Back in 1999, I was a training manager at Universal Studios Florida. When we opened Islands of Adventure, we were all thrilled that it included the Marvel Superhero Island. Since then, the Marvel universe has exploded with movie and TV program after movie and TV program, ad nauseous, infinitum, forever and ever. With so many superheroes on the big screen, is there really room for another one?
Move over, Hollywood, just a little bit for the next big thing (sorry, bad pun). One of the most recent Marvel-inspired movies is Ant-man, the bigger-than-life adventures (sorry, bad pun) about burglar, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) who is recruited to become a powerful, if tiny, superhero. The characters seem typical of superhero types:
I admit I was reluctant to waste my time on this one, even though I really enjoy Paul Rudd, so I waited ‘til it came out as a rental and there was nothing else on TV. It was fun. It was silly. It was predictable. However, I did feel sorry for the ants who selfishly gave their lives so Ant-Man could save the world.
You can find all sorts of messages within this movie. Redemption. A father’s love for his daughter and her adoration of her father. Evil people have huge egos. Sometimes the most humble among us must rise to the occasion to save the world.
The absolutely best part of the movie is when Michael Douglas plays Dr. Hank Pym (where do they get these names?) 30 years ago. It looked like he stepped right out of "The China Syndrome" (It's a movie, kids. Ask your parents). The CGI is astonishing and just about worth the price of admission.
Ant-Man is simply entertainment. That’s about all. But it’s good entertainment. Given the current efforts at entertaining people, that’s a big deal (sorry, bad pun).
You may have already read my semi-review here on The Martian, Andy Weir’s best selling debut novel (I'm jealous!). The film by the same name starring Matt Damon is a decent rendering of the book and a runaway hit. Of course, some things are punched up for a movie audience (and perhaps some Hollywood egos) and go a little beyond reality –(would the captain of the rescue ship really venture from her spacecraft to capture the elusive astronaut or would she send another one of the crew? – sorry about the spoiler).
Go see this flick, even if you aren’t a sci-fi fan. Actually, in some ways, it isn’t a sci-fi movie, like Gravity or Interstellar. The Martian is about a guy stuck in a bad place who must use intelligence and ingenuity and a lot of luck to get out. That should interest just about everyone. The message in the movie comes directly from astronaut Whatney:
“I guarantee you, at some point, everything’s going to go South on you, everything is going to go South and you’re gonna say, ‘This is it. This is how I end.’ Now, you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem, and then you solve the next one, and then solve the next, and if you solve enough problems, you get to go home.”
Pretty good advice.
One of the sleepers of 2015 is writer, director and actor Joel Edgerton’s “The Gift.” Not an uplifting, positive movie, this is a dark, thought-provoking film in which Jason Bateman’s character, Simon, meets an old high school acquaintance, Gordon (Gordo), played by Edgerton. At first, Gordo seems like just a clingy, lonely man, but he evolves into a haunting figure seeking retribution from a damaged past.
Stories should educate and elicit feelings. The Gift, among other things, teaches us the importance of being genuine while invoking pity, suspense and fear as each character’s past is revealed, layer by layer. The writing, directing and acting is impressive, even though the story is somewhat haunting.
Bateman, Edgerton and Rebecca Hall (who play’s Simon’s wife) are all flawed in their own ways and those flaws make them real and give them character.
The Gift is a film that will make you think and feel, long after it’s over.
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Rookie Movie Reviews
Stories are stories, whether they are recited around a roaring campfire, printed on paper or projected on a screen. And, stories should say something.