Ant-Man

Ant-ManOne of my favorite movies so far this year, Ant-Man is not your typical superhero film. Just by basing on its title, one can assume this superhero movie has something to do with our small but incredibly strong insect friends: THE ANTS. Marvel creators and writers have this amazing ability to squeeze out interesting characters with solid background stories. And Ant-Man is not an exemption. Before I proceed with the short gist of the movie’s story, I should clarify that there are two Ant-Man (Ant-Men? haha) in the movie (as well as the comics world.) A hint of the original Ant-Man story is seen at the start: Dr. Hank Pym, a brilliant scientist, resigned from S.H.I.E.L.D. (the agency that vows to protect the world from evil forces) as he heard talks about replicating his invention: the Ant-Man shrinking technology. He vowed to protect it as he deemed it dangerous when taken by the wrong hands. More than a decade after, Dr. Pym’s protege is close to making up a shrinking technology of his own and he’s worried about its implications if ever perfected. Pym has no choice but to pass on the Ant-Man suit. But it won’t be easy, because the one he chose was a well-meaning thief who has just been sent out of the prison: Scott Lang. Will Lang be an effective Ant-Man? Will he be able to stop Pym’s protege and prevent the technology be taken by the enemies? That’s what you have to find out in the movie.

Paul Rudd is not someone you’d expect to be an actor who would suit up and be a superhero. But, lo and behold! Ant-Man fits him perfectly. With his strange but interesting demeanor, Rudd delivers as the fast and strong superhero named Ant-Man who can transform himself into a size of an ant at will but can still possess great strength even while being small.

If you have noticed, one of the amazing things in Marvel movies is the great chemistry of their cast. It’s great to have good actors in a production, but if they don’t quite work well together, the movie is sure to suffer. Michael Douglas commands during his scenes as Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man. He’ll make you look at him earnestly with the way he talks and acts. Other supporting actors in the film are also outstanding, from Evangeline Lilly (as the beautiful yet deadly Hope Van Dyke, Dr. Pym’s daughter) and Abby Rider Fortson (as Ant-Man’s smart and funny daughter) to Corey Stoll (as Ant-Man’s effective nemesis, Yellowjacket) and T.I. (yes, the rapper! as part of Ant-Man’s crew).

They say that superhero movies are a bit predictable. Yes, that’s true. But the real fun in watching them is in the execution of the director to pull off a great story in his or her own story-telling ability. In the case of Ant-Man, as it is not yet as popular aside from Marvel comics fans, the director’s way of introducing Ant-Man would make or break the franchise. Gladly, Peyton Reed presented Ant-Man in the best possible way: in a funny, heart-warming yet explosive kind of film!

I can’t wait for the next Ant-Man film! Will he be part of the next Avengers film? We’ll see!

Ant-Man‘s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

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Jurassic World

Jurassic_World_posterJurassic World was not too extravagant as what I have expected, but it was definitely very entertaining. The film is the fourth in the Jurassic Park movie series and if you’ll consider the plot line during the last parts of the movie plus the behemoth amount of money it has earned, sequels are sure to come for the years to come. I have only seen the original Jurassic Park film and I must say it’s all fine because Jurassic World could stand on its own.

I love Bryce Dallas Howard. After seeing her on the vampire series True Blood, I’ve always been looking forward to her performances. In the film, she has this charm that gets into you even though her character isn’t that much likeable at first. And the way she delivers her lines? It’s so great I won’t mind if she’s part of any ensemble of a film that I will be watching in the future. Chris Pratt, who’s fresh from a great 2014 thanks to blockbuster movies The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, commands with his effusing charm and impossible likeability. This movie is a testament again that he can top bill a movie and people are going to watch. The supporting actors are very effective in their roles. Even though their characters have their own stories that considerably made the plot messier, they’ve had their own moments that make each one of them interesting.

