Posts Tagged ‘Judy Greer’

Malleable Dimensions

Antman and the Wasp

Director: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Randall Park

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is continually expanding with a sequel to the 2015 film Antman, entitled Antman and the Wasp, reprising the original cast along with some newcomers including Walton Goggins (Tomb raider) as Sonny Burch and Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons) as Janet van Dyne, long lost wife of Hank Pym played again by veteran Oscar winner Michael Douglas (Wall Street).

Director Peyton Reed returns at the helm with Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Antman and Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne aka the Wasp and while most of the nifty action consisting of shrinking or growing strange objects from cars to Hello Kitty dispensers, at times the storyline would seem puerile, it’s nevertheless fun entertainment for the kids.

Antman and the Wasp’s main storyline consists of the three main characters trying to retrieve a portable laboratory so they can blast themselves into some mystifying quantum realm to retrieve the lost Janet played by Pfeiffer, the narrative is punctuated by some funny scenes provided by Michael Pena who purely shines as Antman’s friend Luis in this otherwise malleable superhero drama without many plot twists or a really definable villain.

Of course, clearly aimed at the Marvel fans who have enjoyed the original Antman, Black Panther and The Avengers: Infinity War, Antman and the Wasp is a fun filled comic caper of seismic proportions held together by the witty charm of Paul Rudd as the reluctant supposedly housebound superhero who is desperately trying to be the coolest Dad in San Francisco.

Personally, I would have liked to see more of the hugely talented Michelle Pfeiffer on screen, who appears to be making a major cinematic comeback, but Antman and The Wasp is worth seeing for its radically disproportionate special effects and a particularly clever car chase sequence along the hilly streets of downtown San Francisco. Take the kids, they will love it!

With malleable dimensions, Antman and The Wasp gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the original film. 

The Survival of the Species

War for the Planet of the Apes

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Max Lloyd-Jones

Original score composer Michael Giacchino won an Oscar for Best Original Score for the animated film Up in 2010. Giacchino has also composed film music for Ratatouille, Inside Out and Jurassic World among many others. His most recent musical composition is for the Matt Reeves directed War for the Planet of the Apes in which he surely deserves another Oscar nomination.

In this case, brilliant music makes the film. War for the Planet of the Apes on a technical level is a superb film with superior production design by James Chinlund while the sound editing is perfect especially noticeable in the film’s final battle sequence which by all counts is absolutely remarkable.

As a story of survival of one species over another and an allegorical tale about the horrors of colonialism, War for the Planet of the Apes, with an engaging screenplay by Mark Bomback, is a fascinating film examining ethnographically man’s relationship with animals within the context of climate change or scientific experimentation.

At the centre of the narrative about a vicious conflict between men and apes is a towering performance by Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men, The People vs. Larry Flynt, The Messenger) as The Colonel In which he draws direct inspiration from Marlon Brando’s performance of Colonel Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola’s ground breaking Apocalypse Now.

Andy Serkis in motion capture technology plays Caesar an ape desperately trying to save his clan from being eliminated by the merciless attack of The Colonel’s army.

In a fascinating plot twist, the apes discover a mute young girl, played by Amiah Miller who galvanizes their support to fight on and also provides empathy for a conflict which is far more complex than it appears, brought on by a simian virus which has attacked Earth.

In the final chapter of the Apes Trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes is technically brilliant, engaging and utterly watchable and director Matt Reeves has proved his worth in a film which is as good as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, which also provided the final chapter in a compact trilogy.

Toby Kebbell (Warcraft, Prince of Persia) appears briefly as Koba and Steve Zahn (Dallas Buyers Club) appears as Bad Ape all done in superb motion capture technology but what really elevates War for the Planet of the Apes was the excellent musical score provided by Michael Giacchino for which he should be recognized at the 2018 Oscars.

War for the Planet of the Apes gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended for audiences that enjoyed the first two chapters of the Apes films. Technically this film is extraordinary.

 

Size Does Matter

Ant-Man

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Director: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, Corey Stoll, Martin Donovan, Bobby Cannavale, Hayley Atwell, Anthony Mackie, Judy Greer

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Comedy star Paul Rudd (Our Idiot Brother, Wanderlust) embraces the role of Ant-Man, the latest superhero to join the Marvel Universe. In this case size does matter and Ant-Man’s unique ability to shrink to the size of an ant and evade capture while destroying intricate servers is something to marvel at.

