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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My Review of TOMB RAIDER

Tomb Raider, rated PG-13
***

Tomb Raider is an exciting and entertaining film based on the popular video game series. The series reboot (there were 2001 and 2003 films starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft) is directed by Roar Uthaug (The Wave). The screenplay is written by Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons based on a story by Evan Daugherty. The musical score is by Junkie XL (Mad Max: Fury Road). The film had an estimated budget of $94 million.
Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina) stars as 21-year-old Lara Croft. She lives in London working as a bike courier scraping to make ends meet. She boxes in a local gym but doesn’t even have the money to pay the owner for her time in the gym. Her mother died when she was young. She loves her father, but as we see in flashbacks, he often leaves her (Emily Carey plays a young Lara) for extended periods of time.
Her father, Lord Richard Croft, played by two-time Golden Globe nominee Dominic West (The Affair, The Hour), has long been obsessed with the supernatural. He has built up an impressive business empire, but left Lara seven years ago looking for the hidden tomb of the Japanese Queen Himiko, the Mother of Death, and hasn’t been heard of since. Though Lara hasn’t heard from him, she refuses to believe that he is dead. If she would just agree to sign papers indicating that he is indeed dead, she could be financially secure and receive her inheritance, but she can’t bring herself to do that.

***SPOILER ALERT***
But eventually she gets to the point where she is planning to sign those papers. In that meeting, Lara is given a mysterious Japanese puzzle that her father left behind. The puzzle may leave her some clues as to her father’s disappearance. She decides to leave London and search for her missing father.
She travels to Hong Kong looking for the boat captain that had helped her father seven years ago. But he is missing too. She finds his alcoholic son, Lu Ren, played by Daniel Wu, a Hong Kong boat owner who agrees to give Lara a ride to the hidden island located in the dangerous Devil’s Sea, where Kimiko’s tomb is supposedly located.
On the island, they meet Mathias Vogel, played by Emmy nominee Walton Goggins (Justified). Vogel is an archeologist turned corporate mercenary. He has spent seven years trying to locate Himiko’s tomb, funded by the mysterious Trinity organization.
**********************

Themes in the film include self-sacrifice, bravery, family loyalty. Content issues include a good deal of intense action violence and some adult language, including at least one instance of abusing God’s name.
Alicia Vikander is excellent as the energetic and athletic Lara Croft. To prepare for the role, she put on a lot of muscle to play Lara, as she wanted the character to be as realistic as possible. She also wanted to do her own stunts. We see her leaping, swimming, running and shooting a bow and arrow.
Tomb Raider is an exciting action hero film and the end of the film sets up a sequel. I have to admit that I am not familiar with the video game, nor did I see the first two films, so I can’t compare this film to the game or previous films. But I did very much enjoy this well-made film without that background and look forward to the next film in the series.