Anthony Mackie

Ant-Man

Year: 2015
Directed By: Peyton Reed
Written By: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd (though it’s all complicated)

 

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here’s a movie that couldn’t have been more unexpectedly awesome. In fact this is the film I point to when I tell people that it’s a good thing Disney owns so much of the industry. This is a movie that by all rights should be awful. For any practical thinking person the idea of a super hero that shrinks can’t come across as anything other than lame. Yet here they manage to not only make that movie good, but they made it really cool and exceptionally exciting. This is an incredibly delightful movie that is a lot of fun to watch.

I am not a Paul Rudd fan. I have enjoyed many of the movies he is in but have always refused to give him credit for doing anything more than serving as adequate back up to other actors. Nevertheless I find that I am so impressed with him in this movie. I specifically thought it was a horrible idea when he was cast. I was wrong and am not only willing but happy to admit that. Paul Rudd is great in this part being both funny and badass. The latter I never imagined he was capable of being. Rudd is as surprising and awesome as everything else in this movie turned out to be.

The success of this film is quite surprising given how long it lingered in production and how many rewrites it sustained along the way. I don’t remember the specifics and don’t care to look them up at the moment but I remember for a long time Edgar Wright was attached to direct the film until he had a falling out with the studio and the movie got a rewrite and new director. I remember this film being in production for what seemed like a really long time. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued to grow this suddenly became an intricate part of the greater scheme of things. Ant-Man immediately fit into the MCU, even sneaking an Avenger into the film to surprise us all and set him up for greater things to come.

I think the fact that this movie is so cool is a true testament to the capabilities of Marvel Studios. As a part of the larger organization of Disney there are opportunities that have never been possible before and we see them in this film. I have often described this movie as “full on Disney,” a movie where they shows us the full force of their power like they are unveiling their own personal Death Star. Do you notice anything familiar when the Yellowjacket fires his cannons? The sound is the same you will hear when an AT-AT fires it’s cannons in Star Wars. The simple sound effect has never been available for wider use but now that Lucasfilm, like Marvel, is part of Disney these things are available with little red tape. With all the properties now owned by Disney there are such interesting capabilities for the future. The MCU is the greatest example yet of the power of these capabilities but it’s merely scratching the surface of what is possible in the future.

Like any good comedy this movie has an exceptionally deep cast, and they were all on point in this movie. You have great big name players like Michael Douglas, Corey Stroll, and Evangeline Lilly but so often in this one the background characters steal the show. I think Michael Pena is hilarious in this movie and I have never been a big fan of the guy (back in the day he turned on Vic Mackey and the Strike Team, I’m still not over it). I am and always have been a big fan of Bobby Cannavale. Despite the type of role he plays in this movie I think he shines in several scenes and even manages to be badass in a smaller way. Anthony Mackie is great in his cameo, which was quite a surprise. I had no idea he was in this movie but I think that it was awesome how effortless it was to include the character of Falcon into the film.

I’ve never followed Ant-Man as a comic book fan but I’m familiar enough with the character to like that this movie has both Hank Pym and Scott Lang. Plus it is a perfect opportunity to have a guy like Michael Douglas get involved in the party at Marvel. Douglas looked like he found some life in his acting career with this role and I’m just happy to see him out there again. Evangeline Lilly will eventually become a hero in her own right as the Wasp when this particular franchise returns for a sequel. I thought she was good in this movie but there was too much unnecessary dramatics with her father.

Corey Stroll is the final gem to discuss in this movie. He has been an up and comer over the last few years and his performance here makes it easy to understand why. The guy can pull off sinister real well. I liked him both as the spiteful former apprentice Darren Cross and as the wicked and intimidating  YellowJacket. Don’t really know anything about that character from the comics but it’s a shame we have most likely seen the last of Stroll as a villain in the MCU. One of the biggest criticisms of the MCU is that they kill off the bad guys too much. They have The Raft now, as seen in Civil War. It’s time to see some of these villains start getting locked up in there.

As is plainly obvious already I did not expect this movie to be good and can’t help but marvel (pun intended) at how blown away I was by it. Rudd has managed to keep it up with a great part in Captain America Civil War and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future. The Ant-Man and The Wasp will be the next installment to this franchise coming in 2018. Until then this one offers enjoyment throughout multiple viewings and it is without a doubt worth you time to see.