Director Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is humorous, hilarious and filled with spectacular moments which will find the audience rooting for the diminutive superhero who is desperate to join the Avengers team. Oscar winner Michael Douglas (Wall Street) plays quantum physicist Dr Hank Pym has developed a unique formula which can reduce a man to the size of an ant and cause damage along with his army of assistant ants. For once this is a superhero who is without any angst, but just an average guy who happens to be a convicted felon desperate to see his daughter again.

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Scott Lang, wonderfully played to perfection by Paul Rudd, and for once the casting could not have been better is a down and out cat burglar and at the request of his dumb friends, led by the dim-witted Luis hilariously played by Michael Pena breaks into the San Francisco home of Dr Pym to steal jewels and cash.

Instead, Lang steals an Ant-Man suit and unwittingly shrinks and realizes that this nifty ensemble enables him to escape from most situations, including jail, where he is arrested by his daughter’s stepfather Detective Paxton played by the ubiquitous Bobby Cannavale.

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Soon Lang is rescued by Dr Pym and his gorgeous daughter Hope van Dyne played by Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug) who train Lang to be the elusive Ant-Man.

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The evil villain is the megalomaniac scientist Dr Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll who is keen on developing his own shrinking suit and selling the sought after formula to the sinister Hydra which is out to destroy SHIELD, of whom the Avengers are a part of.

The fact that the final battle between Cross and Ant-Man takes place on top of a Thomas the Tank engine toy in Lang’s daughter’s bedroom is emblematic of who the target audience is. Nevertheless Ant-Man is visually spectacular, comical and often hilarious and a much better film than anticipated.

This is a superhero movie which does not take the entire genre too seriously, but has huge ambitions to join The Avengers. Fans should watch out for cameo appearances by Anthony Mackie as Falcon and Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter.

Ant-Man may not match up to the likes of Captain America or Iron Man but could certainly prove that size does count and in this case being smaller is infinitely better. The 3-D visual effects are amazing and Rudd keeps the entire film light and quirky. Ant-Man is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.

 

Celebrity Style Bromance

Entourage

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Director: Doug Ellin

Cast: Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrera, Adrian Grenier, Mark Wahlberg, Billy Bob Thornton, Debi Mazar, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Armie Hammer, Ronda Rousey, Haley Joel Osment

It’s not always easy to translate a 30 minute HBO series into a full length feature film but the producers of the hit HBO series Entourage do that with a certain degree of success. For those oblivious to the carousing of the gang in the original series, Entourage focused on four friends in Hollywood, Eric, Vince, Johnny Drama and Turtle as they navigate their way through scoring girls, attending wild parties and the intricacies of the entertainment industry. Naturally it’s Hollywood on steroids.

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Produced by Mark Wahlberg and Doug Ellin, the latter of whom directs the film version, Entourage the film is like a watered down version of Robert Altman’s scathing diatribe on Hollywood, The Player and also uses a similar self-reflexive technique of blending actors playing onscreen characters with real film stars which include Liam Neeson, Armie Hammer and Mark Wahlberg.

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Most of the action of this celebrity style Bromance takes place in Los Angeles with a brief opening sequence on a yacht in Ibiza, which looks like an offcut from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

As the brat pack make their way to stardom through a series of parties, optimal seductions and behind the scenes Hollywood dealings, Entourage has some extremely funny moments, mostly littered with foul language, less glamour and lots of stuff guys obsess about: sex, money and girls.

entourage_ver7Jeremy Piven as the angry and hilarious film producer Ari Gold, lifts Entourage out of a banal narrative which does not really go anywhere and his brilliant performance is counterpointed by that of Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade) as a Texan film investor, Larsen McCreadle along with his buffoon of a son, Travis wonderfully played by Sixth Sense star Haley Joel Osment.

entourage_ver4Entourage is in fact saved by Piven whose unbelievably energetic performance as Gold makes the film worth watching while the rest of the cast drift through the film in a sort of narcissistic American machismo unique to Hollywood, where the only thing that matters besides their egos is their sex lives.

entourage_ver5Audiences should watch out for some fabulous cameo appearances including singer Pharrell Williams, Armie Hammer, Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Piers Morgan and Billionaire Warren Buffett playing themselves. Kevin Dillon, younger brother of Matt Dillon and Jerry Ferrara provide the laughs as Johnny Drama and Turtle while Piven’s character of Ari Gold makes the film thoroughly enjoyable.

entourage_ver6Entourage is a B grade film about Hollywood with appearances by some A grade actors as themselves, with a cast that does not have to do much but just be the annoying yet lovable guys they were in the original series, cruising around Sunset Boulevard living the dream. Recommended for viewers who followed the HBO series and natural fans of the immensely talented Jeremy Piven.

