The Walking Dead Season 8 Review

Season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead had hits and misses especially with the sheer amount of bottle episodes after the season 7 premiere that turned a number of viewers away. I did not turn away however since i am a fan of the series whether if there is a good episode or not. Season 8 corrected most of the mistakes that season 7 had with a great story with very shocking moments with a great conclusion at the end. Here is my review of AMC’s The Walking Dead season 8.

Season 8 uses material from the comic series of the same name and it covered the All Out War arc from that series. If you would like to read the comic series’ story line that matched the episodes of this season, i would suggest to pick up issues #115-#126. The three communities of Alexandria lead by Rick Grimes, Hilltop led by Maggie Rhee and The Kingdom led by Ezekiel join together to go to war with Negan and The Saviors. The other communities of The Junkyard and The Oceanside played their parts of the war as well. The first battle happened at The Sanctuary as the three units attacked the place and at the same time, navigated zombies to The Sanctuary. While Negan and his group were stuck there, Rick and gang attacked the other outposts that Dwight told them about. During these outposts attacks, Rick met Morales (who has been missing since season 1) and to find out that he is not part of The Saviors, Ezekiel’s tiger Shiva dies, Aaron’s partner Eric dies, and soldiers from each community dies during the attacks. Jesus also convinced everyone to not kill the members who are prisoners or surrendered as other characters debated on why he made this decision.

During this time also, Carl Grimes meets a new character named Siddiq as he ran into him twice this season. Rick was also captured by Jadis and then set free after he convinced her to join the battle with the gang. While this is happening, Eugene who has been on Negan’s side since season 7 made a plan to clear all of the zombies that flooded into The Sanctuary and Negan then plans to attack Alexandria and The Kingdom. The attack on The Kingdom failed as Gavin was killed during the attempted attack, but the bombing of Alexandria happened as Carl tried to sacrifice himself to not only prevent the attack, but to stall Negan as the people of Alexandria secretly leave. Houses were exploded along with cars as Rick and Negan had their first fight. As Negan escaped, Rick finds everyone in the sewers and the big reveal down there was that Carl was bitten. Carl says his goodbyes to everyone and wrote everyone letters (including Negan) along with telling his dad Rick about the visions of the future (those visions of the future is what happens after the time skip after All Out War ends).

The rest of the war involved the infected weapons attack at The Hilltop, Tara wanting to kill Dwight for killing Denise back in season 6 and the deeper conflict between Rick and Negan. Carl’s death affected everyone no matter which side is good or bad. Carl wanted them both to end the war and Negan and Rick were still bloodthirsty to try to kill each other. The final battle took place in an open area as all of the guns of The Saviors deflected thanks to Eugene secretly plotting against Negan (the trick he did goes back to the Vietnam War). Rick and Negan had their final fight as Rick cut Negan’s throat with a broken glass. As Negan falls, Rick told Siddiq to save his life as Maggie screamed out in anger to kill him. Negan lives but Rick will put him in the cell that Morgan built back in season 6. Speaking of Morgan, he went back and forth with his emotional state to whether if killing was worth it or not. He is off now to the spinoff show Fear The Walking Dead.

Overall, i loved this season. I loved season 7 as well, but this season did not have filler or bottle episodes that took away from the main plot. Scott Gimple said that this season will not have bottle episodes and that actually came out true. The most controversial death of all time in this show will have to go to Carl Grimes and that is a decision i will never agree with. But his death actually did bridge in the gap between the final battle that he [Gimple] thought had a gap in the comic series. There was behind the scenes drama also especially when the actor died on set during the filming of one of their episodes and much more. Despite having a decline in the ratings, The show still pulls in an average of 6 plus million viewers a week and is still the number 1 show on Sundays. Season 9 will have a new show runner and i believe we will finally get The Whisperers in that season. Who will play as Alpha and Beta boggles me but we will have to see once it premieres.

