Quotes Quiz – Movies with Groundhogs Day Themes

A Groundhog Day Movie repeats the same day over and over (and over) until the main character gets it “right.” Basically the person trapped in the time loop needs to use science/magic (or something never actually explained) to ‘level up’ to the next day, and continue their lives.

Seen any good movies like that? There’s a bunch of them, and TV episodes too.¬†Let’s start with the Bill Murray classic of the same name and play with some quotes. I sincerely doubt you’ll get that one wrong. ūüôā You’ve got ten questions, and, like a Groundhog Day Loop, you can take the quiz endlessly until you get it perfectly right. I give you the quote and you answer with the right movie. Begin!

groundhog day themes

Now that¬† you’ve taken the test, read our reviews on each of these time looping movies. Which ones are your favorites?

18 Groundhog Day Type Movies – the Ultimate Repeating Day List

Movie Review – Looper

Movie Review – Before I Fall

Movie Review – Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

Edge of Tomorrow – Lyrics and Video to Love Me Again – A Kickin’ Action GroundHog Day Themed Movie

Movie Review – Happy Death Day

 

All the Clues to the Killer in Happy Death Day (SPOILERS)

Virgin Review – Source Code

Movie Review – Doctor Strange

Virgin Movie Review – Bad Santa

Billy bob thornton in bad santa
Don’t sit on my lap. I don’t care what you want for Christmas. Dirty little f#@kers.

Billy Bob Thornton can act. He’s underrated, but shows a consistent range throughout his filmography. During the holiday season, he’s even got two popular rewatchable Christmas songs under his belt. He’s completely believable, whether he’s a smary President of the United States,¬† or the world’s meanest, drunkest Santa.

Spoilers Ahead!

And here’s where Bad Santa begins. I have a surprising amount of holes in my “personal” movie database, and this is another film I never had a chance to see. Now upon watching it, I’d say he really is the worst Santa imaginable, and I thought Dan Akroyd’s dirty/hungry Santa in Trading Places would get this award.

[pullquote]Thornton’s Santa is more like a Grinch or a Scrooge than anything else, except that this character is worse. [/pullquote]He’s a dirty, mean drunk who snarls at children and pisses himself. He leers at and and grabs women (wait — he ALSO did this as the US President in Love, Actually). He has one useful skill — cracking safes — and uses the money to drink on the beach until the next Christmas season, where he can start it up again.

I expected this film to be pure low-brow comedy.[pullquote position=”right”] It wasn’t until the second act that I realized this is a drama — a drama with comedic points — with a real storyline in there, and a lot of pathos. [/pullquote]Thornton suffuses his character with strong whiffs of desperation, alienation, and the complete lack of a moral compass.

In a word, this Santa is a vile man. It takes an awful lot to stir him towards anything remotely resembling compassion. By the time he’s gassing himself in the garage, we pity this human husk. I waited for him to become a better person, but when I saw him in the car, I thought his story was done — it would be a reasonable ending; we’d all walk out sad, but it made sense.

Turns out some kind of Christmas Angel was smiling upon him in Arizona. He meets a couple of people who like him for no real reason. He’s rude to them — super rude, in fact — but they come back for more, slowly breaking down his self-imposed barriers of isolation. What happens over the course of the film is nothing short of a Christmas Miracle (TM). He doesn’t end up a nice man by any means, but he’s found a reason to live, and to reach out to others, and discovers the remnants of his own humanity. He ends up exactly where he needs to be, ready for an ersatz family to care for.

In other news, I liked Bad Santa a whole lot, more than I thought I would. Never once did it get syrupy or tug on my heartstrings. But in spite of myself, I rooted for this guy in the end. If you don’t like the Hallmark Christmas subset of a genre, try watching this.

Movie Grade: B

A Merry Movie Christmas – The RunPee Family’s Favorite Holiday Films

Movie ReWatch Review – RED

bruce willis and morgan freeman in RED
Retired, Extremely Dangerous

To start with, the title RED in this film is an acronym for Retired, Extremely Dangerous. As retirees, we see these characters don’t have much of a life anymore. That’s the set-up, starting with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses, lost in an empty house devoid of personal decor. I can see where it would be tough for such deadly folks to ease back into American suburbia, after a career of honing themselves into CIA weapons.

