Ant Man and The Wasp

July 11, 2018

I had the thought that whatever Marvel movie followed Infinity War was going to be a little like the band that followed Janice Joplin’s first set at Monterey Pop. Didn’t matter how good and fun it was, it was never going to have the punch or leave audiences as affected. So following up with a lighthearted 80’s style adventure comedy was a good choice.

I like so much about this. I like that after the cosmic scale of Infinity War we got something literally tiny. I like that we have a couple of sets of families who get along. While most of the MCU movies have father/son issues, this one is all about the daughters. I love that Ava gets some kind of redemption, and that Laurence Fishburne’s character is a good person. And I’m guessing that after Cap broke Scott out of the Raft he and Hawkeye decided not to go on the run? Like, that line in Infinity War about Scott and Clint not being there because it’s too dangerous for their families was actually polite code for “They’re totally on house arrest with ankle monitors and everything.” Actually, Mrs. Barton is probably really really happy to have Clint on house arrest for awhile…

Anyway, have I mentioned lately that I love the MCU?  It’s like, I just love spending time with my friends. My movie friends. I mean, I know they’re not really my friends, but, well, anyway….

***SPOILER***

So I knew that post credits scene was coming. We all knew it. We had to tie these characters into Infinity War, we had to know who got the snap and who didn’t. The result was one of the most agonizing minutes of film I have ever experienced, waiting to see the inevitable. My heart rate spiked.

And now, with Scott stuck in the Quantum Realm, we have another gun on the mantle.  It’s all right there. Misdirection. Close up magic.

I need a drink.

 

Advertisements

Ocean’s Eight

June 11, 2018

So it turns out the rabid fanbois only care if something is gender flipped when it’s out of their own childhoods. Which only goes to prove that their mindsets are frozen at age 12. Ah well.

I liked it. It starts slow and Deb (Danny Ocean’s sister) is kind of unlikable to begin with. But she acquires charm later on. Mostly, like the other installments in the series, this is about watching a number of very good, charismatic actors with a ton of chemistry work together. They’re all great. The heist is a pretty good puzzle, mostly clever with some neat twists, but also reliant on some technological handwaving that you just kind of have to get over.

But one of my favorite parts was a line of dialog in passing that went meta:  “We’re doing this for the little girls who are watching who might want to be criminals some day. Let’s do it for them.”

Indeed.

 

I really, really liked it. Probably unreasonably and inordinately. But it made me really happy and was fully in the spirit of all the books and novels and games and fanfic and spinoffs and everything that has kept Star Wars alive for the last forty years. I never thought I would hear the words “Corellian YT1300 freighter” spoken in a line of dialog in a Star Wars movie and yet here we are. There’s a point in the big second-act action set piece, Han is piloting the Falcon for the first time, and the soundtrack has the Death Star escape battle music from A New Hope that rolls straight into the Asteroid Field music from Empire, which are two of my favorite bits from all the movie soundtracks, and it was totally manipulative and I loved it and I knew I was the ideal, perfect audience for this movie. So much fan service — a lot of it more subtle than you’d think. There’s a single throwaway line of dialog in Empire that gets set up in this film.

It’s a classic heist film, and it’s also a character study of this kid who grew up in really terrible circumstances but he’s got some really big plans. The plans always go awry, but that’s okay — he’ll just make bigger plans next time. He’s learning along the way. When to run. When to shoot. Who to trust. Han’s intentions are always bigger than his abilities. This film shows him learning not to adjust his intentions, but rather to bluff harder, talk faster, and force his abilities to catch up. It’s great.

The trailers won me over with the moment Qi’ra tells Han “I may be the only person in the galaxy who knows what you really are,” and Han gets that flicker of doubt in his expression. That flash of uncertainty, when he’s trying to be cool but he realizes he isn’t sure what she’s going to say — he isn’t sure what he really is by this point. Nailed the character in one scene, so I thought the movie knew what it was doing.

In the film, Qi’ra actually follows up with what she thinks Han really is. And it’s the right answer, the one that means that in ten years or so he will end up at the Battle of Yavin, trying to decide what to do.

 

Deadpool 2

May 23, 2018

Deadpool 2 is exactly what it says on the tin. If it seems a little less shocking and surprising than the first one, it’s because it isn’t the first one and we know what to expect now. So it was never going to have the same jolt, I think.

