Game of Thrones Forces the Finish

For those yet to see the finish I’ll avoid any spoilers. One of the most epic television shows in history came to an abrupt end Sunday night as HBO’s adaptation of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book series finished its eight season run in a seemingly anticlimactic finish.

The last episodes were for the most part filled with high production value epic battles and such, but the measured pace that made the first seven seasons among the best television has ever produced, was totally absent in season 8. This final six episode run seemed rushed and forced. It felt like it was a bit of hurry up and end already. That seems a shame since they spent a reported $15 million per episode to finish the series out and that is a tremendous amount of money for TV episodes even for HBO. That works out to $90 million for the final lot of them. I think ten episodes at $9-10 million each would have been better.

Game of Thrones spent 7 seasons paying attention to the fine details in the sets, the characters, and the story. They went to painstaking effort to develop the characters with a depth rarely seen in movies or TV. We know these characters, we empathize with them, we hate them if need be, they are as real as a fictional character can be. And yet in the final hours of the show they just gave up on meaningful development.

Many fans are screaming for the producer’s head over the way things ended, but honestly, I am NOT among them. The final two books have not been written yet. HBO has improvised the story since they ran past the novels in Season 5. Sure they could have ended it differently with different characters in different situations, but they had to choose a path and end game for all the characters and I felt like they did a great job at that part. I don’t think too many fans saw this end coming for some of the characters. There was some irony, some shock, some predictable outcomes, and a few legitimate twists and surprises. So how they ran the characters to their close is fine by me, and if you think about it, the door is open for more Game of Thrones later. It wasn’t a Shakespearean end, well for some of the characters at least 😉

Where they failed in my opinion is pushing the story too fast. This is something they managed NOT to do for 7 brilliant seasons. What happened? Why the ‘rush’ to close it out. Why now did they decide to abandon the excellent measured story telling and deep emotional, and personal character development?

To be fair, this was not a terrible season, but it definitely was not as good as most, if not  all of the others. I felt like most of the episodes fell a little flat. I like the 3rd episode and how they handled the Knight King. I am disappointed that they used three episodes to tell a story that needed at least five. I really didn’t mind most of conclusions for the primary characters. It just seems like the whole thing ran out of gas at the finish and they coasted it across the line. That is quite possibly why so many fans are irate.

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What a Finale!

Marvel Studios has managed to wrap up the Infinity War saga that they spent the whole of the last decade building. This ‘Endgame’ was the culmination of nearly two dozen setup films. We might easily think that “patience” and “perseverance” is well understated when used to describe this body of work. Even if Marvel threw in the towel today and called it a career, that is a first ballot hall of fame effort, and bronze is not the metal we are using on this bust. Marvel Comics spent most of its ‘heyday’ in what is referred to as the “Silver Age of Comics.” But this series of films and other superhero genre films over the last 15 years may very well be referred someday as the ‘Golden Age’ of Superhero Movies.

Avengers: Endgame has put me in one of those rethink the superhero list mindsets. It has shaken me to the core, how the hell did they pull this off? By now you have figured out my sentiment towards this grand finale to the epic saga of the Avengers. This movie was nothing short of brilliant; it is a masterpiece in the genre of super hero films and is good enough to transcend the action movie sphere.

There were a great many reviews suggesting the movie was long. But was it? Making reference to its length tends to lead the reader to believe that it dragged on. This film does not drag on, not at all. Never once during the entire 181 minutes, yes friends that is a minute beyond the three-hour mark, did I get that feeling of “this is a long movie.” Not one time. Is it a long movie? No, no it is not. It is a three-hour movie that blows by like a two-hour movie.

I still can’t wrap my head around everything they were able to convey without losing the audience and without overwhelming it either. I have to say that the scene stealing in this movie is from an unlikely character. The Hulk literally steals the show. Thor is amazing as well but he is not what you expect this go ’round.

