Sunday, March 31, 2024

MCU Sunday#13 Captain America: Civil War



 Preface: As promised last year, I plan to review every single currently available movie in what is known as the  Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over the year 2024. These will appear in order of their release over that time period. This is the thirteenth installment. (Oh, and by the way, after I've exhausted all of the currently available MCU movies I will be rounding out the year with some of the other available movies made from the Marvel comics pantheon.)

Notes: In each of the MCU installments you will be seeing references to two recurring events that occur in nearly every MCU movie.

Where is Stan Lee?: Stan Lee was the driving genius behind Marvel Comics.  He usually shows up in a cameo.  Sometimes these are so quick you gotta be sure you don't blink. Occasionally he gets a line  of dialogue.

And the Credits Roll: You should always stay in the theater for the credits when watching a MCU movie, because during the credits and at the end there is a teaser (or two) that is worth the wait.  Often they were a teaser for the next installment of the films.

 

 


 

 

First: A big reveal.  Although this movie is titled Captain America: Civil War, it is basically another Avengers movie.  After all, even with the beginning (after the opening sequence), several members of the pantheon makes it's presence known in the first sequence.  We get Captain America (of course), but helping him in his endeavor are  Wanda Maximoff and Falcon.

Civil War took as it's basic story line, the story that had appeared previously in the graphic novel of the same name.  In this one we would also end up getting introduced to a couple of "new" superheroes, one that had been previously introduced in a separate (non MCU story line; see the last portion of this review) series, Spiderman, as well as a preview to one that would be on the horizon for his own future MCU movie, Black Panther.

Most  of the rest of The Avengers appeared later, during the Civil War part. Notably missing was Bruce Banner as The Hulk and Thor, which is probably one of the reasons this wasn't labelled as  another Avengers movie by title.




Captain America: Civil War (2016):

At the start of the movie, Russians, who later turn out to be a part of Hydra, revives Bucky "The Winter Soldier" Barnes (Sebastian Stan) from cryostasis to do a hit on a vehicle and retrieve some samples of super serum.

Flash forward to present day (sometime after the events in The Avengers: Age of Ultron). As stated above, Cap (Chris Evans)  and Falcon (Anthony Mackie)  and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) are on the trail of  Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), a renegade former SHIELD agent who is out to steal a biological weapon in Nigeria (which is a neighboring country of Wakanda... see it coming?).

 

It's almost, but not quite, more than these three can handle.  Rumlow (who has become a super villain known as Crossbones) has a lot of fancy weaponry and is not afraid to use them (but then what kind of super villain would he be if he were...?)


 

In the process and his ultimate defeat at the hands of Cap, Crossbones blows himself up, attempting to take Cap with him.  But Wanda, with her power of telekenisis sends the blast to a nearby building. (Remember that...)

In New York, Tony Stark addresses a group of students and tells them, basically, that they are the future, and that the Stark Foundation is going to fund their projects. After the event, Stark meets the mother of one of the people who were killed in the battle with Ultron in Sokovia.  Tony has some guilt over his actions, which becomes relevant as this movie continues.

Well, the building that was inadvertently damaged during the battle in Nigeria included 11 Wakandans who were on an outreach mission. (see the Wakanda connection now?). As the king of Wakanda says in a TV interview "Victory at the expense of the innocent is no victory at all." 

Which leads to the appearance of the US Secretary of State, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), who informs the collected group of Avengers assembled (notably missing Thor and the Hulk)  that some people consider them "vigilantes" and a "threat" and that therefore the nations of the world have created a protocol, called the Sokovia accords, which deem the Avengers to not be able to act independently, but be under the control of the United nations.  Thus they would only be able to act if that group decided their help was "necessary". He says they can talk it over, but if they do not agree to it they will be forced to retire.



(Author's interjection: Having witnessed for most of my life how such committees like this can "work together" so "well", I'm sure you can see which side of the coin I would fall on.) 

Tony, for his part, because of his guilty conscience, more or less, is behind the idea. Cap on the other hand says that if they sign the agreement they will surrender their right to choose.  There are some good points to both arguments (but once again interjecting: if you know me, giving up the freedom to make my own decisions, and giving them to another, is an anathema to me. Sorry. This may be the one movie that gets me on my soapbox.  I apologize.)