The acting is very phenominal. Jeffrey Dean Morgan knocks it right out of the park with his role as Negan and Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurria, Lennie James, Austin Amellio, Steven Ogg and Melissa McBribe stole the show this year in my opinion with an honorable mention to Chandler Riggs as both the 8th and 9th episodes of this season were his best performances since season 4, episode 9.

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C2E2 2018 Recap

Last weekend was the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo or otherwise known as C2E2 and all of the attendees went to the show to check out cosplayers, buy rare comics, attend panels and to get their exclusive merchandise at the ReedPop area. It is a show for all ages whether if you love comics or entertainment and there were also celebrities there in attendance such as Dave Bautista, Sean Gunn, Charlie Cox, CM Punk, Dominic Purcell, Khary Payton much more where anyone could have had a chance to buy photo ops or autographs.

The panels i have attended were great. Bautista and Sean Gunn talked about Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers:Infinity War and the fans asked questions about those movies along with Bautista’s time in WWE.

I also went to the Khary Payton spotlight panel as he talked about The Walking Dead, Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go.

Tom Kenny, the voice actor of Spongebob Squarepants also had a panel as they celebrated 20 years of the show and he talked about that along with his best moments of doing the show and his favorite episodes and characters. It is crazy to think that the show is still going strong to this day.

The cosplayers that were at C2E2 were amazing and these were the best i have seen below.

I also had the chance to interview key people for the show Supermansion and the upcoming film Daphne & Velma and those are now up on these links below the photos.

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Toy Fair 2018-McFarlane Toys Stranger Things

I had the chance to take part of the McFarlane Toys Showcase at Toy Fair NY and it was a great showcase. Here is the line of 7-inch figures of the Stranger Things line that are to come out this year.

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13 reasons why: a justification of life by A. Kirana

There is so much high profile  conversation surrounding Netflix’s newest hit show 13 REASONS WHY.  There are those  that feel it’s a “dangerous” show, one that could potentially glamorizes the horrible act of suicide; Then there are people, like myself, who feel the show’s importance can’t be understated and that everyone must watch it.

The fact that it is prompting strong conversations about suicide and bullying is important.  Talks of suicide should never be dismissed, a life can truly depend on it.
For those that don’t know what the show is about here is it’s synopsis.  Clay Jensen, a shy high school student, returns home from school one day to find that he has received a mysterious package in the mail. It contains seven double-sided cassette tapes used by Hannah Baker, a classmate who has recently committed suicide. Each tape details a reason that she killed herself.

The show resonated with me on a deep personal level. I can see my 16 year old self in Hannah.  I know what it was like to feel broken, lost, and alone. Just like a lot of people I have personally battled depression far longer than I would like to admit, which then opened the door to anxiety.  I have stood of the precipice of despair, teetering on the edge of the abyss, but unlike Hannah, I had those that saw the signs and heard my pleas, without me ever having to utter a word.
I was lucky.  I have known more than a few who were not so lucky.  Lost in the depths of their own pain, and succumbing to their demons.  I’ve felt the grief of unanswered questions and the colossal weight of guilt.  I only hope they found the peace, which so eluded them while they walked this earth.
Feeling suicidal is lonely.  You are consumed with thoughts that nobody would understand, or thoughts and emotions, so easily and readily dismissed.  13 REASONS WHY shines a massive light on those feelings.  Connecting with, and knowing you are not alone in these thoughts, may help.
I’ve had friends who’ve told me, I was like a beacon for the broken.  Those lost had a way of gravitating towards me.  I have helped them weather through their darkest storms; showing how I understood, allowing them to see they were not alone.  Just as those who have helped me have done before.  That is how I see the show – a beacon for the broken.
13 REASON WHY also spotlights the destructive effects bullying can have.  With the technological advances and social media sites of today, there no longer is an easy escape from constant bullying.  When even home is no longer safe, how can one ‘just ignore it’, as is the usual advice to a complaint of bullying.  We should no longer excuse it by simply saying, ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘girls can be so catty/jealous’.  Whether the results are suicide, there should never be an excuse to bullying.
The conversations and debates 13 REASON WHY is causing speaks volumes to how relatable it is to so many.  No matter which side you are on, it is important the conversations continue.  We should never remain silent about suicide.
We here at Alternative Mindz encourage families and friends to talk and support each other. For more please check out American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

afsp.org

Or call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday

24 The Complete Series DVD Box Set Overview 

On the lookout for a new box set to spend your evenings devouring? Today i recommend 24 the complete series (seasons 1-8, Live another day, and Redemption)


WHAT IS 24?