I will have to view it again to really soak it all in but I will say it was not a perfect film if there ever is such a thing. Hollywood loves to do stupid stuff and Endgame is no exception. Tony shows up in an Audi E-Tron which is an all-electric vehicle and it is like other electric vehicles, silent. The director decided to have a roaring engine noise dubbed over for “effect.” But Audi’s E-Tron badge is enormous and in no way subtle, so it is just STUPID to have it roaring in like that! There, that’s my complaint 😉

It is hard to compare Endgame to movies in the past as I have the advantage of having seen those films before versus when I walked out of the theater after seeing Ironman in 2008, there was no Avengers to compare it to. I was comparing it to the movies that had come before it. Ironman was the first of the 22 films in the Avengers MCU Saga. Part of how these movies rank in my view is how I felt about the film after first seeing it. But also it is about how I feel about it later on, even years later. I still love Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, THIRTY YEARS LATER! That is why that film still rates so high on my chart. This movie however is tough to gauge because it is not a stand alone story. It stands on the shoulders of 21 films that came before it. It is also in effect, a “Part II” of the Avengers Infinity War. I feel like a major shakeup is coming on how I view these films and the impact they have. There are better films than this one if we separate the films from their companion films and look only at its stand alone value. Part of what makes this movie so good is the reference we have from the previous 21 films. When we look at the film as part of the totality of effort across all the associated and supporting content, Endgame is absolutely, Top Tier. All by itself however, not as much. But therein lies the reality, it does get the benefit of those prior movies.

I still feel that Guardians of the Galaxy flows better and is more “fun.” But this movie isn’t supposed to be fun, is it? Yet in spite of the gloomy atmosphere that is the post Thanos Infinity Stone apocalypse, this movie is in fact fun. The movie will pay homage to the 21 MCU films that preceded it with a variety of scenes scattered throughout. It is rare to see an action oriented film that can produce moist eyes from tears of both joy and sadness as well as laughs like it is a good stand up routine. The movie weaves the plots of previous films into this film using what is likely some cutting room footage and it all manages to tie together nicely. Although there are a few hopelessly predictable scenes and outcomes, there are some genuine twists in how the Avengers manage to “undo” what Thanos had done. During the process of “fixing” things, Marvel manages to create some amazing scenes that are homages to the past, the way past in fact, and I’ll leave it at that since the movie is still fresh. I do not want to induce any spoilage in the experience.

This movie feels like an end, it really does. Yes, I know there is a Spiderman movie this summer and there will be a Guardians of the Galaxy III and a whole “Phase 4” of MCU, but it is a bit of an end. This film genuinely wraps up the whole MCU into a delicious burrito, dripping with cheese, and soaked in spicy sauce. And we the audience, just ate it all up. In the immortal words of Porky Pig… “Th-Th-The, Th-Th-The, Th-Th… That’s all, folks.” There were no special scenes during or after the credits roll. There will never be another original “Stan Lee” cameo. There is an almost foreboding finality to it. This really brings to close what may someday go down as the greatest series of motion pictures ever made. 22 films over 11 years all collectively formed into one epic saga the likes of which we have never seen before. It is quite possible, we will never see anything like this again. WOW what a ride! Thank you Stan Lee, may your stories and characters remain forever entwined in our hearts and culture.

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Say My Name!

So I managed to get to the theater to see Shazam! recently. I went into this film with modest expectations. Let’s face it, DC isn’t exactly hitting home runs every time they come to the plate. We all know .300 is a good hitting average in baseball, but in film making, not so much.

I was delighted that they cast Zachary Levi in the lead role, that guy killed it in the sitcom, “Chuck” and Shazam! is not much of a character stretch from there. Knowing the basic premise of Shazam! from the comics and the campy 1970s TV show. I figured that the best bits would be early on as the teen boy explores his new full-grown persona. I expected the predictable villain showdown would be cheesy and anti-climatic. Although I was partially right, I was also very surprised to find that the ending and aforementioned inevitable villain showdown, was much better than expected. Avoiding a spoiler, the story dips into an oft used well to pull out a “win” for the hero, from an unlikely source of help.

