Michael Pena

REVIEW: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest after the events of Captain America: Civil War but soon he’s roped into helping Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) and her father Hank (Michael Douglas) who are attempting to travel to the Quantum realm in the hope to find her mother still alive.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a visually dynamic film. It has fun with the whole concept of people shrinking and growing, and to make things different compared to the first film, it also has cars and even buildings shrinking to tiny sizes. The fights are innovative, and having Hope become the Wasp is great as she has wings and blasters, making her fights just that bit different to Ant-Man’s.

After the intensity of Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is just a good action-comedy. Like the first Ant-Man film, Ant-Man and the Wasp has small-scale and personal stakes. Hope and Hank are desperate to find their lost mother and wife, Scott just wants to be a good dad to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), and even the main villain Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) doesn’t have world-domination intentions, and instead has a personal stake in the Quantum realm technology Hank Pym has created.

It’s the brilliant chemistry from its cast that makes Ant-Man and the Wasp so much fun and enjoyable. The banter between Scott, Hope and Hank is great and the way they all work together, however reluctantly to begin with, is fun to watch. Scott’s ex-criminal friends Luis (Michael Peña), Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (T.I.) bring the jokes, with Peña stealing just about every scene he’s in. There is almost an abundance of characters. FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) is almost constantly watching Scott, and businessman Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) want the technology Hope and Hank have been building. There’s a lot of people after our main trio and one has to think that the film could’ve probably lost one antagonist and not lost much in the way of the actual plot.

Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t ground-breaking but it’s fun. The many different types of familial relationships are what is at the films core and the action sequences are always entertaining. It’s just the sort of easy-watch summer superhero film you need after Infinity War. 4/5.

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REVIEW: Ant-Man (2015)

I didn’t write a review for Ant-Man when it was first released but it did make my Top Ten Films of 2015.

Recently released from prison, former-thief Scot Lang (Paul Rudd) wants to go straight so he can see his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) but those plans go awry when he meets Dr. Hany Pym (Michael Douglas) who needs Scott to pull off a heist to stop scientist Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from endangering the world.

Ant-Man is a great heist film. It follows a lot of the usual tropes seen in heist stories, training montage, a crew, plans going wrong, but it also has a super-suit that can shrink the wearer and give them a disproportionate amount of strength compared to their size. The special effects and sequences when Scott is the size of an insect are innovative and a lot of fun. The scenes where Scott’s going from big to small in a blink of an eye while fighting bad guys are well-shot and exciting.

While Ant-Man’s villain isn’t particularly menacing nor memorable, it’s nice to have a superhero film where the story is on the smaller scale and the climax of the film isn’t a potential world-ending catastrophe. At this films core are a group of characters who are trying to do the right thing, even if a lot of them are former criminals.

Speaking of former-criminals Luis played by Michael Peña is a great character. His stories are hilarious and every time he’s on screen he steals the spotlight because you can’t help but smile at his antics and mannerisms. Scott’s other friends are computer-hacker Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and wheelman Dave (T.I.) while these two have less to do than Luis, they still get their odd moments and are both fun characters.

A core theme of Ant-Man is the relationship between fathers and daughters. There’s Scott wanting to be the hero his young daughter Cassie already sees in him, and there’s Hank and his strained relationship with his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). How Hank and Hope’s relationship evolves over the course of the film is great because they are forced to begin to understand one another.

Ant-Man is a funny, clever heist film with superhero elements. Scott’s a great down to earth lead and the way the story uses a miniaturised hero and a lot of ants makes for a very enjoyable film. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Martian (2015)

the martian elenasquareeyesDuring a manned mission to Mars a fierce storm hits and the crew must evacuate. In the chaos Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is hit by debris and presumed dead by his crew. Little do they know, Watney survived but now he has to find a way to live on Mars and contact NASA to let them know he’s still alive.

Directed by Ridley Scott and with a screenplay by Drew Goddard The Martian is ridiculously fun. It blends the visuals of Gravity, with the drama of Apollo 13 and the science of Interstellar without it getting bogged down or boring. The way in which the film juggles multiple characters is to be commended. Not only does it have Watney “science-ing the shit” out of his situation all alone on Mars but it has his crew in orbit on a space station and the people of NASA back on Earth struggling to figure out a way to bring him home.

Each character gets their moment to shine and the way characters are introduced often gives a quick insight into what sort of person to shine, my favourite character introduction was Rich Purnell (Donald Glover) and all his scenes were great, especially as you slowly see what he’s up to before he meets everyone else. (more…)