This has to easily be one of the most…uh…peculiar articles I’ve ever read:

Man reported to police for “revenge fart” after woman refused to have sex with him

Have to say, I’m shaking my head thinking about every angle of this story.

The man: His actions were gross and disgusting but obviously not criminal.

The woman: Too sensitive.  Even if the man with considerable malice aforethought “farted” lewdly into her flat, so what?  Open a window and tell the fucker you never want to see him again.

The police: They actually investigated this call?  Really?!?!.

On a much more serious note, I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to this story than what is presented in the article.  Perhaps this man is a serial harasser/borderline stalker and has been bothering this woman for quite some time and she finally reacted her limits with his latest lewd action.  She might well be at her wit’s end and called in the police because she fears what he’ll do next rather than the action he just did.

If (big IF) this is the case, then a laughable story becomes one that should be taken seriously.

Then again, all I have to go on is the article.  And by going with these elements, I must say: The human race is doomed.

DOOMED I tell you!!!

Once more unto the breach…!

I’ll try to make this the last -at least for now- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS) posting.

I’m convinced the love people have for Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman continues to fuel heated reactions from people.  Either that or we’re tired of talking about Donald Trump and since there are no other “big” films out yet…

Anyway, many who hated, hated, hated the film have offered defenses from those who lambast them for daring (!) to have an opinion against it.  One of the more amusing take downs of BvS was presented by Rob Bricken, who goes over the entire film and, for the most parts, despises what he saw.  If you click on the below link, beware as Mr. Bricken goes over ALL ASPECTS of the film from start to end.  Spoilers there be!

Batman v Superman: Spoiler FAQ of Justice

As someone who liked BvS, there’s stuff Mr. Bricken notes which I can’t argue with.  I’ll be clear here: There are plenty of silly/stupid things that happen in BvS but, frankly, there’s plenty of silly/stupid things happen in almost all superhero films…including one of my all time favorites, Captain America: Winter Soldier.

Mind you, I consider Winter Soldier my second all time favorite superhero film, with 1978’s Superman being #1.  Nonetheless, the film had issues as well.  For example, what was the whole point of that opening ship assault?  I’m still unclear as to how it linked up with the rest of the movie,  Also, like Man Of Steel, that film’s climax presented an awful lot of city-wide destruction and there had to be hundreds, if not thousands of deaths which were shrugged away.  Even if you were to accept that everyone evacuated Washington D.C. before the “shit went down”, exactly how many people on the various SHIELD crafts, be they Hydra agents or not, could/should have died?

The Avengers film -the first one, there’s little need to go into the problems many saw with Age of Ultron– likewise, had some head-scratchers as well.  The biggest, to my mind, was this: If you are an alien army intent on conquering Earth, why open your dimensional jump right over New York City where everyone can see it and when the heroes are at full strength and ready to counterattack?  You have the twin advantages of time and surprise.  Why not open that dimensional jump behind the Moon where no one can see you and slowly bring your armies through that jump until they’re at full strength and then, when your forces are overwhelming, only then do you attack?

It should also be noted this movie featured an awful lot of city-wide destruction yet also shied away from saying anyone died.

Anyway, just my .02 cents…

While there is plenty of lambasting of BvS, I also found this fascinating article by Matthew Roza and for Salon.com which posits some interesting questions regarding the themes behind the film…

Batman v Superman is not a flop: A superhero movie that questions absolute power is tailor made for 2016

While I also may not agree with everything Mr. Roza states, he does offer some interesting food for thought vis a vis BvS and some of the deeper themes this movie explores, whether successfully or not.

Anyway, until the extended edition of the film is released in July, I’ll probably leave this topic…

…unless, of course, they pull me back in! 😉

The Beguiled…remake?!

I’m a big fan of Clint Eastwood, actor and, to a somewhat lesser degree, director.  Mind you, he’s directed some very fine films but it is his magnetic screen presence that gets me whenever I think about him.  He’s made plenty of films.  Some, like his Italian “Dollar” Trilogy, the suspense classic Play Misty For Me, and Dirty Harry (to name but a few) were outstanding classics of cinema.  Some, like Pink Cadillac and Heartbreak Ridge, to name but two, were gawdawful.

