Review: Ant-Man

Ant-Man poster

Superheroes have been showing up on the big screen and TV for a few years now, so even if you don’t read comics you will recognise quite a few of the characters within the Marvel Universe. That said, I think many were sceptical about a superhero named ‘Ant-Man’ – I mean, it’s not the coolest superhero name in the world. But I think, after seeing this movie, Ant-Man will get a lot more love in the future. He’s funny, down to earth, and fights with everything he has to become a better father. What’s not to like? Add in the fact he’s engaging, relatable (he’s made some pretty big mistakes), and doesn’t take the whole superhero thing too seriously, and it’s all points in his favour.

So, Ant-Man – who is he? His name is Scott Lang, and in the movie he’s played by Paul Rudd, which probably helped in terms of getting people to the cinema, because Paul promises to bring the goods in terms of humour. Personally, I think it was an inspired choice, Scott Lang is hilarious in the comics, and this certainly reflected in the film. In this case, Rudd’s humour is definitely understated and, despite criticisms regarding a ‘dilution’ of his talents, I believe he hit the mark. The subtleties he brought to the role were what made it work, at least for me.

michael douglas

But, Rudd is not the only great casting choice. Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, and he demanded attention from the very first scene. He’s utterly convincing, and adds a coolness factor all of his own. Dr. Henry (Hank) Pym is the original Ant-Man, and though you don’t need to know that to watch or even enjoy the movie, it’s worth pointing out.

In the comics Scott Lang stole the suit to save his daughter and Hank allowed him to keep it. The film puts a slightly different spin on the theme, but fundamentally they didn’t stray far from the origin story. It means there’s something for everyone, which Marvel excels at. For those not familiar with the comics, they are introduced to a unique superhero, and for fans of Ant-Man, the writers stayed true to who Scott Lang is.

Scott

He’s a former cat-burglar, an idealistic campaigner recently released from prison, and a man down on his luck. He’s divorced, is fighting for custody rights to see his daughter, and the only job he can get is at Baskin Robbins (even then he has to lie about his identity). Despite managing to get himself sucked in to Pym’s plot to protect his inventions and prevent the Pym Particles (formula which alters the size and mass of objects and living things) from being released into the world, Scott still manages to show a keen intelligence, and skills worth bringing to the table.

As for being part of the Marvel Universe; there are subtle references built in, if you’re looking for them, and an appearance from an Avenger. A scene which is particularly well done, and one of the highlights of the movie. There are other highlights, of course, and it might seem odd, but they are definitely the scenes with the ants. Yes, this is undeniably helped by the excellent special effects, but still, when you see what Scott and Hank get these little guys to do – it’s wonderful to watch.

flying ant

So, you have humour, including excellent comic timing, an engaging hero who performs miraculous feats (in human size and when he’s shrinks). Mix that in with an unconventional army, a superior cast, great special effects, and you have yourself an extremely entertaining film.

What did you think? Have you seen the movie? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 23 – My Name Is Oliver Queen

BannerIf I hadn’t already known Arrow would return for another season, I might have worried it was the end for Oliver and his friends. Driving off into the sunset, happy no less, is not how I expected the series to end. Not that I’m complaining, you understand. Olly deserves a little happy after everything he’s been through. But I’m getting ahead of myself as usual. There was a lot to love about the finale, so let’s reflect on what happened.

The show continued right where it ended last week, and after marrying Nyssa, Olly spent his wedding night on a plane with his father in law – bound for Starling City. With the bio-weapon packed and ready to go, Ra’s didn’t waste any time in moving forward with his plan.

Team Arrow in cell

Back in Nanda Parbat the team regained consciousness in their cell, clearly confused, though thankful they weren’t dead. Merlyn couldn’t wait to take the credit for their miraculous recovery. His betrayal last week was just another thread in the tangled web of deceit, and all a plan so Olly could prove his allegiance once and for all.

John Barrowman was at his best this week. He took control almost immediately, delivering the news that the group had been vaccinated against the virus. His smug line, ‘I believe the words you’re looking for are, thank and you!’ was classic Merlyn. But then he knew what was coming, and so did we given the teaser trailers. Enter the Flash! Barry was his usual entertaining self, disabling the guards as he came to the aid of his friends. It was a particularly nice touch when he referred to the Lazarus Pit as a hot tub! It was only a flying visit, but Barry managed to spread some of his cheer.

Flash

One of my favourite scenes was undoubtedly the moment Olly stood up to Ra’s. Granted, he was on a doomed flight at the time, having sabotaged the plane, but it was still pretty great when he declared, ‘My name is Oliver Queen.’ I might have cheered a little! I didn’t even mind when Ra’s got away, because it was obvious the show couldn’t end there. Still, it was tense when Ra’s took the only parachute and left Olly and Nyssa to fend for themselves. The landing was a little rough, but they managed to touch the bird down.

The team made it back home too, converging in Ray’s lab to decide their next move. Merlyn continued to have fun, barking out orders to each member of the group, and standing his ground when they hesitated, ‘I’m sorry. Did I mumble?’ Diggle was the one to allow him the role of temporary leader.

