Review: ANT-MAN

A healthy combination of humour and action has meant that Ant-Man is my surprise of the summer. You should find out if it’s yours too.

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.

Five things on Friday #93

Things of note for the week ending October 10th, 2014.

Five Things on Friday

1. This is Groot
Did you see Guardians of the Galaxy this past summer (this is worth sticking with even if it’s a ‘no’, by the way)? Did you fall in love with a walking talking tree named Groot? If not, why not? Seriously, he steals the entire movie!

Anyway, all that being said, I found this video this week. It’s of wood sculpture specialist, Griffon Ramsey (yeah, she uses a chainsaw), creating her very own Groot statue out of an actual tree.

I AM GROOT

Yes, of course the end product is awesome and yes, now you’ve seen his face you can probably skip over this bit and get to the next thing (spoiler: it’s David Fincher related) but before you get there just stop.

Take six and a half minutes out of your day and watch the amazing making-of video that Ramsey made. It’s not only an awesome look at how such a beautiful thing is created but also a rather lovely bit of story-telling about what makes an artist tick.

Enjoy.

2. All of the Fincher things
If you read my website regularly (thanks) or follow me on Twitter (thanks again) you might already know that I saw Gone Girl last weekend and you might already know that I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT too. To say I have a massive hard on for all things David Fincher right now would be an understatement (yes, I was a fan already). So with that, here’s a selection of different Fincher things I’ve been reading this week (none of which hold any spoilers).

Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Let me know, yo!

3. Future of Copywriting
Written by the talented wordsmith, Rishi Dastidar, this piece over on Medium (actually entitled ‘continuous partial argument’) is/was an entry into a competition with the above name. Read as a lament for all that is wrong with the art of the written word the author comes through as passionate, driven, and yet ultimately bereft of hope for the future.

It is a fantastic read.

4. Amazon for a Fiver
The rather thoughtful Mr Terence Eden has put together this Tumblr of things you can buy from Amazon for under a fiver. Christmas is coming so I thought this might be useful. Bookmark it. Put it in your diary for pay day. Whatever.

Cool Stuff for FIVE POUNDS

THIS IS IMPORTANT AND USEFUL FOR CHRISTMAS.

5.  Hello Willem
My friend, Willem van der Horst, is back in Europe and this makes me very happy indeed. He is a big thinker, a deep philosopher, and overall, the keeper of a big warm heart. We caught up last night and I’m hoping it’ll be the first of many drinks now that he’s back (ish) from Asia.

You can follow Willem on Twitter or catch up on his travels via his blog, Ice Cream for Everyone (I know, right?).

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Bonuses this week are –

  • Over the past month or so I’ve given the same talk a few times to various groups of people all about Twitter Cards (aka ‘expandable Tweets’). The latest slides, used most recently at Social Media Week London, are now available to read/share/download over on my Slideshare account. If you do anything in social then you might them useful. Share and share alike etc.
  • Speaking of Social Media Week, The Guardian asked me about it recently. ‘What were your five key takeaways?’ they said. “Well,” I replied  “they are as follows…”
  • The Trailer for Disney’s new film, Tomorrowland, dropped just yesterday and it looks great.

 

Five things on Friday #81

Things of note for the week ending July 18th, 2014

oakoak-urban-interventions-1

– OakOak street art, via Web Urbanist

1. Drone Photography
The results of the first annual Dronestagram Photo Competition came in this past week and, of course, they are all pretty stunning. The image below, by Dronestagram contributor, ‘Capungaero‘, took first prize but the others are well worth a look too.

Dronestagram1

2. ‘I don’t recognise the British Image of the EU’
My general guidelines for creating Five Things on Friday every week tend to fit around a couple of rules. One of those rules is ‘Never share anything you’ve seen posted 2-3 times elsewhere’.

I’m breaking that this week because I really think you should all watch this video of Finnish Prime Minister, Alex Stubb, talking to Channel 4 News about Britain and the way it approaches its own internal EU debate.

Alexander Stubb Channel 4

I may make no secret of my love of all things Finland (the people, the produce, the cities, the festivals) and it seems that love now extends to the Prime Minister too.

Engaging, charismatic, and articulate, Alexander Stubb is definitely worth six minutes of your time.

3. Sex Lives of the Humanitarians

When you introduce yourself at a party as a former humanitarian, people expect that your field experiences were shaped by witnessing suffering, violence and displacement. What they don’t expect to hear is that your day-to-day management challenges also included arguments over what time your colleagues could watch porn in the common room, and negotiating how staff could get to and from a brothel. Yet it is often a reality of the job and it is time we talked about it.

After that opening paragraph, I wanted to read more. You might too.

4. Snapchat in The FT
This past week, ephemeral media platform and darling of all brands who want to get at ‘the yoof’, Snapchat, starting experimenting with ‘geofilters’. That is, filters for its self-destructing images that only appear when the user is in a certain locale. Said place could be a city (eg: Malibu) or a big sprawling metropolis of a living, breathing brand (step up, Disneyland).

FT Snapchat

The Financial Times asked me what I thought of this development – so I told them. Basically, talking about what this means for brands and of course, does this mean that Snapchat might have a business model? Maybe.

