Movie Review: Halloween

The dumpster fire that is known as the Halloween franchise is back in an attempt to extinguish this disaster that has built up for decades. Director David Gordon Green (Vice Principles and Pineapple Express) teams up to write alongside Danny McBride (Vice Principles, Pineapple Express, and This Is the End) and Jeff Fradley (Vice Principles) the definitive sequel to the classic slasher flick. That is right, no more brother and sister Laurie and Michael or whatever Season of the Witch were meant to be. Despite some bumps in the road, Green, McBride, and Fradley manage to deliver the sequel that fans deserve.

Since the horrific murders from 1978, forty years later, Michael Myers (Nick Castle and James Jude Courtney) manages an impossible escape (seriously, it does not make much sense) during a transfer to a new facility. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has never been able to get past the terrifying events. Due to her trauma, her life has gone downhill except for her preparation for this moment, to finally kill Myers. She must protect her family, who have exiled her due to her mental health, and stop the masked killer.

Seeing Curtis reprise her iconic role is a dream come true for fans, but she is not alone in great characters. While her performance is tremendous. Her portrayal of a woman forever damaged by what has happened to her and her friends is believable in every way. Allyson (Andi Matichak) is Laurie’s granddaughter, a teenager living the best she can with a wacky family that turns for the worse every year during the spooky holiday. Her father Ray (Toby Huss) is one of my personal favorites. The goofy dad who annoys his daughter, but when it comes down to it, must try to protect his family. Some of the funniest lines (yeah, there is humor in this gory movie) come from Ray, and they land every time. Her boyfriend and friends Cameron (Dylon Arnold), Dave (Miles Robbins), Oscar (Drew Scheid), and Vicky (Virginia Gardner) have fantastic chemistry that makes these high school buddies feel real. They manage to capture the goofiness of a group of friends in high school and the dumb teenage drama that can follow.

Not everyone is in a good light in the film. Karen (Judy Greer) is that naive, annoying character who drove me insane with every dumb word out of her mouth. She is the daughter of Laurie and the mother and wife of Ray and Allyson. I feel sorry for these people to have this woman in their life. The typical doctor who is obsessed with his patient Michael Myers, Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) might be even worse, but I will let that surprise you by how annoying his story becomes. Then there are the two dumb journalists who suck at their job, Dana (Rhian Rees) and her partner Aaron (Jeffery Hall). Somehow we got another movie with bad, stupid journalists just like Eddie Brock from Venom. We don’t need this stereotype, why not make smarter characters?

Besides some likable characters, the best aspect of Halloween is the skin crawling intensity. The pacing through the film is well done, a nice jog that moves the story along. Then the brakes are pressed down to a slow drive that builds up the tension. The moments of never feeling safe when you know Myers is around, but have no idea where will make anyone full of anxiety. The Shape lurking in the background that you can spot as he walks over to his next victim is superbly done. While not a scary movie, it is nerve-racking as anything imaginable.

Since people experienced in nothing but comedy have written and directed the film, there is plenty of humor throughout the first two acts. Much of it does not take away from the intensity, surprisingly most of the humor hits the right notes and the correct time. Just wait til you see Julian (Jibrail Nantambu) then you know what I mean by excellent levity in such an anxiety-inducing movie.

While the first two acts are great, the bridge into the third act has some trouble. A dumb move by a character who shall not be named leads the audience into the final moments of the film, and it is just annoying. Why do horror movies lose their footing at some point in the plot every time? The reason, a lack of creativity in the writing process to end this story. While the overall end is pretty strong, the road to it is rough.

The film is made by not just filmmakers, but by people who are fans of the franchise and want to see Michael Myers back to his former glory. With that said, they manage to throw in many references and nods to the original. For the most part, I love this aspect. A nod and apology to longtime fans for how much the series has gone down to hell. With the original music, a similar intro as the first, and plenty of recreated scenes will put a smile on fans. However, sometimes it felt a bit overwhelming of already used ideas. Rather than an homage, we get a fan-made film that acts childish at parts instead of treating being an adult.