Merlyn

Not that it lasted very long. Olly and Nyssa arrived moments later. It was actually kind of sweet when she moved to protect Olly from the hostility. Diggle still got a punch in though, which was deserved. Olly was quick to explain why he sided with Merlyn, and though Diggle pointed out that sorry didn’t cover it, there were bigger things to deal with than hurt feelings (and broken trust).

Felicity was angry about the fact Olly would have sacrificed himself to take down Ra’s on the plane. But she too recognised the urgency and set to work. It was nice to see the team working together, even Malcolm. They learnt that Damian Dark was in the city, which meant Olly’s ascension wasn’t the only thing on Ra’s agenda. He wanted to take down his nemesis.

Team Arrow searching for Ra's

In a coordinated effort, they set out to confront Damian, and instead found one of his associates. The man himself was long gone, so that was a dead end. Ra’s couldn’t resist taunting Olly though. After putting an arrow in Damian’s associate, he ranted about releasing four vessels in the city; four instruments of death. It at least gave the team something to work at.

Laurel visited her father at the station, a memorable scene because it turned out Captain Lance had fallen off the wagon. She challenged him, made him face a few facts and left him to decide whether he wanted to hide behind the bottle, or help save the city.

Ray, in the meantime, was working to build and disseminate an inoculant, utilising his nanotech. The others were trying to determine the four probable locations.

Olly and Felicity

I’ve missed seeing Oliver and Felicity together, sharing a connection which has been lacking recently. In another favourite scene, Olly finally opened up. He spoke of his reoccurring dream, the one he’s had since leaving the mountain. It starts the same way, with Felicity begging him not to fight Ra’s. In the dream he agrees, and sometimes they even escape. In that version, it ends with the two of them driving away.

Throughout the season we’ve seen Olly struggle with his identity, and it’s clear he’s winning the battle. Felicity too believes he is someone else, something else, and that his heart is the key to defeating Ra’s. It was a powerful moment, especially when she asked him to fight to live.

The final scenes were great in terms of the cohesion between the team. We saw Lance rallying the troops, everyone take their positions on site, and Speedy arrive to join the fight. They quickly discovered Ra’s had turned his men into the weapon, and got to work disabling the threat as Ray continued to find a way to get the inoculation to the city.

Ra's and Ollie fight

Meanwhile, Ollie faced Ra’s again and the pair fought a fierce battle. This time, Olly was victorious, earning the position as the new Demon Head. Unfortunately, the police saw him as one of the enemy and opened fire. Olly took a few shots to the chest, before falling over the side of the dam.

Felicity saved him, wearing Ray’s suit, which was a really nice twist. It was like old times again when she told him she’d kiss him if she could figure out how to get the thing off. It’s the first time I’ve seen Olly smile in quite a while.

Felicity in Ray's suit

Perhaps the most surprising twist in the series, was Olly’s decision to leave the city, though as he said himself, there are enough heroes to watch out for Starling. Including his sister, who finally took her place as Speedy. Even Diggle may be getting a new identity.

Merlyn’s storyline ended on an interesting note since Olly gave up his title, allowing Malcolm to fill the Demon Head’s shoes. It will certainly be fun to discover what kind of leader he turns out to be, and what his plans are for the League.

Another story arc which will be thrilling to watch in the next season, or indeed if the spinoff happens, is the Atom. Ray’s last scene was explosive, literally. Who knows what’s in store for us now, or whether Felicity has just inherited her own company.

Ray

Which brings us to the final scene. It was really moving when Oliver chose Felicity, a decision which must be long overdue for Olicity fans. As the pair drove off into the sunset together, Olly happy for the first time in who knows how long, I had to wonder what’s next for the Green Arrow. Maybe he’ll return in season 4 a changed man. We might see a happier, lighter Oliver Queen.

What did you think to the finale? Are we going to see Olly’s lighter side? Whatever happens, it is sure to be a thrilling season. We don’t have too long to wait, as the season looks set to return in October (if previous seasons are anything to go by). Until then, thanks for sharing your thoughts and I’ll look forward to joining you for Season 4.

driving into the sunset


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.

Arrow: Season 3, Episode 22 – This Is Your Sword

Banner

The penultimate episode addressed some of my doubts regarding the validity of Ollie’s alliance with Malcolm Merlyn. It never really sat well with me, but at least it makes more sense. Essentially, it boils down to the fact he understood how useful Merlyn’s knowledge would become.

But let’s look at the episode, and discuss the revelation that Ollie was faking it (not a complete surprises given the spoilers). The fact he decided to take on the League from the inside, cut all ties to his life and hurt those he loves is a little extreme, even for Ollie. He rarely takes the easy route, and he certainly knows how to punish himself, but if he continues to burn those bridges, there won’t be anything left to stand on!