You don’t need to pay to read it [but you do need an account] and it’s actually quite a good read. Worth your time if only for finally getting around to setting up that FT account you’ll know you’ll appreciate in future.

5. The best comic redesign of the week
A bunch of stuff got announced in comic book land this week. Everyone is talking either about either Captain America now being black or how a woman is about to become THOR. Big whoop.

Screw those people, the coolest thing that happened in comic book land was the epic redesign of Batgirl.

Batgirl Stanley Lau

So. Good.

Details, and more, over at Comics Alliance.

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Bonuses (all podcast related):

Whenever I try to talk to people about podcasts I get one of two responses. The first one is ‘Yeah, what do you listen to? I’m really into [insert awesome podcast name]’, which is fine. The second response is this ‘Yeah, I’m not really a podcast person’, which, to be frank, is a pile of crap. You’re an idiot. Go and download a podcast app and just start listening to stuff. My friend Stefan has a pretty comprehensive list of good stuff that he listens to. That’s not a bad place to start.

Y’know where else is also not a bad place to start?

The following bonus items.

 

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Probably one of the best Marvel films ever made.

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Let’s get one thing absolutely clear: The Winter Soldier is a great film.

Yes, it’s Captain America film in title, but it’s more of a mini Avengers to be honest. Avengers 1.5, if you will. The most Avengers-like film you’ll see between 2012’s Avengers Assemble and next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. With, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Maria Hill, Falcon (team newbie), and of course, the Cap himself, Steve Rogers, they give you quite a line up. This is very much an ensemble piece.

A lot of what I had read leading up to seeing TWS had many saying that what happens in this particular Marvel adventure has (or will have) a lasting effect on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and they’re not wrong. Big changes are afoot. And SHIELD is at the heart of it all.

Cap 2

First thing you notice about TWS however, is that Captain America is a more of a badass than ever before. The opening sequence, a rescue mission aboard a pirated ship somewhere in the Indian Ocean, felt like something straight out of a James Bond pre credits mission (and is something I’d like to see more of in the future).

You know that Cap has been on these kinds of missions before and, when he hits the ground running, you know that this is not his first rodeo. And of course, Chris Evans owns this role now and even though he’ll be hanging up the shield (no pun intended) by the end of Phase 3, in this, his third outing in the blue uniform, has got Rogers down. Seriously, he’s perfect.

Which is handy really, because the rest of the cast are pretty darn fantastic too, Scarlett Johansson leaves you wanting a Black Widow film more than an ever before (or maybe even a two-hander with Hawkeye), Samuel L Jackson is Nick Fury, and Antony Mackie, joining the team as Falcon, shows what it really means to be a valuable sidekick.

Captain-America-2-Falcon-Movie-Costume-Wings

Hurrah for team players.

If I could make one criticism it would be to have more of the heavily-billed baddie himself, the Winter Soldier. That said, I don’t want to go into it, or him, too much in fear of giving away any spoilers (some people know about him and who he is, some people don’t – so I’ll leave it there).

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 22.53.12

The thing that makes Cap 2 really sing though is that, while there obviously huge links to the rest of the MCU throughout, it works really well as a standalone film. It’s confident, smart, and grounded in a realism that has seemed missing from both Iron Man 3 and Thor 2. Yes, I know we’re dealing with superheroes here, but see the film and you’ll get my point.

That said, there’s no harm in, ahem, re-capping with The First Avenger and The Avengers before you go see it though; you’ll be rewarded for it. On a related note, there are a gazillion bunch of hidden nods in the film (and I’m half tempted to do another post later to cover them all off, but we’ll see on that one), so marvel fans will be pleased too.

Like I said at the start, The Winter Soldier really is a great film. I didn’t bother seeing it in 3D as I didn’t think it’d be worth it – I stand by that. However I do think it’s worth seeing in the cinema.

In closing, The last time we (officially) saw Cap he was a bit part player in Avengers Assemble, this time round he gets to show us what he’s really made of.

It’s simple –

  • Cap 1: intro story.
  • Avengers: bit part player.
  • Cap 2: BAMF.

And so you know, there are TWO post credits sequences. The first is a teaser for Avengers: Age of Ultron. And the second, I’d guess is a nod of things to come in the already announced Captain America 3.

Go see it.

NEW TRAILER: Guardians of the Galaxy

Oh my god, let’s DO THIS.

They’re here, and they look awesome. The newest and weirdest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (yes, this is what ties into that post-credits sequence in Thor: The Dark World) and it looks AMAZING.

GuardiansGalaxy

BRING. IT. ON.

Sidenote: I still can’t get over how awesome Karen Gillan looks. The former Amy Pond is almost completely unrecognisable –

Karen Gillan Nebula Wallpaper

UPDATED: The poster has been dropped too, YOU’RE WELCOME.

GotG_Poster

(click for big version)

NEW TRAILER: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m actually well up for this.

  1. I like that this is (or at least seems) a bit more suspenseful.
  2. Nick Fury gets a beating. Oof.
  3. Falcon looks awesome.
  4. I hope The Winter Soldier actually gets some lines.
  5. The above is Trailer 2, but Trailer 1 is one worth a look too.

Not long now…

Captain America