And then there’s the 1971 film The Beguiled.

If one were to look over the history of Clint Eastwood, actor, it is my firm belief this film stands out as one of his strangest works.  Sure, its weird to see Mr. Eastwood in a musical and actually singing (1969’s Paint Your Wagon) but that film was what it was: A musical.

The Beguiled, though set in Civil War times, is about as far away from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, another Civil War time-frame set movie, as can be.  Based on a novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, The Beguiled features Clint Eastwood as John McBurney, an badly injured Yankee soldier who stumbles upon -and is helped by- women in a Southern boarding school.

I don’t want to get into SPOILERS, even though they involve a 45 year old film, but suffice to say this is a film fraught with sexual tensions, jealousies, and, ultimately, very dark, dark psychological issues.  Because Clint Eastwood is the “star” of the film and because of its Civil War setting, the movie slyly plays with your expectations of what to expect in his character.

If one looks through Mr. Eastwood’s acting career, he has played the “good guy” (though morally shifty) in most of his films, in this one he can be called an out and out “bad guy,” though using the term feels like it diminishes the dimensions he brings to the role.  Suffice to say Eastwood’s John McBurney is a bad man who takes advantages of his situation and ultimately pays for the way he treats/uses those around him.

This is not some “action” film.  It is a work which focuses on human interactions and the darkness that can arise out of sexual tensions.

It is a provocative work and, as I mentioned above, easily one of the more startling and daring works he’s ever acted in.

The reason I point all this out is because it was announced a remake of this film is in the works:

Sophia Coppola will remake The Beguiled with Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, and Elle Fanning

The article above is from Slate.com and the headline essentially states everything there is to know, so far, about the film.  We have our three female stars but, at that writing, there is no news as to who will play the Clint Eastwood role.

I’m intrigued but also curious if the film will be quite as…daring…as the original.  It’s also a daring step forward for Ms. Coppola, who I don’t believe has made anything quite this gothic and macabre before.

We’ll see!

The trailer to the film, presented below, shows just how hard the studio had it when it came to advertising the movie.  What do you say?  How do you go about saying it?  They tried.  They failed, IMHO!

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Tomorrowland (2015) a (mildly) belated double-header review

What do The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (MFU from now on) and Tomorrowland have in common other than the fact they were both released last year?

For one, they were both directed and co-written by well known and accomplished men in this field with several hits to their names.  In the case of MFU, you had Guy Richie (Snatch, the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes) and for Tomorrowland you had Brad Bird (Iron Giant, Incredibles, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol).  Both films were also given large budgets by their respective studios and featured big name actors.

And in both cases, the films weren’t box office hits.

MFU had a budget of $75 million according to IMDB but made only $45.5 in the American box office.  Tomorrowland, again according to IMDB, had a budget of $190 million and made back approximately $93.5 of this in American markets.

Despite their weak box office, both films had at least decent critical ratings.  MFU, according to rottentomatoes.com, scored a healthy 68% positive among critics and a 74% positive among audiences.  Tomorrowland, on the other hand, scored a mediocre 50% with both audiences and critics though it did better, overall, at the box office.

I saw both films over the past couple of days and found them to be enjoyable enough to recommend but, on the other hand, I could see (with that wonderful 20/20 rearview vision) why both films failed to connect with audiences.

