A Huge Film About A Tiny Hero

Lake Charles, LA

I know that Marvel’s Ant-Man has been out for a few weeks now.  I also know that I’m late to the game on this film.  I fully intended to see it on its opening weekend, but LIFE happened and I just never could seem to get my butt in a chair at the theater.  After seeing the film, though, I’m both happy and sad that I waited so long to see it.

Why am I both happy and sad?  Well, I’m happy because the theater wasn’t jam-packed full of people when I finally got to see the film.  This meant that the odds of running into an idiot with a loud mouth or a screaming child with a parent who just won’t leave the theater were pretty low.  I really, really, REALLY dislike constant interruptions during films, and for this reason I will often wait a week or two before checking out some films.

I was sad because the film was no longer available in 3D in my local theater.  Since Marvel has been releasing films in 3D, I’ve only missed seeing them as such once before watching Ant-Man, and that was Thor, because I didn’t think it would be worth the extra bucks to see in 3D.  I was wrong then and I wish that I had the chance to watch Ant-Man in 3D as well.  The visuals were awesome, particularly the scenes involve ant action.

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SPOILER FREE REVIEW AHEAD!!!  KEEP ON READING!!!

Ant-Man was extremely well-paced, finding the perfect balance between humor, action, and drama.  It follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a man recently released from prison who is looking to start fresh, support his daughter, and change his ways.  As is often the case for ex-cons, though, getting and finding a job is tough, so he ends up in a situation where his hand is forced and he has to take on a “job” that’s a sure thing.

That sure thing, though, was anything but.

Lang finds himself under the tutelage of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who is just as sharp (if not sharper) than BOTH of the Stark men involved with S.H.I.E.L.D.  Lang agrees to help Pym put a stop to his former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has plans that involve tech based on Pym’s own research.  Without revealing too much, Cross’ plans involve selling his tech to a certain secret organization that has posed a threat to the Marvel Cinematic Universe for some time now and shows no signs of slowing down.

In order to stop Cross, Lang, Pym, and Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), put a huge scheme into play that involves three “associates” of Lang who have experience in illegal affairs.  This trio, Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (Tip Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian), provides a lot of the humor in this film, with Pena stealing just about every scene that he’s in.

In fact, I would say that of all of the Marvel flicks that have been released so far, Ant-Man‘s supporting cast is the strongest one yet.  From the aforementioned supporting cast to actors such as Judy Greer, Wood Harris, Bobby Cannavale, Martin Donovan, and a few surprises from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film is loaded with brilliant acting.

The primary villain in this film (and I promise that this isn’t a spoiler since this guy is in the trailer) is Yellowjacket (Stoll), and while his actual screen time as Yellowjacket is brief, Stoll excels as Darren Cross on the screen.  Cross danced on that fine line between being a good guy that’s broken emotionally/mentally and being a bad guy who just wants to have his own piece of the pie (albeit a pretty big piece).

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The action scenes were excellent.  The powers of the heroes and villains in this film could have looked ludicrous and silly as all get out on the screen, but production nailed each and every scene involving Ant-Man and Yellowjacket.  Sure, some of the scenes were played for gags, but they didn’t take away from the plot or break the flow of the film in any way.

In short, I LOVED Ant-Man.  Action, humor, drama, perfect direction, excellent music, and flawless editing made this easily one of my top five Marvel films.  I highly recommend it and if you haven’t seen it yet, GO SEE IT!!!!!  You will not regret watching this excellent film!

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll be posting about the second episode of Fear The Walking Dead in a few days.

Will California Walkers Have Perfect Tans???? A Quick Look At The Premiere of “Fear The Walking Dead”

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On Sunday night, a record setting 10.1 million viewers tuned in for AMC’s premiere of Fear The Walking Dead.  Teased for months and pushed as a series that begins with the beginning of the zombie outbreak, expectations were high for Fear.   The record viewership doesn’t surprise me one bit, as the show has a loyal, built-in audience thanks entirely to its predecessor, The Walking Dead.  I’m one of those loyal fans, and I was extremely interested to see just what Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson (the creators of Fear) had planned for me and other fans.

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!!!!!!WARNING!!!!!!  MILD SPOILERS (FOR BOTH FEAR AND TWD) POSSIBLY AHEAD!!!  You’ve been warned!

So how was the show?  Well…..it was a start.  In all honesty I wasn’t that impressed.  Now before you get angry and accuse me of being a mouth-breathing simpleton that only watches zombie movies and television shows for the zombie action, know that the primary reason that I watch and love The Walking Dead is for the brilliant character development.  I love how characters like Beth (RIP), Carol, Glenn, and Carl have developed from stereotypical characters that would end up as nothing but window dressing in other programs into fully fleshed out characters that have matured, become empowered, and transformed into entirely different people as the show has progressed.

