After breakfast, we casually brought up the question of movies -- this is summer -- and which one. This is the opening weekend for the new Mission Impossible flick, but we haven't seen Ant-Man yet. It's Yet Another Movie that Morning Edition on NPR and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan -- who hates nearly anything SF/F we want to see -- gave Yet Another lovely review of all this nonsense, calling it fun. When did the aliens invade and what have they done with the real Turan? Anyway, this is its third weekend? We figured it would be easier to get in. But then there's 3D... and frankly, from the trailers and subject, we decided to go for that. That reduced us to Holland 8, not Holland 7, and either very early or evening.
No problem! We hit up the Mexican place on M-45 a few miles west of 120th Avenue for dinner. We don't get there enough. Yet another place where I tend to order the same thing -- Bistec ranchero, with beans, rice, lettuce and some flour tortillas. Mmmm.
After that, we did a quick errand over to Hope College and then back up to Holland 8.
Ant-Man 3D [PG-13]
Holland 8 Theatre 6, 7:00pm, 2×$8.99It would be easy to dismiss, what even comic book fans are saying is a movie about a lower tier hero. Except for three glaring signal flares. The trailer was enchanting. It's a Marvel movie. And it's tied into the whole Marvel/Avengers movie universe.
It's easy to consider Ant-Man is Iron Man Lite, just like Guardians of the Galaxy is Avengers Lite. But unlike light beer, there's still some good movie making magic going on here.
It starts with the cast. Haven't seen Michael Douglas playing a good guy character in a while and this is an outstanding film for him. Paul Rudd is in the role of the low rent Tony Stark, but he brings a lot of heart to the character. And Evangeline Lilly... In my review of Jurassic World (DW) (LJ), I complained about Bryce Dallas Howard. Lilly takes almost the same haircut and tailored executive look -- and runs with it. Don't know about her shoes (evil-grin), but she is so much more competent and personable. Plus, there's... oh, don't want to talk about that... Anyway, bald Corey Stoll has one of the nicest faces in the business. So, he's a good guy, right? Business partner of Michael Douglas, much like Tony Stark's business buddy? Hello? Is this thing on? Why am I disconnected? Of course, he's one of those I'm always confusing with equally bald Evan Handler, who was on The West Wing, Studio 60 and this summer's The Astronaut Wives Club.
The connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe are mostly subtle. The Avengers get mentioned, Tony Stark's dad -- but not Tony Stark -- appears. Oh, and finally we get an Avenger -- the under-appreciated Falcon. Like Iron Man, Ant-Man starts with a suit. And also like Iron Man, there are earlier versions and a new competitor. And training. Lots and lots of training. Also old guys with giant research labs under their homes -- who'd win between Michael Douglas and George Clooney in Tomorrowland? (grin)
Okay, there's a lot of hokey science, but it rolls easily off the back as we are too interested in watching the wizardry of micro/macro versions of everything. I remember in Fantastic Voyage there's mention of blowing up an ant to the size of a locomotive to facilitate study. POV is very important to making this movie work. Also Thomas the Tank Engine.
Like any superhero movie, there's collateral damage galore. And here we are rooting for more movies, damn the cost to tear apart another city around the world. Lovely summer escapism. And a surprising different turn to the whole divorced/missing dad and doting daughter story. Paul Rudd as the anti-Tony Stark. It'd be easy to complain that everything in Ant-Man is stuff we've seen before, but it's presented as fresh. They spent the money and put enough in the script for the cast to chew on. Then the let the special effects people go apeshit.
Ant-Man is sort of this year's Guardians of the Galaxy. And even if it's lower tier heroes, Marvel still puts in the effort, which is why their integrated complexity of movies is the top game in the comic book movie offerings from Hollywood.
If you DO see this in a theatre, DO stay to the very end of the credits. Despite the fade to black, the music hasn't ended, and we get the SECOND of two Dr. Phil Specials. And, if you're waiting for the obligatory Stan Lee siting -- it's quite late in the film.
Trailers: One TV promo worth noting: Minority Report is a spin-off from the adaptation of the Phillip K. Dick story, starring Tom Cruise. Premise is that this is some years later and one of the pre-cogs is still haunted by visions and gets into an ad hoc Pre-Crime operation. It could be fun. I mean it's not like regular TV cop shows give a damn about following procedures -- and then there's Castle for civilians tailing along... Movies trailers: No Escape is about some American family trying to get out of what looks like a falling apart Middle Eastern city. Is that Owen Wilson doing a serious movie? Looks pretty improbable. Fantastic 4 (8/14) The last two movie incarnation of F4 had some good casting, including Ioan Gruffudd and Jessica Alba, plus some good visuals. But I didn't see either one in the theatres and the broad sections I've seen on TV haven't made it into one of my top ten comic book movies. The new one? I was disappointed that we were getting Yet Another Reboot when it was announced, but frankly it's very pretty. And Dr. Doom looks really good. Will consider it. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (8/7) is stylish 1960s big screen spy luxe. Hated the idea of a Reboot, but damn... Existing trailer for Everest (9/18 IMAX, 9/25). A new Disney man-versus-nature movie, The First Hours (1/29/2016) seems to be about an old (?) Coast Guard rescue attempt of a broken tanker in awful weather conditions. Ah, I love this sea stuff -- A Perfect Storm, even the awful Kevin Costner The Guardian. And of course, the existing Han-We're-Home trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (12/18).
Advise & Consent (1962)
Later on after midnight, I stumbled across this black & white Otto Preminger film with Henry Fonda that I hadn't seen before. At its simplest, it's about a Presidential nomination for Secretary of State. Thank goodness most nominations don't go like this! But given the post-McCarthy era and also that this is contemporary with The Manchurian Candidate and Seven Days in May, man the political films of the early 60s are pretty bleak!
I have to agree with the positions stated in the Wikipedia article of the Variety and New York Times reviews -- great acting, rather contrived plot.
Fonda plays his stock everyman character well here, but surprisingly he disappears before the third act and there are many others in the cast -- Walter Pigeon as the Majority Leader and senior Senator from Michigan is outstanding. Charles Laughton's last role is well done here, playing the bad guy Senator from South Carolina with multiple layers. Burgess Meredith has a short, but pivotal role -- based on Whittaker Chambers. Also of note is Betty White's first screen role as a Senator from Kansas and one of Gene Tierney's last.
Some of the best of the movie is WHERE it was filmed, more than the story. (grin) I remember hearing as a kid that there was a subway train for the Senators. Always interested in trains, the first time I saw a B&W photo, I said, "THAT's a subway train?" What's shown in the movie is the open Dirksen monorail. The current systems are better described as People Movers and not subway trains. (grin)
Recommended for Performances and Historical Settings
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