This movie found clever ways to insert other famous DC superheroes humorously into the plot and managed to make fun of the genre with literal character call outs to villain monologue, capes, and other assorted superhero staples. This film isn’t going to knock out any of the top superhero movies on the list but it will wind up on the left side of the chart! It was in fact thoroughly entertaining, very funny, and surprisingly dark at times. Although this movie isn’t really suspenseful nor overly gory it is no G rated Disney event. One scene in particular strays deep into Batman / Punisher dark. Not that this is bad, just surprising considering the funny nature of the movie.

The cast in this one was well-chosen. Zachary Levi crushes the role of Billy Batson’s alter ego, leaving us laughing throughout the story and Asher Angel delivers as Billy. Mark Strong is no stranger to the villain role and he does a good job here, nothing spectacular, but good enough.

Minor spoiler ahead: The film did leave us with some unfinished plot business. Billy spends a fair bit of time questing to find his mother, yet in a scene where he finally does, it is not only anti-climatic (intentional) but empty and left us with too many unanswered questions (unlikely intentional) The scene was just forced and felt awkward and frankly should have been left on the cutting room floor.

This movie doesn’t rise to the level of Guardians of the Galaxy but it does do many things that emulate the number one film on my list. First, it doesn’t really take itself too seriously, second the title character is fun and the setup scenes are funny enough that you are laughing about them hours after the picture is over. That is always a good sign. The movie has a simple, even predictable plot, but it is so well executed that we, the audience doesn’t care that it is simple and predictable. The director doesn’t try to do too much, and that is what makes this a two run double in the ninth inning for the DC extended universe.

Some little known factoids about Shazam!. The character was originally called Captain Marvel way back in 1939 by the Golden Age company, Fawcett Comics. Billy Batson was a homeless newsboy offered the powers of the wizard. He utters the word “SHAZAM” as it is an acronym for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. The character receives Wisdom, Strength, Stamina, Lightning, Courage, and Speed respectively from these. In 1953 DC Comics ended a 12 year legal battle over copyright infringement with Superman, resulting in Fawcett discontinuing the character and all their other superhero comics. Years later in 1972, DC acquired the rights to the character and story. But since Marvel Comics had created their own Captain Marvel in the absence of Fawcett, DC changed the name of the Character to Shazam! And it has manged to stick.

So there it is, in a nutshell good movie and some useless facts, so go see it.

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I Dove Into the Spider-Verse

Into the Spider-Verse is an animated film about Spiderman that came out late last year and has been well received by professional critics and fans. It has a crazy high Rotten Tomatoes score of 97% and an audience score of 94% That is world-class performance right there and I needed to see it for myself.

This story is based on a newer comic lineup that follows Spiderman in the multi-verse with numerous incarnations of the web slinging superhero. The movie introduces us to Miles Morales as well as a great number of other multi-verse incarnations of Marvel’s wall crawler.

I like the story and the characters. There is something cool about seeing Fisk the way he was drawn in the comics. Fisk is HUGE and animated films are able to present the characters the way they were intended.

Although animated films are often aimed at a younger crowd, ie. children, this film is Rated PG-13 and keeps the themes clean but not juvenile. This movie gets the thirteen added to the rating for the dark themes not language or sexuality so it is suitable for kids although not really little kids. Maybe 10 year-olds and up.

I like it, these modern animated films really bring the classic comics to life and I will say I prefer live-action in general, the animated movies have that real comics feel and that cannot be replicated in a live action production. Kudos to Sony-Columbia Pictures for producing a real gem.

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Marvel tells an Origin story of Mar-Vell

First of all: I am irritated that some people chose to review bomb the film prior to even seeing it just based on Ms. Larson’s disappointing comments. If we get bent out of shape and try to bomb a movie every time a self-righteous Hollywood type blathers out some bullshit drivel, we would never get to see any movies. Let it go already, I’m fine with it, but I will poke some fun at her for it anyhow since I am the target of her anger being both white and male and I’m even kind of old too 😉

I tend to like the origin story movies. I feel like the story is always a bit better in the origins than the inevitable sequel(s) that follow. This film does a nice job telling the story about how Captain Marvel came to be. It also makes several origin tie ins for other well-loved Marvel characters like Coulsen and of course, Nick Fury. We also get a peeksy at Ronin the Accuser back in the day.