The soundtrack is fantastic with a mix of the classic tune and a brand new twist. The new track takes the iconic 1978 and gives it a modern twist. Giving the people who may have never seen many older horror movies a taste of what the music used to sound like while giving people something with a modernized feel.

For a slasher flick with a satisfying body count, the violence, for the most part, was lackluster. Some death scenes were brutal and made it worth the wait to see Myers slaughter his way through the town. Sadly, many of the deaths were shown off screen or given minimal brutality. The aftermath would be shown more often than the actual murder, appeasing my want for The Shape to kill his way through dozens of people, but left me wanting more in violence.

Halloween is a fun, exciting sequel that fixes the issues in the series while delivering film fans would want. It stumbles in many areas, especially with some characters and the final twenty minutes. In the end, Green directed an enjoyable horror movie that has some brilliantly creepy moments despite some failures along the way.

Score: 7/10

Image via Universal Studios

 

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Movie Review: A Star Is Born

Hollywood at it again with another remake, but the thing is, originality does not mean anything when it comes to quality. Bradley Cooper does it all in his first directed movie. The man acts, sings while playing guitar, and directs on top of everything. Just when I thought he is one of the most talented people on the planet, he gets even better. Plus he has Lady Gaga, if you have not stopped reading to watch this movie then what are you doing? Get to the theater and watch this award-worthy film.

Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is on top of the music world as a huge star. A star with addictions, unsettled mental health problems, and of course, hearing issues. He meets a talented young woman, Ally (Lada Gaga) and he believes in her right when he hears that voice. Yeah, it is that type of movie, so you think. They fall into a relationship, and we see their dynamic as the two grow as a couple and as musicians. A bleak look at the music industry and what it can do to two young lovers.

If you want to be a musician then maybe watch this movie and reconsider your choices. Cooper and Eric Roth have written an austere perspective into the musician lifestyle, along with some of the positives that come with this career path. Not just that, but a believable and well-developed relationship between Ally and Jack is on display. I can’t remember seeing a love story told so well, at least it has been quite a few years to see something so realistically depicted.

Cooper and Gaga are phenomenal, of course. They have this fantastic chemistry that makes you feel every moment they are together. When the two lovebirds are singing, I could not stop myself from smiling. When the tone gets grim, my heart is pounding, and my eyes start to water. I truly cared for these characters, and I want the best for them so much. Cooper delivers his best performance to date, which says a lot because the man has done plenty of brilliant work in the past. He has this charm that grabs the audience with that smile and deep voice. He manages to have that inner pain to his character show at all times. When the sky is blue, and the birds are chirping, you still see the pain in his eyes. In a world full of excellent TV shows that showcase how well developed and three-dimensional characters have become puts movies to shame. Cooper proves that you can still bring characters to life in just two hours. Gaga has always been a great artist, but I have never seen her given the spotlight for her acting until now. As a character who stands alone, she is captivating. When she is with Cooper, they are both a force that will not let go of you with their performances.

The rest of the cast are brilliant and bring their own substance to this intoxicating story. Bobby (Sam Elliot) as Jack’s much older brother, yeah they have Sam Elliot playing his brother, his compelling all the way through. They have a history that is complicated and well fleshed out. I felt that tension and love. Lorenzo (Andrew Dice Clay) should have had more in the film, but he was just as complex of a father for Ally. Ramon (Anthony Ramos) plays a good friend of Ally but felt more like a stand-in character. Her manager, Rez (Rafi Gavron), felt a bit generic but is lifted by the solid performance delivered by Rafi.

Sometimes music in these types of movies gets a little too much. They manage to cut into the next scene right when things might drag on too long. Surprisingly, the music is for the most part good. Even when I did not like it, every song has a specific reason. Every detail, in general, is well thought out, especially when you see Ally and Jackson play music. I knew Gaga for her incredible talents in acting and singing, but who would have thought that Cooper is such a good musician? I never knew he could, and he keeps surprising me. First, he pops up in Marvel as Rocket Raccoon and here he is playing as a mainstream musician.