[pullquote]What do you do, after a rough life of adventure and government-condoned murder?[/pullquote] Make bogus government paycheck calls in a desperate attempt to connect with someone, like Bruce Willis’ infamous black-ops character? Pine away over lost love, like Brian Cox’s Russian spy; live in a bunker, like John Malcovich’s crazy bomber; or make flower arrangements and bake like a Martha Stewart clone, as Helen Mirren’s wetworks expert is reduced to?

These are good questions, and I don’t know how the real-life ex-agents manage to “transition,” as Moses puts it.

In RED, it’s nice to see the connection — and grudging respect — growing between Karl Urban’s ambitious young agent, in contrast to Willis’ older, jaded Moses. Urban’s Cooper is well on his way to becoming just like the people he’s hunting, but we start rooting for all¬†of them somewhere along the way. [pullquote]There’s a lot of care to establish these characters as gifted, yet fallible people, and not impervious superhero agents.[/pullquote] They take bullets, make costly mistakes, love the wrong people, and — in spite of the pain —¬† they miss the old days.

Make no mistake.[pullquote position=”right”]This is a clever, funny movie. It doesn’t shy from violence, but there’s a lot of discretion shots and it’s not gory. The soundtrack is absolutely affable, with the whole affair as slick and stylish as Pulp Fiction — or even better, an older and more lethal version of Ocean’s 11. [/pullquote]When Freeman gleefully announces, “The band’s getting back together,”¬† I wanted to cheer.

These actors are known for their authentic character roles over decades of work, and the ensemble meshed like magic. I couldn’t get enough of their amusingly tense sparring, and can’t wait to see the sequel I somehow missed the first time around. I’ll catch RED 2 next and see if the story picks up right where it leaves off.

Helen Mirren’s Virginia reminded me of a gleeful, older¬†Xena: Warrior Princess. She has the same focused, deadly, competent joy in her work; she just seemed grateful to get to murder with the other kids again. You go, Dame Mirren!

Even though this movie came out in 2010,¬† the actors haven’t aged at all. Morgan Freeman and Mirren both just headlined a brand-new fantasy feature this week (The Nutcracker and the 4 Realms), and honestly, they look the same. Good genes, I guess. (I don’t think Morgan Freeman ages. He did play God once…)

Usually the villains in CIA/FBI shoot-em-up movies are lame, with the MacGuffins fungible. Here, I felt invested in the stakes and cared about the outcome. The Vice President was a sad figure in the end. That worked.

Richard Dreyfuss’ self-titled Bad Guy was a bit over the top (not in the good way), and detracted somewhat from the otherwise graceful “execution” (lol) of a really enjoyable thriller. Dreyfuss is usually an extremely competent actor. But his was the only off-key note in RED. Maybe I can¬† blame the director for that.

Basically, this is darn good movie that holds up nicely over time. I’m excited to view the sequel tonite, and will post a review to the link soon.

Movie Grade: A

Best Rock, Pop Songs in Non-Musical Movies

Thor Ragnarok Immigrant Song
A man with his own theme song.

If you love movies, you’re probably an aficionado of films using rock or pop hits in their stories as well. You can put this mental connection to good use if you run playlists on Alexa/Google Home/cell phone/whatever, loading it up to play songs evoking your favorite films. Use the lists all day long, to wake you up, get you ready for the day’s work, psych you for a workout, or keep you going through a long night of studying.

For example: you can make morning playlists to wake you softly…and then more insistently, by starting with Deadpool’s Angel in the Morning, and moving on to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2’s Mr. Blue Sky.

Some films have a soundtrack with either 1. a piece of music tonally inappropriate to the scene at hand, and it is glorious (Again, see Angel in the Morning), or 2. a rockin’ Earth track to underscore how cool a scene is (as in Thor’s Immigrant Song). I’m not going to include music like ABBA from Mamma Mia 1 & 2, since those movies are clearly musicals. Let’s also leave out dance movies like Footloose, Flash Dance, Dirty Dancing, etc.

I made a notation where the music is Diegetic (a case where the music is played within the storyline, where characters actually hear the music themselves).

I’m going to get a list started here.¬†Enjoy the videos, and good luck getting these awesome earworms out of your head.