But wait, Ken, this was only the first episode of Fear The Walking Dead!  You can’t judge the show’s character development after just one episode!  Really???  Why not?  After one episode I knew that I liked Rick and wanted to learn more about him.  I didn’t trust Shane, but he seemed like a guy who was at least trying to keep it together.  Morgan moved me, particularly in the scene where he sees his zombified wife in the street and he can’t bring himself to shoot her.  Glenn’s cocky voice over the radio to Rick made me want to meet the kid attached to it.  That first episode hooked me.

The characters in Fear The Walking Dead didn’t hook me at all.  Frank Dillane’s drugged out Nick opened the show, waking up in a haze in an abandoned church.  He fumbles around looking for a girl named Gloria and quickly finds out that some serious business had gone down in the house of worship.  He’s so high, though, that he’s not entirely sure if what he’s seeing is real or a byproduct of bad medicine.  He then runs out into the street and is hit by a vehicle.

Enter his mom, Madison (Kim Dickens), his future stepfather, Travis (Cliff Curtis), and his sister, Alicia (Alycia Debnam Carey), who are getting ready for another day at school.  Madison is the local school counselor who is attempting to blend her family with Travis’ family.  Travis is a teacher at the same school where Madison works.  Alicia is super smart and ready to move out on her own in college.

More characters were introduced and more are on the way in future episodes, but the first batch of characters we get to see were unlikeable, annoying, and bland.  Nick is a putz.  Perhaps he will develop into an interesting character (I’m especially interested in seeing him fight his drug addiction in a world that is falling apart), but I honestly do not care if this character lives or dies before the end of the season.  Alicia didn’t draw me in either.  She’s just sort of there for the entire episode.  Travis has potential, as he seems to be the only person that is honestly trying to get to the bottom of Nick’s story about seeing Gloria eating people in the church.  His heart is in the right place, but again, he didn’t grab me like Rick or Shane did in the TWD premiere.  The most unlikeable character of all (with Nick being a close second) is Madison.  She’s abrasive and the stereotypical uber-attack mother/cool school counselor who defends her loser kid against the cops even though he’s done something illegal (and the cops say that they have no intention to arrest him while interviewing him).  I can understand her being a mama bear, but she also needs to let her kid take responsibility once in awhile.

The episode spent a lot of time with Madison and Travis trying to find Nick and Nick stumbling around town looking like a walker and calling his dealer.  Alicia watches a video with her friends of a man getting shot multiple times (and only the head shot taking him down) and arguing whether it’s real or not.  Madison and Travis finally come face-to-face with a walker after a confrontation between Nick and his dealer.  Then the episode calls it a night.

Is their potential for this show to get better?  Absolutely.  It will be interesting to see how the characters react to what’s happening around them in the early stages of the zombie outbreak and how society as a whole breaks down in response to the world collapses right in front of them.

I have high hopes for this show, but the characters lack the charisma that the characters on TWD had right out of the gate.  I’ll give it a couple of more episodes, but as of right now it’s not must-see TV.

Let me know what you think about the show in the comments section and, as always, thanks for reading.

A True Hero Dies And A Brief Update

Maryland And In Hearts Big And Small

I never knew Leonard Robinson. Up until a couple of years ago I didn’t even know that he existed. However, today my heart grew heavy when I heard the news that he passed away on Sunday in an accident on a Maryland highway. Robinson was a self-made success story that dressed up like Batman and rode around in a Lamborghini that was tricked out to look like a Batmobile. That might sound silly to some people, particularly the general public, but in reality, Robinson was not just a Batman enthusiast. He was much more than that. He was a hero, a TRUE hero, that dressed as Batman and spent his own money to visit sick children in hospitals as the Dark Knight.

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Leonard Robinson brought joy to children that were sick, some even terminally sick. Children who probably saw doctors and nurses more than some of their own family members received love, friendship, gifts, and a smile from Batman. Robinson might have been the Dark Knight, but he was and still is a bright and shining symbol of just how great humanity can be when it decides to do something right.

You can read a bit more about his tragic death here: Baltimore Batman Dies In Accident

You will be missed, Dark Knight. Keep your vigil in the heavens.

Now, on to other things. I’ll be attending Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA on October 17th and 18th. As of right now they are still adding guests to their lineup. Celebrity guests include Sean Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Lew Temple (The Walking Dead, The Lone Ranger) as well as others. Comic artists include Rob Guillory and Kody Chamberlain and others. There will be vendors, artists, and cosplay guests in attendance as well.