Meanwhile Helmut Zemo (Daniel Bruhl) has appeared on the scene.  He kills a Hydra bigwig and steals a book which will help him revive the brainwashing that activates The Winter Soldier.


 

Cap attends the funeral of his enamorata from the 40's Peggy, where he hears her daughter deliver a eulogy which inspires him to stay firm in his conviction. as he tells her later, despite the agreement of some of the others on The Avengers, he just can't agree to the accords.

At a conference to sign the accords, while the king of Wakanda is speakin,  the event is bombed, killing the king.  His son, T'Challa (Chadwick Bozeman) vows revenge. It turns out that The Winter soldier was behind the bombing. Rogers, still having a deep friendship for Bucky, thinks he can reform him and wants to take him alive, however.

Cap and Falcon track Bucky to Bucharest, despite the fact that others have orders to either arrest or kill them. He finds Bucky, but his attempts to try to take him peacefully are thwarted by the appearance of a group of police forces.  Bucky attempts to escape and runs smack dab into T'Challa, now transformed into the Black Panther, who attempts to exact his promised revenge.  None are successful however, as Rogers, Wilson, T'Challa and Bucky end up arrested. Tony attempts to get Steve to give up and sign the accords, promising that they can be amended later. (yeah, right.)

Zemo appears, disguised as a psychiatrist to talk with Bucky.  Meanwhile, he initiates a plan which shuts down the security grid of the prison, among other things. And says the words that reinstates his brainwashing.  Goal? To discuss what happened in 1991 (Remember the opening sequence?) 

During an ensuing battle, Rogers discovers that Bucky was framed and it was actually Zemo who bombed the accords and framed Bucky. And that Bucky is not the only "Winter Soldier".  It seems Zemo has some ulterior motives.

Eventually Cap and Falcon decide they can't wait for "authorization" to go after Zemo and recruit the help of Wanda, Hawkeye and Ant-man.  Iron Man, on the other hand, still trying to keep the Accords in action, forms his own team which consists of Black Panther, Vision, War Machine, Black Widow and newcomer Spiderman, not to go after Zemo, but after these renegade superheroes who are acting of their own initiative.  (The "civil war" of the movie's title).

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(And Spiderman by the way has already been established as a viable superhero had an arc that created his background, but is only briefly touched on in the film. If you want to know his background watch this site after the MCU cycle and I'll get to those).

Allies and brothers should NOT have to fight each other, and it usually doesn't go well when they do. (Remember that disagreement from the US history past?)  Things go better when you work together for a common good. And these guys are much better when they do that.

We get to find out in the battle that Ant-man has another power in his suit that no one else knew about which helps the situation get better.

The ultimate outcome is that eventually there is sort of a reconciliation as everyone has to come together.  Leading up to our final battle. Which is a battle on on one with Cap and Iron Man.  Which as it turns out was Zemo's whole plan in the first place, as revenge for what happened in his home country.

Where is Stan Lee?  

Stan shows up at the end of the movie, as a FedEx driver, delivering a package for Tony "Stank"...


 

And the Credits Roll:

In mid credits Bucky, now in Wakanda, . voluntarily goes back into cryostasis, hoping that some time in the future somebody may figure out the secret to getting him un-brainwashed.

And post-credits: Peter "Spiderman' checks out a new gadget that Tony made for him.

 

Captain America: Civil War has some problems. For one thing, the villain is not all that impressive.  He's just a psycho and doesn't even have any super powers.  So he ought to be a quick meal for the Avengers, right? But then if you watched until the end you know the REAL reason he was doing what he was doing. Despite that, I really, really liked it.  Especially that battle between the two sets of friends.  So this one ALMOST, but not quite, ends up surpassing The Winter Soldier

Well folks, that's it for this installment.  See you next week.  Drive safely.