  • Angel of the Morning – Deadpool (Total earworm bait)
        • Immigrant Song – Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers Infinity War (The lyrics from Led Zeppelin are so perfect, they reprised it thrice! Here is each scene, in order)

  • Sabotage – Star Trek 2009 (Young Kirk, stealing his dad’s car — Diegetic — I can’t believe I missed adding this one yesterday,as it’s the best character introduction EVER)
  • Sabotage is even reprised in Star Trek Beyond (Diegetic)
  • And Star Trek Beyond goes even further with Fight the Power (yes, Diegetic too)
    • Dreamweaver – Wayne’s World (Inappropriate perfection)
    • Bohemian Rhapsody – Wayne’s World (Diegetic)

 

        • The entire playlists of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vols 1 & 2 (Diegetic)

        • Avengers Infinity War – The Rubber Band Man (Diegetic, and used for the introduction of the aforementioned Guardians)

      • Come Together – Justice League ( think this was only used in the trailer, but it works)
      • The entire playlist of Pulp Fiction (Some of it is Diegetic)
      • Back in the Saddle Again – RED (Perfect choice)

    • Radioactive – The Host (End credits)
    • Avengers 1 – Shoot to Thrill (Diegetic, when Iron Man hijacks the speakers of the Quinjet)

        • Iron Man 1 – Back In Black (Diegetic in the cold open Army Hummer)

    • Iron Man 1¬† – Iron Man, (Closing credits)

    • Iron Man 2 – Shoot to Thrill, complete song (Diegetic, at Iron Man’s Expo)

  • Iron Man¬† 3 – Can You Dig It? (End credits sequence)¬†
  • Don’t Stop Me Now – Shaun of the Dead (Diegetic, on the jukebox: “Kill the Queen!”)

  • X-Men: Days of Future’s Past – Time in a Bottle¬† (Quicksilver’s Sequence)
    • X-Men: Apocalypse – Sweet Dreams are Made of This (Quicksilver, again)

        • Oh Yeah Great uses in two songs! – Risky Business and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

    • Risky Business also has Old Time Rock and Roll (Diegetic)

    • Don’t You Forget About Me – The Breakfast Club

    • Ghostbusters¬† -In the original Ghostbusters
    • AXL F¬† – Beverly Hills Cop

      • Ruthless People¬† – Opening credits of Ruthless People

    • Caddyshack – I’m All Right (Gopher opening sequence)

I’m going to wrap this¬† up and work on other things now. This list could probably¬†go on for the length of a book. So…tell me what egregious misses I made. I’ll add to the list and give you the credit.

 

Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

Han shot first.
He’s got a really good feeling about this.

I don’t know why so many Star Wars fans have a problem with Solo. All I can think of is that it was released too close to The Last Jedi, which really incited the fan base. Otherwise, [pullquote]I can’t imagine why this excellent film was panned. I loved it, and I’m not sure yet where I’d rank Solo, but in the top four or five of the Star Wars films, at least.[/pullquote] (Okay, I added my ranking on the link above. Feel free to disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, in the comments below.)

I recently re-watched Solo on the seat back of my cross country Delta flight, and I was delighted. It’s definitely better the second (or third, or fourth) time around, and what’s nice about the seat-back thing is that I could pause it and rewatch the little random and funny moments to my heart’s content. I paused it a lot: watching joyful references to previous Star Wars movies, and I laughed out loud several times (probably annoying my seatmates).

What was so great about Solo? It was a rousing adventure with several great villains, lovely set pieces, and a likable cast. We’re introduced to a young, wet-behind-the-ears Han, who’s still idealistic and dreams big. [pullquote position=”right”]Over the course of the film we start to see his trademark cynicism kick in, culminating with Han¬†definitively shooting first. But he’s so sweet and baby-faced here, and so willing to be a hero. [/pullquote]It’s a nice contrast, and I can see why he both felt frustrated by and protective of the young Luke Skywalker — it reminded him of himself, back in the day.

The new Han actor is a special find, and I’m thrilled with his performance. Harrison Ford gushed over him (and Ford is a normally taciturn man), and told him — when Alden Ehrenreich¬†was cast — to make Han his own. I think Ehrenreich walked a good line between an homage to “old Han” and a gentler, fresher version. It worked for me. Plus, he had great chemistry with the new Chewie, and most of the laughs came from their early friendship (the rest of the laughs came from Lando, but I’ll get to that in a moment). The scene where Han and Chewie shower together, especially, is really cute. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) Chewbacca has always been a grounding force for Han, operating as a sort of conscience for the experienced smuggler he becomes.