However, this film version of Entourage is a far cry from the more subtle Hollywood parody expertly done by Robert Altman in The Player back in 1992, but worth watch purely for the entertainment value.

 

Ascending The Food Chain

Jurassic World

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Director: Colin Trevorrow

Cast: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Irrfan Khan, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Omar Sy, Jake Johnson, Vincent D’Onofrio, B. D. Wong, Judy Greer

After the phenomenal success of the Jurassic Park trilogy, Hollywood was bound to make a sequel and Jurassic World lives up to all expectations, smashing all box office records in its opening weekend. Let’s face it, Dinosaurs sell!

Rising star Chris Pratt who was so brilliant as the comic hero in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy plays Raptor Animal trainer Owen while Bryce Dallas Howard (Terminator: Salvation) plays Jurassic World’s sophisticated and slick Vice-President Claire who is so into the selling points of the magnificent Jurassic World, a mega-theme park in Costa Rica, that she forgets about the imminent dangers of genetically reproducing more dangerous dinosaurs.

Not to mention that Claire has been given the task of looking after her nephews, Zach and Gray wonderfully played by Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins who are eventually caught up in the mayhem of Jurassic World after their gyrosphere ride goes haywire. The brothers, Zach and Gray firmly place Jurassic World’s target audience as males between the ages of 10 and 16, but the film is so visually spectacular that anyone would find Jurassic World irresistible in terms of special effects.

Audiences that enjoyed the original trilogy should definitely make an effort to see Jurassic World as besides the quirky onscreen chemistry between Pratt (who modelled his character on another Steven Spielberg creation, Indiana Jones) and the hapless Bryce Dallas Howard whose efficiency does not prevent an aggressive genetically modified dinosaur to escape captivity and wreak havoc in the theme park.

Slumdog Millionaire’s Irrfan Khan plays the reckless billionaire Masrani, new owner of Jurassic World while Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell, Thumbsucker) plays a gung-ho military veteran Hoskins who only sees the dinosaurs as potential killing machines for combat warfare.

As the potential threat to Jurassic World, viciously ascends the food chain, the moral of the narrative soon becomes clear: never mess with what you cannot control and in scientific terms an extinction event occurs of mammoth proportions which involves humans and dinosaurs.

Jurassic World has stunning visual effects, a relatable storyline and loads of action. Highly recommended viewing and as blockbusters go, extremely entertaining thanks to a wonderful onscreen chemistry between Pratt and Howard.

 

 

Caesar’s Reign

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Jason Clarke, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, Kodi Smit-Macphee, Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell, Judy Greer

In a post-apocalyptic San Francisco where much of the human population has been decimated by a simian virus, the apes rule north of the Golden Gate Bridge, which would be modern day Sausalito. These apes are wily, intelligent and they are packing, ready to defend their reclaimed territory.

In Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’s impressive and handsome sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes shows a different world where the remnants of humanity are threatened by gangs of warring apes. These apes are ruled by Caesar a compassionate commander who has a soft spot for humanity as he was the original ape in the first film.

Into their simian territory ventures a group of humans eager to restore power to a hydroelectric plant in Sausalito lead by Malcolm, a brave and compassionate man, played by Zero Dark Thirty’s Jason Clarke. Accompanying Malcolm is his wife Ellie played by Keri Russell (from the short lived TV Series The Americans) and his son Alexander played by Kodi Smit-MacPhee.

Malcolm and his family have to answer to the leader of the human enclave Dreyfus played by Gary Oldman last seen in Robocop who is more inclined to destroy the nearby ape population than befriend them.

The encounter between apes and humans starts off fairly smoothly but soon tyranny and violence takes over as an insurgency against Caesar lead by a rather mean monkey Koba (played by Toby Kebbell) threatens to destroy both the apes and humans. Caesar’s reign is naturally disrupted and warfare ensues.

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Dawn of the Planet of The Apes is superbly done with outstanding visual effects and a brilliantly executed plot line featuring likable characters giving both the humans and apes equal attention and justifiable screen time. As with both humans and apes, there is lurking the potential for conflict which naturally exists in any seemingly homogenous community. If viewers don’t like seeing Apes on horseback wielding automatic weapons then they best miss this film.

More significantly in anthropological terms this film represents in real and fictitious terms the relationship between two species or them and us and how each group perceives the other. Points to director Matt Reeves who really makes this sequel credible, exciting and intuitive. Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

 

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