 

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Year: 2014
Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

RYAN’S REVIEW

To date, I think this is the best sequel made by Marvel Studios. Granted I haven’t seen the newest Avengers film yet but by comparison to the Thor and Iron Man sequels I’ve seen this one is way better. I think there are some minor problems with the story of this film but more importantly the action is awesome and nonstop. This movie has a certain distinction for me as it was the film Amber and I attended to get off the street one night while we were in Denver. We were in the city for my birthday and conveniently near a theater when a cool down was needed. It’s also a movie I watched while recovering from a significant concussion recently and I feel like I kind of bonded with it during that vulnerable time. Nevertheless, aside from having specific reasons for being biased towards it I will stand by it in any argument because I think it is an exciting film and it furthers the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline in a significant way.

I’ll start with what I think is wrong about this movie that I enjoy. I think it is difficult do make solo films for the heroes of the Avengers because the threats that they face alone seem like something that they should all be involved in. Take this movie for example, how is it that SHIELD faces a threat of this magnitude without Iron Man showing up? That’s just a general problem I have but I’m willing to excuse it because I like it and the kid in me will settle for nothing less than loving these movies. The real problem I have with it is I just find it a bit too much that SHIELD is infiltrated to the top position. If the super secret almighty SHIELD can be infiltrated to such a degree isn’t the whole thing in general just silly?

There is one more thing too. Admittedly I hadn’t realized it myself until a friend pointed it out. Why do all the Marvel solo heroes have black sidekicks? How is it Marvel Studios and their parent company Disney could present such a foolish and obvious cliche that won’t sit well when publicly noticed? Iron Man has War Machine, Thor has Heimdal, and Cap has Falcon. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that is going to sit well given the racial climate within the country of late. I have faith Marvel will straighten it all out with the soon to be introduced Black Panther character.

Nevertheless my biggest hang up with this movie is the story but so what? It’s a comic book film right? Why criticize it when it is only made to be fun and enjoyable? Regardless who the bad guys are they are there to present a challenge to our hero and this film does that in spades. Captain America is faced with devastating odds and rises to the occasion as a badass. I think Chris Evans is perfect as Captain America and I like what he brings to the part. He can be both funny and stern which I think is necessary for the character. When the action starts it’s absolutely amazing how well they choreograph fight scenes to incorporate that shield. You wouldn’t think a guy could do so much with a shield but for the third time around in this film Cap defies any reasonable odds. It seems you can do just about any damn thing with a shield if you know how to wield it.

I really like the addition of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon. Something else that gets me about this film is his character. I am a regular quitter of smoking and often find myself wearing a nicotine patch in efforts to quit. Well patches can give you crazy dreams at night and for an extended period of time I had a recurring dream in which I had the wing pack thing the Falcon wears and I spent my nights flying through the air. Aside from that random tidbit I think Falcon is a really cool character and like what he brings to the film. However, his exceptional ability again brings to mind why wasn’t a call placed to Tony Stark when things got dire in this movie? Iron Man certainly wasn’t a member of SHIELD and would be in a better position to aid Cap and Black Widow. That’s just a frustrating aspect of these stories being put into film because now there are contracts and money to consider when doing them.

Samuel L. Jackson is awesome, per usual. He’s been so good as Nick Fury that his likeness made it’s way into the comic somewhere along the line. Having just written about Jackson in our recent Pulp Fiction review I won’t reiterate myself here again about how awesome I think he is. I do like that this movie gives him a really great action scene.

I remember reading the news that Robert Redford had signed on for a role in this film. For me that showed the power of Marvel. I thought it was a big deal when the first film cast Tommy Lee Jones but to get Robert Freakin Redford for the second film seemed huge to me. If you want legitimacy you can’t go wrong with the Sundance Kid as your wing man. I was really surprised in the way his role turned out in this film though. I figured he would opt for hero and not ultimate villain.

In the roles of other bad guys I really like how the Winter Soldier was done and how Brock Rumlow was set up to be a bigger villain in the future as Crossbones.  The next Captain America movie is going to be huge and as I understand it they will both be involved in the next installment. The next installment, Civil War, is primed to be the most awesome film Marvel Studios has made and I can’t wait to see it. When it’s all said and done this trilogy will be the best Marvel has to offer. Iron Man is cool but his movies weren’t all as cool as Cap’s.

