Marvel’s Ant-Man

Typically, I would use this space to share my opinion on the darker side of cinema, but today I figured I would briefly touch on something different. Tonight I went to the cinema to watch Marvel’s Ant-Man (directed by Peyton Reed, written by Edgar Wright and starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas). When I first heard that Marvel was going to do a live action adaptation of Ant-Man, I was fairly surprised. Out of all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, why choose a character that is relatively obscure to the general public. Then I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, and my expectations went up. Unless you are a fan and reader of comic books, you probably had no idea who Star-Lord and Groot where. Unless I’m wrong, this was Marvel and Disney‘s first attempt at taking a B title and giving it the big screen treatment. Guardians was an amazing movie, and has made this rag-tag group of adventurers a house hold name. I have to give Disney and Marvel all the credit in the world. They know how to do it right.

Scott Lang (Rudd) is a down on his luck ex-con who can’t seem to catch a break.  All he wants his to make his young daughter proud. Before he knows it, he becomes involved in a struggle between the science company Pym Tech, and their founder, the now retired Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).  Dr. Pym recruits Lang ( a master burglar) to retrieve a weapon that has been developed by the corrupt head of Pym Tech, Dr. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Cross has plans to sell the technology to an infamous terrorist organization. With the help of Pam and others, Scott Lang becomes the Ant-Man.

I will keep this short and sweet. Marvel’s Ant-Man is full of pleasant surprises. There is a perfect balance between action and comedy relief. Paul Rudd has his trademark dry sarcasm, but the best comedic performance comes from his best friend Luis, played by Michael Peña. I really hope his character returns. The fact that Ant-Man can shrink adds a whole other world for the action to take place in. The use of actual ants throughout the film is pretty cool as well. Unlike a lot of other superhero movies, the action is not distracting and does not take over the film at all. Also, please stay until after the end credits role, as in typical Marvel fashion, there are a couple “hidden scenes”.  All in all, Marvel’s Ant-Man ranks up amongst my favourites with Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy. I can only hope that the next Marvel adaptation to be released, Deadpool (Feb 2016), is as clever and fun to watch as Ant-Man.

I highly enjoyed Marvel’s Ant-Man. Go see this film if you like fun movies, but that is just my opinion.

T.

Top Five Favourite Halloween Movie Deaths

The Halloween film franchise has always been my favorite. Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th are close seconds, but there is something more appealing to me about Michael Myers. “The Shape” has the expressionless white mask, and seems to be a more “hands on” murderer. A knife or a simple choking always seem to be his go to methods. The series has gone down hill in quality and originality, but the original Halloween and Halloween II are classics as far as I’m concerned. I even enjoy Rob Zombie’s 2007 Re-imagining, with a much larger and imposing Shape (played by Tyler Mane). A few of the sequels are decent, but lack the charm and atmosphere of the 1978 John Carpenter classic. The second sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch is an entertaining watch, and actually quite original, but has nothing to do with the Michael Myers storyline, so I have not included any deaths from it in this list. These five deaths are not the most brutal, or most gory of the series. These are simply my favorite for reasons I will give with each one. Please enjoy!

5. Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)   Oops! – Ok, so this is technically not one of Michael Myers’ kills, but he is indirectly responsible. Basically, Michael returns to Haddonfield after 10 years to finish off his only remaining heir. The town’s rednecks are getting shit faced at the local tavern and learn through a television newscast that Michael is at large. Well, now it’s time to take the law into their drunken hands. The posse storms out of the bar and goes to make a citizen’s arrest. It goes badly. Poor Ted Hollister is creeping around some bushes and becomes the victim of mistaken identity. Please, if you are drunk and decide to go out and mob an escaped lunatic, make sure you ask questions first, and shoot second.

4. Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007)   Batters Up! – A young Michael Myers could have made the Major Leagues with a swing like this! Poor Steve Haley was famished after having sex with Michael’s sister Judith. So when you are hungry, you make a sandwich in the kitchen. Unfortunately at the Myers’ house, even snacks are danger. His thirst results in a crushing baseball bat blow to the top of the head. This one makes me cringe each time I see it. Lesson? Michael Myers is not a fan of you banging his sister. Or stealing his lunch meat.

3. Halloween (1978)   Oh Brother… – This is the opening scene of Halloween, and really sets the tone for the entire film. The scene is ninety-five percent shot as it was from a young Michael Myers’ perspective.  Judith is supposed to be watching Michael on Halloween night. As it turns out, she is entertaining her boyfriend in her upstairs bedroom. We follow Michael’s perspective as he observes his sister’s promiscuity. After he waits until Judith’s suitor leaves,  he goes into the kitchen to retrieve a large knife. He makes his way upstairs, pulls his mask down and stabs his sister multiple times. All this done while dressed in his clown costume. His parents return home to find their son standing on the sidewalk holding the knife that butchered Judith. I am not sure if Carpenter intended this as an homage to the famous point-of-view shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, but the result is as effective. A very simple and personal introductory murder for the young psychopath Michael.