TMU is based on the 1960’s TV series of the same name.  In that series which aired during the heights of the first wave of James Bondian hysteria, you had an American and Soviet agent played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum work together for global peace, something rather forward thinking considering we were at the heights of the cold war.  An interesting bit of trivia, the premiere season of the show, presented in 1964 featured an episode wherein the future Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, would act together on screen as guest stars for the very first time and two years before reuniting for Star Trek

Anyway, Guy Richie’s goal, it appeared, in making MFU was to create a modernisic take on the supersaturated, supercolorful spy films of the 1960’s.  His direction, editing, and dialogue were, to those familiar with these particular films, spot on.  Though the film was clearly a modern artifact, there is love for the genre in almost every frame of the film, as can be seen in its trailer…

However for whatever reason Mr. Richie decided to subvert his action scenes and this, IMHO, was one of the film’s greatest sins for spy films, if anything, should be exciting.  Other than the opening act, the action sequences in MFU are generally played for laughs (witness in particular the sequence involving a boat chase in a closed off harbor…we witness most of the “action” in the in the background while in the foreground and front and center we watch as one of our protagonists eats a sandwich and drinks wine!).

Worse, the villain of the piece is stated to be a “fanatic” and a very ingenious and dangerous woman.  However, as presented you don’t feel she’s either particularly smart or dangerous.  When she eventually meets her just desserts, there’s no “oh yeah!” excitement to her comeuppance.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: A good action film needs not just a good hero to root for, but a good villain to root against and in MFU’s case such a character was simply never there.

Incredibly, this same problem (one of the movie’s problems, anyways) can be found in the ambitious Tomorrowland.  Based on the Disney theme park’s futuristic section, Tomorrowland opens at the 1964 World’s Fair.  It was in this fair, in real life, the “It’s a Small World” ride was introduced to the world.  In the movie, a young boy named Frank Walker (in this section played by Thomas Robinson and later played by George Clooney as an adult) brings his experimental jetpack to be judged in a scientific competition.  The jetpack is judged by the stern Nix (Hugh Laurie).  While Nix is unimpressed with the young kid’s work, a young girl named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) is impressed by this invention and she gives him a pin and tells him to, from a distance, follow their group on to the “It’s A Small World” ride.

The pin is scanned by a computer while in the ride and Frank Walker is diverted and winds up in the magical Tomorrowland, a futuristic alternate world and all appears great…

We fast forward to the present and are introduced to Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) a young child prodigy who “knows how things work”.  We find that Athena is around and she hasn’t aged at all since 1964.  Athena manages to place one of those pins upon Casey without her knowing and, after she’s sent to jail for trespassing on NASA property she realizes she has it.  When Casey touches the pin, she has visions of Tomorrowland and wants to get there.

Eventually we find that things aren’t quite as bright as we thought and when Casey meets the elderly Frank Walker, he realizes she might be Earth’s only hope for survival.

When the first Tomorrowland trailers appeared I was struck by how difficult it was to get a handle on the film’s plot from them.

I suspected -and the suspicion was confirmed when the movie was released and the reviews came out- that the film featured an elaborate, perhaps too elaborate, plot that defied easy explanation.

This is true, even as the movie’s first half simply involves explaining to us what Tomorrowland is, setting up the characters, and giving us an extended “chase” sequence.  When the action moves to Tomorrowland itself in the later half, unfortunately, the film goes south.  We are too quickly shown and expected to accept Nix as “evil” and the solution to world wide catastrophe -a complicated series of events, one would think!- winds up being to simply blow something up real good…a rather sad -and ironically way too primitive!- solution presented in a movie that allegedly celebrates creativity, ingenuity, and intellect.

And yet, like MFU, the film has its charms and isn’t “bad” by any stretch of the (ahem) imagination.  The leads are charismatic and interesting even if the ending resorted to more standard movie tropes.

So there you have it, two flawed films from directors who took a chance and tried to do something outside their wheelhouses and, in both cases, delivered good if not great entertainment.  I can see why both films didn’t quite light the box-office on fire but I’ll be damned if these two individuals shouldn’t be congratulated for at least trying to give moviegoers something different.

Batman v Superman…some post-review analysis

Yesterday I reviewed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS from here on out) and (SPOILERS) I liked the film.

There are many out there, including a majority of professional reviewers as per rottentomatoes.com, who did not.  I’ve read samplings from those who did not like the film because, frankly, I’m curious why it worked for some -including, obviously, me- but for others it was such a bust.