Speaking of messy plot, the movie presents the promising story of the return of a one-of-a-kind theme park in the world: the Jurassic Park, which is now called the Jurassic World. It features various attractions that involve dinosaurs of all sorts: from the ferocious Velociraptors, the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, the horrifying sea creature Mosasaurus and even their gentler kind such as Brontosaurus, Triceratops and a lot more. New additions are also added to the theme park: dinosaurs that have been genetically modified such as the shockingly tough Indominus Rex. Indominus Rex is a hybrid of T-Rex, Velociraptor and other dinosaurs, plus animals such as cuttlefish and tree frogs, which made it capable of various innate abilities of those animals such as thermal adaptability and camouflage. Imagine a dinosaur with these abilities and you’d never want to go near one!

Anyway, what made up for the lack of  in the story are the dazzling visuals and the non-stop action. These are the reasons watching the movie on IMAX make it worth it! I was happy the whole time I was there looking at the dinosaurs as they came alive! The terrifying ones were made so much more terrifying, the action sequences more appealing and the suspense much higher because of the 3D on the big screen!

Jurassic World is a bit predictable but this cannot deny the fact that it’s definitely awesome. Count me in to watch its sequels!

Jurassic World’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5

Fast and Furious 7

Furious_7_posterSexy ladies. Macho cars. Awesome drivers. Great action. Heartfelt story. Family and brotherhood.

I am a lover of great action movies. Put some fascinating action scenes in a movie with a solid story line and I am definitely in. Fast and Furious 7, though, is more than that. It is a fitting tribute to a good guy called Paul Walker. I am not sure if they meant to end the series this way but I think anybody who has watched can’t help but be moved about how this group of people came to bond together and create a solid relationship with each other. The chemistry they have really shows onscreen and it would be hard for die-hard fans to move on if this is going to be the last film. (Update: There are talks that they’ll be back for an 8th movie. Pfft.)

A lot of people have been emotional about this movie, especially the ending. Why won’t they if they couldn’t help but feel the love, the friendship and the brotherhood stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker shared with each other? It was definitely devastating when Walker got killed in a car accident more than a year ago. Everyone was shocked and saddened by the terrible news. I guess these emotions were felt by the people behind the movie, and that is why they put a lot of effort in each scene. More importantly, they made it heart-tugging.

I can only imagine how those who have been faithfully watching the series since the start reacted to FF7. I’m a fan of the film even though it’s not the best of the best action movies there is. But even though I have only watched a few in the series, I can tell that this one’s got a lot more heart than the rest. It still lived up to the action expected from it, from the wild car action sequences to the impossible human stunts that they do. The story might get a little absurd but it’s all art of the fun that is known in FF films.

Fast and Furious 7‘s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5

Avengers: Age of Ultron (movie review)

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-IMAX-PosterI have enjoyed the first Avengers movie better than this sequel, but one can tell that there’s a certain level of maturity that the Age of Ultron has shown. The characters were given more depth, the cast displayed a great deal of chemistry, the vsual effects are ultra-cool and the story has had a good and smooth flow. The writers were able to weave through the rich story of these Avengers and along the way; one can tell each one is going to have a thoughtful, or even good, ending.

Also, there’s still this good humor that Joss Whedon is able to instill in every part of the movie. Whether during a light moment or a heavy one, a lighthearted line or a funny gesture brings lightness to a rather heavy story.

Needless to say, the Marvel movie is every bit packed with action. Other action movies would be shy they’re called action movies because this one doesn’t stop from bringing in the goods. The action scenes are consistently thrilling! I especially love the slow-motion group battle scenes sort of montage. I can’t help but say that the movie’s the best action movie since the first Avengers! Sorry, Bryan Singer, but Joss Whedon seemed to have the real magic when it comes to bringing comic characters into real great live action films. My most favorite comics/ cartoon of all time is none other than X-Men but its movie versions don’t come really close (except to the first X-Men film) to the greatness that is The Avengers.

Let’s talk about Joss Whedon. The director and self-proclaimed comic lover has come a long way since his Buffy The Vampire Slayer days. He’s become one of the favorites in Hollywood and I think that statement in itself is an understatement. Huge projects such as The Avengers and its sequel were given to his hands and thank goodness because he’s able to execute these stories well and turn them into two of the most enjoyable comic movies ever. I love what he did with the series and I can’t seem to wait for the next installment.

