Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Original Review: n/a
One thing I didn’t mention in my Ant-Man review is how it parallels the first Iron Man so well. You could describe Tony Stark or Hank Pym’s arc as the story of a guy recovering from a trauma and standing up to the evil dude who took over his company. The big difference being that Hank Pym is not the main character of Ant-Man, Scott Lang is, so they came up with a contrived reason for Hank and Hope to have to rely on Scott to help them. The smartest thing Ant-Man and the Wasp does is lean back the other way, letting the film become the story of a super hero father and daughter, and this other guy who wants to help but mostly wants to take care of his own daughter.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Original Review: Some Kind of Movie – Ep. 9: Why is Gamora? (unrated)
Well, the reviews for Endgame are out and it sounds good. I wouldn’t know, I’m scared to actually read any of them, because it’s hard to write critically about a film without revealing plot details and those are something I’m trying to avoid. But it does have me thinking about this year we’ve had and whether the climactic moment of Infinity War should have been more than a cliffhanger setting up this year’s part two.
Original Review: Wakanda Forever (four stars)
I think Wakanda is Marvel’s most interesting idea. Like Clark Kent being the alter ego of Superman, an unassuming, landlocked African nation secretly being the world’s richest and most technologically advanced place is immediately exciting. On top of that, it is a tantalizing alternate reality where we get to see a country that has grown up peacefully and without the influence of colonization. It’s so intriguing that it’s fun just to think about. Black Panther is one of the MCU’s most popular films and definitely its most acclaimed in a big part because it realizes this world. The struggle between the two lead characters, T’Challa and Killmonger, represents alternate visions for the future of Wakanda, making the story more compelling than typical save-the-planet super heroics. But it all ends in a terrible CGI battle, perhaps the worst out of all Marvel movies. Here’s my pitch for how they could have avoided that.
Original Review: The Hammer of the Gods (four stars)
I’ve got a bone to pick with this movie, so let’s figure this out together. Here are the facts: Hulk took off in a Quinjet after helping defeat Ultron. Fury thinks that Quinjet crashed in the Banda Sea, but can’t be sure. Regardless, Hulk’s not around for Civil War. The next time the mean, green killing machine shows up, it’s in Thor: Ragnarok, where he says (yeah, he talks now) that he crashed his Quinjet on the alien world of Sakaar. So that’s weird, how did a thoughtless brute take a terrestrial aircraft across the universe?
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Original Review: n/a
Hey, Beyonce put out a thing called Homecoming today, isn’t that a fun coincidence.
Spider-Man is Sony’s biggest movie franchise and they don’t mess around with it. Before Sam Raimi walked away from the series, the studio was planning so far ahead it had started hiring people to work on the fifth and sixth sequels to that original run. When that all fell apart, they still had a reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, five years after Spider-Man 3. Before the reboot’s sequel flopped, Sony was said to be working on a massive list of spin-offs and sequels, apparently desperate to make a shared universe similar to the MCU. Even in the aftermath of that critical misfire, Sony had Tom Holland cast and in an MCU movie just a year after coming to an agreement with Disney. Spider-Man: Homecoming actually came out a year earlier than Sony was originally planning The Amazing Spider-Man 3 to be released.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Original Review: “Your Eyes Could Steal a Sailor from the Sea” (four stars)
I’m 99% positive I’ve written this before (and if I haven’t, I’m sure it comes through in my writing), but the media I love the most are the ones that put me in worlds I want to be in with characters I want to spend time with. That is a big part of why the MCU resonates so well with me, serialization breeds investment by making worlds more complex and characters deeper. I’m aware that’s not enough for some people, who expect when they go to the cinema to see something new, inspiring, or provocative. Critically, where I’m interested most in character, others would put a greater emphasis on storytelling, or originality, or craftsmanship (I especially ignore this one, rarely thinking to write about the technical side of film). Every once in a while, though, you get something truly sublime. Something at the nexus of all taste, something new, and moving, and built on continuity. Something so profound it instantly becomes an iconic part of the culture. Something like a talking raccoon tearing up as spaceships set off colorful fireworks to Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.”
Original Review: Strange Magic (three and a half stars)
Michael Giacchino is an award-winning composer whose work you’d probably recognize. He scored a bunch of Pixar movies like The Incredibles and Up, the latter of which won him an Academy Award. He’s also worked on a lot of J.J. Abrams projects, from his shows, like Alias and Lost, to Mission: Impossible III and Super 8. Dude’s good, is what I’m saying. In 2016, Giacchino was brought in to create a new fanfare for the Marvel Studios logo and to score his first MCU movie, Doctor Strange. He rose to the challenge, creating a sweeping theme for the sorcerer supreme. The only problem? It’s strongly evocative of his Star Trek theme from seven years earlier. Like the movie itself, that theme is great on its own but underwhelming in its greater context.