The film is set in the 1990s and I feel like the production did a good 1990s makeover of the locations they shot. I will try to avoid spoilers but there are some funny bits that are very 1990s that can’t be avoided. Our hero starts off fairly early in the film crash landing in LA and she falls into a Blockbuster Video store. Later in the sequence she asks a stunned local security guard where the communications is, he points and the camera quick pans to a Radio Shack, moments before my son Kyle called it. “Watch it be a Radio Shack.” Classic.

I like period pieces especially periods I remember as an adult. I was in my 30s during the 90s, I remember it well. Although I didn’t nit pick the details, I didn’t see anything glaringly out of sorts either. Kudos to the crew.

Over all I like this movie and it exceeds my expectations. Not that they were lowered because of any controversy surround the star but they were lowered because Disney has had a bad habit of mixing politics into the recipe of their films. I get enough of other people’s politics on Facebook and the news, the last thing I want is a face full of it in my entertainment. The good news is that this movie stays in its lane for the most part with nothing more than subtle pokes.

It is a wonderful mix of action and some drama and a few twists in the plot that are above average for the genre. It really is a good movie. Many reviewers (not the haters, but real reviewers) felt Brie Larson was a bit flat. I disagree, I think the character is what it is, and I think she played it well. She seems to have a solid ability to convey complex emotion in subtle facial expressions. You know, the look says it all kind of deal. I thought she was solid, not top-tier, but solid. Samuel L. Jackson did a great impersonation of Samuel L Jackson, what a stud, that guy kills it every time he gets in front of the camera. Frankly you can’t make a bad movie if Mr. J has more than 20 minutes of screen time 🙂

We all know by now that Brie Larson is a staunch feminist. That’s all fine and well, but I find the comment made by the jackass toxic male pilot, “you know why they call it the ‘cock’pit” absolutely hilarious because of her personal convictions. The guy was clearly an ass, but that is what made it funny. She must have had a hemorrhage when she saw that in the script.

Almost as inevitable as a Marvel sequel, the comparisons to Wonder Woman are impossible to avoid. I have mentioned that I feel Wonder Woman is one of the best DC based films to date. But this is about Captain Marvel, not Wonder Woman, right?

A trainload of reviews comment on the costume. I bet most of them are trolls looking to get a rise out her. It’s ugly, not sexy enough, yada, yada, yada. If they read the comics, they would know the classic costume was never that sexy. Wonder Woman’s costumes were actually pretty racy in the comics in almost every version of the character. This movie nailed it as far as the look and feel of the costume and the character once fully vetted. Yes there have been some racier iterations of the character over the years, but the original comics costume was similar to the one in the movie. I admire people who stand by their beliefs and I would bet that if they asked her to wear something slinky she may have refused the role.

Wonder Woman was a better film than this. I really feel like Gal Gadot just nailed it so well in that role. She saved Dawn of Justice from being at the very bottom of the super hero movie list. She lit it up in her solo film to the top ten spot on the list, and she again saved Justice League from the shit pile. This movie is not quite that good and Brie Larson doesn’t light up the screen like Ms. Gadot. What this film does do, is tell an intriguing back story, and sets up the “endgame” for the 22nd movie and MCU finale next month.

Marvel does a pretty good job of showing Captain Marvel as an epic badass. Seriously the character is near superman/supergirl levels of power at the end of the film. She gets unleashed after her showdown with the Kree Supreme Intelligence. It’s a good thing she wasn’t disintegrated by Thanos at the end of Infinity War. We need her and in a few weeks we shall have her back.