Understand, I’m not trying to pick a fight and/or defend my views.  Opinions regarding works of art, be they paintings or music or books or, yes, movies are a subjective thing and while I may love, say, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (I consider it along with Fritz Lang’s Metropolis among my two all time favorite films). I can certainly understand if someone feels the film doesn’t work for them.

What is a fascinating added element to the BvS mix of opinions is the fact, I believe, that people coming into it have a built in emotional investment.  There are those who love Marvel films/works and couldn’t be happier if anything with the “taint” of DC on it fails.  Let’s face it, there has always been a competition between the heroes of DC comics and those of Marvel and, likely, always will be.

There are others who sampled director Zach Snyder’s previous works -including Man of Steel, the film BvS is a direct sequel to- and based on that they have no faith in his works and therefore just knew he was going to screw this film up.  There are still others, not unlike me, who love the characters of Superman and/or Batman -and Wonder Woman!- and went to see the film hoping it would succeed even as the early word was so negative.  And then there are those who went to see the film with no real “skin in the game”.  They went in with some, perhaps a very small knowledge of Superman and Batman and hoped for a good time.

These, of course, aren’t all the possibilities and there are likely those who had several factors apply to their view of the film.

In my review, I noted BvS was not a perfect film.  To me there probably isn’t and never will be a “perfect” film.  Things could always be better but as a viewer one should try to see a film in a neutral state and then judge what you’ve seen with as few prejudices and/or expectations as you can.

Which in the case of BvS may well be impossible.

As I said, these characters mean something to people, and for some the idea of a Zach Snyder getting his hands on them is reason enough to automatically suspect the end the result will be godawful.

Curiously, this film revealed a big disconnect, at least so far, between “fans” and “critics”.  While not all critics condemned the film, a vast majority did.  Yet the film proved a box-office juggernaut upon its release last week.  According to boxofficemojo.com, the film earned a record for March 170.1 million dollars in the U.S. and an incredibly impressive $424.1 million in foreign markets.

Though the movie is clearly a box office success, those who most seem invested in booting director Zach Snyder from the DC movie business -or movie business in general- were forced to change their tune.  While at first they engaged in a “told you so” type statement by pointing out the very poor critical reaction, the box office success has them making comments along the lines of:

Let’s see what happens with the movie’s boxoffice next week.

Their original negative view of the film hasn’t been rejected.  The film remains the turd they expected it to be, even if they didn’t bother going to see it, and the box office success only points out that people were fooled by that first week of release and now that everyone knows just how terrible this film is, they fully expect a heavy box-office drop.

To which I, someone who liked the film, would say:  I expect a heavy box office drop next week.  You can’t have two weeks where in the first a film breaks box office records and in the second week it stays very close to that box office record (almost all films drop sales from week one to two).  Will the drop be precipitous, ie in the 60% range?  Who knows.

Even so, I suspect Warner Brothers will still be happy with the end result.

Now, shifting focus just a little bit, I think there’s another reason someone like me might find himself liking this film more than some others.

BvS, for better or worse, has a great many DC comics “easter eggs” within it.  The more you know about DC comics and their characters/storylines, the more you may get out of the film.

For example, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s weird post-apocalyptic dream.

The dream appears to point to future DC movie storylines but, IMHO, BvS could have worked perfectly fine without it.  Nonetheless, it is in the theatrical cut and I suspect people who are not as familiar with DC comic stories may find the whole thing confusing.

Why, they may ask, are we seeing this weird dream?  What possible reason is it in this movie (again, I feel it could have been cut from the theatrical version and included in the extended cut)?  What in the world does it mean?

To the DC comic fan, that later question touches upon several DC comics storylines and, in particular, the villainous Darkseid and the New Gods (there are other more subtle references to this in the movie as well)…

…as well as the multiverse.  Was Bruce Wayne/Batman having a vision of another, parallel Earth where Superman is recruited by Darkseid?  Further, the dream/vision ends with the Flash appearing and warning Bruce Wayne of the future, not unlike this scene, found in Crisis on Infinite Worlds

Crisis on Infinite Earths is a 12 part story written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by George Perez and a number of inkers.  That above panel has Batman seeing a vision of a dying Flash who has come from the future and warns him of the destruction that lies ahead.  The vision Bruce Wayne/Batman has in BvS ends with Flash warning him of the future not unlike the Flash did in Crisis.

