Ant-Man (Marvel Studios 2015)

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While Ant-Man himself is one of the original Avengers, it took fifteen years and eleven other films before he would finally be granted his silver screen debut.

Marvel Studios’ latest film and the true end of “Phase Two”, the overlying arc spanning six films (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and finally Ant-Man) has had a rocky go of it from the get-go. Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish were tapped to write the script, with Wright set to direct. This made a number of fans very happy, as his quirky style of writing and unique approach to film making seemed a perfect fit for what is such an arguably odd story. Wright and Cornish had been involved in the development of an Ant-Man script since as early as 2003, with them being officially brought on to the project in 2006. Development continued through the entirety of Phase One, as Ant-Man wasn’t considered a “tent-pole” character. Months after turning in the fifth draft of their script, however, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish left the project, citing “differences in their vision of the film”.

The story doesn’t end there, thankfully.

Filmmaker Adam McKay entered negotiations to replace Wright as director, though ended up backing out a day later. Marvel Studios would soon after name Peyton Reed as Wright’s replacement, with McKay contributing to the script. It was revealed that Paul Rudd, after being cast as lead character Scott Lang, would also lend a hand with the script. So, we have a movie that went from being written exclusively by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, to a movie that has four screenplay credits altogether. This was troubling to many, and it could be said a stigma was added to the film after that. Many doubted Ant-Man would meet the standards of quality set by the Marvel Studios films that preceded it.

Cast:
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Evangeline Lily as Hope Van Dyne
Michael Douglas as Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym
Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket

Plot:

When career criminal Scott Lang is released from San Quentin, he vows to turn his life around. He’s given a very clear set of goals by his ex-wife: Get a job, get an apartment, pay his child support. Only then will he be able to spend time with his young daughter, Cassie. Walking the straight and narrow doesn’t pan out for Lang, and when his friend and former heist partner Luis (Michael Peña) offers him “the perfect job”, he decides to take his chances.

The perfect job ends up being more than Lang bargained for, though, when he crosses paths with Dr. Hank Pym. This mysterious older scientist inserts himself into Scott Lang’s life and makes him an offer of his own. One that takes Lang on a wild ride to redemption as he struggles to win back his daughter and, oh yeah, save the world.

Thoughts:

I will preface this by saying that there has not been a single Marvel Studios movie that I have disliked. There have been some that I truly loved (Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy) and some that I enjoyed but could have been much better (Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron). Even the ones that have been heavily flawed, have had some redeeming quality for me.

Now, to Ant-Man.

I’ve seen reviews comparing Ant-Man to heist movies like Oceans 11, and I could not agree more. At its core, this is two movies in one. A tale of redemptions and the story of a daring heist. The combination of these elements, along with the heart and charm of Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, are what really hold this movie together.

The cast is great and each member plays off one another very well. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas have an undeniable chemistry when on screen together. Evangeline Lily’s Hope Van Dyne is believably at odds with her father, Douglas’ Hank Pym. Michael Peña steals every single scene he’s in as Luis. Going in, I thought for sure that Rudd was going to get the biggest laughs, but Peña nails it every single time.

Even actors in smaller roles, like David Dastmalchian and rapper-turned-actor T.I., or character actress Judy Greer and Boardwalk Empire’s Bobby Cannavale, shine during their brief moments on screen.

Corey Stoll, who can be seen on The Strain on FX, does a fine job as the villainous Darren Cross, though there was something about his performance that didn’t sit right with me.

I’m still blown away that Michael Douglas was in this film. Between Douglas being in Ant-Man, and Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s truly astonishing to see the caliber of actor being drawn to Marvel Studios.

Edgar Wright’s influence is still very much felt throughout the movie and I can’t help but wonder how much of his original script made it to shoot. I also can’t help but wonder what the finished product would have been if Wright had remained signed on as director. All of that said, between Wright and Cornish, and Adam McKay and Paul Rudd, all having their hands in the screenplay, the pace of the story is very smooth.

I go back to the combination of heart and humor that made me enjoy this movie as much as I did. While I would not rank Ant-Man with the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s a solid heist movie and just a lot of fun all around. It’s certainly a better movie than you might expect considering it’s a movie about Ant-Man.

