Adam McKay

Ant Man Review

AntMan oh AntMan! Upodcasting has been looking forward to this one for so long now that the sense of anticlimax was a real and present danger.  It proved to be unfounded in the final analysis but the possible overexposure through trailer had me a bit rattled.
But first a bit of background. AntMan is seemingly an odd choice given the range of characters within the Marvel Charcater Universe (MCU) and a typical reaction from friends has been: AntMan, why? Can’t they pick a better superhero? Or even, AntMan, who’s he? The latter certainly being my reaction upon learning it would be the latest addition.  AntMan has also had a colourful and somewhat long lead in with initial director and writer Edgar Wright denying all involvement for ages only to come clean and then write what has been described as the best superhero script ever (Joss Whedon) before finally he and cowriter Joe Cornish fell foul of presumably internal politics and studio machinations. We can only ponder.
So what remains? Peyton Reed with a strong history of RomComs behind him wasn’t an obvious choice as replacement director, but nonetheless has delivered on the promise shown by the Brits. Is this due to the somewhat standardised look of Marvel films these days? Quite possibly – and maybe whomever could have stood in would benefit from this.  Minor quibbles over the director aside, the casting is inspired: Michael Douglas a perfect Hank Pim and showing some real thirst for a left field role given his prior – it just seems to fit, rolling an air of a once successful superhero, scientist and businessman all into one. Corey Stoll (House of Cards) likewise is a great baddie, although I would have preferred to know more about what has made him so obsessed and ever so slightly deranged.
This raises another point regarding Marvel at the moment, namely their seeming insistence on the non-aware audience members simply accepting, without explanation a few key things.  In this instance, the Pim particle, in others, the Infinity Stones or Vibranium. Are they genuinely important or should we just let them wash over us, McGuffin style, in the expectation that there will be some kind of explanation or that the story will outweigh the “whaaaat is this?”.
Back to the strong suits though and up there with some of the best casting ever, is Paul Rudd as the eponymous hero. Taking all the humour, charm and pathos from and number of roles he is on top, top form here. Indiana Jones can only ever be played by Harrison Ford and likewise AntMan MUST now only ever be played by Paul Rudd. End of.
What he is able to do is take a pretty weak superhero (what? You’re an ant?!) and make it rock. Whilst the movie does take a while to warm up, once it hits its stride it becomes unstoppable. It is certainly on the lighter side of the MCU but this is something I welcome wholeheartedly. The trick they’ve pulled off here is to reverse the trend to the big – big explosions, big CGI, big super heroes and turn it on its head. Small truly is beautiful and it’s a delight after Age of Ultron or even Mad Max for example, to see how powerful in the figurative and literal sense, the impact of tiny beings can be.
For those who aren’t into the comics or struggle to keep pace with the wider MCU AntMan is perfect – light along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy but also pretty much standalone as you do not need to know about Hydra, or Thanos or numerous other properties. In fact those other properties are more or less mocked: Hank Pim’s disdain for “Iron Man” and his broken relationship with Howard Stark.
Whilst not my absolute favourite of the Marvels so far, this is however a superb addition and once you have this origins story under your belt, you will be wanting more. At Upod we have surprisingly declared this unanimously our 4th favourite Marvel but we do differ on the order of the first three. Put it this way, I will recommend my parents watch this, but I’d not have said the same about any others apart from perhaps Guardians of the Galaxy.
Watch it, get stuck in, enjoy the tiny little ride for all its powerful punches and try to tell me you don’t want more. A cracking way to kickoff the summer season of blockbusters…a thrilling antiblockbuster bar none.
Ant Man is currently in UK theaters.

Review: Anchorman 2 – does the legend continue?

The team re-assemble

Joy of joys in the season of goodwill, my co-host Asim was unable to attend our screening of Anchorman 2. One man’s pain is another man’s gain.  It is a hard life, but sometimes you just have to take one for the team. That enthusiasm aside, I approached this movie with more than a hefty dose of caution, even scepticism. My bar was set low. Perhaps to protect me if it was mediocre and possibly to preserve the legacy of the first one.

Sometimes, when you love something so much, you just want more of the same, more of the good stuff.  Like an addiction to Cherry Coke or fizzy cola bottles you can keep stuffing your face until there is no more left and you have to demand more from the makers. I guess this is what happened with Anchorman. Fans – myself included – really were fans and took it to their hearts with a warm embrace, reeling off quote after quip, revelling in people being killed with tridents and women being seduced by Sex Panther.  But it wasn’t enough – how could it be? Genuinely strong characters, played quite perfectly by the cast, combined with surreal humour, a love story that ends happily ever after and a brilliant script with more take-home than your local Chinese.  All of which sets up the sequel nicely, but to what end? After almost 10 years away, how good is it and should you spend your hard earned cash on going to the cinema to see it?

With the 70s behind him, San Diego’s top-rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk along with co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner).

So, after the hype, does the legend really continue?  Thankfully, at least for this lucky viewer, it does.  I can’t say how much I laughed, but I was literally lol-ing all movie which rarely happens in public.  As with the first one, there is an almost non-stop stream of gags and jokes throughout the whole film.  It’s almost unfair to talk about certain high points or low points without giving away some of the story, but suffice to say, if you liked the first one, you will not be disappointed!  I can also report that Kanye is only briefly appearing and is able to JUST ABOUT deliver his lines without spoiling the scene – worry ye not.

So, now that I’ve talked about one scene, I may as well keep going…my least favourite would have to be the dinner with Linda Jackson’s (Meagan Good)  family and not really because it’s unfunny, I just think it doesn’t add much and it also reminded me of shit Eddie Murphy movies that should forever remain purged from my brain.  I did find it hilarious when he moves in to a lighthouse though and you will also find proof that you shouldn’t ever travel with bowling balls and scorpions.  Much has been made of the large cast of stars and I can confirm there is indeed a long long list.  You’ll be ticking them off the list as you see them but there were so many at one point that I even missed Kirsten Dunst entirely.

Anchorman 2 also has the wit to have a pop at media ownership, the quality of broadcast news & what 24 hour news channels have done to change the ways we consume news.  Let me be clear: this is not biting satire and if like my mum, you “don’t do silly”, it’s not going to get you to enjoy it.  However, if you loved the first one, you do “do silly” (like me) & you love the gags coming thick and fast, both verbal and visual then Amnchorman 2 is in every way a winner and the legend does indeed continue.

Enjoy the trailer to whet your appetite – it’s not like you haven’t seen it already is it?

Enhanced by Zemanta