Quiggy




Saturday, March 30, 2024

Sunshine Blogger Award


 

 

Sunshine Blogger Award is an award designed to get a blogger out of his or her comfort zone.  It is an honor bestowed by one fellow blogger on another blogger, and gets the fellow blogger to answer some questions that the first blogger created.  Rachel at Hamlette's Soliloquy picked me as one of the honorees.  Thanks, Rachel.  I always like to answer these kinds of questions.  

Then I have  to come up with my own set of questions.  Which takes some effort to find a theme, but they come easy when I finally find one. The "out of comfort zone" I mentioned is having to come up my own set of nominees for the award. I have an aversion to this, mainly because of the "chain mail" sense it gives me. As usual, I will skip this and just say "anyone who wants to can try their hand at the questions and claim me as their nominator. 

The rules, as stated, are as follows:

  • Display the award’s official logo somewhere on your blog. 
  • Thank the person who nominated you. 
  • Provide a link to your nominator’s blog. 
  • Answer your nominator’s questions. 
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers. 
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions. 
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on at least one of their blog posts.

1.  What was the first movie you have memory of watching?

In the theater? Probably Bedknobs and Broomsticks was one of the first, but I really don't remember it.  Since I don't really remember most of the ones I saw as a youngster, the one I really remember vividly seeing was going to the drive-in (of course) with family to see The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. I must have been 12.



2.  Have you ever written a fan letter to a celebrity? (If so, did you get a response?)

Not to a film celebrity, but I wrote a fan letter to Bill Pronzini (a mystery author), trying to get a line on the nom de plumes under which he had been published. Not only did I get a response, he sent me a 7 or 8 page printout of all the stuff he had done up to that point. Thanks, Bill.  Still remember that honor some 35 years later.



3. What are the three funniest movies you've ever seen?

Blazing Saddles

Arsenic and Old Lace

This is Spinal Tap

4. What movie do you really want to change the ending of?

This is a tough question, because movies I like I don't want to change and movies I don't like, I don't really care.  But the ending of Taps always didn't set well with me, although I liked it up until the final ending.

5.  What movie do you wish had a sequel, but it doesn't?

This one is easy.  It even had the promise of said sequel in the end credits. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension The promised sequel, "Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League" virtually guaranteed we'd find out more about Hanoi Xan, a character that was hinted at during the first movie but never introduced,


 

6. Who were your favorite actor and actress  when you were a teen?

Already stated numerous times that my favorite actor was John Wayne.  Favorite actress? Probably Goldie Hawn.



 

7. Who are your favorite actor and actress now?

If you mean still active, probably Sly and Sigourney Weaver.



 

8. Does anyone else in your family love movies?

Well my sister and I have entirely different tastes in movies, but she DOES like movies.

9.  If you could pick an actor/actress to play you in a movie who would you choose?

Begs the question: Me now or me as a younger person?  If  he were playing me at 60 I'd pick someone who could pull off the cynical without being annoying at it (which I like to think I am).  Somebody like Jason Alexander (although he would have to slim down a bit.) And wear a toupee since i am not balding...

 


10.  Do you ever watch a movie in the theater more than once?

Only did that once. I saw An American Werewolf in London once a week for every week it was in the theater (as I recall, 4 times).


 

11. Are there any movies coming out in 2024 that you are looking forward to?

I heard there is another installment in the Lethal Weapon franchise forthcoming, although maybe not until next year. And Marvel is going to pair Deadpool and Wolverine in one film, due to be released this summer.


Now for the questions I came up with: Since I am doing an ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe series of reviews I chose superheroes as a theme..

 

1. Here's a basic one: Marvel or DC? And why did you pick that option?

2  Along those lines: Who is the best Marvel comics superhero?

3. And who is the best DC superhero?

4. If you were a superhero, what would be your super power(s)?

5. If you were a superhero, would you have a sidekick or would you go solo?

5. Every superhero has a weakness.  Be honest. What's your?

7. You are asked to join a superhero team. Honor, or No, thanks?

8. Your super nemesis: What is his or her main attribute?

9. What is your favorite superhero movie? Why?

10. And what is your least favorite? Why?

11. What superhero from the comics is overdue for his or her own movie?


As I said, I have an aversion to tagging people, so feel free to consider yourself tagged if you want it, or don't.  That way no one is obligated or hurt by the picking.