The concept is a simple one. The 24 complete series, features 24 episodes in each season, with all the episodes lasting for an hour each as we follow the life of Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) agent Jack Bauer.


Needless to say, these are fraught, tension-filled days, so there’s no sleeping and little time for eating. Throughout the show’s 8 seasons, we saw Jack battling presidential assassination attempts, nuclear bomb threats, deadly viruses and everything in between.

WHO IS IN 24?

Kiefer Sutherland starring as the aforementioned Bauer is the show’s only constant, appearing in every single one of the 24 complete series. Other regulars were Sarah Clarke (who also starred in Twilight) playing Bauer’s close colleague Nina Meyers, Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door) who played Bauer’s daughter Kim and Major League’s Dennis Haysbert is also a regular, playing President David Palmer.

The only other constants in the show’s life are Mary Lynn Rajskub, who played Chloe O’Brien, analyst at CTU Los Angeles, and Carlos Bernand, who portrayed Tony Almeida, another member of Bauer’s CTU.

WHY SHOULD I WATCH 24?

What set 24 apart from any other show was its format. All the events happen in real time, over the course of 1 day, giving us 24 hours (episodes) in a season. Don’t let the real-time element fool you, there’s no downtime in 24, it’s one of the most high-octane, thrilling TV shows in history, full of drama and action!

Here’s 24 interesting facts about the 24 TV series. It contains some plot spoilers, so look away now if you’ve not yet seen it…

1. In total the show has 192 episodes…

2. The show started in 2001 and ran until 2010. Season 9 was titled “Live Another Day” and it debuted in 2014 and 24 Redemption takes place between seasons 6 and 7.

3. Awards: 24 won two Golden Globes, had 191 nominations and won a further 62 awards…

4. 24 Season 7 has had scenes that were censored on Television but the scenes made it to DVD

5. During filming the actors weren’t told what would happen from each episode to the next…

6. In 2008, 24 was ranked the sixth greatest TV show of all time by Empire Magazine…

7. It was a requirement that all the cast had their hair trimmed every five days…

8. Approximately 25 hours of footage is edited down for just one show…

9. During season two, Kiefer Sutherland injured his leg whilst filming. To explain his limp, his character Bauer pulled a piece of debris from his leg in the aftermath of the plane crash…

10. Whilst filming season two, Elisha Cuthbert who plays Kim Bauer was bitten by a lion…

11. Completing a season (including post-production) takes approximately 42 weeks…

12. It was revealed that Jack Bauer had a tattoo in season three. Instead of recreating this each time with make-up, Kiefer Sutherland had the tattoo done in real life…

13. Season one is the only season that doesn’t feature the President of the USA…

14. Kiefer Sutherland signed up for three more series, during the filming of the fifth series…

15. After working together on the show, Freddie Prinze Junior said working with Kiefer Sutherland nearly made him stop acting for good…

16. Season one is the only season that takes place over a single day…

17. Kiefer Sutherland has never seen a full episode of 24…

18. Jack Bauer has killed a total of 267 people throughout the 24 complete series…

19. In season 3, the canister which contains the virus changes colour and size throughout the scene…

20. Sarah Clarke, who played Nina Myers, had to spend the entire first season in the clothes she wore to the audition, as she was cast on the morning filming began…

21. The series is produced by the Fox network…

22. 24 is the only Fox network drama to win an Emmy (as of 2015)…

23. Every even-numbered season features more kills than an odd-numbered season…

24. 24 was originally supposed to be a romantic comedy, showing 24 hours in the day of a wedding…

Movie review: Weaponized

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By Steven Biscotti

Weaponized, the latest film to be released by Cinedigm, “a leading independent content distributor”, released earlier this month on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.  Starring Johnny Messner, the go to tough guy in action films of this genre, and sporting an impressive supporting cast of actors like Mickey Rourke and Tom Sizemore seems like just the kind of movie we’d see advertised theatrically.  Yet we have it available direct to the home video format.  Is the fast paced actioner quite the “white-knuckle, stunt-fueled film” that it’s hailed as?  Alternative Mindz gave it a watch and we have the word on whether or not you should check this one out!

