This will be a great way to celebrate my birthday. And they gave her the mohawk mask!!!!!!
This will be a great way to celebrate my birthday. And they gave her the mohawk mask!!!!!!
Possible spoilers ahead!
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” picks up nearly two years after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” with Scott Lang close to completing his house arrest sentence that was part of his deal to get out of prison after violating the Sokovia Accords. However, days before his time is up, Scott reunited with his former associates Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), both of whom are wanted by the FBI and have been on the run for the past two years.
But if the FBI catches up with scott, it will sabotage the new life he’s trying to build for himself, like starting a security business with his friends Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). Another arrest would also put in peril his relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forsten), ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new fiancé Paxton (Bobby Cannavale).
During the same period of time, the Pym’s have assembled a lab where they’ve been building a Quantum Tunnel in an attempt to rescue Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). Janet went missing in the Quantum Realm about 30 years ago. But Hank and Hope have their own problems, thanks to criminal named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who is after their research. Add to that the mysterious entity only known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and you got major problems for the heroes. As a result, Scott, Hank and Hope turn to an old associate of Hank’s for help: Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne).
Now with the FBI, a gangster, and a super powered villain all after the trio and Hank’s work, Scott must decide whether to protect his new life, or suit up again as Ant-Man to help his friends.
It is a very rare thing when a movie sequel is better than the original film. But you know what? For me “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is miles better than the first “Ant-Man”, and I’m a huge fan of the 2015 film. But when it comes right down to it, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” was as close to a perfect sequel as you can get.
Like the first film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” has the right mix of super-heroics, and silly humor. But the sequel goes even further than the 2015 film. The story in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is sharper, and wastes no time to get going. The film also manages to make the science stuff easy to understand for people like me who were always horrible at science. And yet, this film still feels grounded thank to the main story about saving Janet Van Dyne.
Paul Rudd delivers yet another solid performance as Scot Lang, but this time he even added more inner conflict to his character. It was nice seeing him battle with wanting to help his friends the Pym’s, but at the same time not wishing to hurt his daughter. The filmmakers did a superb job balancing Scott’s heavy stuff, and the funny bits.
But for me, the biggest highlight of the movie was Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp. She not only steals the movie, but in many ways is the lead character. Hope Van Dyne is more skilled at combat than Scott Lang, and she’s often the one in charge. Also, Hope gets an equal number of action scenes as Scott, and some of the best one liners. In particular, I enjoyed how she teased Scott when the two had to sneak into a school.
The banter between the two also helps balance the film’s comedy, and we actually get to see their relationship grow. Plus, Hope is at the center of the emotional arc of the movie, since they’re trying to rescue her mother, and Evangeline Lilly carries off that dramatic storyline as well as anyone. This part of the movie even leads to a touching, and funny moment in the lab as the Pym’s comfirm if Janet is alive.
It was also nice to see Scott’s friends Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian), all back for the new adventure. The three are involved in one of my favorite scenes of the movie which involved some truth serum. Plus Kurt’s reaction as seeing Ghost for the first time, was just priceless.
Also of note is Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost. Going in I thought she might be a weak villain like Yellowjacket was, but the filmmakers stepped up their game and made Ghost a surprisingly complex character. John-Kamen gave the character some great depth too, to the point where you understand what drives her motivations.
If I have one complaint about “Ant-Man and the Wasp” it would be with Sonny Birch’s character. I don’t think the movie needed him, and whenever the film went back to him, it only slowed things down. Plus with the FBI also serving as antagonists to Scott, Hope and Hank, it was almost a case of too many villains.
But as I said earlier, I thought “Ant-Man and the Wasp” was better than the original, and a lot of fun to boot. The cast was terrific, the action was awesome, and the Wasp stole every moment she appeared on-screen. I don’t know what the future holds for this little corner of the MCU, but I for one would love another adventure with Ant-Man and the Wasp.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” score: A
Possible spoilers ahead!!
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). The Mad Titan is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones that make up the Infinity Gauntlet. When he gains all the stone, Thanos will be able to achieve his dream of wiping out half the population of the universe in order to preserve its precious resources and restore “balance.”
The only thing standing in his way are the Avengers: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), War Machine (Don Cheadle), the Vision (Paul Bettany), the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
However, earth’s mightiest heroes may not enough to stop the evil of Thanos and his Black Order. Joining the action are Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), White Wolf (Sebastian Stan), all the characters from “Black Panther” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” join the cosmic struggle against the greatest threat the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen.