Despite every effort the anti-Brie Larson crowd has been rather ineffective as this movie has blown the box office open. Marvel has a formula and the formula works. There was no fly in the ointment here. I hope this movie sets up the end of one MCU plot line and maybe starts another with all the stuff Captain Marvel has been doing around the galaxy for the last 24 years or so. Nice job Marvel; see you next month 🙂

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Punisher: Season 2 Punishes

Well season two of the Punisher was released a weak or so ago and I manged to binge the crap of it. It seems that Netflix is slowly moving away from the Marvel products. Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, all cancelled. Not sure if we will see more of the Punisher or not, my gut says no.

As you may remember the Punisher season 1 was quite good. Once again Jon Bernthal is pretty solid as the Punisher. He has the voice and the attitude to pull off the character and continues to nail it in season two. This time we begin a few months after the events of Season 1. Frank Castle, AKA Pete Castelloni is travelling. I will spare the spoilers since some of you may not be through all 13 episodes yet. Frank stumbles onto a young girl that is all twisted up in some crazy evil plot and Castle is trying to save her. Meanwhile we learn all about what happened to Billy Russo after his face got in the way of the Punisher.

This season gives us two distinctly different villains. They are completely separate antagonists with two mostly unconnected stories. Considering there is only 13 episodes of slightly less than an hour each, they did a fair job holding it all together. There however is one glaring and egregious fail in this one. The new villain is one of the most intriguing characters. This guy is deep, he has a whole giant story to tell us, yet we never really get it. We get bits and pieces, but I was left at the end wanting to know more about this guy. 13 episodes is not enough time to build up a brand new character with this kind of tangled existence. This guy deserved more, we deserved more. They should have wrapped up Billy Russo’s story line and saved John Pilgrim for Season 3.

That however may have been the problem. Perhaps there is no season 3, perhaps they had to merge the story arcs into one season. I do not know, what I do know is that John Pilgrim was an amazing antagonist that should have been more developed. We could have explored this guy’s mind the way they tried to have us explore Billy Russo’s mind. I really feel they missed a big opportunity here.

Overall the season was great, I enjoyed watching it and it is well worth the investment in time. It’s just awful though to see them that close to greatness only to fall back to just ‘really good’.

Here they are all ranked up again the 11 seasons of Marvel on Netflix.

  1. Daredevil I
  2. Daredevil II
  3. Jessica Jones II
  4. Jessica Jones I
  5. Daredevil III
  6. Luke Cage
  7. Punisher
  8. Defenders
  9. Punisher II
  10. Iron Fist II
  11. Iron Fist I
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That Hero is all Wet, and I like him!

The oft misunderstood and equally often forgotten hero of the deep, Aquaman, finally gets his due with a feature film dedicated to one of the four original founding members of the Justice League and a hero with roots dating to 1941. Yes friends, Aquaman and Wonder Woman were both introduced in 1941 to compliment the leading DC heroes, Superman and Batman arriving in 1938 and 1939 respectively.

We all got a peek at the Aquaman in the Justice League movie last year and now we get the full Jason Momoa aqua feature film. There is very little in backstory but what there is tells us what we need to know about the origins of the Aquaman. True to his Modern Age DC roots Arthur Curry is the son of a human lighthouse keeper and the Queen of Altantis. Although the original backstory from the 1940s is a little different the characters involved are the same.

This movie does a great job telling a story, but doesn’t really connect Aquaman with the Justice League the way I expected. Will there be another Justice League movie? Is Warner Brothers still licking their wounds over the weak reviews of the first one? Who knows, what I do know is that Jason Momoa is pulling off the badass like nobody’s business and believe me in the comics, Aquaman is a badass. The early comics had a more clean cut version of Arthur Curry but later on they made him more like the Aquaman we see in this film. I do prefer the more rebellious look that Mamoa’s Aquaman delivers.

I still think the best DC movie in the last several years is 2017s Wonder Woman, but this Aquaman movie is a hit and I think it will help Warner Brothers justify pushing some more coin into the DC universe.

This movie has a beginning, middle, and climatic end, but also leaves the doors wide open for more appearances by Aquaman even if the Justice League is done. I hope it is not, so lets see what happens in 2019 and beyond.