2. Halloween (1978)   Annie’s Death – The original John Carpenter’s Halloween was great for numerous reasons. The music score was perfect, the acting was believable, the tension and suspense was beautifully done, but I feel the best reason was the simplistic nature of the film. The film was believable because it was not over the top and gory. The killing was minimal and done in a personal manner, which made Michael Myers have a human element. Annie’s death is a great example of a smart, simple, and suspenseful film work. While you are watching, you know Michael is there, stalking Annie, but you don’t know when. Michael is a smart, patient predator that waits until he knows Annie is absolutely alone and vulnerable. The detail is pinpoint, right down to the steam on the inside of the car windows that is generated by Michael’s breathing. The shot of young Tommy witnessing Michael carrying Annie’s lifeless body across the front yard is a nice touch.

1. Halloween II (1981)   A Real Lady Killer… – Michael seems to have a real problem with people’s promiscuity. Nurse Karen decides to take her break with ambulance driver Bud…naked…in the hospitals hot tub room. This should have been Bud’s lucky day, but it wasn’t meant to be. Things are getting hot and heavy in the tub, too hot for Karen actually. She send Bud out to turn the thermostat down (which Michael has cranked right up). Bud is easily dispatched while Karen waits for him to return. Michael enters, Karen thinks it is bud standing behind her and she begins seducing “Bud” by sucking on his fingers. “Do you want to go for breakfast after?” she asks. She doesn’t know that Michael is only hungry for death. Michael drowns/burns Karen by repeatedly shoving her face into the boiling hot tub water. This is my favorite death because it was the first attempted seduction of Michael Myers, and because it is the first time I remember being exposed to a half nude woman when I was a child. Those types of milestones are exciting and not easily forgotten. (I have included the PG edited version video. Sorry fellas.)

T.

Riff of the Day 07/24/15

Sahg – The Executioner Undead (from the album “Sahg I” Regain 2006)

Norway is known for it’s infamous Black Metal bands like Berzum, and Mayhem, who had a penchant for burning down century old churches in the mid 1990’s. Not all Norwegian bands are evil. Sahg, for example, just like to play hard and heavy riffs. The Executioner Undead is off of their debut album.  If you dig this, check out a few of Norway’s other offerings; Dozer and Truckfighters.

Riff of the Day 07/18/15

Winny Puhh – Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti  (Legendaarne 2013 ?)

I cannot find too much information on this song, or even this band. All I know is that they are from Estonia, they are lunatics, and they are brilliant. Winny Puhh certainly are a spectacle, so please watch this video so you can make your own assessment.

The lyrics for this song loosely translate in English as follows:

One man from our region Korsakov went to Latvia
He carried three tons and broke his back.

One man from our region Korsakov got into a fight
Unluckily his nose was broken.

One man from our region Korsakov ate a fresh cucumber
Accidentally he stabbed himself with his thumb in the eye and he broke his thumb.

One man from our region Korsakov carried a closet
He should not done that and he broke his thigh.

One man from our region Korsakov saw a thief
He wanted to call the cops but he broke his chin.

One man from our region Korsakov looked at the stars
He looked too much and broke his neck.

One man from our region Korsakov went to store yesterday
came home in a wheelchair he had broke his legs.

One man from our region Korsakov smoked
His head was spinning and he fell down an broke his tibia.

One man from our region Korsakov but for himself a gypsum
he tough it is simple and he broke his wrist.

One man from our region Korsakov wanked
He wanked too much and broke his pelvis.

One man from our region Korsakov brought home Mrs Korsakov
He should not have done it, Mrs broke her finger.

One man from our region Korsakov went to the water in winter
And he never came back, after all,he had some broken bones.

Its not a easy life for a tough guy.

T.

Riff of the Day 07/15/15

The Melvins – The Bit (From the album Stag – Atlantic 1996)

The band that spawned bands such as Nirvana and Soundgarden and influence current acts like Mastodon and Eyehategod really bring the heavy duty sound that has made them legends. The Melvins are the old dogs of sludge, but they have plenty of bite. The Bit is a wall of sound, and some of King Buzzo’s best guitar work.

T.