The show opened with a flashback, but I’ll skip over that for a moment. It likely served to remind us of Ollie’s history with Maseo and their experience in dealing with the Alpha-Omega. As it turns out, Maseo gave Ra’s the virus. It’s certainly a powerful bargaining chip, given its destructive potential.

ollie and ra's

Shortly after Ra’s made a speech about wiping the slate clean, and sending death to Starling City (on a plane), they moved to the subject of Ollie’s impending union with Nyssa, and had a rehearsal dinner. Well, okay, maybe it wasn’t strictly a wedding rehearsal, but they certainly talked about Nyssa becoming a wife and mother. Ra’s is seems, would like to become a grandfather!

Olly excused himself because, though he was no doubt genuinely unnerved by the topic, he had arranged to meet with Merlyn. The pair discussed Ra’s schedule, and given that things were moving at an alarming rate, Ollie decided to call in reinforcements. It was clear neither Olly nor Merlyn had thought the plan completely through.

When Ollie’s continued absence was noted by Ra’s, he sent Maseo looking for him (luckily Malcolm was gone by then). I liked that we got to see a glimpse of Maseo’s inner torment in the scene with Ollie. The fact Maseo is stuck inside a prison of his own making – which began with the death of his son.

Team Arrow

dig

In Starling we saw that Diggle and Black Canary were working to keep the city safe. They took down a street gang, with a little help from the Canary Cry (and Cisco’s modifications). The action was enjoyable, especially the way they worked together. It took a turn for the worse though, when Diggle lost the leash on his control. He is barely hanging on to his anger.

Merlyn only made things worse when he arrived to tell them that Ollie’s allegiance with the League is a charade. Since both Malcolm and Ollie anticipated their reaction, Malcolm brought Tatsu with him. It was a little odd, because they don’t know her, yet anyone stood a better chance than Merlyn at gaining their trust.

After hearing about the virus, they agreed to accompany Malcolm to Nanda Parbat, though there was more than a little resistance. They found the plane which was fuelled and ready to go. Felicity did her thing (remotely connecting to the on-board computer), as the others fought a group of assassins.

gang arriving

Ray joined the gang, coming to their rescue and blowing the plane from the sky. His timing was impeccable, given that Felicity’s equipment was damaged. It was a treat to see Ray fly in, though he might want to work on his landings – he literally crashed to the earth. It didn’t hurt his sense of humour ‘you should see the other guy’ was a nice touch.

In an earlier scene between Ray and Felicity she signed papers which turned out to be a transfer of ownership (not that she even looked at the document). I’m not sure what Ray’s plan is, but he’s definitely up to something!

Thea and Roy

Thea decided to go looking for Roy, and the reunion was incredibly sweet. The chemistry between them was reminiscent of their earlier relationship, so it’s a shame that their time together was short lived. Roy decided to cut the ties because he didn’t want to subject her to a life on the run. He left her with his suit (which she managed to get back via her father). It means we will likely see Speedy in action pretty soon.

Maseo and Tatsu

tatsu

The flashbacks this week were focused on the fight to save Akio’s life. When they realised the inoculation wasn’t working, Ollie and Maseo teamed up to locate a cure. It ended badly for all of them because, not only were they too late, and Akio died, they managed to walk into a trap set by General Shrieve.

Back in the present, Tatsu fought with Maseo as the team took down the plane. It was a difficult battle to watch, especially when Maseo gained the upper hand and was about to end her life. In the end they both lost. Though Tatsu killed Maseo, she did so at great personal cost. Maseo’s final words were poignant. He thanked her for releasing him from his prison.

Nanda Parbat

episode 22The scenes between Ra’s and Nyssa were disturbing. We rarely see him lose that icy control, but he certainly lost it this week – threatening untold horrors to his daughter.

His mood didn’t improve when he discovered Ollie’s friends in Nanda Parbat. It meant there was a traitor in his ranks. The plane had been a test, which was an interesting twist. Ra’s had the virus the whole time. Of course this put seeds of doubt in his mind about Ollie’s true allegiance, something Malcolm fed into by telling him about their plan. Why am I not surprised Merlyn double crossed Oliver to save his own bacon? In any case, it didn’t make a difference. Ra’s decided to give Ollie the benefit of the doubt.

After breaking the news that Ollie was to be married, he threw the gang in a cell. The look between Ollie and Felicity was heart-breaking – you could see the pain in Felicity’s eyes.

unconscious

It only got worse, because Ra’s released the virus in their cell. And still Ollie did nothing. Not even after Diggle told him he’d lost more than his friendship – he’d lost his respect and trust. He walked out of the cell, closing and sealing the door – and their fate.

So that leaves us with the cliff-hanger. As Ollie got married (he almost got stabbed by Nyssa, but he’s learnt a few tricks), the team could be seen in the cell. It was eerie, not because I believed them to be dead. It was more about the symbolism – that of a dying friendship.

wedding

One thing is certain, it will be an emotional and action paced season finale. What do you think? Did you enjoy the episode? Do you have any predictions? I’d love to hear from you.


NB: Images used within this review are the copyright of The CW Network. All rights reserved.