I attended another event put on by the group in charge of this one, AVC Conventions, earlier this year in Bossier City. While the event was fun, it was cramped and there were many people unhappy with the event. Hopefully AVC learned from these growing pains and they won’t have the same problem in Lafayette. One major improvement is having the event spread out over two days. Tickets are fifteen dollars for a day pass or twenty-five dollars for the weekend. If you attend, look for me. I’ll be Charlie Brown on Saturday and the Discount Dark Knight on Sunday.

More info can be found here: Louisiana Comic Con

I still haven’t seen Ant-Man yet, and it’s killing me. Hopefully I can catch it one night this week or if it’s still playing, this weekend. I’ll probably go check out Fantastic Four also, even though the reviews are terrible.

Oh, Fear The Walking Dead debuts this weekend, and I hope it’s at least half as good as its predecessor, The Walking Dead. Convention season is coming to an end for me, but the fall TV lineup is just getting warmed up!

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As always, thanks for reading. Hopefully I’ll see a few of you at Louisiana Comic Con in October!

Fall In Love With Comics Again

Comic Book Discussion Circles Everywhere

I’ve read comics off and on for most of my life.  As a young child, my favorite heroes were primarily DC characters like Batman, Superman, and The Flash.  Some of the lesser known heroes in DC’s stable such as Firestorm, Black Lightning, and Plastic Man held my interest as well.  The only Marvel heroes that I liked when I was younger were Spider-Man and Hulk, and that was primarily due to the fact that those two characters were in comics, on television (including Spidey in snippets on PBS), and on cartoons on Saturday morning.

As I matured, the X-Men, Daredevil, Captain America, and to a lesser degree, characters such as The Punisher and Ghost Rider, grabbed my attention.  Gone were the brightly colored spandex suits of DC’s big heroes, making way for the grittier, (seemingly) more adult tone of Marvel’s herd tackling issues that I was slowly beginning to understand like racism, gang violence, politics, internal emotional struggle, etc.

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When I entered college, I left the two big guys in the dust for titles from Image like Hellshock  and Codename: Strykeforce.  These titles were tougher than your standard Marvel and DC books (although I now know that DC and Marvel both had some pretty intense titles in publication during the 1990’s) and I loved them.

Now, less than a year away from turning forty years old, I’ve found myself back on the DC train.  While I’ve read and enjoyed many recent Marvel titles, DC has won me over, particularly with their New 52 batch that came out a few years ago.  Geoff Johns and company got me interested in Aquaman, for crying out loud, and I do believe that I’ve fallen in love with Mera as well.

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I’m championing the likes of Black Manta and Ocean Master and have taken a lot of interest in Cyborg, Wonder Woman, and Animal Man.  Heck, even Robin, specifically Damian Wayne, has become an important part of my life.  Couple that with the brilliant television shows Arrow and The Flash, and the promising looks of Suicide Squad and Batman Vs. Superman coming to the big screen, and I’m pretty much a DC guy through and through.

Granted, I’m still a bit behind on the times as the New 52 has already been replaced recently, but DC has reminded why I loved comic books and superheroes so much as a child.  I loved to see Superman enter the fight and wipe the floor clean without breaking a sweat.  I enjoyed seeing Batman break cases and dig up clues, all the while fending off attacks from costumed villains such as The Riddler, Penguin, and, of course, The Joker.  I couldn’t wait to see these larger than life characters take on insurmountable odds and come out on top.

Why?  Why did I love those types of stories so much as a child and have rediscovered that love for them again at my current age?

Because every year that I grow older and become wiser to the insane world in which we live, I NEED an escape, and DC’s heroes provide that escape more than any other stable of comic characters.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I still love to see the X-Men fight super villains and discrimination at the same time, and every once in awhile I prefer to see the young version of Peter Parker fight school bullies, but ultimately I need a getaway, and DC has done that for me in spades.

I know that I’m doing a lot of rambling here and I do apologize for that, but if you haven’t read a comic in recent years, go out and grab one.  I highly recommend The New 52 run of Batman and Robin and the Justice League titles from the same series.  The rebooted origin story of the JLA is awesome and hilarious at the same time.  I also highly recommend the Aquaman series in The New 52.  In just a few panels, Geoff Johns blows up any preconceived notions you might have had about everybody’s favorite fishy guy.

Go ahead, escape for a bit.  You deserve it.

As always, thanks for reading, and feel free to comment below about any of your favorite books on the shelf now or from when you were a kid.

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