Since I saw “Avengers: Infinity War” this past Friday, I have tried writing this review five or six times. But I threw them all away because the truth is, it’s almost impossible to do write a review without giving something away. One of the reasons for this problem is because Infinity War never lets up. Something happens in this movie from the moment it starts all the way to the post credit scene.
However, that’s also one of the things that I liked best about “Avengers: Infinity War.” This movie was a non-stop thrill ride. This movie is clearly inspired more by the Infinity Gauntlet saga, and several scenes in the movie were straight out of the 1991 Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim mini series. A few things are different of course, mostly due to Marvel not having the rights to some characters. But the changes worked well I thought.
“Avengers: Infinity War” was also a roller coaster of emotions for me. This is the part where I must mention that Infinity War is the first comic book movie that made me shed a tear. I won’t say why, or which scene caused me to tear up. But let’s just say I wasn’t the only one in the theater who reacted like this. I guess if this movie doesn’t make you feel something, then you’re dead inside.
One of the few complaints I’ve heard about Infinity War is that several characters don’t get much screen time and/or dialogue. The way I see it though, the task of balancing so many characters, in addition to developing Thanos for non comic book readers was a daunting one. But the Russo brothers and the screen writers did an amazing job making Thanos a credible threat and a fully fledged out character. Hell, he’s even a sympathetic at points.
The only problem I had with Infinity War was the constant use of title cards. The film jumps around between different storylines involving different groupings of characters in different locations. whenever the film went to a new place, a giant tile card greeted us. Thing is, we already knew where these characters were headed because of the dialogue in previous scenes, so the title cards were unnecessary.
Further more, some of the shifts in location and tone were jarring at times. At one point we go from what is meant to be a particularly poignant and emotional scene, but it’s soon followed by a change of scenery and a joke. Then again, with so many things going on, and dozens of characters to deal with, this is a minor complaint on my part.
With that said, there is still plenty to enjoy about “Avengers: Infinity War.” This movie is easily in my top 3 favorite Marvel movies. The action never stops and its awesome from start to finish. The stakes were also higher than ever before, and the emotions this film puts you through, were all worth the price of admission.
A tip of the hat to Marvel, the Russo brothers, and the entire cast of “Avengers: Infinity War.” Thank you for making one of the most incredible comic book movies I’ve ever seen.
“Avengers: Infinity War” score: A
Possible spoilers ahead!
“Black Panther” picks up shortly after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” as T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) prepares to take over the throne of Wakanda, following the death of his father King T’Chaka (John Kani).
However, as soon as T’Challa becomes King, the country’s old enemy, Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis), emerges from hiding when he steals a rare Wakandan artifact made of Vibranium from a British museum.
T’Challa, along with Okoye (Danai Guirra), and his ex girlfriend Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), travel to Soth Korea to track down Klaue and bring him to justice for all. But it turns out Klaue is just the middle man to a far more dangerous enemy: Eric “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), a determined young man who will threaten T’Challa’s reign as king.
The only word I can use to describe “Black Panther” is.. epic.
This movie surprised me at every turn, and I left the theatre feeling like I had just witnessed something special. “Black Panther” delivered on every promise it made, and then some. From the world-building that brings the hidden land of Wakanda to life, to the message that people are only as good as their leaders, this movie was an event.
T’Challa’s arc in “Black Panther” is not one of a superhero, but one about leadership, ideals, and global isolationism and how they can impact people in Wakanda and all over the world. Chadwick Boseman has a presence unlike any other superhero. When he speaks, you listen. And because he has such command of a scene, its easy to belive he could be a king.
Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan’s Eric “Killmonger” Stevens is easily the most compelling Marvel film villain since Loki. Killmonger is also the most sympathetic of all the villains thus far. We may not like his methods, but perhaps he’s making some valid points. Despite the haircut the filmmakers gave Jordan, I’d say this is his best work yet.
As good as the lead actors are, the show stealers in “Black Panther” are the women in T’Challa’s life, like Okoye (Danai Guirra) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o). Both ladies are essential to the film’s plot, and each actress deliver powerhouse performances. Okoye and Nakia have great moments throughout the film, and even have some of the film’s best lines.
But easily my favorite character in “Black Panther” was T’Challa’s tech genius younger sister Shuri (Letitia Wright). As soon as she flipped off T’Challa, she became a fan-favorite. But her tech savy is what made her stand out. She’s brilliant at what she does, and I’m hoping she becomes a bigger part of the MCU going forward, not just in a Black Panther sequel.
