Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Ant-Man and the Wasp, rated PG-13
*** ½

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is an exciting, action-packed summer film with plenty of humor. It is the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man. The film is directed by Payton Reed (Ant-Man). It is written by Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Chris McKenna, (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Spider-Man: Homecoming) Erik Sommers (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle; Spider-Man: Homecoming), Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. Christophe Beck, who composed the music for Ant-Man, again handles the music. The cost of the film was approximately $150 million.
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) returns as ex-con Scott Lang. He is starting his own security business in San Francisco and is under monitored house arrest by FBI agent Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park, for secretly helping Captain America in Captain America: Civil War. The creator of the Ant-Man suit Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas (Oscar winning producer for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and best actor in Wall Street), and his daughter Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly (Ant-Man, The Hobbit, Lost) have gone into hiding from the FBI, and are using an office building as their secret lab.
For thirty years, Pym’s wife Janet, played by three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, Dangerous Liaisons, Love Field) has been lost in the Quantum Realm. Hank raised his daughter Hope with the assumption that Janet was dead. But when Scott receives a message from Janet in a dream, there is hope that she is actually alive.
Meanwhile, Scott is trying hard to balance his responsibilities as father to Cassie, played by the adorable Abby Ryder Fortson (Ant-Man), with that of being a super hero. His ex is Maggie, played by Judy Greer (Ant-Man), who is married to Paxton, played by two-time Emmy winner Bobby Cannavale (Will & Grace, Boardwalk Empire).
Hope needs a part to complete the tunnel needed to reach Janet. She agrees to buy it from Black Market technology dealer Sonny Burch, played by Emmy nominee Walton Goggins (Justified). But Burch double-crosses her and wants to sell Hank’s lab.  Ava/Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen (Black Mirror), also wants to steal the lab as a cure to relieve her constant pain resulting from a childhood accident.
Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do With It?)  plays Dr. Bill Foster, Hanks’s estranged former S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague. Lang’s “X-Con” security crew team Kurt, played by David Dastmalchian (Ant-Man), Dave, played by T.I. (Ant-Man), and Luis, played by the hilarious Michael Pena (Ant-Man), provide comic relief.
The film is visually appealing, especially with the size changes of the Ant-Man, Wasp and secret lab. This leads to some good laughs as well. There are some exciting car chases, which feature excellent scenes of San Francisco.
A key theme in this film is the importance of family. We see that with Scott and Cassie, and also with Hank, Hope and Janet.
Content concerns include some completely unnecessary adult language, including the abuse of God’s and Jesus’ names, as well as some super-hero violence.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a pretty-much self-contained Marvel film. After the depressing ending of Avengers: Infinity War, I found this film to be a fun and exciting experience.
As with all Marvel films, don’t forget to sit through the ending credits.

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MOVIE REVIEW ~ DR. STRANGE

dr-strangeDr. Strange, rated PG-13
****

Dr. Strange is the fourteenth film to be released by Marvel Studios for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is directed and co-written (with C. Robert Cargill) by Scott Derrickson. The film is based on the Marvel Comics character created in 1963 by Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. The film had a budget of approximately $165 million. It’s designed as the Doctor Strange franchise-launcher, with sequels to follow.

Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) stars as the rich, egotistical New York City neurosurgeon Stephen Strange. Due to distracted driving, he gets into a terrible car accident that ruins his hands, and as a result, his career as a surgeon. He becomes even more cruel and withdrawn, lashing out at ex-lover and co-worker Christine Palmer (Oscar nominee Rachel McAdams).

Strange seeks healing for his hands. He is given a tip about a secret sect in Nepal led by a sorcerer referred to as the Ancient One (Best Actress Oscar winner Tilda SwInton). (Note: in the comic which debuted in 1963, the Ancient One is played by an older Tibetan male). The Ancient One opens Strange up to worlds he never believed existed as she introduces him to the spirit world. Previously, he only believed in a material world. Some of what you see may remind you of Inception and the Matrix films. Strange is exposed to the Mirror Dimension, in which the magic doesn’t affect people in the real world and the laws of physics don’t apply. We see Strange learn how to bend time and space.

Working with The Ancient One and mentoring Strange are Wong (Benedict Wong) and Karl Mordo (Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor).  The villain in the story is played by Kaecilus (Mads Mikkelsen), a former student of the Ancient One who steals pages out of an ancient book in the opening scene.

The film is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action throughout, and the intense crash scene. As far as content concerns for Christians, Cumberbatch has stated the spiritualism of Doctor Strange is what appealed to him the most about the role. Ted Baehr of MovieGuide.org, a site that I’ve consulted for years, has issued the below warning about the film:

Doctor Strange is a dangerous introduction to demonic occult deception….The Bible clearly warns against the kind of occult practices and sorcery the hero in this movie learns to do in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 and Galatians 5:20. Also, in the movie, the hero’s New Age occult guru teaches that there may be no afterlife, that death is truly the end, and that this is a good thing”.

Although I respect Dr. Baehr’s warning, I felt that the film did include some Christian themes of humility and sacrificing yourself for the good of others; it is basically a good vs. evil story. The evil offered eternal life, just as the serpent offered to Adam and Eve in the garden.  I saw the film in IMAX 3-D, and felt that it was worth the additional cost. The 3-D brought out the film’s excellent CGI (computer generated imagery). It is a visually stunning film and I would recommend you seeing it in 3-D.

I thought Cumberbatch was superb as Doctor Strange, and the supporting cast of Ejiofor, Wong, Swinton and McAdams solid. The film also includes some excellent humor and interesting details, such as a man on a bus reading The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley. First published in 1954, it details his experiences when taking mescaline.

I enjoyed the film’s costumes and Dr. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation. The musical score from Michael Giacchino also added to the enjoyment of the film.  I look forward to additional Dr. Strange films.

And with all Marvel films, don’t forget to wait after the movie. There are two end credits scenes.