Both the mid-credits scene, which sets up some exciting opportunities for Phase Three and beyond, and the post-credits scene, which does a fine job of leading into next summer’s hotly anticipated Captain America: Civil War, are a blast to see.

Overall, I would say Ant-Man does a great job of being a fun summer popcorn flick and fits in to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe in subtle but promising ways. I absolutely recommend seeing it, if you’ve enjoyed the Marvel Studios films as a whole so far.

Current Status: Friday | July 17th 2015 | 10:10pm

Current Proof of Life:
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Current Soundtrack:

Current Rambling:

Much has happened since my last update. Love won, we said hello to Pluto for the first time, and Comic-Con kicked everyone in the collective ass. I’ll get to all of that eventually.

Another thing that happened is my mother was admitted to the hospital.

This all started back in September. Feeling nauseated/vomiting, diarrhea, close to fainting. Into the hospital she went and after observation, the doctors were stumped. Her white blood cell count was through the roof, but even after a battery of tests they had no idea why. They put her on some antibiotics and sent her home.

The end of December, it all happened again. Another trip to the emergency room, another round of tests, another string of doctors scratching their heads. All things seemed well enough until last week, when my sister (who was visiting) noticed my mother seemed pale. Complaints about nausea and sweatiness followed, then she went into the bathroom, where after getting sick, she essentially collapsed. My sister was there to help her to the floor, as per the instructions of 911, where she was told she may need to start chest compressions. During all of this, my mother was barely responsive. The ambulance picked her up and rushed her to the hospital.

All of that happened in the span of roughly thirty minutes. She went from feeling completely normal, to barely being there at all.

My father’s health has been in decline since roughly the same time all of this started with my mother. In fact, that seems to be a popular theory as to what could be causing all of this, the stress and strain of caring for my father and watching what he’s going through. He stopped taking his required medication, stopped taking his insulin, refused going to the doctor for any sort of follow-up appointment. He’d given up. This has taken its toll on us all.

There may be a sliver of hope, however, as today my sister and mother convinced my father to attend a doctor’s appointment. At this appointment, he agreed to restart his medication routine, agreed to return for a follow-up appointment. He’s agreed to fight back, in a way, and that has us all feeling very good. Cautiously optimistic, but good. My mother has an appointment on Monday, to seek answers as to her mystery illness. A good friend of mine has brought up the possibility of Lupus, given a similar situation with his own mother a few years back. I’ve told my sister and now my mother, so that test may still be in the cards if no other answers are to be found.

I have not coped well with my father’s decline in health. This whole business with my mother has only added to what was already a heavy weight on my heart. I am focusing on the positive. I am keeping myself busy between friends, family, and work. But still it lingers, like a tiny flame in the back of my mind.

And so Monday is now the focus of my attention and worry. My plans for the weekend include getting caught up on comic books and listening to very loud rock music, all in an attempt to take my mind from it. This weekend is about unwinding, about having fun and focusing on enjoying myself.

Outside, the trees are bended by the force of 70mph winds and my windows are being pelted by hail. The clouds flicker with lightning and I can feel the roar of thunder rumbling in my chest. I’m reminded that storms come and storms pass. They hit you with everything they’ve got and leave you feeling drenched and beaten, but the sun will show itself again.

A fitting end to this post, I think.

A Peek at Spring, the Peak of Spring

The sun has broken free of the clouds grasp, dark and swirling their way across the sky overhead. Harsh wind, violent rain, talk of tornadoes and of quarter-sized hail stones. This has been our reality for the past day or so, but today, for the briefest of moments, we were offered the most fleeting of glimpses at what Spring is supposed to look like. Rich blue skies, lightly spotted with white puffs, a palette of greens and browns spread across lawns and back yards. Children running in the street, soaking up the sun like so many hungry sponges. Trucks pulling boats on trailers, families riding by on bicycles. This is spring. We’re finally beginning to remember what the world is like when there isn’t a thick blanket of white crystalline snow laid over it.