The cinematography captures every mood perfectly. The delivery of the concert scenes shows how much fun and impactful music can be. When the story gets darker, the camera work and lighting show that tone to the audience. Every detail is precise. One of my favorite shots of the year is towards the final act. The use of lighting and zooming in on a house with a red light covering the entrance made for such a gorgeous view while maintaining with the tone of the scene. Nothing gets put onto the screen without a lot of thought put into it.

As we draw closer to Oscar-worthy movie season, A Star Is Born will blow any movie away. Cooper manages to make his directorial debut into a masterpiece that would have anyone thinking some A-Class director who has been making films for decades created this beautifully heartbreaking movie. No, it is the Bradley Cooper we have all known from Guardians of the Galaxy, American Hustle, American Sniper, and The Hangover. The execution of his vision is full of care. While the film is a remake; he has made it his own to stand as an individual film that does not lean on its predecessors. With some slight pacing issues in the first twenty or so minutes, it is smooth sailing that does not feel too slow or too fast. The chemistry between him and Gaga alone is the best aspect of the film, while it still brings so much more than their characters. We get a real love story that is not caked in makeup from typical Hollywood movies.  A Star Is Born is something raw, beautiful, and intoxicating. If this film does not win a single Oscar, then it is time to shut the award showdown.

Score: 10/10

Image via Warner Bros.

 

Movie Review: Venom

My expectations could not be set any lower for Venom. With some bad trailers, my impressions of what I was seeing was not good. I managed to get to see Tom Hardy’s take on the iconic character last night, and I was surprised for good and bad reasons.

We see Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) a journalist who tackles crooked powerful men and brings them down by shining light on their schemes. After trying to ask hard questions towards Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) his career and life go downhill in attempting to take down one of the most influential people in San Fransisco. After trying to get evidence on Drake’s company, the Life Foundation, he gets infected with one of the symbiotes captured by Life. Drake sends man after man to apprehend the creature, and Eddie Brock goes from journalist to the anti-hero Venom.

The pacing is so weird for the first 30 minutes or more. The first 10 to 20 is bizarrely too quick seeing the negative changes in Eddie’s life, but I had no time to see development in his character to care about him. Not until the end of the film I actually could care for him and his new friend. Then we get into a slow crawl of him getting drunk and being an absolute mess. Once he gets infected with Venom, then the film picks up to an entertaining ride.

The tone is all over the place. Elements of horror, superhero action flick, drama, comedy, and just about anything you can think of is thrown into the mix. The horror aspects would have worked if Sony decided to keep the R rating, and overall help the movie’s quality. While many of the creepy moments work, there was always something missing. The drama of what Eddie was going through was too quick but overall kept some powerful moments. The typical superhero and comic book features went well and felt like an actual Marvel movie despite many moments of inconsistency. The humor felt off. While there were two or three genuinely funny scenes, a lot of it felt confusing. I was unsure if they were trying to be serious in some scenes or just goofy.

The writing is just as inconsistent as the tone. Some lines are at a cringe level of terrible to handle that breaks my suspension of disbelief. Characters have lines that are sometimes painfully bad. Sometimes I question if it is the acting or merely lousy dialog that cannot be said properly. The acting was well done despite some painful dialog that had to be delivered. Tom Hardy carries the film on his back. While Eddie had some flaws as a character that was annoying, his relationship between Anne and Venom were the highlights in the story. Seeing his chemistry with these two allies made up for some somewhat problematic storytelling. The development of his relationship with Venom was beyond my expectations and was the best part of the movie. Riz Ahmed had quite the generic antagonist, but his performance made up for the lackluster character. Michelle Williams played Anne, Brock’s love interest, who was excellent despite lacking in much development of her character earlier in the film. The powers of the symbiotes felt unpredictable. At times how the symbiotes take over people or animals and how that creature reacts with its host felt wrong at times. Seeing people or animals take in the symbiote with no problem or some with deadly consequences. The film explains it rationally, but I could not buy some of what they were selling to me.