Quiggy


 

Announcing The Neighbors Blogathon

 




Neighbors.  They can be best buddies.  They can be sticks-in-the-mud.  They can be real pains in the butt.  Or they can even turn downright hostile on occasion... ("The Shelter" or "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" from The Twilight Zone TV series come to mind on that last one..).

Got a neighbor who may or may not have killed his wife? Welcome to the neighborhood, Jeff Jeffries. (Rear Window)

Just moved to fancy apartment where the neighbors are overly inquisitive about your new baby? Welcome to the neighborhood, Rosemary Woodhouse. (Rosemary's Baby)

Got a new neighbor who is a former porn star? Welcome to the neighborhood, Matthew Kidman. (The Girl Next Door)

Got a neighbor who is secretly a vampire? Welcome to the neighborhood, Charley Brewster (Fright Night)

Got a neighbor who was a mad scientist and died leaving behind his Frankenstein-esque creation? Welcome to the neighborhood, Peg Boggs (Edward Scissorhands)

There are just a few of the potential ideas.  Any film (or TV episode) which focusses on the neighborly relations is fair game here. You can pick any entry, and write about it, as long as there is some neighbors interacting with each other as one of the main aspects.  Rebecca at Taking Up Room and I will be running this blogathon from May 26 - 28 and you can post anytime during that time. But since it is Memorial Day weekend (at least in the U.S.) we could extend it a day if you are busy with YOUR neighbors...

There are a few ground rules, however:

1) We are asking for new posts. And asking that you keep posts to 3 or less.

2) Please try to refrain from being derogatory.

3. Only one person per movie or TV episode. There are plenty of choices out there.  But with TV episodes you could do, say The Shelter from Twilight Zone and somebody else could do The Monsters are Due on Maple Street. Additionally, some one could do an overall review of Jerry and Kramer's relationship on Seinfeld and some one else could do one on a specific episode (or two) of the show.

4. Please use one of the banners below that my partner created to promote the blog.

And finally...

5) Have fun! (This is non-negotiable, neighbor...)







Leave a comment here or on Taking Up Room signup page and see you in May.

Quiggy


The Choices So Far:

Me: Neighbors (1981)

Taking Up Room: 13 Going on 30 (2004)

Hamlette's Soliloquy: The Outsiders (1983)

Realweegiemidget Reviews Fright Night (2011)

Whimsically Classic: The feuds of the Ricardos and Mertzes on I Love Lucy

In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood: The Mertzes & the Kravitzes: I Love Lucy and Bewitched

Hoofers and Honeys: The Seven Year Itch (1955)

Nitrate Glow: The Window (1949)

By Rich Watson  Grady on Sanford and Son

Thursday, March 28, 2024

The Odd Couple


 


This is my entry in the Mismatched Couples Blogathon hosted by Realweegiemidget Reviews and Cinematic Catharsis

 

 


 

The "odd couple" trope never really got as weird in straightforward drama and comedy as it did when used in science fiction.  You could expand that concept to more outrĂ© ideas when you didn't have to stick with what was currently acceptable possibilities (human on human; whether male on male, female on female or male on female, or even younger on older of any of those. Or for that matter, even human and animal, at least animals that didn't speak...)

Once in the realm of science fiction you could get such odd couples as robots (i.e. R2D2 and C3PO from Star Wars or even the lovelorn pair from Heartbeeps ) or an alien paired with a human (i.e. Jareeba and Will from Enemy Mine) or in the case of today's feature, an apocalyptic movie featuring a boy and a faithful companion, a dog that is telepathic.

A Boy and His Dog  was the second of only three directorial efforts by a man who was better known as a character actor, L. Q. Jones. 

 

 

 

 

You will undoubtedly recognize Jones.  He was a frequent guest star on TV shows as well as a subsidiary character in several movies (many of them westerns).  An interesting tidbit for you:  Jones' real name was Justus McQueen, but in his first role on film he played a character named "L. Q. Jones" (Battle Cry).  He liked the name so he used it as his stage name ever afterwards.   