Tornadoes still worry me. I long for earthquakes, which I have experienced before and, as a child of California, have had safety instructions for which drilled into my subconscious from a very early age. The thought process behind earthquake safety centers around securing yourself underneath or inside of a sturdy enough structure as to avoid falling debris, along with hoping the ground does not open op beneath you. Tornado safety seems to center around getting as far below ground as possible and hoping for the best. Neither is particularly comforting, though I’d rather take my chances with fault lines over storm cells.

A change in my work schedule has made sleep, an already fickle presence in my life, into more of an abstract concept. As my place of employment has changed their hours of operation, doing away with 24-hour service, I have had to change my own hours of operation to compensate. No longer am I the humble midnight pizza slinger I once was. No, I am now forced to brave the blistering sunlight, that accursed orange orb of pure blazing hatred hanging in the afternoon sky. The job itself has not changed much, only the time of day at which I do it. Whether made by dusk or by dawn, pizza is pizza.

In the time it has taken me to write this post, the sky has once again clouded over, their shadows once again cast upon the land below. I see no rain, I hear no harsh wind, but they both may come again shortly. Such is weather in Minnesota.

The lawn must be mowed during this lull in activity, as one never knows when the next break in precipitation may come. I must also bring out the garbage and prepare for the walk to work. The uncertainty painted on the clouds outside makes me wonder if I’ll be dry when I get there.

Sir Terry Pratchett 1948 – 2015

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Sir Terry Pratchett has left us. It’s the sort of thing that you know is coming, but you’re still not ready for. Pratchett has been one of the most brilliant voices in science fiction and fantasy for decades, and the world of literature has lost a bit of its light and a lot of its fun now that he’s passed.

There’s not much I can say about Sir Terry Pratchett that others who knew him personally haven’t already said. I know the impact his writing has made on my life and the lives of so many others, I know how deeply he’s touched us all.

christophermooregaimanThe wonderful article Neil Gaiman linked to, which is well worth your time, can be found here.

The final string of tweets on Pratchett’s official Twitter feed, as written by his daughter (according to Christopher Moore) are fitting and beautiful:

pratchettAnd finally, a wonderful interview between Sir Terry Pratchett and Garth Nix from a few years ago. Very fun:

Current Status | March 10th, 2015 | 8:33am

Current Proof of Life:

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Current Rambling:

I should not be awake. I should not be out of bed. I go back to work tonight, for another long stretch of shifts making pizzas for the denizens of the night. I should get my rest while I can. But aside from the need to run an errand or two before I return to bed, sleep has not been kind to me of late. I’ve received some pretty terrible news recently, a hiccup in my father’s road to recovery is all I’ll say about it, and so sleep eludes me. I’ll give in to exhaustion eventually, as my body will have no choice but to sleep.

March 2nd was my birthday, the 31st anniversary of my birth into this world. I worked the night before and the night after, so we called it a loss and decided to celebrate on the weekend. So, this weekend was spent trying to forget my troubles. There was chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes as a birthday dinner, there were brownies specially baked by a good friend’s mother, there was the purchase of the complete series of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. on DVD and the ordering of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. This weekend was a gift, in many meanings.

Back to the grind tonight, back to pizza sauce, and truck drivers, and drunk people looking to get their greasy fix for the night.

Current Self Promotion:

I wrote a little something last night. It’s called Fuck You and, as you could probably guess by the title, there are some profanities involved. Find it here.

International Women’s Day

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Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate the women who have given so much in the past, but also a day to highlight the fight for gender equality. It didn’t start at 12:01am on March 8th, it won’t magically end on March 9th, the fight presses on, but today is an important milestone in the year in terms of bringing that fight to the forefront of thought and to give it the attention it deserves.

From International Women’s Day:

International Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

This day is not for men to thank women, it’s not a bastardization of Mother’s Day, where we (as men) list our favorite women and say “Thanks, ladies!”, which is what I see a lot of on this day every year. This is a day on which we commemorate the struggle that has come before, the struggle that is still going on, and the long and difficult road we all still have ahead of us. It’s about equal work for equal pay. It’s about feminism. It’s about abolishing the rape culture. It’s about acknowledging the hard work and perseverance of the brave women who have made this world a better place, many of whom have done so with near anonymity.