The market for films like Weaponized is out there.  While for many that are excitedly counting down the days until the next major film release, it’s easy to overlook the likes of films like Weaponized.  Especially as one scans the new releases and sci-fi/action genre department at a store like Target.  Despite the class of movies that can sometimes go unnoticed and unspoken of, there are many solid entries out there that feature the talent we normally respond to.  Director Timothy Woodward Jr.’s Weaponized is just that kind of movie.  Quiet release yet it features a notable cast.  During the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s (and early 00’s), Tom Sizemore was the ultra cool tough guy on camera.  While he was never a leading man, he was surely one of the finest character actors in the business.  With roles in pictures like Saving Private RyanBlack Hawk Down, and Pearl Harbor, it’s hard to recall a picture that Sizemore wasn’t in.  Yup, he was the undercover agent in Point Break and he fought that alien/creature/monster in Relic.  But sometime after the Michael Mann series Robbery Homicide Division, he fell off the map – for reasons we won’t go into here.  But, here we are in 2016, and Tom Sizemore is back and in a co-starring role inWeaponized.  Not to mention he’s also next to the likes of Mickey Rourke, a man who needs no introduction.  So, we have Sizemore and we have Rourke.  The cast of Timothy Woodward Jr.’s futuristic action film holds up, but what about the picture itself?

Weaponized takes place in the not too distant future.  After a series of terrorist attacks, one in which sees “a blatant attack” on the Pentagon, we learn of a private operation that allows soldiers to swap consciousness with a target, which allows American soldiers to combat terrorism in a more effective way.  However, we are talking about a sci-fi/action film and, of course, the military program is severely abused.  Johnny Messner’s homicide detective, named Walker, gets involved after an incident out in public and the rest is an hour and a half of reliable action that is both entertaining and a bit borrow some of other films.

Timothy Woodward Jr.’s Weaponized isn’t a bad movie.  It’s just not terribly inspired.  The story by Sean Ryan feels like a sort of distant cousin to the far superior Universal Soldier.  If anything, Weaponized feels like a movie that should have starred Jean Claude Van Damme in the nineties, but for whatever reason, just never happened.  Weaponized is enjoyable and the action is steady, but the most intriguing aspect of the movie is found within its cast.  Tom Sizemore and Mickey Rourke are fun to watch and even though Johnny Messner is the go to tough guy, he does entertain us in a role that could have been played by many others.

Cinedigm does have a movie worth being discovered in Weaponized.  More films by Cinedigm should be recognized as it is a healthy and vital aspect of the movie-making business.  The cast and crew make up a movie that has as much put into it as many of the other films granted a larger release.  At the end of the day, people wrote, produced, and created a film – going far beyond a stage that so many could only dream of.  For that reason alone, Cinedigm should be applauded.

Alternative Mindz gives Weaponized two and a half stars.

2016 Winter Film Awards Indie Film Festival Short Recap

Last week i had the chance to cover the 2016 Winter Film Awards Indie Film Festival and i had a great time attending it. The Winter Film Awards focuses on diversity in Independent Film, with a special emphasis on highlighting women and minority filmmakers. There was a large selection of over 60 films that were shown to us ranging from horror, drama, romance, animation and documentaries and i have seen them all. My favorite ones were “Dad and Mum” (comedy), “Strings” (animated), “Oblivion Season” (drama), and “Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball”(documentary). There were also music videos and Q and A panels as well
  

   
    
There was also the Award show on the final day of the event and here are the results