The movie features, also, one of the first appearances by a young Don Johnson, and I KNOW you know who HE is...  (even if you may not quite recognize him in a photo from the movie here...)



Also included was Tim McIntyre as the voice of the dog, Blood.  (And McIntyre, BTW,  just missed his shot at iconic stardom a few years earlier.  In the late 60's, Norman Lear's first attempt at creating what eventually became All in the Family, a pilot called Justice for All, featured McIntyre in the role of the son-in-law of Carroll O'Connor's character.)

Oh, and by the way, does Blood himself look familiar?  The dog that did all the physical action and reactions required of him in this film was a consummate actor in his own right.  It was "Tiger", the dog that was the 10th star (after the 2 parents, 6 kids and Alice, of course...) of the classic TV show The Brady Bunch! So he came by his ability to convey frustration and disgust quite naturally.




The story comes from a short story written by Harlan Ellison.  Ellison had some Hollywood efforts that made it to film, but the one you the reader might be most familiar with is the Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of ForeverSome liberties were taken with the story as it transitioned from print to film and Ellison himself tried to adapt it first, but after a while the script duties were taken over.

 


 


 

A Boy and His Dog 91975):

Note the movie poster above.... "The year is 2024... a future you'll probably live to see."

Well, congratulations.  If you are reading this now, you DID live to see 2024. (Unless you are reading this 100 years hence, of course... a distinct possibility,  given the eternal life of the cyberspace.)

Although, to be fair, the future depicted in A Boy and His Dog is not the future we actually lived to see... As noted in the opening sequence (after some stock footage of some nuclear explosions) the screen crawl told us:

World War IV lasted five days.

 

Politicians had finally solved the problem of urban blight.

(To say the least...)

So wait a minute... "World War IV"?

Well, as we discover in the process of the first reel, World War III was actually the Cold War and some of the conflicts that occurred over the span of time from 1950-1983.  (The optimistic end of the Cold War, of course.  The actual Cold War didn't end until a few years later...) 

Anyway, the peace only lasted a few years, then, as stated the ultimate conflict happened and everyone started firing off their rockets and made the apocalyptic future as now ongoing...  In this world roving bands of renegades vie for their own little bit of "paradise".  In this future comes Vic (Don Johnson) and his companion, a telepathic dog named "Blood" (voiced by Tim McIntyre).



Blood helps Vic out by TRYING to keep him alive, as well as directing him to the one thing he wants more than anything else.  And what, you may ask, is that?  Hint: Vic is an 18 year old boy.  What do YOU think is primary on his brain?  (And if you said a college degree, boy are YOU naive...)

One thing to warn those of you with more conservative sensibilities; Vic is not necessarily a good guy.  His quest is NOT for love or even a compatible companionship.  He just wants sex and usually in a form that does not include the willingness of the recipient. (Yes, that means he is raping the victim.)

Blood also does his best to educate young Vic.  History lessons and the like.  Including the Presidents.  (Apparently after Ford, the Kennedy clan was able to lay claim to a succession of presidencies... which Kennedys I don't know.  But Teddy tried his hand at the job several times back in the late 70's and early 80's so...)

But Blood has very little patience as a teacher.  Plus, like Vic, Blood has a one track mind too.  He wants food.  Which means that Blood occasionally resorts to coercion to get Vic to find food.  You want women? I want food.  You bring me food and then we'll talk.; "Albert".  (For some reason, which is never really made clear, Blood sometimes calls Vic "Albert", apparently just to annoy him...)

Blood keeps urging Vic to seek out "Over the Hill" an idyllic legend that Blood heard about from a police dog (which Vic doesn't actually believe), a place where food grows right out of the ground (instead of the way they have to find it now, scavenging demolished buildings for storehouses of canned goods.)

Vic and Blood end up trading in some of their goods to attend a movie theater, one which apparently deals in cheap cheesy stag (read: pornographic) films,



Vic is being observed by three mysterious characters who come from "Down Under".  They come to the conclusion that he is the best candidate for what, at this point, remains a secret mission.  But they decide to send in the "cheese".  What is the cheese.  As it turns out it is a girl, Quilla June (Suzanne Benton), who is put into place to entice Vic into "Down Under".