The ensemble sparkled, unlike the problems inherent in the characters of Rogue One (come on, admit it). Q’ira is a complex love interest, and adorable to boot. Her story arc is sensible, sad, and intriguing. Woody Harrelson’s Becket made for a great conflicted mentor, kind of like a less reliable version of his Hunger Games Heymitch character, if that’s even possible. [pullquote]Paul Bettany’s villain is outstanding, period — he’s amusing, personable, complicated, and very, very frightening.[/pullquote]

Which brings me to Donald Glover’s Lando. Dear God, the perfection. He effortlessly stole every scene he was in. I[pullquote position=”right”] could view an entire movie of Lando playing Sabaac, or trying on just capes, and be entertained. [/pullquote]Can our next Star Wars Story feature him? Please?

Lastly, the Millennium Falcon was a big character in Solo. She’s always been a fast ship — when she worked — but that’s because of Han’s special modifications over the years. Here we see the Falcon as a brand-new, squeaky clean ship, with all the bells and whistles and wet bars and cape closets. It’s amazing to be presented with a white-walled interior after all the grungy years.

The ensemble absolutely clicked, and I’m left wondering, again, why people didn’t like this movie. Maybe it was the coaxial heist plot, which wasn’t all that exciting. Coaxium, hyperfuel, whatever: it’s just a MacGuffin to hang the narrative on. [pullquote]Solo is a small-stakes story, which is just fine after so many retread Death Star plots. It doesn’t always have to be about saving the universe to be a great movie.[/pullquote]

Lastly, I wanted to make a note about the muchly-heralded escape from the Maw in 12 parsecs (nice correlation to the old Extended Universe novels, BTW). It’s not the most exciting element of the film, and doesn’t feature Han doing anything particularly skilled. As RunPee Dan said in his review, “It’s a group effort.” I have no issues with that, since Han said “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.” The ship. Not that he’s the big bad pilot that did it. His off hand comment allows for what actually happened, instead of being a misleading boast. Han has many flaws, but he’s never one to mislead others.

It also puts to bed the problem with parsecs being a measurement of space and not time. It worked for me, mostly…but [pullquote position=”right”]I won’t lie and say the Kessel Run sequence doesn’t make for a great Peetime. [/pullquote]The Maw’s effects weren’t up to the standards of Star Wars, and the space dwelling monster was just plain atrocious. I prefer the asteroid-based space slug from Empire, if we have to have an impossible creature feature. ūüėČ

While there were a lot of super fun nods to the original trilogy, I have to say my favorite was Han saying, “I have a good feeling about this.” I found it cute, and it made me smile. I think I need to make a list of every character in the rest of the series intoning, “I have a bad feeling about this.” (UPDATE: I DID IT HERE.) Which, yeah, bad things happened indeed, but it was a pleasure to see a Star Wars film where people were kind of having fun, for once.

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

I have a bad feeling about this…

Ranking The Star Wars Films

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

13 Scenes from Star Wars you won’t have missed if you had RunPee

Movie Review – The Last Jedi

Best Movie MacGuffins Explained

Star Wars is loaded with MacGuffins. Can you name them all?

A MacGuffin is any object that drives the plot and motivates the characters in a movie. You might have seen the name “MacGuffins” over bar bistros in the lobbies of many AMC theaters. That’s an industry in-joke.[pullquote] It sounds like the name of an Irish pub, but it’s really a nod to a long standing film tradition, coined by Alfred Hitchcock himself, for an object that’s an excuse to make characters do things, have a quest for, and usually fight over.[/pullquote]

MacGuffins can be almost anything, but the point is, it is a “thing.” Sometimes a MacGuffin can be a person-as-thing, but that’s a bit more rare. Another crucial point about MacGuffins — they’re usually quite fungible. [pullquote position=”right”]It really doesn’t matter what the thing is, so long as the characters spend their narrative trying to get it (or, in some cases, lose it).¬†[/pullquote]

Here are some well-known movie MacGuffins that you probably never thought about: 