Based on this I can’t help but feel the Justice League film might be using the Crisis storyline while marrying it with the New Gods/Darkseid.

Could be, anyway.

Regardless, it would appear the summer movie season has officially begun.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) a (right on time for once!) review

There are times a film appears to hit a buzzsaw of emotions and reactions and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (BvS from here on) has certainly done so.

Like many, when I first heard of the film being made I was excited.  When the first images were released a year or so ago showing an armored Batman on a rooftop and a dark, shadowy Superman floating above him, I was giddy with excitement.

The film’s release was highly anticipated because both Superman and Batman -not to mention Wonder Woman!- are characters who are by now so ingrained in our society and so beloved (for the most part) that its difficult to find someone who a) doesn’t know who the characters are or b) isn’t at least a tiny bit interested in seeing movies featuring them.

As the movie’s release approached, however, it appeared audiences had already taken sides as to how the film was going to be.  There is -and remains- a very vocal group who gave up on the film when they heard Zach Snyder was back in the director’s seat.  Let’s be clear: I can understand those who have sampled Mr. Snyder’s work and don’t like it being suspicious as to whether he can pull off this -or any- film.  If what he’s done before hasn’t appealed to you, its understandable you view any new work with suspicion.

Those who were most vocal in that suspicion -if not were outright hostile- to BvS were also those who didn’t like the film this is a sequel to, 2013’s Zach Snyder directed Man of Steel.

The reaction to Man of Steel was split, to be polite.  Some hated the film outright while others loved it.  Still others liked parts of the film yet one commonality seemed to appear: People were turned off by the amount of destruction presented in that film’s climax.

It was this climax and its apparent cavalier way of showing a large city reduced to rubble that for many was simply too much.  With that much destruction, the loss of human life had to great, and Superman and the characters around him appeared obvious to this loss in the movie’s closing minutes.

To the makers of BvS’ credit, they acknowledged the strong reactions and, in my mind very cleverly, decided to face this head on with this movie.  In fact, not only was their focus on this, but so too were the makers of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, which to my eyes (now that I’ve seen BvS), appears to be their take on the exact same thing…

So last week BvS was finally released and the critical reaction was -there is no way to sugar coat this- terrible.  Over at rottentomatoes.com, the film opened with a dismal 11% approval rating before climbing to 41% and then settling down (as of today) to a 29% approval among critics.  Audiences, however, give the film a far better 73% approval.

I have to admit, the wave of hostility toward the film and the critical reaction worried me.  With this many critics panning the film, would it turn out to be a bust?

Still, I was eager to see it.  The film’s trailers, for the most part, were enjoyable and I loved the visuals presented.  Like so many others I love the characters of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and seeing them together in a movie, even if the movie turns out not to be very good, was something I had to do.

Yesterday, at the very earliest showing (9:30 AM!) I did just that.  To my surprise, I wasn’t alone.  Despite the very early hour, the theater was easily 1/2 to 3/4s full.  I sat back and forced my mind into neutral.  I wanted/hoped this film was good even as I feared the critics were right and it would prove to be a big disappointment.

I won’t keep you in suspense any longer: In my opinion, this is a damn good film.

No, BvS isn’t “perfect.”  There is some choppiness to the storytelling which, I suspect, might have to do with the fact this version of the film, which runs a very long two and a half hours, was nonetheless cut down from a 3 plus hour “director’s cut.”  (That version is scheduled for release to home video on July 16 and I for one am eager to see it)

Still, I stand by what I said:  I liked the film quite a bit and can’t help but dispute some of the critics and their negatives.