Age of Ultron binds the original Avengers team to ultimately eradicate Hydra. They were successful in destroying the enemies’ base but a mysterious artifact that they have taken has unleashed Ultron, which took over  Iron Man’s computer intelligence, Jervis. Ultron acquired the skill of controlling some of Iron Man’s metallic armors, weapons and robots. Complicating matters is the presence of twin mutants, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who hold key roles in this movie. Will the Avengers be able to stop the onslaught that Ultron is brewing to take over the world?

If you haven’t watch this movie yet, it’s not too late. The money and time you will spend watching it is worth it.

Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

Insurgent

Insurgent_posterInsurgent, the sequel to last year’s Divergent has far exceeded my expectations. As I found the first book in the Divergent series the best among the trilogy, the movie version of the second book surpasses the first movie in all aspects. It was more suspenseful, more action-filled, more faithful to the story, and more emotionally pulling. The visuals are better while the sound stands out more.

What I love about movie versions of the books that I’ve read is that the story lines that I got to read ages ago suddenly make a flashback in my mind. As great movie versions of the books that I have read unfold their scenes right before my eyes, the thoughts I had and the emotions I felt while I was reading the books where they were based come awesomely alive. This rang true with Insurgent.

The atmosphere created by a dystopian future of a city divided into different factions is still felt in this movie. Everything’s different, though, as a major shakeup is being made. Jeanine Matthews (cold-bloodedly portrayed by Kate Winslet) has succeeded to destroy the Abnegation faction and lead the Dauntless to take charge of the city. The divergent Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), her enemy # 1, is into hiding along with her boyfriend, Four (Theo James), as they, along with their friends, successfully evaded her invasion of Abnegation. Jeanine’s goal of eradicating the divergents is close to fruition. It’s up to Tris to find a way to defeat Jeanine and seek justice for those people who have been murdered including her parents and friends.

I liked every minute of watching the film. I found the actors more comfortable with their roles and it shows with their chemistry.  Shailene Woodley was so great here I can’t wait to see her in other roles. If I’ve said that she’s no Jennifer Lawrence in my review of Divergent, I can say that she’s getting there by now. Theo James still ably gave life to Four though he’s been overshadowed by the goodness that is Miles Teller. Teller is one actor that I have been loathing to see even if I have seen him in numerous movies before. But that changed with Oscar-winning film, Whiplash, where he performed impressively along with Oscar winner J.K. Simmons. That change continues with Insurgent as he effortlessly shows his butterfly tendencies in changing loyalties with factions for his role. Not used enough (or probably not given enough spotlight) in this film are  Octavia Spencer as the hospitable leader of Amity, Naomi Watts as the surprisingly young-looking leader of the Factionless and Ray Stevenson as the still assumed leader of Abnegation. I guess they’ll be given enough meat to chew on during the next Divergent movies.

Even though there are many action scenes that are deemed to be generic, they are still awesome as they remained just true to the spirit of the book. I mean, you can’t just pull out one too many great action sequences if they’re unnecessary, right? Anyway, the visuals are also impressive but they become more impressive because of the sound editing and sound mixing done to complement the scenes. Speaking of the scenes, there is not one boring moment in each and one of them. Thanks to the caring hands of director Robert Schwentke and  editors Nancy Richardson and Stuart Levy. Even though non-readers of the book where the movie was based might not get everything that is being said or done in it, they’ll still surely appreciate what was being screened from start to finish.

Insurgent’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4 out of 5.

Cinderella (movie review)

Cinderella_2015_official_posterThis is how you make a movie version of a fairytale!

I was pleasantly surprised when I first heard that a live version of the beloved fairytale was in the works. It wasn’t a bad idea, but making Cinderella alive not with use of drawings or merely animation would be a hard thing to do if just to please any fairytale lover. But thanks to the cast and crew of this film, a great movie version of Cinderella has been brought to the silver screen.

Friends have been telling me that Cinderella is a good movie and so I have high expectations before watching it. And those expectations were definitely exceeded. What I saw was not a mere re-imagination of the beloved fairytale but a great re-telling of the classic. Needless to say, Cinderella is a must-watch especially for those who yearn that good and lovin’ feeling! Haha, just kidding. Kids and kids-at-heart will surely appreciate this movie.