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Daredevil Back to Complete the Trifecta

Netflix released Daredevil, season 3 last weekend and I managed to get all thirteen episodes done this week. It took me a while to really get into this season of Daredevil. It is a bit more introspective than the previous two seasons, but they came at us with a different approach. Our villain is right in front of us but it is unclear whether the villain is truly the villain until later in the season.

This Daredevil spends a whole episode bringing us the back story on Karen Page as well as a deep dive into sub-plot characters that are solidly tied to the overall story. The story telling here is a twisted web of uncertainly that is well tied together at the end of the story.

Although I was a bit underwhelmed for the first half, the second half was gripping and a fair bit of the edge of my seat was worn. This story gets tightly wound at the end and the story delivers a solid crescendo to finish the season.

I love the back story elements and the character development here. Short of any spoilers some of the breakaway in season 2 is resolved in season 3. The season also ties the defenders ending and wraps up some of the loose ends about what happened at and after Midland Circle. We will also learn some telling secrets about Matt Murdock, his father, and mother along with the development of an amazing villain.

The end of the last episode also shows a bit of foreshadowing for a future villain in the next season of Daredevil or perhaps the second season of Defenders.

In summary, I liked season 3 but I don’t think I liked it as much as the first 2 seasons. There was much to like, but also maybe just a tad too much going on for a 13 episode season. Netflix continues to impress with their excellent production values, solid acting and top-tier directing. Bravo, again.

It is amazing to think about how in a short span of three-year Netflix has produced ten seasons of Marvel based shows with well over 100 hours of content. Here is my list of favorite top to bottom. They are all quality shows though.

  1. Daredevil I
  2. Daredevil II
  3. Jessica Jones II
  4. Jessica Jones I
  5. Daredevil III
  6. Luke Cage
  7. Punisher
  8. Defenders
  9. Iron Fist II
  10. Iron Fist I
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The Glowing Fist is Back!

Netflix released season two of Marvel’s The Iron Fist last week and I watched all ten episodes over the weekend. I am a bit mixed on this second season. The first season was the least favorite of the Netflix shows and I will say this second go with Danny Rand wielding the power of dragon is better than the first.

There is a lot working in this second season. Many stories are being told in a cavalcade of sub plots. The relationship between Ward and Joy is a major sub plot that is also a key element in the primary “team” of antagonists. I like the character development we see here, some of the deepest you will see in any 10 episode season.

My problem with Fist II is that the story line has a great deal of potential for amazing story telling yet the director chooses to play it out in a rather predictable fashion. It seems like they dropped a touchdown pass here.

The last two episodes set us up for an interesting potential for new powered heroes with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing possibly becoming the Daughters of the Dragon. We also see an interesting development at the very end with Danny and Ward in Asia chasing leads on some mysterious secrets of K’un-L’un including revelations about Orson Randall. We are seeing a great setup for a fantastic third season or a maybe a whole new show.

Misty makes specific reference to Luke Cage and that she is not pleased with him in a foreshadowing scene with Colleen. The next season of Luke Cage is on deck for Netflix that could be really good. I am very optimistic about the future of Marvel on Netflix but this Iron Fist series remains the weakest of the very good bunch. There is so much to love in the characters in this show, Colleen, Ward, Joy, and our side villain/anti-hero Mary Walker all deliver excellent performances. The whole thing just fails to really come together. It seems like a setup show for other shows and that is unfortunate. What happened to the Iron Fist we saw making a cameo-ish appearances in the second season of Luke Cage. I am however, truly excited about the Danny Rand I saw at the very end of the last episode.

Netflix is still serving up great stuff and I like it 🙂

 

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I finally Got to see it!

I have been real estating my tail off the last several weeks and have not had the time to get to the theater to see Ant-Man and the Wasp. I generally see Marvel and DC releases on opening day, but this time I barely got to the theater in time, the movie is now running on limited screens. It was well worth the effort as once again Marvel Studios puts on a clinic for movie making.

