Ant-man and the Wasp (2018)

Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think, says the functions of a good website are neither explained nor self-explanatory, they are self-evident.

In Ant-man and the Wasp, the sequences filled with exposition are excruciating because in them, the fake science is explained.

I felt a bit better when the fake science was lampshaded: “Do you guys just put ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” (My thought exactly!)

I felt even better during the action sequences, when the effects of the fake science were delightfully self-evident.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ant-man-and-the-wasp/id1400637562

See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Ant-man and the Wasp (2018)

Ant-man (2015)

Watching Ant-man was fun, but it would probably have been more fun in a theater where there would have been lots of people there to laugh at the absurdities scattered throughout.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/ant-man/id1012788984

See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Ant-man (2015)

Avengers 3: Infinity War (2018)

I’m thinking I should go see more movies during the opening week or weekend because when I watched Infinity War, I enjoyed people’s reactions to the movie as much as I enjoyed the movie itself. People gasped and laughed and went “WHHHHOOOAAA” in large numbers. One girl in the audience actually screamed when one of the characters got stabbed. At one point I heard the audience collectively go “SHHH***TTT”.

I’m reminded a bit of the time I went to see a WWF match: the audience was really into it, for some of the same reasons: people like to see a champion fight an enemy, and they love it when the champion delivers a particularly cool attack. I was also reminded of what it was like seeing the first Harry Potter movie in a really big, really full theater when it first came out: people loved the characters and felt invested in their world, and couldn’t wait for the chance to enter that world with them. Marvel has built a visually and, yes, emotionally rich alternate reality.

Before I saw the movie, I heard that this Marvel movie was “different”. I assumed that maybe meant it had an even bigger cast of characters than before, or that it was better than Age of Ultron, which people thought was kind of lame. That wasn’t what they meant. They were talking obliquely about the ending, which I will not talk about until you scroll down quite a bit further.

For some reason I thought “Infinity War” referred to the galactic scope of a war, or maybe to a war that gets stuck in some kind of time loop as in Doctor Strange. Nope. The war is named after the stones that the bad guy, Thanos, is looking for. When the movie begins, Thanos has one of the infinity stones already, the power stone (purple). He has attached it to a golden gauntlet on his left fist, which would look ridiculous if he weren’t an immense and very ruthless villain.

Thanos is looking for the remaining five stones. He is missing the space stone (blue), the reality stone (red), the soul stone (orange), the time stone (green), and the mind stone (yellow). If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve seen these stones in other Marvel movies. For the sake of the universe, we hope they stay hidden.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/avengers-infinity-war/id1370224078

See below for a summary with SPOILERS. I’ve done a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat, but the sequence may be a bit weird. The movie cut back and forth between the different sets of characters more than my summary does, so things are a little out of order.
Continue reading Avengers 3: Infinity War (2018)

Black Panther (2018)

Marvel’s Black Panther embodies American exceptionalism. The theme is that offering foreign aid and sharing knowledge is not only a good idea, but a duty, and one on which a prosperous country’s survival depends.

Wait, you thought it was a superhero movie? Or a movie that celebrates black culture? Or a movie that celebrates women? It’s all those things too!

Moreover, critics are saying it’s a “Shakespearean” drama because of the nuanced characterization of the main villain, who believes so strongly in his mission that you’re half inclined to agree with him.

I’m glad that the unremittingly bleak and gritty Christopher Nolan style of superhero movie is increasingly giving way to humor, even in movies like this one that have serious and important themes.

See Marvel’s Black Panther as soon as possible so that you can join in the discussion of this cultural touchstone. If it’s not in theaters, it’ll be on iTunes.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/black-panther-2018/id1342065788

See below for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Black Panther (2018)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

I saw Thor: Ragnarok. It was lots of fun, even if I could see some of the jokes coming a mile away.

Thor: Ragnarok sign at We Cinemas at 321 Clementi.
At first I thought Thor was holding a saw. But no. Actually, it’s a helmet. That makes much more sense.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/thor-ragnarok/id1298386140

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

I’m not sure what the theme was, but the fantasy/action plot was suitably, um, suitable for a superficially fun fantasy/action movie, there were some good laughs, and although the dialog was somewhat predictable, it didn’t sound cardboardy—except when it was describing the evil magical stuff.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/thor-the-dark-world/id731796731

Keep reading for a plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (Season 4)

This season was all over the place.

For like the first third of the episodes, there’s a guy (Ghost Rider) who’s possessed by some kind of devil. What happened to science? The show is usually focused on superhero powers deriving from inhuman DNA being acted on by some kind of material transforming agent. Being possessed by a being from another dimension for no particular reason doesn’t fit very well with the science that gives everyone else weird powers. Also, how is it that his car can burst into flames and not burn? Did the car make a deal with the devil, too? Whatever.

Then Ghost Rider pretty much disappears, and we’ve got an android (AIDA) who has some powerful AI and also an evil magic book that looks like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer prop. Is the android the primary antagonist in the season, or is the primary antagonist the man who created her? There’s a lot of back and forth on that issue; I won’t give away the ending.

There’s a digital world called The Framework that’s suspiciously like the one in a certain movie I keep comparing everything to. It was created (with the help of the ridiculous-looking evil magic book) for a specific set of individuals to live in. In The Framework, one major regret was erased from each of those individuals’ lives. I object to the use of the word ‘regret’ in this context because the thing that changed wasn’t something that the individual was responsible for; it was just something that the person wished had been different. That confused me for a while.

It’s great that the characters care about each other, face tough choices, and overcome tough problems, but I enjoy the show mainly because the writing sparkles with humor. Some sci-fi (*cough cough* The 100) is just too serious.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/marvels-agents-of-s-h-i-e-l-d-season-4/id1145033336

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

So there’s the silliness, yeah, and the comic book costumes and sci-fi setting and all, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is also about… family. There are a bunch of serious emotions in the movie, all relating to what it means to feel a sense of belonging, whether as a sister, a father, a son—or a genetically anomalous member of a tightly knit team.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-2/id1225848804

Doctor Strange (2016)

I dare you to find a review of Doctor Strange that does not contain a variant of the word “kaleidoscope”. The special effects are indeed special.

As for the rest, you’ve got a gifted, wealthy, arrogant neurosurgeon, recently come down in the world; he gets his comeuppance from an ancient mystic who he hoped could give him back the use of his hands but who instead involves him in the struggle to protect Earth from some kind of evil purple chaos. Will he learn to suppress his ego, to conquer by submitting, or will he be seduced by raw power and the promise of immortality?

I loved the laugh-out-loud magic-meets-mundane humor as well as the special effects, but if you’re not a fan of fantasy, this Marvel Studios production will probably stretch your patience too far. There’s a bit of that same “the real world isn’t real” stuff that’s in the Matrix, which is fine as long as you don’t apply such fictional logic to the real real world. It’s not very tempting to do so, though, since the movie itself barely even takes the magic seriously.

What it does take seriously is the message. The movie wants us to remember that mental, physical, and mystical talents are all ultimately meaningless—or catastrophically destructive—if not wielded humbly.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/doctor-strange-2016/id1164294784

Keep reading for a detailed plot summary with SPOILERS in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Doctor Strange (2016)

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I enjoyed Captain America: Civil War overall. The major theme is choice, taking responsibility for one’s own actions and their consequences.

Some people seem to be reading implications about the role of America in international politics and policing into it, but I mostly think they’re missing the point.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/captain-america-civil-war/id1104040170

SPOILERS below, including a detailed plot summary in the form of a beat sheet in the style described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.

Continue reading Captain America: Civil War (2016)