Friday, August 14, 2015


Raunchy, unapologetic, and funny, Trainwreck is one of those rom-coms that (probably) wouldn't make your boyfriend want to dunk his head in the toilet and then flush twice.  Amy Schumer was phenomenal, both as the writer and the leading actress, and her co-star Bill Hader ain't too shabby either.  Schumer plays Amy (hm, same name… COINCIDENCE??), a woman who was taught by her father that monogamy isn't realistic and who has been living the party life ever since.  She interviews the sports doctor Aaron Conners for a men's magazine and, as you may guess, eventually changes her player/partier ways.

Aside from the gender role switch, we've seen this trope before, but thanks to the chemistry between the leads, Schumer's impeccable comedy, and a slew of other characters that contribute their own wackiness to the story, Trainwreck still feels like a fun ride.  We have John Cena as Amy's clueless, ridiculously buff semi-boyfriend, Colin Quinn as her rude, offensive father, and Carly Oudin as her pregnant, barely-keeping-her-cool sister.  Also, I really appreciated any scene that had LeBron James (that's his name right?).  His friendship with Aaron was adorable (and much more than the mere cameo I expected), and he even stages an "intervention" for Aaron that I had a fun time watching.

The story's secondary dimension with Amy's father Gordon had its laughs, but it had its tears, too.  At some point, Amy asks a crowd of people if he had ever offended them, and they all raised their hand.  However, they also all raised their hand when she asked if Gordon was still one of their favorite people.  A touching moment that I could relate to my own grandfather.  Moments like that made the characters so much more relatable, and even though Amy had her bad moments like her dad, she still turned out to be one of my favorites.

My only qualm about this movie was the sex scenes.  Like, SEX scenes, if you know what I mean.  I knew the movie was rated R so I wasn't surprised, but unless you wanna feel #AWKWARD watching it with your parents (hi, Mom) or even your significant other, I'd see it solo.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fantastic Four: A Study on How to Screw up Marvel… Again

I could sum up my thoughts on Fox's (hopefully final) attempt at doing Marvel's Fantastic Four in six words: too much buildup, not enough payoff.  I had seen the bad reviews on Rotten Tomatoes before going into the theater, but I wanted to see it for myself since I hadn't hated the previous Fantastic Four movies as much as everyone else did.  I went in not expecting greatness but thinking it at least wouldn't be the worst film in the world.  It wasn't, but it was certainly disappointing.  Spoilers ahead.

The plot was dragging its feet, and I kept waiting for the inevitable confrontation between the superhero team and their nemesis.  Unfortunately, once it came, I didn't feel any of the edge-of-my-seat tension I've come to expect of this kind of movie.  I didn't even get to see much action before the scene ended.  The story's climax was not the only part that let me down from too little effort.  There's supposed to be a romance between Sue Storm (Invisible Woman) and Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), but aside from a meet-cute and one friendly conversation that makes Dr. Doom, I mean Victor, jealous, they did not have any relationship development.  Meanwhile, Johnny Storm is rebelling against his "overbearing" father, Dr. Storm, a theme so clichéd I don't even want to bother going into detail about it.

Reed's friendship with Ben (The Thing) had more meaningful attention, but even that got plunged into the toilet.  Reed abandons the group in a military complex after they get their powers and is in hiding for the next year as he tries to find a way to fix the situation.  Ben especially feels betrayed, but somehow by the end of the movie he acts as if nothing has happened.  Wow, way to deal with tension, movie.  Just have them work together to fight some villain for five minutes and then maybe the audience will forget all about it, too.

My final complaint is having to see some of the worst examples of foreshadowing that I've come across… and I say this as someone who's read a lot of good and bad books.  The first was when Ben's older brother exclaims "It's clobbering time!" right as he's about to beat him.  Aside from the horribly not-subtle harbinger of Ben's future, I can't imagine using a reminder of childhood abuse as a catchphrase when you become a superhero.  Later, while the group is having a conversation about their inter-dimensional teleporter, Victor expresses pessimism about the world and Sue scoffingly calls him "Dr. Doom."  Really? Really?  I could have dealt with the more low-key foreshadowing of Johnny's car engine exploding into flames, but that piece of dialogue felt like someone was squelching all of my book-loving braincells in one swift motion.

Listen, you don't have to be like me and find out how the movie is for yourself.  I will tell you straight up: you will have a much, much better time watching Ant-Man.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ant-Man: A Worthy New Avenger

When I heard that Paul Rudd, the guy I knew from the high school comedy Clueless, had been cast as the newest addition to the Avengers franchise, I was skeptical.  I didn't think he was the kind of guy that could pull off playing a superhero, but he pleasantly surprised me. I sympathized with his character Scott Lang, an ex-convict who is finding it impossible to get a job or reconnect with his young daughter because of his record.  I thought his interactions with her were adorable and heartfelt (he calls her "peanut," how cute is that?).  They were a nice contrast to the strained relationship between Hank Pym and his daughter  Hope van Dyne.

Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and Hope are plotting to take down Pym's old mentee Darren Cross.  Cross is developing his own shrink formula despite Pym's attempts to keep it under wraps, so Pym enlists Scott's help to steal it and shut Cross down.  For it being a Marvel movie, I expected there to be a lot more action, but most of the plot involved planning the heist of Cross' work.  During that time, a lot of the development focused on Pym and his daughter and the fact that Pym is so overprotective of her that he won't let her wear the Ant-Man suit for the heist, even though she has better knowledge of Cross' facilities and more experience with the Ant-Man technology.  Frankly, I found it an overused theme, and I also couldn't imagine Pym being like that if Hope were a son.  Thankfully the mid credits scene (spoiler!) made it up to me.

The movie also had me laughing a few times.  Scott was funny in an awkward way, but his Hispanic friend/fellow thief was by far the most hilarious.  Scott's conversations with Hope were fun to watch as well, even if you can see their romance coming from a thousand miles away.  Seriously, when don't they pair a male and female character up?  Finally, of course, there are plenty of cameos and references that reminded me of this film's ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Awesome bonus for Marvel nerds like me.  Admittedly, if you're not already a Marvel fan, Ant-Man is not the first film I would recommend to make you fall head-over-heels in love with the franchise.  It is, however, still an entertaining film that will make you laugh and cry and cheer for the characters.  I applaud Paul Rudd for pulling off such a charming new character and I look forward to seeing him in future installments.