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark — this whole flick is about finding the Ark, protecting the Ark, using the Ark, and finding a safe place to store it. I’m not sure an FBI warehouse is the safest place, but it’s probably as good as keeping it under the sands of Tanis. Note that for all Indy’s efforts, ¬†nothing he does actually helps the cause in the end. He’s just lucky he knew enough not to die from it. And as we saw in the subsequent Indiana Jones films, there’s always some kind of MacGuffin driving the plot, including the Holy Grail. This is a case-book example of MacGuffins in action. (And yes, the holy grail in Monty Python’s Holy Grail counts too.)
  • Titanic – The Heart of the Ocean. Awwww.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of The Black Pearl – the last coin of the cursed gold qualifies, and so does Will Turner himself. I think each film in this increasingly bizarre series centers in a MacGuffin of some sort.
  • Most of the Mission Impossible series has a MacGuffin driving the plot, which really is just an excuse to see Tom Cruise pulling off his own wild stunts.
  • The Necronomicon in Army of Darkness qualifies in a super fun way. Have you seen this movie? (Go find it. Bruce Campbell is the best B actor in the business.)
  • A Fish Called Wanda has the bag of money, and a whole lot of tomfoolery involved in getting it, including an actual fish named Wanda. (Haven’t seen this? It’s one of the world’s funniest movies and stands up to the test of time.)
  • The Project Genesis in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. But you knew this, right? Even the whales in The Voyage Home count.
  • Unobtainium is kind of a jokey name, but certainly qualifies as a MacGuffin in Avatar. The natives of Pandora need it to survive, and the invading humans want it. They also kind of get it. Bummer. ¬†It all works out in the end, mostly.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe is all about MacGuffins. You could make a case for each of the current 20 films having some kind of MacGuffin. Most of them have to do with Infinity Stones, and who has them, and who tries to protect them from Thanos (or Ronan, or Loki, or the bad guy in Dr. Strange, or that dark Elf in Thor 2). Remember the stones go by all kinds of names, like the Orb, the Aether, the Tesseract, and so on. But it’s not always about the stones: Vulture just wanted alien technology. The Iron Man trilogy was about arc reactor tech. Killmonger wanted the power of Vibranium. Thor sought a replacement for his hammer, so Stormbreaker was the latest MacGuffin. Ant Man is about Quantum Tech and Pym Particles. Name me one MCU movie NOT about a MacGuffin, and you’ll win ten points to your Hogwarts House.
  • Speaking of Harry Potter, I don’t think a single entry in the 8 movie pantheon is MacGuffin-free. Look at the Sorcerer/Philosopher’s stone, the Tri-Wizard cup, the orb of prophecy, the Horcrux search, the quest for the Sword of Gryffindor, and the Deathly Hallows. Since Harry turned out to be a horcrux himself, he qualifies as a personified MacGuffin.
  • Like with the Sword of Gryffindor, swords are common themes to base a quest around. Look at the King Arthur movies: we even have two swords! The sword in the stone is one, and the one the Lady of the Lake tossed at Arthur. (“You can’t expect to wield supreme power just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!” <— recognize this quote? If you’re a true cinephile, you should.)
  • The Lord of Rings is a great exception to the ideal of questing FOR an object. In this case, the fellowship is about destroying something: the One Ring of Power. It’s a self-proclaimed fool’s quest, but somehow, the good guys win. (Although not without great cost along the way.)
  • The Lord of the Rings does the sword thing too, with the shards of Narsil being forged as a great flaming weapon, to be reforged and wielded only by a descendant of Isildur. So we can check that box too.
  • In the Hobbit, it’s the Arkenstone.
  • The Wizard of Oz has the Ruby Slippers.
  • In the various incarnations of Dune, the Sandworms are an unusual MacGuffin, which, like Harry Potter, are also in the form of a living being. The spice itself is a HUGE MacGuffin — without it, space travel would simply cease. And this relates right back to the Sandworms. Lost yet? Ignore David Lunch and the SciFi versions; re-read the novel. I hear there will be yet another filmatic attempt at Dune soon…so we can hope it’s the definitive version.
  • In a less fantasy mode, we’ve got Pulp Fiction. What exactly was in the magically glowing briefcase? Was it Marcellus Wallus’ soul, as many fans speculated? We never find out, although it actually doesn’t matter in the end.
  • Fantastic Beasts also featured a magical suitcase that all characters sought. In this film, however, we definitely saw what was in there.
  • Star Wars is usually about MacGuffins, which are often force-users (ie – people). In Solo, look at how Coaxium drives the plot. The Millennium Falcon ¬†qualifies too. In The Force Awakens, Luke himself is the MacGuffin (and so is his lightsaber). A New Hope and Rogue One have the stolen Death Star data tapes. Star Wars is loaded with MacGuffins, including R2D2 himself. Once you start noticing these, you can’t stop. (Kind of like eating Pringles.)
  • The Maltese Falcon – an obvious one, from a classic-era film. Hmmm, also Rosebud in Citizen Cane.
  • All heist, thriller, and caper movies are about finding a thing. Often a tech thing, and sometimes just money — as in Die Hard. I dare you to name a caper that isn’t about acquiring something. Look at the Ocean’s films for a start. Everyone’s after something, and the whole plot hinges around that thing.
  • Apollo 13 and even First Man are about similar MacGuffins, be they the moon itself, or just finding a way to get home from said moon.
  • Are you a Buffy fan? Remember her Axe of Power? MacGuffin. The entire series is loaded with MacGuffins, including Buffy herself.
  • In the X-Files, aliens from space qualify as MacGuffins. And I’m not sure this was ever resolved. At least Scully learned to believe. ūüėČ