There are too many other supporting players in “Black Panther” for me to mention here. But I will say that all of them felt like fully fledged characters. Even the ones that didn’t get as much screen time, it was like you knew who they were, what they did, and what motivated their actions or inactions. This sort of things is almost unheard of in a comic book movie, so kudos tot he filmmakers for accomplishing this.
“Black Panther” is an exceptional film, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have one or two minor issues with the movie. First off, at least a couple of the action sequences take place at night or in a dark location. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge issue, but when the titular hero is wearing an entirely black suit, it becomes difficult to tell what is going on in the screen.
My only other complaint is about the CGI. While I realize a movie like “Black Panther” must have a fair amount of computer generated moments, I was surprised where it was used. Fors instance, during the car chase in South Korea, at least one of the cars appears to be fake. And later in the film, almost all of the stampeding rhinos were CGI creations.
Now, obviously Marvel wouldn’t be able to use a herd or real rhinos for this sequence. But I was a little disappointed at how fake all the rhinos looked in a movie that features some excellent CGI effects. Even the car in the chase stood out, and we know Marvel can do solid car chases. Just look back at the Nick Fury scenes from “Captain America” to see what I’m talking about.
And yet, despite these two complaints, I can’t take anything away from “Black Panther.” This is one of the best MCU movies yet and a historic moment for big-budget films, when it comes to incredible cast and direction.
In the end though, “Black Panther” is a movie that has something important to say, but it never preaches, nor does it forget the super heroics. This is one film that is worth seeing again, and again.
“Black Panther” final score: A+
Possible spoilers ahead!
The Odin son has a spotty record when it comes to his solo MCU outings. Kenneth Branagh’s 2011’s “Thor” was a fun introduction to the character and his world. But a perfect movie it is not, and I’d be lying if I told anyone that it was one of Marvel’s best movies.
Meanwhile, Alan Taylor’s 2013 “Thor: The Dark World” disappointing in just about every way possible. This, despite the fact that all the right ingredients for a killer movie where there! Four years later, we now have “Thor: Ragnarok” directed by Taika Waititi, and I’m happy to say, the third Thor movie is a breath of fresh air.
“Thor: Ragnarok” is a completely new take on Thor, at least in the movie world. To me, Ragnarok looked and felt a lot like the current Thor books: colorful worlds, solid characters, a good amount of comedy, and plenty of action. All of these elements help “Thor: Ragnarok” stand apart from the previous two films and even some of the other Marvel films.
Taika Waititi deserves a lot of the credit of course, his stamp is all over the movie. But credit should also go to the amazing cast. Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo are hysterical together. IT doesn’t matter whether they’re fighting each other, or just having a conversation about their friendship. As good as Hemsworth and Ruffalo are,
My favorite cast member however, was Cate Blanchett as Hela. Not only did Blanchett look amazing, but I thought she gave Loki a run for his money as top MCU villain. The Oscar winner looked like she was having a blast with the role, and I for one can’t wait to see what she’s up to in Infinity War.
Other new additions to Thor’s world include Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, and Karl Urban as Skurge. You’re basically never going to go wrong casting Jeff Goldblum, and he did his usual stuff here. Some of his best moments were between him and his assistant, a woman whose name I can’t remember.
As for Tessa Thompson and Karl Urban, I hate to call them the weak leaks because that’s unfair. Neither actor did anything wrong, but I do feel than in both cases, their characters suffered from a lack of development. Valkyrie gets some background, but her arc never really plays out. And except for his introduction, the character of Skurge fell flat.
“Thor: Ragnarok” also features brief but solid appearances from Anthony Hopkins as Odin, as well as Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. Some of this scene was shown in the mid-credit scene of Doctor Strange, but it’s still a rather fun sequence. There are a couple of more cameos in the film, but you need to see them to believe them.
When all is said and done, “Thor: Ragnarok” is the best of the Thor films. This is an ambitious entry in the MCU that delivers plenty of laughs, introduces new characters, and features some great action. Ragnarok also builds upon the groundwork laid by the first two Thor movies. And yes, this is a very good thing!
“Thor: Ragnarok” final score: A-
Holy cow, the long wait is nearly over! We are now only a couple of days away from “Thor: Ragnarok” hitting the big screen. With that in mind, this is as good time a tine as any, to tell you about a few underrated comic stories starring the God of Thunder.
Before we get to my list, a quick reminder: just like my previous underrated comics posts, this Thor comic list features a few stories you may have missed when they first came out.