I like this movie and I enjoy watching it now and again. It seems destined for significance for us because as we were watching it for this review we got a call with great news. That news and the good feelings it had will now be something else we can associate this film. Nevertheless, on that note I’m going to go ahead and scratch this off my to-do list. We’ve owned it for a while now and it’s been one of several we’ve been trying to find time to work in. Cool movie that is worth your time.

 

Notorious

Year: 2009
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.
Written By: Reggie Rock Bythewood and Cheo Hodari Coker

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie surprised me.  I did not expect much from it and I think Amber and I actually watched it on a whim one night because we had nothing else to do.  It not only surprised me but I found it exceptional enough to add to the collection.

I was still fairly young when Biggie Smalls was on his rise to the top but even at a young age I knew who he was.  Even in my household, of all places in the world, his music had been well received.  Although the edited version, supplied by Wal-Mart, who at the time only sold such.  I specifically remember my mom and step dad being really fond of “Big Poppa.” I find that perplexing even until this day but it serves as a glowing example of how overwhelming popular he was as an artist.

I was too young to understand the East vs. West feud that was brewing in the rap world in the mid nineties but I was starting to listen to both Biggie and Tupac around the time they were both killed.  I do remember some, but my understanding of it was vague and they were both gone before I really learned anything about the feud.

I do not know specifically how accurate this movie is but I think it covers the basics well enough.  I don’t think any film, no matter the content, should be taken as truth when it is “based on a true story,”  but I think they can offer an outline for the truth.  The story this one tells is a good one regardless where it might have embellished things here and there for dramatic effect.

The part of Biggie Smalls was a difficult one to play, but I think Jamal Woolard did as well as anybody could have.  In the part of the younger Biggie the part was played by the late rapper’s son Christopher Jordan Wallace. With such an iconic character as Biggie came to be it was a difficult role to play and I thought both held up nicely.  The same can be said about the role of Tupac Shakur.  Anthony Mackie didn’t look the part enough to sit right with me but his performance was good enough.  Derek Luke, in the role of Puff Daddy/Puffy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Sean Combs, didn’t look the part enough either but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.  He always has sunglasses on so he is doing the best he can but the guy just doesn’t look enough like Combs to me.  With a movie like this you can never find someone who looks enough like the person they are trying to portray but I do think they could have done better beyond Biggie.

Angela Bassett brought credibility to the film with her fame and she did a great job playing Biggie’s mom.  My favorite female role in the movie has to go to Naturi Naughton though.  She is just so smoking hot and does a fantastic job playing Lil Kim. I was never a fan of the actual Lil Kim myself.  I found her to be too vulgar, even in my immature and horny teenage years.  She is a very attractive woman but she was always too aggressive and obscene for my taste.  I will never forget her boob at the VMAs or whatever award show it was when she had one exposed breast covered only by a seashell or something.  I think it was Diana Ross who came on stage and bounced it up and down on live television.  This was before the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl that scarred the innocent eyes of Super Bowl viewers and led to a timed delay on live television.

This is a really great movie.  The only thing I can criticize is the casting which I’m just nitpicking about anyway.  I think a movie like this could have been bigger budgeted and more heavily promoted but I think what was ultimately produced serves well.  It surprised me the first time I saw it and it did exactly what it should have done by sparking a new interest in the rapper’s music.  Biggie Smalls was a significant cultural icon that maintains his big time status even nearly twenty years later.  This movie about him is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I made Ryan watch this and now it’s in our collection. You have to understand, I get really excited about such things because Ryan doesn’t like to take my suggestions easily. He normally loves the things I suggest (imagine that after 13 years), but he doesn’t go into them with a smile on his face. I remember seeing this and stoping it, thinking Ryan should watch this with me. I think this a really good biopic movie. The characters are portrayed well, and I think the story is really interesting. Nobody really knows the full details about how close a movie like this is to the real truth, but the way this movie is laid out, is close to what my recollection is of how these events played out.

notrious

I really, really like this poster. I think it is cool and collective, just like most people remember BIG being. I love the dark monochromatic coloration of the portrait, and how very important it was to show the pinstripped suit and the rings, and the glasses; mostly showing the things that made Notorious, BIG. I love the tagline, which is everything to his story, and the simple typography of Notorious is well played, simply because this picture does the whole poster justice, the typography of the title simply becomes a needed assets, instead of the main focal point or purpose. It’s also in gold. That’s the perfect color for Notorious. This is such a simple way to convey the message and is probably one of my favorite posters to date.

NEXT MOVIE: Office Space