For instance, BvS opens with a retelling of the Batman “origin” story.  You know the drill, after leaving a movie, Thomas and Martha Wayne, along with a very young Bruce Wayne, are confronted by a mugger.  Thomas and Martha Wayne are killed and young Bruce Wayne is traumatized and this is what “makes” him Batman.

While I can see why people bemoan the retelling of this story, I think they missed why it was retold.  To begin, the retelling is quick, but secondly, and more importantly, it lays down the Batman we know before giving him his second origin story.

For the Batman presented in BvS is very cleverly, very subtlety, not the Batman we are familiar with to this point.

This is a Batman who witnesses and is traumatized by the destruction of Metropolis as presented in Man of Steel.  He personally sees the destruction and the deaths of so many people (many he knows) and this rattles Batman/Bruce Wayne to the point where he becomes, as Alfred (a spot on, absolutely delightful Jeremy Irons) states, “cruel”.

Understand, the Batman we see here is in a fever state.  He’s off his game and very flawed, locked in on the goal of ridding the world of the danger he feels Superman represents.  The more rational Batman we are accustomed to would have realized certain things were occurring and manipulations were being made but because of his rage, this Batman misses them…until it’s almost too late.

I realize I’m talking about subtlety in a film that prides itself in showing “big booms” but its there.

Superman, likewise, is also presented as being in a state of flux.  He is new to this game and also grappling with the destruction caused at the end of Man of Steel.  He knows he saved humanity, but at his core he also realizes salvation came with a steep price.  As much good as he tries to do, will humanity ever fully embrace him and will he always be presented with unintended consequences resulting from his actions?

There has been much scorn heaped upon Jessie Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor and, once again, my feelings lie opposite to those who criticize his portrayal.  Then again, I’m one of those weirdos who loved Gene Hackman’s version of Lex Luthor in the first Superman film.  Mr. Hackman presented a man who at times appears to be a buffoon but when all that superficiality is stripped from him he’s revealed to be a deadly beast with very sharp teeth.

This appears to be the philosophy behind Mr. Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor.  While outwardly geeky and, perhaps, a little “out there” at his core this Lex Luthor is a much, much darker version of Bruce Wayne.  Unlike Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, Lex Luthor is not an orphan.  In fact, he speaks of his father and notes the man was a “monster”.  It is a combination of his father’s cruelty and, if one reads between the lines, the same destruction witnessed at the end of Man of Steel that has driven him very much over the edge.  Like Bruce Wayne, he too is locked in on the idea of destroying Superman for the good of mankind.  Unlike Bruce Wayne, he was always a cruel individual and this has only given him a focus for his evil.

Thus, the set up is there.  Superman is the target and Lex Luthor is the ultimate manipulator, moving pieces/people into place to create a confrontation between Superman and Batman.  And if Batman can’t do the job, Luthor has a backup plan in place…

I’ll stop there and not spoil any more of the film.  However, before I go, let me add one last thing: I loved Gal Gidot’s Wonder Woman.  Though her role within this feature amounted to an extended cameo, her take on the character made me really eager to see her further exploits.  She was cool and mysterious and powerful and, like the best versions of Wonder Woman, absolutely did not shy away from battle.

Though I’m skeptical of this version of the Flash (I love the TV show), I’ll end it with this:

Bring on the Justice League!

Ant-Man (2015) a (mildly) belated movie review

Marvel films have performed incredibly well with both critics and audiences and, most importantly, the box-office.  Their success is such one can’t help but wonder if the studio’s gotten courageous and is willing to gamble on making films featuring lesser known characters.

Guardians of the Galaxy, for example, starred relatively obscure (at least before the movie’s release, natch) characters yet was a HUGE box office hit (I really didn’t like the film so don’t look for explanations from me as to why it clicked so well with audiences).

Following Guardians of the Galaxy came word Disney/Marvel were, along with writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs The World) working on a movie version of Ant-Man.  This character was another decidedly (ahem) small-time Marvel superhero yet the presence of Mr. Wright, a man who built a great reputation for creating clever and at times manic comedies, gave reason for optimism.

Then the roof fell in.

