ANT-MAN & THE WASP
Release Date: 2nd August
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
The film opens in 1987 as Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) are heading out on a mission, leaving their daughter Hope in the care of their housekeeper. As Ant-Man and the Wasp, they shrink themselves to stop a Soviet nuclear missile from hitting American soil.
But in the course of saving America from a deadly nuclear blast, Janet is forced to render herself sub-atomic to divert the missile into the ocean, leaving her lost and presumed dead in the Quantum Realm. However, with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), as the new Ant-Man, Hank tells Hope (Evangeline Lilly) that there might be a way to bring Janet back.
In the present day, Scott has been under house arrest after violating the Sokovia Accords by working with Captain America. Despite his home confinement, which is closely monitored by FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Scott escapes with the help of Hope, who cleverly brings a giant ant in as part of the deception.
Taken to Hank's lab where a tunnel to the Quantum Realm has been built, Scott and Hope suit up for a mission to bring Janet back. Directed by Peyton Reed, the cast also includes Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer and Laurence Fishburne. As well as his starring role, Rudd also collaborated on the screenplay with Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers and Gabriel Ferrari. Having already broken box office records in the US, the film joins the ever-expanding list of superhero films - but one that never takes itself too seriously.
Despite a script that’s far too dense at times - too many cooks spoil the broth, perhaps? - it is saved from dullness by a cheeky humour similar to Guardians of the Galaxy. Rudd has always been a comedian with good timing, and lifts Ant-Man above the ordinary with a clever combination of wit and drama. Indeed he’s well assisted by Michael Peña and Randall Park, whose chemistry is unexpected and endearing. There are plenty of special effects, and, of course, a solid cast who guaranteed the project does what it promises on the tin. And be sure to stay in your seat until after the end credits for an interesting surprise.
Kids can have a monster’s ball
HOTEL TRANSLYVANIA 3
Release date: 27th July
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg
It’s August, and everybody loves a holiday - including monsters. In this third instalment of the Disney franchise, the setting is away from the usual family hotel as Mavis (Selena Gomez) decides Drac (Adam Sandler) needs a break from the stress of the hospitality business. Naturally, Frankenstein (Kevin James) and Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) come along for the ride.
The gang opt to take a cruise on the RMS Legacy, which bears an uncanny likeness to the Titanic, into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle. hings get complicated, when Drac falls fangs over heels for the vessel’s Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn) - who is actually a member of the Van Helsing clan of legendary vampire hunters who have made it their life’s work to kill Dracula.
This is a ‘zing’ - the moment in every vampire’s life when they know they’ve found their one true love - with lots of complications attached. Along the way there are a heap of outrageous scenes - flying with Gremlin Air, an ancient WWII plane piloted by gang of goblins, followed by an Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark close encounter, and a lost city of Atlantis populated entirely by monsters of every shape and size.
While the key theme of the earlier films was witnessing the strained emotional trials experienced by Drac on becoming a father and grandfather within the confines of the family’s hotel, moving the action this time around to the cruise ship and Atlantis does upend much of the guaranteed comedy for a setting that doesn’t ignite quite as expected.
That said, Sandler - an actor this reviewer has little time for in real life - does still manage to prompt many a chuckle and belly laugh as he veers into romantic tomfoolery, vampire style. The production design by Scott Wills is a big step up from the previous films, with many new monster creations, including a shoal of fish waiters and the Van Helsing godfather living in an iron-lung powered by unleaded fuel. Director Genndy Tartakovsky, who has helmed the three films, apparently got the inspiration for the story after a miserable family vacation with his own clan.
A master of that kinetic Looney Tunes manic cartoon style of animation, Tartakovsky’s style and creativity do push Hotel Transylvania 3 to the best of the three - but still lacking somewhat in the scripting duties, which he also undertook in collaboration with Michael McCullers. Composer Mark Mothersbaugh is also on board for this third outing, and whose soundtrack is mightily enhanced by the trance-like beats of DJ Tiësto.
Rounding out the voice cast once again are Mel Brooks, Fran Drescher, David Spade, Tara Strong, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Parnell. Is it a good rainy day distraction for the young ones over August? Definitely yes.