Best Picture: Ben & Ara, Directed by Nnegest Likké

Best Actress: Constance Ejuma, Ben & Ara

Best Actor: Kevin Baggott, Why Do You Smell Like the Ocean

Best Director: Isaac Ezban, The Similars

Best Animated Film: Strings, Directed by Pedro Solís

Best Documentary Film:  The Real Miyagi, Directed by Kevin Derek

Best Horror Featured Film: Tuyul: Part 1, Directed by Billy Christian

Best Horror Short Film: The Bridge Partner, Directed by Gabriel Olson

Best Short Film:  Letter to God, Directed by Tamas Yvan Topolanszky

Best Student Film: Fulfilament, Directed by Rhiannon Evans

Hollywood might ignore women and people of color, but Winter Film Awards celebrates everyone! #WFA2016 #WFASoDiverse

I will do a followup article later this week

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From Dusk till Dawn: “There Will Be Blood”

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By Steven Biscotti

“There Will Be Blood” – 10/20/2015 – five stars

Written by Matt Morgan & Ian Sobel

Directed by Joe Menendez

In the second to last episode of El Rey’s second season of From Dusk Till Dawn, “there will be blood.”  It’s not just the title of the episode, but also a running motif of sorts throughout the Matt Morgan and Ian Sobel penned episode.  For those that have been watching the series, you will be familiar with the dark, twisty, and violent subject matter that nearly guarantees a high body count, action, and blood!  Yes, plenty of blood!  For those that still haven’t tuned in (and what are you waiting for?) it is of no stretch of words that you are missing out on one of television’s cleverest, most stylized, and theatrical of shows.  And, yes, there will be blood.

Episode 208 features two memorable guest stars – Gary Busey and Demi Lovato.  Gary Busey, the wild and eccentric father of From Dusk Till Dawn series regular, Jake Busey, is featured in a small, but rather important role that starts off the episode.  Director Joe Menendez opens “There Will Be Blood” in 1912.  We see a group of weather beaten and over worked men digging in Texas.  It’s not quite certain what they’re looking for, but they soon realize that they are in over their heads as their work soon unearths the “future.”  Gary Busey discovers a well of blood that soon infects a cut on his arm with a snake like blood creature.  Later that night, Busey walks up to his compatriots and kills them in a gruesome, but stylized fashion befitting of Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network.

Demi Lovato stars as Maia.  She’s the right hand woman and muscle to Wilmer Valderrama’s Carlos Madrigal.  We saw her appear briefly and cloaked in last week’s episode, “The Last Temptation of Richard Gecko.”  She’s finally unveiled in “There Will Be Blood” and it’s well worth the nearly 40 minute wait.  While she still doesn’t have all that much to do it’s almost a guarantee that she’ll have a smackdown with Eiza Gonzalez’ Santanico in the season finale next week, “Santa Sangre.”  Lovato, all intensity and confidence, is remarkably good and is one of the best additions to the From Dusk Till Dawn series.

Robert Rodriguez has managed a terrific amount of talented individuals who exude creativity and imagination.  From Dusk Till Dawn is a wildly entertaining ride through the Mesoamamerican Macabre Mythology!  It’s also a shining beacon for the giant hub that is everything El Rey.  “There Will Be Blood” continues to tease the series concept of El Rey which Lord Mulvado (Esai Morales) is desperately trying to get to.  We’re told it’s “a place where you can walk in the sun” and we are teased ever so briefly of it after Mulvado his his villainous way with Santanico.  There’s a rich mythology for the series based in real research into the Mesoamerican culture and it adds another contextual layer to not just the original film, but the whole brand.  From Dusk Till Dawn is a fountain of creative blood bubbling at the well.  The cast and crew have managed to interestingly re-approach the vampire iconography and they’ve done it devilishly well.