After (multiple!) sexual liaisons with Quilla she deserts Vic, and Vic, being someone with only one mind, decides to try and follow her.  (Which was the whole plan.)

"Down Under", it turns out, is an underground society, a leftover from the days before the war.  The Down Under society coincidentally calls itself "Topeka", so maybe the location that Vic wanders with Blood above ground is Kansas.  The Topeka (as I will refer to it here out) society lives on, having separated itself from those "savages" who live on above ground.  And they need Vic because, while the Topeka society still functions, they somehow don't have the ability to generate the necessary qualities to procreate that someone above ground does, and Vic becomes their goal to help resolve that deficiency.

The society in Topeka is bizarre, to say the least.  It appears to be run by religious fanatics, with some really outrĂ© Christian basis.  (And a penchant for wearing white face, which is never really explained...)



A Committee runs the show and any citizens who do not fit and follow the strict rules of the society are judged to be uncooperative and sent to The Farm (which turns out to be a death sentence, more or less, and which is completed by an android named Michael, who is dressed, coincidentally,  as a farmer.) 



The process by which Vic is induced to help Topeka get repopulated is not to his preferences however.  What it involves is his being strapped down and manipulated by machine to generate vials of his procreative seed (I am TRYING to keep this entry as "family friendly as possible, but it's not easy).  He has to come up with 35 vials of said seed, but then he is scheduled to be relegated to "The Farm".

If Vic had been required to use his prowess to physically become active with his potential "mates", I doubt he would have wanted to leave Topeka, even if all of them did have that off-putting white face fetish.  



But he is not happy with the situation he has to endure.  Not that he has much choice since he is strapped down and has duct tape over his mouth to prevent any objections.

 Eventually Quilla June comes along to help Vic escape, but her goal is not due to a change of heart.  What she really wants is for Vic to help her make a change in the leadership in Topeka. Failing getting a position on the Committee by peaceful means, she tries to manipulate Vic into helping her in a revolution, by killing off the leaders so she can take over as the leader of Topeka. But Vic just wants to get the hell out of Dodge  (I mean Topeka).

With an effort Vic and Quilla escape Topeka, destroying the android Michael in the process and make their way back to above ground.  But is Blood still there?  And will Quilla convince Vic to make a new life with her?  Or will Vic and Blood chase the elusive dream of Over the Hill, a realm where you don't have to scavenge every single day just to survive?  He eventually chooses Blood, and gets him the food he needs to survive.  The "food" that Vic gets for Blood is not stated in overt terms, but as Blood tells Vic in his final line, about Quilla: "I would say she had marvelous judgement, Albert, if not particularly good taste". So maybe you can draw your own conclusions...

Friends stick together, through thick and then, even in the strange post-apocalyptic worlds of the future (or present, if you want to be technical).  And you couldn't find a better friend to get you through hard times than a super-intelligent dog.  So odd couples, even in sci-fi, are friends to the end (or the end of the movie anyway).

Well folks, time to fire up this old Plymouth and head back to the hovel I call home.  Drive safely.

Quiggy






Sunday, March 24, 2024

MCU Sunday #12: Ant-Man

 

 



 Preface: As promised last year, I plan to review every single currently available movie in what is known as the  Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over the year 2024. These will appear in order of their release over that time period. This is the twelfth installment. (Oh, and by the way, after I've exhausted all of the currently available MCU movies I will be rounding out the year with some of the other available movies made from the Marvel comics pantheon.)

Notes: In each of the MCU installments you will be seeing references to two recurring events that occur in nearly every MCU movie.

Where is Stan Lee?: Stan Lee was the driving genius behind Marvel Comics.  He usually shows up in a cameo.  Sometimes these are so quick you gotta be sure you don't blink. Occasionally he gets a line  of dialogue.

And the Credits Roll: You should always stay in the theater for the credits when watching a MCU movie, because during the credits and at the end there is a teaser (or two) that is worth the wait.  Often they were a teaser for the next installment of the films.