The action was not as much as I had hoped, but when we got some fighting or chases, it was worth the wait. One of my favorite car chase scenes in years is seen right here. I was surprised by how well the choreography was executed. The action would not pop up for a brief moment then back to slow storytelling, we got a good lengthy car chase along with plenty of other fight scenes across the film. The only problem with the action is Venom would eat people and have other brutal ways of killing people, but with the PG-13 rating, I felt cheated out of some good old fashion blood and guts. If we ever get an R rated cut, the original cut, then I will rewatch the movie in a heartbeat.

The quality of the visual effects was out of control. Practical effects looked fine, nothing extraordinary, but worked with the film. Venom and the main villain Riot looked unrealistic. While I understand these are hard characters to make right with CGI, but the technology is there to make realistic looking characters. I could not unsee a CGI character instead of having some suspension of disbelief to see a real life creature. Other moments in the film sometimes look like the team needed some more time to touch up some of the special effects.

Ruben Fleischer’s Venom has a great movie inside somewhere but has some quite terrible writing and pacing issues along with bad CGI. Jeff Pinker and Scott Rosenberg might not have been right for the job or maybe needed some extra time. Some of these issues will never be known since the film shot vs. the film delivered are entirely different. Who knows how much better the anti-hero movie would have been with an R rating? I know the action would benefit, but the story and characters? That will remain a mystery. The best way to describe Venom is that it feels like an early 2000s superhero movie by its messy tone, bad special effects, and an overall entertaining film that is not remotely good.

Score: 5/10

Image via Sony Pictures

 

Album Review: Beartooth – Disease

Beartooth has increased tremendously in popularity within the rock/metal world. The band mixes a hardcore/metalcore style along with some classic hard rock thrown into the mix. The new album Disease continues their statement with their sound and Caleb Shomo’s brutally honest lyrics as he goes further into his struggle with depression.

The album starts off quite strong and intriguing with an acoustic introduction in Greatness or Death. The song quickly explodes into a relentlessly heavy track. A strong start that lends itself into the rest of the hard-driving album.

The previous material has always taken a different focus on Shomo’s struggle with depression. Disease, Infection, Clever, Afterall, Believe, and Used and Abused are the staples in Beartooth’s themes. Tackling insecurities, self-destructive behavior, and mistreatment from other people. Shomo has unleashed some of his most honest lyrics that we have heard from the band. Disease‘s heartfelt chorus, “I still feed my insecurities when I know the cost,” always guts me every time. The band always ends on their most emotional track, this time we get Clever in which Shomo gives a more somber track compared to the rest of the album. The song has its driving riffs and trembling drums but manages to stand out more. The lyrics in the ending track are some of the most candid, “Another day I’m conscious is another day I bleed.”

The heavier side of the album features Enemy and Bad ListenerEnemy has its heavy bass and speedy riffs that make it perfect to headbang while listening. Bad Listener might be one of the heaviest songs Beartooth have ever delivered. An anthem for the heavy metal fans and a statement about Shomo’s career as he belts out, “There’s an anger or passion empowering me / I’ll be bangin’ my head ’til my brain rots.” While these are some of the heavier tracks, the album generally goes for a hard-driving rock style that mostly shies away from their metal sound.

Every song is fun to listen to, but some inconsistencies are here and there. You Never Know feels the most generic from other rock songs. Switching between the distorted verses to loud and proud choruses. The other songs are much stronger, but a lot of the instrumentation blends together. Some moments in songs like Fire and Greatness or Death sound straight out of one of the band’s previous albums.

Disease continues Caleb Shomo’s battle with depression with unapologetically honest lyrics. His voice carries out so well throughout the album. He makes his already great words shine even brighter. Most of the album feels the same sadly. A lot of songs sound similar to one another or sound compared to previous albums. While the record is fun to listen to and is a solid piece of music, a lot is missing to show some growth in the Columbus based metallers.