The Facebook page “I Fucking Love Science” has started the hashtag #womenyoushouldhaveheardof to help highlight some of these women.

Some of my favorites so far:

10421459_1056201687734175_2333303750560017873_n10505320_1056208117733532_1262462428058223134_n11024756_1056422527712091_4026781657311554014_nI urge you, whoever you are, to use this as a day of learning. Learn more about these women and the many others who have gone without recognition for their invaluable contributions to the world.

makeithappenThe social media theme for IWD 2015 is #MakeItHappen, as well as the UN Theme of “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!”.

In terms of “making it happen”, I would visit this page, where you can find a list of International Women’s Day events around the world. Pick your country, find something close, and get out there and make it happen.

Other Resources:

The official Facebook page for HeForShe is doing a livestream of a Q&A with Emma Watson, who is taking questions about gender equality. It starts at 1:00pm EDT (12:00pm CDT/10:00am PDT) right here.

The International Women’s Day website has a list of YouTube videos from past IWD’s and other helpful stories. Find that here.

The UN Women website has a similar gallery of videos featuring speeches and various other messages, if you needed a little something to get you pumped up. That list is here.

An interesting article on Forbes.Com listing five reasons to approach this year’s IWD. And here’s that.

Hunter

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Dr. Hunter S. Thompson left this world ten years ago. The world has changed a lot in ten years, a lot of changes that would have driven him mad, a lot of changes that he would have seen coming and accepted with a sort of loud resignation that only Hunter could manage.

More wars. More corrupted politics. More paranoia.

More Fear, and More Loathing.

His voice will live on forever, his writing a testament to a brilliantly broken mind, even as the last generation who could ever truly understand him slowly dies out, while the current population and the unknown masses of the future still have much to relate to in Hunter’s words.

If you’ve never read Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, I urge you to do so. If you’ve never read The Rum Diary, I urge you to do so. I urge you to seek out his essays and his sports commentary, most of which you can find online. In his own words, Hunter was “Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die”, and he truly felt to me like the last of the reckless writers, the last of the dangerous ones. His death closed a book that I’ve always felt we still need open.


Watch Hunter and Ralph Steadman tackle the world.

If you are a Netflix subscriber, you should watch Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S. Thompson. If you have some time to kill, search for Hunter S. Thompson’s many appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman. There’s a sense of comfort he has when he’s talking to Dave, as it appears that Dave understood him on a level other talk show hosts and seasoned interviewers didn’t.

Everyone can celebrate the life of Hunter S. Thompson in their own way. Myself, I’m going to spend the day drinking beer, listening to music, and reading. Maybe a little writing. Maybe a little trip out into the cold.

King of the Sea Dothraki and Detective Satan

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Well, there’s Jason Momoa as Aquaman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. I have to be completely honest: I don’t hate it. It’s probably the only thing to come out of this movie so far that I’m mostly behind. The Wonder Woman costume is fine, a little too Xena-esque, but I get why they need to do it that way. And honestly, I’d prefer that to something closer to the 1970s Linda Carter costume (not that I don’t also love that version of Wonder Woman), but it just feels… I don’t know. I’ll reserve judgment for when we see it in motion (read: battle).

I really don’t want to see this movie. I really really really don’t want to see this movie. After the letdown that was Man of Steel, and the clusterfuck this movie has become so far from casting to costumes, I’d just rather save my money. But this is the first time Wonder Woman has appeared in a feature film, and I feel I need to support that. Whether that support comes via a movie ticket or via an OnDemand rental remains to be seen.

All of that said, I don’t hate DC. I don’t hate DC at all. In fact, they are knocking almost all of their television projects out of the park so far. While Arrow remains laughable, it is a bit of a guilty pleasure. The Flash has been one of the single best comic book adaptations I’ve seen on TV so far. Constantine continues to impress and I sincerely hope there will be a second season. I’m no fan of Gotham, from concept through to finalized product. It’s not without it’s moments, but those moments don’t save it for me.

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Speaking of DC on TV (well, Vertigo), it seems Fox has picked up the pilot for an adaptation of Lucifer.

The Good News:
Lucifer on TV!

The Bad News:
It’s on Fox. And apparently, according to sources, it’s been turned into a police procedural drama. That’s… Bad. That’s kind of missing the point of the comic series, also.