Clearly, this is an ongoing list. I can’t sit here all day naming every flick with a MacGuffin. But feel free, absolutely, to name your favorites in the comments. It’s good geeky fun!

MacGuffins Bars at AMC Theaters

Movie Theater Review – AMC Fashion Valley in San Diego

About the End Credits Scenes in Ant Man & The Wasp

First off, it’s a Marvel movie, okay? You simply may not leave your seat until the lights come up. In this case, Ant Man and the Wasp¬†is no different. Make your friends — and even strangers — “hold onto their butts.” (Ten points to Gryffindor if you remember where that quote is from.)

Spoilers for Infinity War and Ant Man & The Wasp ahead!

[pullquote]Some extra scenes/tags/stingers are fluffy fun, some add to the plot, and some hint at what’s to come. Some tease you in a sort of parody way, or just send you off with a little laugh. We’ve got a fine stew of all that in Ant Man 2, the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[/pullquote]

My advice: don’t leave until the bitter end.

As the credits roll, for two minutes we see scenes from Ant Man and the Wasp as¬†miniature models, highlights from the film. There are posed dolls; there are miniatures sets; it’s nice and all. Since this bit of Title Credits begins exactly as the movie ends, we don’t call this kind of thing an extra. It’s neat to see, though, with some good music to enjoy while you wait for the big anticipated mid-credits scene.

Some background first : Ant Man and The Wasp takes place roughly before/during/around the momentous events of Avengers: Infinity War.  Maybe most of their timelime happens during Thor: Ragnarok, which leads directly into Infinity War. 

Seriously awful things happen in the last 20 minutes of IW. I saw it five times in the theater and still bawled like a baby. Peter Parker and Teen Groot destroyed me.

So when I say that I and the audience GASPED out loud in the crucial mid-credits scene of Ant Man 2, I mean it viscerally. It was a gut-punch that surprised us all. It was almost (ALMOST) worse than what happened in Infinity War. This reminder hurt.

[pullquote position=”right”]It’s not like the Ant Man crew are my favorite superheros, and while I’d hoped¬† this ‘small stakes’ lighthearted film would connect to the larger MCU, I was, by the end of the movie, lulled into a sense of contentment.[/pullquote] By then, I’d totally forgotten about The Snap. As the directors surely planned. When The Snap returned, during the mid-credits, making ash of Hank, Hope and the newly-freed Janet — simultaneously stranding Scott Lang in the Quantum Realm — I actually yelped in the theater. A huge audience “Nooooooo!” showed I wasn’t the only one lulled into complacency.

And that is exactly what the Marvel studios bank on. Light, fun¬† movie? Check. Awful last minute universe continuity meant to shock the audience — double check.

So, Scott is left alone in the Quantum Realm (to be fair, Luis, Bill Foster or even Ghost could retrieve him, and maybe he was immune to The Snap by being out of space and time…theories abound), but that doesn’t take the power of the moment away when Hope, Hank, and Janet disappear. Mic drop. End scene.

If you wait for the final, post credit extra, you’re treated to a hint of the world status, Post Snap. Streets are empty, while sirens sound in the distance. We pan through Scott’s empty house, in several rooms, see the TV switch over to the Emergency Broadcast System…and finally land on one of Scott’s giant ants playing his drums. Dire as things are, it’s still an Ant Man movie, providing a grace of comic relief, after the brutal reminder of the state of the universe.

The final nail in the coffin swiftly follows, when the screen fades to black and we see the title card: Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return.

Then a beat passes.

And a question mark pops up, to show: “Ant Man and The Wasp Will Return?”

Nice. Ambiguity.

Then lights come up and you’re left feeling like you saw a cutely made, well-done late phase MCU film: a rollicking good time with refreshingly small stakes (sans the very end).