“There Will Be Blood” spends time with Kate Fuller (Madison Davenport) and Richard Gecko (Zane Holtz) while they make their way out of the frying pan and into the furnace.  After having escaped Lord Mulvado, Kate and Richie begin to understand each other even more after Richie had looked into her soul, courtesy of a nifty ability certain culebras (vampires) have.  Madison Davenport gets to have one of the bests scenes in the episode when she scolds Richie about not having “another Gecko boy push [her] to the curb.”  We also learn just how much Seth (DJ Cotrona) missed his brother in the time spent away from him during the beginning part of season two.  The level of care both actors give to their characters is impressive and some serious acting is done here.  Davenport as Kate also gets to continue the role of her father, played by Robert Patrick in season one, as a sort of moral compass.  She’s also feisty and written as strong as the other female characters such as Santanico.  That’s another trend on the series, similar to the Tarantino trait, of developing each female as a fully developed character.

From Dusk Till Dawn is a series unlike any other.  That’s one of the reasons it’s so perfectly suited for El Rey and eventually Netflix.  It’s nearly an anything goes kind of show and we have three major deaths within “There Will Be Blood.”  We won’t spoil who doesn’t make it to the season two finale, but we will say that faces get burned off, arms get ripped off, there’s a lot of culebra ash, and there will be blood.

From Dusk Till Dawn airs on the El Rey Network, Tuesday nights at 9 pm ET.  The season two finale airs next week.

Antman review

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By Steven Biscotti

There will be a great number of people now looking towards “Ant-Man” as the next big hero.  Ironically, he’s Marvel’s smallest, in fandom, awareness, and stature.  But after seeing “Ant-Man” opening day, it’s evident that Marvel Studios have crafted another successful series.

Ant-Man has a very interesting past, on film and on the page.  He first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 and went on to being one of the founding members of The Avengers.  Well after a chronicled history of failed attempts to bring him to the screen, 2012’s Avengers released and there was no mention of Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym.  Fast forward to July 2015, well after director and writer Edgar Wright left the project, and we have the Peyton Reed directed film “Ant-Man.”  Not necessarily the most Marvelous of the M.C.U., “Ant-Man” is easily the most fun and family oriented of super hero pictures.  Simply put, the few minutes shy of 2 hours is a delight.

“Ant-Man” is, by far, one of the most straight-forward stories told by Marvel.  It doesn’t go on to service anything greater other than servicing the characters and our introduction to them.  Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is a brilliant scientist who used to work for S.H.I.E.L.D.  Out of fear his work, particularly the Pym Particles, would be weaponized, he left.  It’s during this opener that we get to see a brilliantly de-aged Douglas, an older Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and John Slattery of Mad Men, reprising his “Iron Man 2” role as Howard Stark.  The film then catches up to the present day, and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is released from prison.  Borrowing certain elements from the Marvel comics Avengers issue #181, and Marvel Premiere #47 and #48, Lang eventually crosses paths with Pym, after he steals the Ant-man suit from his home safe.  Where the film really takes off is in just how much “Ant-Man” feels like a 70’s heist, caper, matinee film, along with seeming as if it belonged somewhere in the early days of big super hero films such as 2000’s X-Men and 2002’s Spider-Man.  We eventually learn that Pym’s protege, the power mad Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has plans to rename Pym Technologies to Cross Technologies, and well, weaponize the Ant-Man suit.  This is what sets the rest of the fast-paced film in motion and is precisely a suggested moment where Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios had their “creative differences” issue.  Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man” is a team player and understands its placement in the grander Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Edgar Wright’s version, which once sought Michael Douglas as Lang and his father Kirk as Pym, was easily much more concerned with the heist aspect and less about The Avengers.  That’s not to say that Reed’s version is completely transfixed on everything Team Downey and Marvel, it actually isn’t, but the film does feature an acknowledgment of the existence of the Avengers, along with an extended cameo by Anthony Mackie’s Falcon.

The film, largely revolves around the “Ocean’s 11” like plot of stealing back Pym’s company from Cross and ensuring that his Pym Particles don’t fall into the wrong hands.  It’s a near classic story of good vs evil and slightly unsavory vs sinister.  Again, it’s exactly this kind of story that plays so well to the heist film construct and brings to mind a fun Saturday matinee film on screen and/or on tv.  Marvel Studios have smartly approached each of their films with a theme and since the heist movie has not been done yet, they chose “Ant-Man” to be just that.  It works amazingly well and only leaves fans more excited for the “John Hughes movie” approach to their first MCU Spider-Man film, according to Kevin Feige.  Oh, and everyone’s favorite Wall-Crawler does get referenced within “Ant-Man” so pay attention for that closer to the end of the movie.