 

 


 

Ant-Man could have hit the theaters many many years before the Marvel Studios started the MCU cycles, believe it or not. Way back in the 80's, Stan Lee tried to get some interest going in another Marvel character coming to the big screen. But since Walt disney was in the process of making Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the idea was put into hibernation because no one was really interested in trying to compete with the House of Mouse in any idea that might bomb at the box office against a Disney picture.

Obviously the Marvel Studios didn't have many worries about competing with Disney by the time it came time to produce the next installment of the Marvel superheroes.  After all, after 11 previous dynamic movies, the name of marvel had enough prestige that even if Disney had did a remake and had, say, Johnny Depp or Mark Walburg as the scientist futzing around in the lab, Marvel would STILL have a hit on their hands.

Since Ant-Man, as a character, had been one of the founding members of the comic book version of The Avengers it's somewhat surprising that it took so long to add him to the roster of the film version of the superhero clan. And by the time he was added, it was actually the second iteration of the character that got to appear.  As made a part of the film, the original Ant-Man, Dr. Pym, had long since retired from his adventures, so the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang became the focus of the film and his background as a thief before becoming Ant-Man is the origin which would go forward.

 

 


 

Ant-Man  (2015):

Finally an opening that is fairly straightforward...

In 1989, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is one pissed off scientist.  He has been working on a technology that would reduce a man to the size of an ant, that has been commandeered by his bosses at SHIELD.  He thinks it ought to be his alone to decide, but as bosses usually go, SHIELD says that since he is an employee, his work is automatically owned by SHIELD. They want to use it for its military capabilities, which, as we all know, scientists, at least in the Marvel universe, are all pacifists. So Pym quits. (Or retires, you decide.)

(And by the way, kudos to the movie's production company on this scene.  Michael Douglas looks almost exactly like he did in Wall Street, which WAS actually a late 80's film. Of course, Pym and Gordon Gekko are not the same character, but he looks like him in this scene.)

Left: Hank Pym. Right: Gordon Gekko

 

Flash forward to the present.  Small time burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from San Quentin prison after serving his term. (I always thought that of San Quentin as a maximum security prison for hard case criminals, so I didn't quite get that a small time criminal like Scott would be there, but then, hey,  I don't know everything...) 


 

Side note:  I love the lead-in music after the Marvel logo opening, but I have to say I don't quite understand the choice.  They play a piece by a Latin jazz orchestra (led by Camillo Azuquita), but Scott Lang is not Latino.  Sure his best friend is...  maybe that's why.

So Scott connects up with his friend, Luis (Michael Pena), who tries to convince him to get back into his old life.  He has what he claims is a sure deal.  Ripping off a rich guy, which is Scott's forte.  But Scott wants nothing to do with it.  He plans to go straight. For good.


 

In the meantime, Pym returns to the company he founded.  His daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) has been working closely with Pym's successor in the company, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), to reinvigorate what Pym originally tried to keep secret; in essence, the Yellowjacket technology.  And the promotional video leaves nothing unquestioned as for what the technology is going to be used.  (Military, hell yes! Spy on enemies, why not! Etc.)


 

Meanwhile, Scott, who has had some bad luck with finding a job, being a former criminal, ends up going along with Luis and robbing the rich guy. Along with help from two of Luis' friends, Dave (Tip Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). He ends up having to do some serious MacGuyver stuff to get the job done, but he successfully raids the old guy's safe.  But the only thing in the safe is a "motorcycle suit".  Which of course, Scott steals.  Under the watchful eye of Pym who has apparently been behind the whole thing.


 

He tries on the suit and discovers the tech that the suit does, shrinking him to the size of an ant.... Tada Ant-Man.  And through the miracle of modern science he is now going to find out what he can do, with the help of Pym himself, communicating to him through the helmet.  

Yeah, it turns out that Pym engineered the whole thing in the first place, right down to influencing the stealing of the suit in the first place. Scott gets arrested while trying to return the suit, and while in jail has a meeting with his "lawyer" who turns out to be Pym himself who reveals the whole setup.