But these comics are by no means necessary to enjoy “Thor: Ragnarok” in theaters. And finally, my Thor list is not in any particular order. These are just good comic stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the movie. And away we go:
Thor #443 (January, 1992)
To be honest, I was not a huge fan of the Tom Defalco/Ron Frenz run on Thor. Not that I have anything against either Defalco and Franz, both are talented creators. But their style felt outdated even in the early 1990’s.
However, there was one exception during their run on the title. In Thor #443, then Thor, Eric Masterson, travels to Mephisto’s realm, with the help of Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer.
Notice I didn’t say Thor was traveling to the underworld, that’s because Masterson has to retrieve Thor’s hammer after Mephisto tricked Eric into giving it to him. This is a really fun issue that actually has something at stake. And Eric’s reactions to this crazy world are rather funny too.
Thor #491 (October, 1995)
In the mid 1990’s, acclaimed writer Warren Ellis had a short, but awesome, run on Thor. Ellis was joined by superstar artist Mike Deodato Jr., fresh off his stint on Wonder Woman. Thanks to these two creators, I jumped back on the Thor book for the rest of the decade.
Thor #491 is the start of the “Worldengine” storyline, and this isse features Thor sick and dying. The big guy is then attacked by a slew animated corpses, but Thor manages to fight them off, and follows one of them back to an underground tunnel. To tell you more would spoil things, but I will tell you this issue has a brief appearance by the hottest version of the Enchantress I’ve ever seen.
Thor (Volume 2) #26 (August, 2000)
Thor #26 has a story written by Dan Jurgens, with art by Erik Larsen and Klaus Jansen, and a cover by the one and only Mike Mignola. Seriously, what else could you possibly need from a $2.25 comic?
In this gem of a comic, Thor returns home to fabled Asgard where the All-Father begins his week long Odin sleep (a hibernating process the King of the Aesir takes once a year to replenish his strength). Thor also learns that his one time love Lady Sif has been appointed Keeper of the Realms. Meanwhile back on Midgard, Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man, has learned that the woman he loves, Titania, is dying. He kidnaps Jane Foster to save her life and Jake Olson pays the cost for standing in his way.
Thanks to an awesome creative team, this issue of Thor is jammed packed from cover to cover.Thor #26 has great storytelling, action, drama, and even a little humor. They simply just don’t make them like this anymore.
Thor Annual #16 (1991)
Long time comic book fans can tell you that the late Herb Trimpe drew an awesome incredible Hulk. But did you know that Herb Trimpe also drew a kick-ass Thor?
Thor Annual #16 features part two of “The Korvac Quest,” guest starring the Guardians of the Galaxy. In the story, The Guardians of the Galaxy chase Korvac’s energy signature into the future, but not all the way to their own future of the 31st century. They land in 2591 AD, which happens to be the period where Thor is missing and has been replaced by Dargo Ktor.The plot was written by Tom DeFalco, the script by Len Kaminski, layouts by Alex Trimpe, pencils by Herb Trimpe.
But since this is an Annual, the book comes with additional stories like: “Fly Like a Skyhawk!” With a script by DeFalco, art by Herb Trimpe. “Child’s Play!” Script by DeFalco, art by Herb Trimpe. Beta Ray Bill stars in “World Gone Mad!” Script by Michael Heisler, pencils by Kevin West, inks by Bob Petrecca. “The Origin of the Once and Future Thor!” Script by DeFalco, pencils by Ron Frenz, inks by Al Milgrom. Hard to believe all this goodness cost only $2.00 back in 1991.
Thorion of the New Asgods #1 (1997)
The Amalgam one-shots of the mid nineties were hit or miss. A lot of the amalgamations felt forced, (Spider-Boy anyone?). But combining the God of Thunder with Orion of the New Gods, actually made sense!
Thorion and the New Asgods #1 was written by Keith Giffen, with art by John Romita, Jr. In this issue, Thor, the mighty Norse god of thunder, and the Asgardians are merged with Orion and the New Gods. Can Thorion and his fellow Asgods prevent Ragnarok, the end of days? Not if L’ok Desaad (Loki/Desaad) and the power of his Mother Cube (Mother Box/Cosmic Cube) have anything to say about it.
Thorion of the New Asgods #1 is easily one of my favorite Amalgam comics, and it should be easy to find in most dollar or fifty cent bins.