Riff of the Day 07/12/2015

Type O Negative – Summer Breeze ( from the Album Bloody Kisses Roadrunner Records 1993)

Originally done by Seals and Crofts

I’m not one hundred percent sure why Type O chose to cover this old gem, but it is one of my favorite covers done by any band, ever. The hippy-like lyrics “Summer breeze makes me feel fine…blowing through the jasmine in my mind” sound surreal and pretty damn cool when being crooned through singer Peter Steele’s (RIP) tormented Gothic style. I first heard this during the opening sequence of the film I Know What You Did Last Summer (Columbia Tristar 1997). I i went out that night and bought the Bloody Kisses album.

T.

Riff of the Day – 07/11/205

High On Fire – The Black Plot (from the album “Luminiferous” eOne Music 2015)

High on Fire released their seventh studio album Luminiferous this past June. The opening song is the bone crusher The Black Plot. This band likes to bring a wall of sound, and this one is no different.  Matt Pike is my favorite “metal” guitarist, and one hell of a front man. My friend Earl once touched his sweaty back at a show a few years back. That’s why Earl is now immortal.

I plan on doing some writing on Luminiferous in it’s entire glory in the next couple days. Stay tuned for that.

T.

THE GALLOWS – One man’s thoughts…

The Gallows (Production Company Blum House Productions, Distributed by Warner Bros.)

Release date: July 10, 2015

Directed by: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing

Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford

Brief Synopsis: In 1993, tragedy strikes a town when a high school play called “The Gallows” goes terribly wrong. In an attempt to honor the twentieth anniversary of the incident, the present day students of Beatrice High try to recreate the production.  Needless to say, things don’t quiet pan out  the way most of the students anticipate.

My Take:  Studios will release a trailer or two, run some T.V. spots prior to a films release to drum up interest and create a hype so people will go see their film. Some movies live up to the hype created by these two-minute miracles of editing. Some films, however,  do not. The Gallows looked really good after I watched the theatrical trailer. Seemed like it would be creepy, some decent atmosphere and at the very least, nooses and hanging, to me, are freaky. Good horror films are far and few between. This particular scare fest (or lack of) falls far, far between. I am not one to spoil a film for anyone, so I will not give away any plot twists or anything of that nature.

Here is a real basic rundown of The Gallows. Student Charlie Grimille is accidentally hung to death during a high school stage production in 1993. Twenty years go by, and Charlie’s death is part of school folklore. For some reason (which sort of makes sense by the end of the film), the current students of Beatrice High School attempt to honor the tragedy by holding a performance of the same play, “The Gallows”, for one night only. Three students, Reese, Ryan and Cassidy (all played by the actors of the same first names) plan to break into the school to sabotage the play by trashing the set. This plan is hatched in the name of a crush that leading man Ryan has on his leading lady Pheifer. It is a really forced reason as far as the writing of the movie goes and makes it hard to take the whole thing seriously. Anyways, the four main characters end up getting trapped in the school by mysterious forces, which leads to supernatural events and a lot of shaky camera work. Although it is a “found footage” style movie, I still found it kind of bouncy. Usually with found footage stories you get a few good jump scares, some creepy images and some tension build up. Unfortunately with The Gallows, I got eighty some minutes of distracting dialogue, telegraphed and predictable startle scares and a lot of questions. Questions like ‘why are these kids filming this whole thing?’. Put the damn camera and cell phones down, come up with a plan, and run. Why go down the weird secret corridor? You know it is just going to lead to trouble. Also, are you aware that the supernatural can control your cellular service? No matter who your provider is!

In case you don’t know what gallows are, it is a structure used to hang criminals. A noose is placed around your neck and the floor falls out, leaving you to hang. It’s not cool, and quite frankly it is something that gives me chills. The thought of hanging by my neck, suffocating is horrible. This way of murdering teenagers should have been more primal and disturbing. It was actually more of an after thought once you have to sit through the rest of the nonsense. Predictable and cliche. The acting was decent enough, with the actors being relatively unknown by Hollywood standards. The Gallows did mark a milestone in cinematic history though. Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Cathy Lee and Frank Gifford, made her major motion picture debut. To be honest, she was far from the worst thing in this film. She did a good job of acting terrified. Scream Queen in training?

My friend Scott (moviedrivel.com) counted 4 or 5 people leave the theater halfway through the screening, and I don’t think it was because they found the movie terrifying.

To conclude, please do not be fooled by the trailer television spots for The Gallows. It is not as startling and scary as the ads would make you believe. I can recall being more scared during episodes of Ghost Adventures. And we know that isn’t very scary at all.  I am aware that found footage, low-budget films are a profitable cash grab for studios, but The Gallows falls a mile behind its predecessors like Blair Witch Project, REC, and even Paranormal Activity. Alas, like in all things I discuss, I will let you decide for yourself.

T.