Score: 7/10

Buy the album below:

Image via Red Bull Records

Movie Review: Blood Fest

If you follow the internet juggernaut Rooster Teeth, then you know they are on a roll lately with high-quality big productions. These productions can be exclusive shows for their paid members (First members) or their movies. Last night was a one night only event to see their third film, Blood Fest. This horror comedy reaches for a broader audience while still having the Rooster Teeth spirit and nods to their community to make it perfect for their fans. Unlike their first endeavors in filmmaking with Lazer Team 1 & 2, we get something for people who don’t know about the company to go for a more mainstream audience. If you love movies like Cabin in the Woods, then this is the perfect film for you.

Horror fans gather around to a festival called Blood Fest, an event meant to celebrate everything horror in the movie world. People come to celebrate horror classics from the 50s to obscure modern gems. A group of friends: Dax (Robbie Kay), Sam (Seychelle Gabriel), Krill (Jacob Batalon), Ashley (Barbara Dunkelman), and her director Lenjamin (Nick Rutherford) all attend this festival. Right, when the show kicks off, we see the showman running the whole festival, Anthony Walsh (Owen Egerton) who reveals he master plan to everyone. People think he is joking and playing along with the themes of the festival until people start getting murdered. He unleashes everything imaginable to create a real-life horror film with zombies, killers, vampires, and more. The protagonists must go through this massive forest that the festival is held on to escape while running into everything they have seen in the movies. If you have the knowledge of horror movies, you might survive.

The film balances horror and comedy pretty well for the most part. The horror looks creepy with some excellent makeup and costume design along with its props and sets. Everything looks perfect for an eerie atmosphere. The actual scares don’t come in since it is just a few jumps scares, and nothing all that different. The comedy is a hit or a miss but delivers a typical style that fans of Rooster Teeth know and love. Like I said if you love Cabin in the Woods with that type of horror and comedy mixed, then this is for you. I am someone who adores Cabin, so it was a perfect fit to see the company make something in that same style. The film takes every trope in the book and flips them on their head. You get a wide range of inspirations from SawEvil DeadTexas Chainsaw Massacre, and so much more which will make the biggest horror aficionado happy.

The cast is all outstanding with some loveable protagonists and a villain that you love to hate. While each actor and actress do an excellent job, especially Robbie Kay for doing a solid American accent, the most impressive might be Barbara Dunkelman. She is a popular on-screen personality as Rooster Teeth and manages to be believable even in the most dramatic scenes. The one who steals the whole movie is our antagonist, Anthony Walsh played by Owen Egerton, the director of the film. He is charismatic and the funniest character in the film. Outside of his acting, he directed the movie well and delivered a clear vision for what he wanted.

While the film stands strong overall, especially compared to the company’s two first films, I had a few issues. At times the film would go for comedy so far that it would break my suspension of disbelief such as characters acting in certain ways for the sake of humor rather than having something feel more natural. The horror aspect feels more of a theme rather than the actual genre. Whether something is scary or not is subjective, but I wish it took a strong stance at being scary. Hopefully, this means we can get a straight-up horror flick from Rooster Teeth.

Blood Fest is perfect for a select audience who love horror and cheesy comedies. If you love Evil Dead and Cabin in the Woods then this is for you or else you will hate this movie. As it is not for everyone, it is enjoyable for those who love this subgenre of horror. With an outstanding cast, plenty of surprises, and a lot of cameos for Rooster Teeth fans to get that a broader audience won’t, this is something for the general public and the biggest fans of the internet giant. While not a perfect movie, there is a lot of heart which you don’t get in every horror or comedy movie that gets thrown out into theaters.

Score: 8/10

Image via Rooster Teeth

 

Movie Review: Eighth Grade

If I had to give the award for my surprising movie of the year, I would give it to Eighth Grade. The coming-of-age drama came to my attention through everyone talking about it on Twitter. When I saw my favorite filmmakers tweet about the film, I just had to give it a shot. Plus, there is nothing I am excited to see for another few weeks, so why not go to the movies?

Kayla (Elsie Fisher) is an eighth grader on her last week of middle school. All she must do is survive this last week of hell. The film is completely focused on her perspective and what is going on in her life. The troubles she faces is what we all suffered to some degree during that age. Those awkward teen years of not having the right social skills, dealing with popular kids with bad attitudes, sexual tensions, and the troubles of dealing with parents. Kayla has to go through it all and more. With the positives and negatives of social media, there is an added layer for my generation and the newest generation, Gen Z.