All eyes were drawn to Cinderella when she entered the palace for the first time. Why wouldn’t they be? The actress who plays her role is a great beauty. In fact, the time she, the grownup Cinderella, made her appearance onscreen, you can’t help but just look at her. The person who portrays the beloved character oozes with charm and grace and that is no other than Ella James. I think I’ve seen her in a couple of episodes of Downton Abbey but she ‘s a revelation in this movie. She made me feel like there could be no one who could have portrayed Cinderella better.

Her chemistry with Richard Madden, her Prince Charming, is undeniable. Have you seen their dance during the ball in the palace? They seem to be making love! I don’t know if it’s just me but the grace in the way they moved and the intensity of the way they looked at each other made me feel like it. Can’t help but think that it’s the way you make a romantic pairing work!

Cate Blanchett proved that there’s no role that she couldn’t portray well. As the evil stepmother, she stared with hatred at Cinderella and acted like the latter’s someone to really be hated. She succeeded in both instances.

Famed British actor and director Kenneth Branagh helmed this wonderful film. Thankfully, he did because it was really good! The visuals were impressive, the editing was impeccable and the screenplay was very faithful to the spirit of the fairytale. The inspiring story of Cinderella was put into a life full of colors with this film.

Cinderella’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 4.5 out of 5

The Imitation Game (movie review)

The_Imitation_Game_posterOne of the best films not just for the year 2014, The Imitation Game celebrates the distinction of being not normal. That is right -the extraordinary, the special one. From honoring the great mind of Mr. Alan Turing, the popular mathematician who broke Germany’s seemingly unbreakable code called Enigma (the movie is loosely based on the biography called Alan Turing: The Enigma, by the way), up to his love for what’s different; this movie has shown more heart, mind and soul compared to a whole other good movies that were screened last year.

“Think of it. A digital computer. Electrical brain.”

-Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a brilliant man. He also was a homosexual. The movie was quite honest with this truth right from the start with its remarkably beautiful flashbacks. These scenes showed how the math prodigy came to befriend and later on love another male student in his school. Meanwhile at the present time in the film, World War 2 was happening and the brilliant minds of Britain that included Mr. Turing were put together to solve a puzzle than no one ever thought could be solved: the Enigma code. The Germans used this code to pass on information as to what would be done to whom, where and when. It has gained victory for Germany for a while and the secret group led by Mr. Turing had to break the code for the Allies to win the war.

“Alan, I so rarely have cause to say this but you are exactly the man I always hoped you would be.” – Mark Strong

Benedict Cumberbatch takes his acting into another notch by playing the indifferent Mr. Turing. He combined the smart-ass attitude that he portrays in Sherlock with a heart of a closeted man who truly fell in love in this movie and it worked quite brilliantly. No other actor could have portrayed the enigmatic character that was Alan Turing better than him.

“They’re not going to help you if they don’t like you.” – Joan Clarke

I also love how the other actors of the film fared along Cumberbatch. Among them, I liked how Keira Knightley fit into the character of a very smart girl who was fond of Turing and whom Turing was also fond of. Their characters’ sapiosexual behaviors made for a great couple even though they won’t ever get to the romantic sides of being in a relationship. Things eventually turned out sour but in the end, their care for each other was still evident.

“I’ll work. You’ll work. And we’ll have each other’s company. We’ll have each other’s minds.That sounds like a better marriage than most. Because I care for you and you care for me. And we understand one another more than anyone else ever has.”

-Joan Clarke

The historic thriller could be passed on as a war film, and a very smart one at that. But ultimately it’s about a love story, which is said to be illegal and immoral. The movie’s making a testament that love is never bad if shared between two people, even if they’re of the same sex or gender. The oppression and discrimination that happened and continues to happen among the LGBT community were revealed here, especially towards the end. No one’s heart could be so hard that the film won’t be able to touch.

“Now, if you wish you could have been normal I can promise you I do not.”

-Joan Clarke

Congratulations should be given to Morten Tyldum for being able to bring out such a moving story with his direction. And congratulations for the movie’s writer, Graham Moore, for winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie’s accolades (8 nominations for Oscars and a whole lot more) justify what the movie really is: a great one that is not short of being classic.

“Sometimes, it’s the very people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

– Christopher Morcom

The Imitation Game’s movie rating by the pondering movie fan: 5 out of 5