Journey into Mystery (3rd Series) #647 (2013)
All right, I may be cheating here a bit because Thor doesn’t actually appear in Journey into Mystery #647. But in my defense, this issue takes place on Asgard and stars a lot of the Odin Son’s best friends.
Journey into Mystery #647 was written by Kathryn Immonen, with art by Valerio Schiti. The story goes something like this: Newly minted with an ancient version of the Berzerker spell, Sif returns to an unsuspecting Midgard…and with no patience for relative peace, she starts putting out fires with gasoline..! When the All-Seeing Heimdall pulls big brother rank…will Sif find herself in the ultimate time-out?!
What I love about this issue is that it puts the spotlight on Sif, and on a darker version no less. Also, Volstagg’s home life is one of the funniest things in comics. This book is well worth tracking down.
Possible spoilers ahead!
After the airport battle in “Captain America: Civil War,” Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is back Queens, New York,attending high school, and apprehending purse snatchers and other small time criminals. At least now he’s doing so with a little help from a technologically enhanced Spider-Man costume that designed by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.).
Peter i supposed to check in with Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) regularly, but the truth is, Peter’s bores. After the airport battle in Civil War, Peter feels he is more than ready to leave his old life as an ordinary high schooler, and become an official member of the Avengers. But this would also mean leaving behind his neighborhood, friends, and even his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) behind.
Things take a serious turn when some mysterious and extremely powerful alien weapons begin popping up all over the city. Going against Tony Stark’s wishes Peter investigates where the weapons are coming from, and eventually discovers the man behind the weapons is named Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton). Despite the danger involved, Peter sees this as his big chance to prove to Stark that he has what it takes to be an Avenger.
I may be the only hardcore comic book fan out there who has never loved a Spider-Man movie. I find the Sam Raimi unwatchable, and even thought I enjoyed aspects of both Amazing Spider=Man films, I’ve only seen them once. Out of those five movies, the only one I watched more than once was the 2002 original.
But, I’m very happy to say that I’ve finally see a Spider-Man movie that I love, and can’t wait to see again, because “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is everything I could have ever hoped for in a Spider-Man movie and more.
Director Jon Watts did an incredible job in mixing the classic John Hughes high school movies of the 1980s, and modern-day comic book films. The end result is a very funny high school superhero comedy/drama, and perhaps best of all: “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is strong standalone movie set in the MCU. When was the last time we were able to say that?
Tom Holland’s charismatic performance and young age further makes this version of Peter Parker more convincing as a kid who’s in way over his head, compared to any of the character’s previous onscreen versions. The same way Gal Gadot is now and forever Woncer Woman, Tom Holland is now THE Spider-Man, and the best one yet in my opinion.
Homecoming costars are equally likable and believable in their respective roles, especially Jacob Batalon as Peter’s enthusiastically best friend Ned. I thought he would get annoying, but he turned out to be a very likable character. Zendaya was also good as the whip-smart, and somewhat antisocial, Michelle. She even got some of the film’s best one liner’s, but I do wish she had been in it more.
Perhaps the reason for this is because Laura Harrier as the popular yet friendly girl Liz, gets most of the spotlight. I didn’t have any issues with Liz as the love interest, it was actually a nice change of pace seeing Peter Parker fall for someone else. My only problem with the cast was the way the movie portrayed Flash Thompson. It was as if they filmmakers couldn’t decide if they wanted Flash to be a jock, bully, or just a nerd. There were a couple of moments when this took me out of the movie.
Meanwhile, the adult figures in Peter’s life also get moments to shine. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark only pops in a few times, but each sequence was great. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May – effectively serves as Peter’s support systems, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see an Aunt May that still enjoys life.
On the villain side of things, I was pleasantly surprised. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes/Vulture is definitely an upgrade for MCU villains. For once we got a fully developed antagonist, we know who he was, became, and why. Keaton makes Toomes a charming, and compelling character. Even my mother in law said she wanted to root for him.
For me, one of the film’s biggest highlights was Spidey’s new Stark created suit. I thought it fit the story that was being told. But I’m sure some fans will complain some of the suit features probably are over the top, but I personally loved the suit’s A.I which Peter calls Karen. The voice is belongs to Jennifer Connelly, who gave the part some great personality. I hope we hear more of Karen in future movies.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” is an excellent addition to the MCU for sure, but what I like best about this movie is that it can stand on its own. Homecoming is one of those movies even casual moviegoers will enjoy. At the end of the day, this is a great high school buddy comedy that just happens to be about Spider-Man, and I for one loved that.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” score: A-