Elsie Fisher has a beautiful performance that feels natural throughout the entire movie. Whether you were that awkward kid in middle school or know that awkward kid in middle school, you can quickly identify with her character. A girl with only her father to take care of her and more focused on her phone than her dad. You feel her loneliness and her pain, along with her joy. The father, Mark (Josh Hamilton) is the typical awkward dad that tries to be funny but just annoys his child. He is the unsung hero and the biggest highlight of the film. While I do love Kayla as a character, the dad stole every scene. He was hilarious and heartfelt, which is the entirety of this movie. With other kids, she meets ranging from the awkward, but kind Gabe (Jake Ryan) to the popular stuck up girl Kennedy (Catherine Oliviere) to the high school kids such as Olivia (Emily Roberson) who all bring something different to Kayla’s life to let her grow as a person. Everyone is played out perfectly to make this story feel as real as possible.

The film is focused on mixing comedy and drama, which can be messy. Sometimes the comedy overpowers the drama or vice versa. Each scene is able to make a balance and transition between different tones without any problem. When the film wants you to feel for the painful moments, you will absolutely feel it. When the film wants you to laugh, then you will laugh out loud. The best way of describing this is that the film has a lot of heart. There are powerful messages that anyone can relate to along with hilarious and awkward moments to level out the seriousness.

As an indie film, there is a lot of interesting stylistic choices that shake things up for a more visually interesting movie. Transitions of Kayla’s social media and TV viewing fade in and out with her on her phone. Seeing her and what she is looking at is done with a style that looks good throughout the film. To make the audience feel the awkward moments, the camera often stays on long one-shots that help make the cringy scenes more effective.

Bo Burham’s experience is mostly with TV specials, but his directorial debut in a film is just about flawless. A relatable, heartfelt coming-of-age story of this girl is in middle school is one of the best movies of the year. Even with the generation that the film centers around, older generations can relate. Despite having social media and using different slang terms, the issues are all the same. This is not just a movie for modern teens, but a movie for everyone. The only problem I could possibly say is that some scenes run a little too long. That said, the film is an hour and thirty-four minutes, hard to complain over the length in something so short.

With that said, Eighth Grade is one of the most heartfelt, beautiful, relatable, and hilarious movies of the year. Anyone can relate to it to some degree, not just as a student, but if you are a parent with a teenager, then you might need to see the movie to understand your child a little better. The awkward scenes are filled throughout, so be prepared to squirm in your seat by how uncomfortable and cringy the entire movie is. The film tackles a lot of subjects and does them all justice. If you are a parent wanting to take your child just know this rated R movie is a light R. With some F-bombs, sexual tension, and discussions, that is all that you might need to worry about. Either way, this is one crucial movie that nobody should miss.

Score: 9/10

Image via A24

Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Marvel is at it again with a wild superhero ride. As they have done in the past dozen or so times, the ride was a success. As Infinity War was coming, my mom and I got prepared by watching the MCU. When we got to Ant-Man, it was the only one on our list that neither of us has ever seen. We had low expectations based on the character but were blown away by the hilarious experience. With excellent performances by Paul Rudd and Michael Pena along with its unique scale and style with its action, this was one of the most surprising movies in the MCU. Now we finally have a sequel to the 2015 film.

The sequel starts off by partially recapping the story of the first film. Some significant details are missing, so might as well watch the first. Most of the details surround Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who becomes the Wasp, along with her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and her mother whom is trapped in the quantum realm. Details show why Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) was not available during the attack that endured by Thanos, which is heavily linked to his actions in Civil War. After some catching up with the characters, the real story begins.

