teams were in the right spots come the finals.

Smart stuff.

I’m not really a football person (I just like the International stuff) but, as is often the case with these kinds of things, it got my cogs whirring and I set about trying to work out how it was done (it didn’t take long) and then decided I wanted to make my own version.

And I have.

But instead of football matches, what I’ve done is plotted the release dates of all the upcoming films that [I think] might be worth seeing over the coming months.

Calendar example

I write about film a fair bit on this blog of mine and I figured that if you like the kind of stuff that I see, then you might be interested in the stuff that I’m looking forward to too.

Ready?

If you want a regularly updated Google Calendar event for the decent films coming out over the coming months then…

This is what you need to do:

  1. Go to your GCAL
  2. Then go to OTHER CALENDARS
  3. Then click on the little arrow next to OTHER CALENDARS
  4. Then click ‘ADD BY URL’
  5. Copy and paste this URL  – https://www.google.com/calendar/feeds/whatleydude.com_ov3oaijc8oa6b2fu0fni8i75sc%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic
  6. Hit ‘Add Calendar’ and you’re done!

UPDATE – iCal users can use this link to get the same result – (thanks Simon)
UPDATE 2: iCal link works for Outlook too! (thanks Julian)

CAVEATS AND OTHER INFO

1. Its fallible
I’m updating it as and when I see stuff that I want to see. This means I might miss stuff and if there’s that crazy french film that you’ve been DYING to see for months and I’ve missed it out, by all means Tweet me or something and I’ll add it.

2. It’s an experiment
Consider this an open beta. I’ve given it to a couple of people already and they’re finding it quite handy. I’m still dicking about with the settings (currently all events go out with a link to either Empire or IMDb or something, this might change). I also reserve the right to end the experiment at any point.

3. Feel free to feedback
Got an idea on how to make this better? Leave a comment below, send me an email, drop me a tweet – whatever. Just let me know and if I can, I’ll fix it.

Currently the calendar runs up into January.

I’ll add more when I know/see/look forward to more.

Let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

9 Comments »

Goodbye, Robin Williams

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone”

Good Morning Vietnam

The news is out.

The memories are amazing.

Personal demons. Depression. It’s all so terribly sad.

I’m on IMDb as I write, reading over Williams’ filmography and trying to work out exactly how many Robin Williams performances I have and haven’t seen. Having watched Insomnia a couple of days ago, I was already in the mood to start the exploration into his body of work but waking up this morning and learning of his passing has only compounded that desire further.

In reverse-chronological order, please find below the list of all Robin Williams’ films that I definitely have seen. Followed by a list of films to watch if you want to do something nice for him today/tonight/this week.

Let’s do this.

ROBOTS (2005).
Surprisingly watchable non-Pixar animated film. Having a kid brother, I’ve seen ROBOTS at least fifteen times – and it still doesn’t bore me.

INSOMNIA (2002).
I picked this up recently after realising it was the only Christopher Nolan film I hadn’t seen. If you’re familiar with Nolan’s work you can see that his efforts here, while good, are still developing. Also a decent point of note: Insomnia marks the second time (after MEMENTO) that Nolan hired Wally Pfister as his director of photography. Against the backdrop of the crisp green and whites of Alaska, you can see how and why these two men have stayed partners for so long.

I digress.

I went for Nolan, was unsurprisingly impressed with Pacino (a man whose entire acting palette can be defined by the weight of the world he is carrying – but it’s still awesome), and then mesmerised by Williams. There’s a play by the name of ‘Our Country’s Good’, I was in it once, and a character in it named Ketch. Ketch is supposedly a killer, but no one thinks it possible – least of all him – but the quietness and the intensity eventually gives him away, both in words and in violence. This felt like that.

Worth seeing if you haven’t already.

A. I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001).
Written by Kubrick, directed by Spielberg, this film should be a mess. And it is really. However, I can neither remember much about it nor for the life of me which part Robin Williams played. IMDb says it was ‘The voice of Dr. Know’. Nope, I got nothing. A re-watch is required.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997).
Robin Williams won his first and only Oscar for his turn as Matt Damon’s father-figure / psychologist. I don’t think I’ve seen this since the 90s. I’m going to fix that.

FLUBBER (1997).
Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was terrible.

JUMANJI (1995).
I remember being wowed by the CGI in this film; I wonder if it still stands up? Probably not. But still. Interesting fact: JUMANJI is actually based upon a 1981 children’s picture book of the same name. I don’t remember much of Robin Williams (I’m beginning to realise how young I was when I saw most of his work) but I guess that means it demands a re-visit.