I’m cautiously optimistic, I guess.

Here’s Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston reading the final scene of the final episode of Breaking Bad. Spoilers, obviously. Also, it gets a bit emotional.

Tonight will consist of entirely too much Chinese food and hopefully just the right amount of beer. I’m more excited by both of these things than I should be.

Mutants and Aliens and Various Japanese Gods

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Morena Baccarin is no stranger to geeky genre projects, being probably best known for the role of Inara Serra on Joss Whedon’s gone-too-soon fan favorite Firefly, she has also starred in such shows as Stargate SG-1, V, and most recently Gotham. Well, she’s about to add another geeky title to her resume as she has just officially signed on to play the female lead in the hotly anticipated Deadpool feature film, due out in 2016. There’s no solid lead on exactly who she’ll be playing, other than the words “Love Interest” being bandied about, but a popular fan theory (and one I’m personally hoping is true), points to her playing the probability manipulating mutant mercenary named Domino.

The reason I like this theory is it would mean Fox is using Deadpool as a way to introduce elements that we might later see in the previously announced X-Force film. Domino being a founding member of that team, Deadpool himself joining in later story arcs. Not to mention Colossus, the metal skinned Russian strongman who got his start in the X-Men before joining the X-Force lineup in recent years, who is also rumored to make an appearance in the Merc With A Mouth’s solo adventure.

If Baccarin does end up playing Domino, as the fan theory suggests, and if Fox is using this an an opportunity to segue into an X-Force film, it does raise questions as to exactly which version of the X-Force roster we’ll be seeing on the big screen.

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This news comes on the heels of X-Men: Apocalypse director Bryan Singer announcing via Instagram that Kodi Smit-McPhee has been cast as a young Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner in the latest X-Installment set in the 1980s, making today a pretty big day for Marvel’s Merry Mutants.

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Speaking of directors dropping bombs over Instagram, District 9 and Elysium filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has revealed that he is, indeed, directing a new installment in the Alien film franchise. Followers on Blomkamp’s Instagram were given a sneak peek of concept art for the new film two months ago with the caption “Was working on this. Don’t think I am anymore.” followed by Blomkamp dropping a hint in an interview as early as a week ago that there was a “high possibility” he might still be involved in the making of the movie. All of this back and forth, will-he-won’t-he, anticipation finally culminated in another Instagram post made today:

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As a fan of the Alien franchise (well, some of it), and as a fan of Blomkamp’s work (specifically District 9, though Elysium was a solid sci-fi film), this makes me happy. The online response from the Alien and Blomkamp fanbases alike has been pretty positive so far.

Neill Blomkamp’s latest film, Chappie, is in theaters March 6th.

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Kamisama Hajimemashita, or Kamisama Kiss, won me over with its first season in 2012 and it always bummed me out that there weren’t more episodes made when the manga continued on well after the show’s completion. I only just learned a week or two ago that a second season was even happening, and only learned this morning that the first six episodes have already been aired!

You can find the entire series so far, all of season one and the six episodes of season two, on the Funimation website or Hulu. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend giving it a shot.

Current Status | February 16th, 2015 | 3:21pm

Current Proof Of Life:

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Current Auditory Stimulation:

Current Empty Promise:

I need to blog more. I need to write more. I’m far too tired on far too regular a basis, but I can not allow that to stop me. It hurts if I go too long without exorcising the demons. The cloud looms above, ever growing, ever darkening.

I have time off this week, a few days in a stretch of time away from the restless job of a midnight pizza slinger. I’ve already decided this time will be spent getting lost in background music and the piles upon piles of unread comics currently staring me in the face. I’m caught up on CAPTAIN MARVEL (god bless you, Kelly Sue DeConnick), but all other series have fallen to the wayside. This must be rectified.

Writing will fit into that. Somewhere.

Plans are also in place to vlog on a regular basis. The rumblings of a YouTube channel to be made with the wife and a good friend are being bandied about. Someday.

Another, longer blog post will follow as soon as I can. A statement that has been made since the beginning of this blog, a statement that I feel will someday be the last words ever published to this blog.