It even does that thing the first one did where it’s essentially a basic, conventional superhero story:  our previously lone-wolf hero has to learn to work with a team and become a mentor to a semi-cloying moppet. I’m not really being fair here, Russell is much more than a moppet, I actually like the character. But still, this is a Trope, and now both Deadpool movies have hung their cosmetic subversiveness on really familiar formulae. It’s a bit jarring, at least to me. I’m still grappling with what’s basically a kid-centric story told through this incredibly violent, raunchy, foul-mouthed filter. The more I think of it the weirder it gets.

Oh, and this one thing: BIG SPOILER HERE:

I WARNED YOU

HERE IT IS

GO BACK WHILE YOU STILL CAN

So the movie fridged Vanessa in the first scene and that made me so angry. Because this wasn’t “we’ve killed off beloved characters because we’re telling a good story and we’re setting up something big we promise” of Infinity War.  This was “we can’t figure out how to tell stories about people in stable, happy relationships so we need to kill off the love interest to give the hero angst.”

Except, you know, time travel and they undid it at the end, I guess.

But I still spent a big chunk of the movie being disappointed and frustrated.

 

working working…

May 11, 2018

I have somehow once again got myself to the point where everything I have to work on are revisions. Like, five of them. I’ve been feeling super-productive and now I’ve just stalled out. Argh. Okay, gotta get some of this done.

Meanwhile, I’ve been laughing because I’ve seen a bunch of posts about what a great and underrated movie Speed Racer is and just want to remind everyone that I loved it and told everyone to go see it ten years ago.

 

Not just spoilers, but a prediction:

So I saw Infinity War again and I really really really meant to pay attention to the structure, because it’s not a three-act structure and I want to figure out how they juggled all those stories and characters. But I got sucked in to all the amazing heart-wrenching things happening on screen just like before and didn’t pay attention as well as I wanted. This time, the most heartbreaking thing was Vision’s line to Wanda:  “It shouldn’t be you, but it is.” Ugh. Paul Bettany. Weeping.

I think I’m going to have to wait for the DVD and sit down with a pen and paper and do a flow chart. Because basically, this is three movies spliced together and none of the seams show, and it’s great. I thought there were four movies, but I think it’s just three, it’s just that the connective tissue is all the B-stories connected to the A-stories.

The A-stories are Tony, Thor, and Thanos. They have the character arcs, they have the plots, they lead the side quests, they’re driving all the stuff.

The B-stories:  Bruce is the B-story to the Thor plot. Gamora is the B-story to the Thanos plot. And I didn’t see it at first, but I think Vision and Wanda are the B-story to the Tony plot. Which I missed because they don’t actually interact through the entire film, but Vision is Tony’s creation, basically, so yes. They’re connected.

What’s genius about all this and why I’m going to have to draw a flow chart at some point is the B stories are the glue that hold the A stories together and successfully merge it all into one movie. They’re the ones who cross over. They’re the ones carrying the overall plot from one character to the next, one scene to the next.

I’m having trouble fitting one character into all this:  Captain America. It’s my one disappointment, that’s not actually a disappointment but it is something I missed. The guy barely does anything except have a couple of grand entrances and be his earnest adorable self. (“I am Groot!” “I am Steve Rogers!”) But I trust Marvel. They’re setting us up. Oh God, indeed.

I think the next movie is going to be all about him. My friend pointed out that we don’t have a three-act structure because we’re missing the third act. One of the pivotal lines of the film is Steve’s:  “We don’t trade lives.” That’s a message of the whole film, really:  you don’t get to sacrifice individual lives. The cost is too high. You can’t put a price on it. (That Thanos is the one character who is all, Yup, I’ll sacrifice a life, sure thing! reinforces that he’s the villain.)

Except…except…everyone in the universe gets exactly one life to trade:  their own. We don’t trade lives. Oh Steve.

Marvel is setting us up.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

April 30, 2018

Well, I loved it. I thought it was damn near perfect, given the bar this film had to clear. Guys, when Captain America appears the first time, with the Avengers theme swelling in the soundtrack — the audience cheered, for real. Can’t argue with that. And I loved that the film just went there. They did not pull the punch. I’m so impressed, and actually feeling a bit psychopathic because everyone around me is in mourning and I’m sitting here screeching YES! YES! YES!

So, I wrote a big long take on the movie…and decided to save it for my Lightspeed review. So that’ll be out soon. Meanwhile….

SPOILERS!

I was not expecting that the one scene that made me really cry was the heart-to-heart between Thor and Rocket. Like, where did that come from?