Scott turned away from being Ant-Man to focus on his family and making a career with his old group, Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (T.I.), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). After a vision from his time in the quantum realm, he calls Hank to inform him what he had just seen. Hank and Hope pull Scott with them in hopes to discover new information that might save Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfieffer). The only problem is that they need technology to build a tunnel into the quantum realm. Hope, Hank, and Scott go to a meeting with a black market dealer, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). As predicted, the meeting goes wrong, so Hope and Scott get their costumes on to fight their way through. A mysterious figure, Ghost (Hannah John-Karmen) appears to take away what they needed. Now the three of them must get that technology back to finish their project to potentially save Janet.

Its predecessor from 2015 was an enjoyable experience with witty writing and loveable characters, but there were flaws. The villain felt generic, and the story was a run-of-the-mill origin story. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, we get a more interesting story. Moments in the story are predictable or stretch the logic too far, but an overall improvement. A focus on the characters gives everyone more to develop as individuals and with their relationships.

Besides the already excellent cast of characters from the first film, my favorite being Luis, a few more characters are introduced. Sonny is a side villain who feels more like a distraction for our heroes. I felt disappointed since I love Walton Goggins, who would make a perfect main villain for the MCU. Now that he is in the MCU as a throwaway villain, we will never see him play a more prominent role. Despite that, he puts on a charismatic performance as he always does, you can never go wrong with his charisma. Then we see Hank’s old partner Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) who plays a bigger role than Sonny. His character has some complexity which is revealed by some of his choices and his words. However, he is not that fleshed out enough or given much to do to make him matter all that much. His relationships with his daughter Cassie (Abby Rider Fortson), her stepfather Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), and his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) are not that expanded upon. Cassie and her relationship with her father are sweet and remain to be healthy. While Paxton has grown to be a good friend of Scott’s, he is a lot more under utilized than the first movie. He gives a few hugs, funny moments, and support that does not carry weight. Maggie is used for only comedic purposes that make her look a lot dumber than the first film. The family moments are a nice touch with the daughter, but the mother and stepfather are worthless compared to the original Ant-Man. Ghost is a much better villain than Darren Cross from the first film. She is given much more interesting motivations and backstory that make her sympathetic. The MCU’s best villains are the ones the audience can see where they are coming from. She is not one of the best villains in the entire MCU, but she is not a part of the lower tier either.

The action is more enjoyable than the first film, which was already good. Nothing beats seeing cars turned into the size of Hot Wheels or a Pez dispenser turned into the size of a truck. The scale of the action varies with the size of our heroes. A deadly gunfight looks even more intense when our heroes are small while making everyday items match that intensity. The scale is everything to these characters, and it is utilized hilariously from beginning to end. The choreography is on par with other movies in the MCU. Wasp and Ant-Man have great chemistry when they are beating up thugs or the powerful Ghost. Growing and shrinking at the perfect times to help each other do not get old. Ghost brings her own style due to her powers of phasing through anything, which is fresh compared to the last film which felt like Ant-Man fighting someone who was an exact replica.

Ant-Man and the Wasp are much better than its predecessor. The story is much more interesting, despite some flaws. The ideas surrounding the story are more unique and less typical than the first film or any other film in the MCU. Characters are a hit or a miss. We get fantastic moments with Kurt, Luis, and Dave. They are still that support system that is mostly used for comedic reasons, but Scott’s main friend Luis does have a lot more weight to his character regarding his actions. Ghost is a much better and more sympathetic villain. She is technically the villain, but that does not mean she is necessarily the “bad guy” or I should say “bad woman” in the cast of characters. Sadly, some characters are horribly underutilized or even a waste of space. I was so happy to see Walton Goggins in the trailer but disappointed to see his character be used as a simple obstacle for Scott and Hope to hop right over. Despite the film’s issues, we got a much more improved film with some great characters, a fun story, hilarious writing, and some good action scenes. A typical MCU film that is not in the top tier of Avengers, but a great palate cleanser from Infinity War.

One final note, this is one movie that you will not want to miss the after credit scene. You will see why Scott will need to be involved with defeating Thanos. The first after credit scene is one of the best we have seen from the MCU. One final moment to give the film some added weight. Now we will wait for our small, and sometimes large heroes return in Avengers 4 next year.

Score: 8/10

Comparison to the first film’s score: 7/10

Image via Marvel Studios