Ant-Man and the Wasp are lower tier characters in the Marvel Universe. They are fun however and Marvel manages to make them feel like top shelf Avengers.

So now back tot he movie… Marvel has absolutely hit its stride on the basic art of film making. They really seem to pay attention to details in a story and the dialog. The superhero / action genre has never been one to garner any serious looks by the high-brow crowd at the academy awards or others in the fine art arena. Marvel however does what few other action franchises can, they really wrap up the looses ends. They manage to give us characters that are excellent, even when they’re freshly introduced. Somehow Marvel can flesh out subtleties in behavior with not much more than ten minutes of screen time.

How do they do it, so often and so well? There is some voodoo happening, or perhaps Stan Lee is dating the Fairy Godmother and she’s working the old school Disney magic that seems to have died in other Disney franchises. I do not have the answer, but I see the results and they are good.

Now before I get my fanboy flames too stoked, there are some caveats. The whole premise of shrinking and enlarging things is a major technological stretch… pun, pun, pun, even for the super hero genre. And even accepting the idea that through quantum science Dr. Pym could create the tech to do all these things, the whole idea of shrinking a building and then just popping it back into place anywhere, even Fisherman’s Wharf, is a laughable plot hole. The building is 10 stories tall for heaven’s sake. You don’t just pull the tab and pop it onto a street in a 250-year-old city without some major issues. Like the whole street caving in. The science of this plot looks a lot like a block of Swiss cheese, but that’s OK with me.

Back for an encore is Luis, played brilliantly by Michael Peña. In this installment we get more of his “tip montages” but with a new twist. Luis as a supporting character is absolutely top-tier. I loved the bit about him getting his own suit. “Even one without powers.”

Peyton Reed tied up the loose ends by looping comedic bits together throughout the film. Our hero has been under house arrest for nearly two years and has kept himself busy by among other things, learning magic tricks. The magic trick humor is inserted in several key places in the story that nicely ties the whole bit together without feeling over played.  These are details that are often overlooked in the action genre, but not when Marvel is in charge. we get to see Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman in Batman Returns 1992) join the short list of actors playing a superhero / anti-hero in both DC and Marvel universes. Yes it’s Janet van Dyne the “original” Wasp. The lovely Michelle is 60 years old and she looks stunning.

We see a fantastic adversarial relationship develop between the FBI lead Randall Park played by Jimmy Woo and Scott Lang (AKA Ant-Man) that also is kept tidy throughout the film. The dialog and interaction from start to finish is very well done and wonderfully acted by both actors.

We multiple unrelated antagonists including a dirty FBI agent, that all tie together in the bouncy plot without spilling a drop. Speaking of the bad “guys”, we have the “Ghost” who is actually a lovely lady with a sympathetic situation. That character portrayed by Hannah John-Kamen is well done but been done before… many times actually. She is never really developed as a character but I suspect we haven’t seen the last of her. Then we have the side bad guy, one Mister Sonny Birch. This guy comes off early as a badass southern mafioso type but develops nicely into a cross between mean and nasty and the keystone cops. He is weaved into the plot in a rather predictable pattern, but it is done smoothly enough that it still works. The actor playing Sonny is Walton Goggins, a seasoned actor; he pulls the role off well and honestly he is the reason you forgive the predictable plot elements he is in.

It is a rare occasion for me to prefer a sequel to the original in this genre, but as good as Ant-Man was back in 2015, this is a better film. Paul Rudd is fantastic and the returning cast members are all in top form. Michael Douglas has some very funny lines in the script and for me the whole movie clicked. There were Easter Eggs all over the place and even a nod towards the quasi A-line bob haircut with the bowl-cut bangs that Hope van Dyne was sporting in the first film. Oddly I hated that haircut int he first scene she’s in but then that haircut really grew on me, she kind of rocked it. It was mysteriously gone in this installment.

That was just some damn good entertainment and that my friends is why we go to the movies! Marvel continues to Marvel. Be sure to check the Super Hero movie list to see where this little gem lands.

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