Creative differences resulted in Mr. Wright leaving the project and Peyton Reed taking over.  Fans of Marvel films were concerned.  Because of these behind-the-scenes problems, could this be Marvel’s first outright failure?

As it turned out, there was little reason to worry.

While Ant-Man may not reach the high bar set by Captain America: Winter Soldier (my personal favorite Marvel superhero film), it is a solid, entertaining feature and another win for Marvel.

The movie starts in the distant (cough, wheeze) past of 1989 where Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) confronts his fellow scientific whiz-kids about his experiments.  They want him to share his reduction technology but Dr. Pym fears it will be militarized and angrily leaves the company he founded.  Though he is gone, it is clear his ex-workers (including Howard Stark) will continue pursuing his work.

Fast forward to the present where Scott Land (Paul Rudd), electrical whiz and, more importantly, master thief, is released from jail.  He is a very likable guy (hey, he’s played by Paul Rudd, how could he not be?!) and is determined to straighten out his life.  He wants to re-connect with his daughter but his ex-wife is now dating a police officer who doesn’t care for or trust this ex-con.

Meanwhile, Dr. Pym’s successor, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) continues to work on the reduction formulas Dr. Pym claims he failed to create.  Under the watchful eye of Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Dr. Pym’s supposedly estranged daughter but actually secret mole, the two realize Darren Cross is getting too close to replicating this formula and fear he will sell it to the highest military bidder.

They are running out of time and have to stop Cross and destroy his work.  How to do so?

Why, by using the reduction formula and breaking into the heavily secured laboratories.

Naturally, this leads to Dr. Pym recruiting the reluctant Scott Lang to do this skullduggery and things move from there.

Without getting into spoilers, suffice to say we’re soon following along as Scott Lang tries his best to master the reduction technology while planning and, eventually, breaking into the top-secret laboratory.

To my eyes, Ant-Man retains much of Edgar Wright’s DNA (the screenplay is still credited to him) within and, as a result, is a cool and breezy ride.  The movie is never too terribly serious or dark, instead giving us a more lighthearted affair that doesn’t place too many demands on its audiences.

To me, the movie’s biggest fault is that Darren Cross is never a terribly well defined villain.  As a result he never elicits the fear we probably should have regarding the possibility of succeeding.

Still, Ant-Man is a fun ride that even those who know or care very little of Marvel superhero movies should find entertaining. Recommended.

Mildly interesting tidbit…

It’s been a very long time since I cared about the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.  In fact, I liked the first movie and that was pretty much that.  I saw the second film (remember nothing about it) and maybe a bit of the third when it aired on TV.

Nonetheless, this news regarding the (gulp) fifth movie in the franchise proved, as stated above, mildly interesting…

Paul McCartney Joins Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The reason I point the article out is not so much for the story -good on Paul McCartney taking on the role…hope he has a blast- but rather for a clever comment posted by “Steve”, one of the readers of the article.  I’ll reproduce it here in full:

Considering the title -= dead men tell no tales, there will be in jokes that only old people and Beatles fans will get, that Paul’s character will be named Billy Shears, rumored to be dead and replaced with a lookalike and his outfit will look similar to the costume he wore on the Sgt Peppers album.

If that would happen, it would be clever.  Even if only us “old folks” will get the joke.

Still don’t think I’ll see the film!

25 Worst Original Names of Famous Bands…

Things are rather depressing of late (what can I say about what happened/is happening in Belgium that hasn’t already been said?  So damn sad) so I figured I’d present this amusing list taken from Rolling Stone magazine:

25 Worst Original Names of Famous Bands

There are some very amusing “might have been” names here, some just plain stupid (“Rainbow Butt Monkeys”, “The Band Aid Boys”, and “The Salty Peppers”), too obscure (“The Screaming Abdabs”), and just plain weird (“Naked Toddler”).