NINE MONTHS (1995).
This Hugh Grant ‘comedy vehicle’ is about a commitment-phobe guy whose girlfriend, Julianne Moore, finds out she’s pregnant. Geez, the 90s. Robin Williams appears in what is ostensibly a cameo performance as the latter’s obstetrician. There’s a funny moment involving an accidental of the gestation period of a cow, but that’s about it.

MRS DOUBTFIRE (1993).
Robin Williams stars as an actor who, after going through quite a messy divorce and only being awarded time to see his kids once a week, disguises himself as a woman (an older Scottish nanny, to be precise) so that he can stay in contact. This film is magnificent. First off: it’s classic Robin Williams. Second, from a cultural standpoint, this film was huge.

This was the the early 90s. Everyone’s parents were breaking up. It was just a thing that happened. But MRS DOUBTFIRE was first time, I think, when a film not only addressed the effects of what long-term separation of two parents might do to children but also looked at that separation from the father’s perspective. The emotional impact of ‘You can only see your children at weekends’ puts Williams’ character through turmoil which in turn, drives him through this transformation. A worthy re-watch.

ALADDIN (1992).
The number one box office smash of 1992 (beating Home Alone 2, Batman Returns, and The Boydguard, to name but three) and it’s so easy to see why: this is both Walt Disney Pictures and Robin Williams at the top of their game.

If you’ve not seen this already, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? If you have, I doubt very much you’ve only seen it once. Still laugh out loud hilarious in places, Disney’s ALADDIN is pitch perfect.

HOOK (1991).
The synopsis is wonderful: Peter Pan (Williams) has grown up to be a cut-throat merger and acquisitions lawyer, and is married to Wendy’s granddaughter. Captain Hook (Hoffman) kidnaps his children, and Peter returns to Never Land with Tinkerbell (Roberts). With the help of her and the Lost Boys, he must remember how to be Peter Pan again in order to save his children by battling with Captain Hook once again.

Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook? Sold.
Bob Hoskins as Smee? Sold.
Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell? Sold.
Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy? Sold.
Robin Williams as Peter…? SOLD.

THE FISHER KING (1991).
Christ, I haven’t seen this since the 90s. I will fix that this week. I love Gilliam and this deserves a revisit. Williams’ third Oscar nomination too.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989).
This film means more to me than any other; and there isn’t much else I can say.

THE ADVENTURE OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1988).
My Dad took me to the cinema to see this mental, mental acid trip of a film. Terry Gilliam left to run riot with a cast of thousands and sets that seemed to travel through space and time itself. I LOVED it when I saw it and Robin Williams it bat-crazy as ‘my-head-is-detachable-at-will’ King of the Moon. This film is such a huge chunk of my childhood, I might watch it first.

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (1987).
We have arrived at ground zero, ladies and gentlemen. This is the performance that announced Mr Williams’ departure from TV and that, from now on, Hollywood is where it’s at. Endlessly quotable but of course known best for that title (you couldn’t walk two metres in the playground without hearing another kid yell it) Robin Willams, as ever-so-slightly-based-on-a-real-armed-services-radio-DJ-but-not-really, Adrian Cronauer, is just brilliant.

Unsurprisingly, Williams picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role – and that’s not to be sniffed at for what was fundamentally his breakthrough gig.

A truly great film.

_____________

I’m pretty sure that covers off all the Robin Williams films I have seen. Going through his filmography on IMDb reminded me that I’m still yet to see ONE HOUR PHOTO or THE BIRD CAGE which I’m sure some of you will balk at.

The sad thing is, Robin Williams is gone now.

But to celebrate his life, and the effect on mine that he had, I’m going to work my way through the following list of films as soon as I can:

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Good Will Hunting
  • The Birdcage
  • A.I.
  • Jumanji
  • One Hour Photo
  • Mrs Doubtfire
  • Aladdin
  • Hook
  • The Fisher King
  • Good Morning Vietnam

Did I miss any?

Mork

You’re not alone any more. I don’t think you ever were. But then again, I don’t think you ever knew. All over the world tonight people are going to enjoy you again. It’s sad that it takes a loss to remember the joy. But it is what it is.

Nanu Nanu, Mork.

Robin Williams. 1951-2014.

 

 

9 Comments »