Pym's goal is to use Scott (and the Ant-man tech) to break into his old company and steal and destroy the Yellowjacket tech that Cross created.  Why? Because Pym, unlike many of his fellow compatriots at his old company, thinks that advanced weaponry and advanced capabilities at spying on enemies is a "bad idea". And even though his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) thinks she should be the hero in this endeavor, Pym is set on Scott.


 

 

Which means he has to train Scott, who is smart on some levels, but ignorant on the ideas behind the suit tech, how to operate it in superhero fashion.  And also on what not to do  You know, like modify the suit...  (Note: There are some intriguing foreshadowing parts in these scenes so pay attention if you plan on following this blog to it's conclusion...)

Also he has to learn how to work with his allies, members of the ant world.  He has to learn how to communicate with various subspecies, each with their own special abilities that can help him.

And eventually Pym breaks down and tells his daughter what REALLY killed her mother.  Her mother, it turns out, worked side by side with Pym, he being the original Ant-man and her being another superhero known as the wasp (using the same shrinking tech.) They both tried to stop an ICBM launched by renegade Russians, and she, using the suit for the dangerous portion of its abilities that Pym warned Scott about screwing with, went subatomic in order to stop the bomb. And never came back.

So the plans that Pym has are a bit complicated and requires a bit of help.  Against Pym's objections, Scott incorporates his three buddies, Luis, Dave and  Kurt. Dave being the getawat car drive, Kurt being a bird in the air, so to speak, scoping it out from the sky.  And Luis? He's a fake security guard, the mole on the inside.  (You know, Luis is a great character, but sometimes I wonder how he is EVER successful as a criminal... the guy is just a bit too off kilter.  But then so is every other comic relief character in film, so...)

So Scott and his ant allies invade.  But he doesn't count on some serious issues that await him.  Namely, Cross, whose intentions are NOT to help the government (big surprise) but to sell his tech to Hydra (Geez! Don't they ever get dismantled?  OH, wait, that old chop off one head and two grow in its place" thing...)

With Pym and Hope, and eventually, Scott captured things look a little bleak.  But now we get to the real battle (which is what we have been waiting for).  Cross, using his Yellowjacket tech, becomes Yellowjacket and has a battle with Ant-man and his ant army.


 

And a tank.  (Don't ask, just watch...)

The CGI for this movie surpasses anything we have seen so far, in my opinion.  The rapid transition between the full size characters and their miniature versions works without looking too cheesy.   And the final battle is well worth the wait.

Admittedly, most of the build-up becomes a bit slow.  And Rudd is not the most believable in his transition from two-bit burglar into a hero. (Kinda of like the somewhat difficult believability of Tony Stark transitioning from self-obsessed ego trip to... well, maybe that's not a good comparison...)


Where is Stan Lee? Right before the credits roll, Luis gets with Scott to try to tell him about another potential caper.  Yet another friend met some girl, a reporter, in a bar.  The reporter mentions to the friend that a guy working for The Avengers is looking for Ant-man. Stan is the bartender who agrees with the friend that the reporter is very attractive. 



And the Credits Roll: In mid credits, Pym shows Hope the prototype for an advanced version of the Wasp suit and tells her, that he and his wife had been working on it and he now realizes that the had been working on it for Hope. He tells her maybe it's time to complete the work on it. And post credits we find Captain America and the Falcon conferring on what to do about Bucky (The Winter Soldier).  They decide they really can't talk with Tony (Iron Man) but Falcon tells Cap that maybe there's another guy that can help...

The highlights of the movie are in the co-stars.  Michael Douglas is a star as Pym, and Pena's comic relief as Luis is well worth it, but overall, I have to say without that dynamic battle at the end, I probably could have skipped the origin story here.

But we are getting some more details here for the story line, like the introduction of a future character, the return of the Wasp, who, like the previous incarnation, will be paired with Ant-man.  Watch for that pairing in a future MCU Sunday installment.

Can't shrink.  Can't fly. But I can drive, so the old Plymouth will still get me home. Drive safely, folks.

 

Quiggy