Incredibly, I actually knew the previous names (yes, names) of at least one of the bands listed, Blue Oyster Cult.  How did I come to know they were once known as, among others, Soft White Underbelly (the name that finds them on this list), Oaxana, and Stalk-Forrest Group?  Because, my friends, I happen to have a copy of their Stalk-Forrest Group’s St. Cecilia CD which was given a limited release by Rhino Records a little while back…

The founding members of Blue Oyster Cult created this album for Elektra back in the day and, if memory serves, it was barely (if at all) released.  The album was essentially forgotten and the band shortly afterwards changed their name to Blue Oyster Cult and (cowbell) history was made.

There was a while there I was completely nuts about getting every Blue Oyster Cult album and, coincidentally, Rhino records obtained the rights for this forgotten album and released it.  I enjoyed the album, especially this song…

This particular song would only appear (as far as I know) on the Stalk-Forrest Group’s sole album although Blue Oyster Cult would play it in concert…

Anyway, you can buy a “new” version of the St. Cecilia album via Amazon, if you’re interested…

Stalk-Forrest Group, St. Cecilia

This version, however, isn’t quite as good as the Rhino release I mention above in that it doesn’t include various versions of several of the songs, opting instead to give you the album as it was originally envisioned/released.

Anyway, before I go and for those who are fans of Blue Oyster Cult, you may want to have a listen to this…

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice early reviews…

In case you haven’t looked, Rottentomatoes.com as of yesterday started posting reviews for the very soon to be released Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice aaaaaaaannnnnnddddd…

The reviews so far -from movie critics- aren’t all that great.  At this moment (though they haven’t gotten a “concensus” yet), the movie is scoring a below mediocre 41% among critics…

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Rottentomatoes reviews

The breakdown is as follows: Of the 66 reviews released so far, 27 are favorable and 39 are not, hence the 41% rating.

There will be more reviews posted and I suspect the ratings might rise and/or fall a little before there are enough ratings available for the site to state there is a good enough sampling.

However, based on the rather large number (66 reviews is pretty high, IMHO) of ratings so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number stays roughly in that neighborhood, hovering somewhere around 50% approval/disapproval.

I remain curious to see the film and, while I’ve tried to avoid the actual written reviews for fear of the movie being “spoiled” (as was done to me about one big aspect of Spectre) I did see one review that was disheartening wherein the reviewer stated that if you’ve seen one of the trailers (I’m guessing one of the longer ones) you’ve essentially seen a condensed version of the movie.

That sucks.

Sometimes I wonder what goes through the minds of the movie studios when they put together trailers for their films…and sometimes go way too far in revealing elements of the film.

A while back I did a post regarding trailers that gave away too much (you can read it here).  I would reiterate what I said in that particular post: Of all the trailers I’ve seen, the one that for me “ruined” a film the most has to be the one for Terminator 2.

If you were to see the first Terminator and then put on Terminator 2 without knowing anything at all about either film, you would likely have been shocked when in T2 it was suddenly revealed the “bad guy” Terminator from the first film was actually good this time.  Director James Cameron was obviously playing with the audience’s expectations and wanted to surprise them when it was revealed who was bad and who was good.

Which makes the trailer released for that film all the more head-scratching…

I mean, why give away the movie’s biggest surprise in advance?!  It made absolutely no sense.

I just hope the review I read about Superman v. Batman proves not to be true.

3/24 Update:

A day later, rottentomatoes.com has a “consensus” rating for the movie and, alas, the critical reaction has taken a turn downward.  The film as of today scores a poor 33% approval among critics (47 liked it, 94 didn’t).  On the other hand, the film enjoys a healthy 80% positive among movie-goers who have seen the film thus far.

Though I didn’t mean to, there was another of those reviews that kinda stopped me in place, one that stated (and I can only paraphrase as I don’t have the exact quote) Batman v. Superman was essentially a long commercial for future DC superhero movies.


On the other hand, Andrew O’Hehir at Salon.com liked it…

Best ever superhero movie (in terms of fabrics): It’s god vs. psycho

Of the current crop of professional reviewers out there I happen to enjoy Mr. O’Hehir more than most and his take on the film (it is spoiler free) is amusing and interesting and, yes, he does like the film!