The cast of “Ant-Man” may, in fact, be the best aspect of the picture as it brings to mind an underdog quality that Jon Favreau’s 2008 “Iron Man” had.  Here we have Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, and Michael Douglas leading the film and not once betraying the spirit of their project.  Here you have a cast that could have easily faxed in performances for a film that had a troubled start, but instead, they treat each bit of dialogue with as much care as a non-comic book film would have.  Michael Douglas and Corey Stoll are especially fun to watch considering just how different the two are.  Douglas gives us a Hank Pym, troubled by his past and looking to atone for his sins.  It’s a nuanced performance and a fine performance by Hollywood royalty.  Up and coming, and certainly rising star Corey Stoll (The Strain, This Is Where I Leave You) gives Darren Cross a classic villain presence and a more outwardly evil turn than Jeff Bridges more reserved Obadiah Stane in Iron Man.  Stoll’s Cross is much different than the more Mr. Hyde-ish version of the character in Marvel Premiere’s The Astonishing Ant-Man #48, and the film is better off for it.  He’s evil, crazy, and just may have lost his mind due to exposure to the Pym Particles.  Douglas’ Pym, while not necessarily the one we know from the comics, feels very much like a real-world version of the scientist and I couldn’t think of a better actor to play him.

However, a more under used, but finely tuned performance is that of Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne.  The Pym/Dyne characters of the film are, quite possibly, two of the most revered of Marvel characters and have been centrally discussed by fans in the time leading up to “Ant-Man.”  The lack of Hope’s mother and Pym’s wife, Janet, has troubled many as she is The Wasp.  While no one close to the film has spoken too much of The Wasp’s presence in this first outing, I can reveal that fans will not be disappointed because, yep, she’s in it.  However, it may not be in the way that most fans would have hoped and this is mainly why an “Ant Man 2” has become my most anticipated sequel yet to be announced.  While we do know that Paul Rudd will appear in next May’s Captain America: Civil War, it has not been said when we will see Evangeline Lilly reprise her role of Hope.  And that, folks, probably is admission enough as to the potential we have of seeing Wasp on the big screen and done in a perfect way.  

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly have great chemistry, especially as she provides a more serious demeanor to his more casual approach to heroics.  It’s a great pairing and the extended montage of Lang being trained by Hope Van Dyne and Hank Pym are wonderful to watch.  It has just the right amount of humor and heart that places it up there with last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”  Whereas Guardiansexplored the cosmos in a way the MCU had not previously done, but only teased with Thor andAvengers, “Ant Man” explores a sub universe and is firm;y placed on our world.  If it wasn’t for the effects we have today and Reed’s ingenuity to blend macro photography into the picture, the shrinking and enlarging sequences may have come across as run of the mill.  But, in this movie, they’re anything but.  The effects, while mostly impressive, have the occasional flaw that big effects sometimes have.  It’s more of an issue of mechanics and how the eye responds to an object that is placed within real photography; just think of certain dinosaur sequences in this year’s “Jurassic World.”  Overall, a giant Thomas the Tank Engine crashing through a house and onto a car isn’t that much an iceberg to sink the Peyton Reed steered ship.

“Ant Man” is a highly impressive accomplishment, especially considering how so many wanted (and expected) this to fail.  “Ant Man” is anything but the failure that many were hoping for and is a whole lot more fun than many of the other films released this summer.  Arguably, it is a better picture than “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and is more exciting in its end credits promise that “Ant Man Will Return.”  But, what about Wasp?

“Ant-Man” gets four stars and has two important end-credit scenes.  One services a potential setup within this story during mid-credits; the other services next year’s “Captain America: Civil War” so be sure to stay in your seat.

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