So, now what?

My theory is that people we didn’t see dissolve are still with us. So, Luis is still in the front of the van. Bill Foster and his Ghost ward know how to operate the Quantum Tunnel. Getting Scott out may be a simple affair, and his knowledge of the Quantum Realm might hold the key to undoing Thanos’ damage.

It’s a long wait til 2019’s March release of Captain Marvel and the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4, due later that summer.

[pullquote]I do have a burning question: How did Hank Pym and family not know Earth was under attack by massive waves of alien monsters in Wakanda? You’d think this wouldn’t be the time for starting a risky new quantum experiment. Personally, I’d be glued to the news of world events.[/pullquote]

And for that matter, in Infinity War, how did Nick Fury, of all people, not realize his planet was in a serious state of war? Shouldn’t he be dialed in to everything the Avengers say or do, at all times? Running around panicking in NYC, he seemed strangely out of the loop.

Here’s the Mid Credit Scene from Ant Man and The Wasp, mixed in with the real-time last moment of Avengers: Infinity War. (2.3 minutes long.) You might need a tissue.

Coda. Final Scene:

What do you think happens with Scott, the Quantum Realm, and the Post-World Snap?

Movie Review – Ocean’s 8

I understand the appeal of a movie like this — the Ocean’s 11 (and +) movies are popular, and the idea of all these good looking, smart men conducting a high-octane heist is great fun, when done right. Switching it off with Danny Ocean’s prison-sprung sister Debbie, and her classy, femme fatale cohorts should be equally exciting, right?They got the perfect lineup of attractive, well-regarded, and culturally diverse actresses, added a reasonable plot, and mixed it together with snappy lines and pretty dresses.

So I did have a degree of good expectations heading into the theater. What surprised me was how mediocre the affair turned out to be. What do women want? Clearly, diamonds. The male plots didn’t have diamond necklace payouts. And [pullquote position=”left”]I understand audiences probably enjoyed the high fashion displayed along the way, and the actresses got to have some girly fun…but there it is: that’s the word: girly.[/pullquote]

I can even get past the shortsightedness of the Material Girl culture if the film was funny enough, clever enough, or just a rollicking good time. But instead it kind of checks all the boxes expected of a heist film, then calls it a day, satisfied at the end to sip a gin and tonic by a tombstone.

I don’t think it’s enough to go through the motions. In the Danny Ocean movies we get to see why each character was recruited, and what made them perfect for the mission. Here, most of that was skipped over in favor of lightly amusing banter.

I’m not saying it’s a bad film. I’m just confused why this gender-flipped version wasn’t as much fun, or as smart, as the others.

To the good: [pullquote position=”right”]Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway added some needed zest to their roles. They were delightfully off-kilter, without ever veering into bizarre. I do expect that from Carter, but it’s nice to see Hathaway mixing it up. [/pullquote]She plays Daphne like she did The White Queen (in the regrettably Depp-heavy Alice in Wonderland), with an unusual texture and tone. I’m glad to see Hathaway isn’t afraid to break out of the ‘perfect girl’ mold. It’s time to give this actress some rope to play with, because I think she can develop a respectable range.

With the plethora of great movies in the theater this summer, I’d recommend waiting for the DVD on Ocean’s 8. It’s a perfect at-home-with-the-girls movie, with plenty of the above-mentioned gin and tonics. Save your cinema money for the stuff you need to see on the big screen to appreciate — the dinosaurs, the wizards, the superheros, and the galaxies long ago and far away.

So, yeah, a B- isn’t a bad grade, but I’ve given you enough information to decide what you want to do with your time.

Movie Grade: B-

RunPee Meta:¬†It’s not easy to get good Peetimes for heist films, which tend to be lean (not much filler), and have many points that seem minor at the time, only to reveal a big payoff later. I’ve provided 3 Peetimes that are easily summed up in the synopses. I recommend the 1st Peetime, at 42 minutes in, if you can make a pre-emptive break. The 3rd Peetime is best for emergencies.¬†

Star Wars Last Shot – A Han and Lando Novel

With the arrival of¬†Solo —the newest Star Wars Story set to splash on cinema screens — pretty much the entire galaxy is primed to learn more about Han Solo. Just how did he fall from expert Imperial pilot to a petty criminal in a seedy underworld? Lots of pre-canon material is out there in book form, detailing how he met and saved the faithful Chewie, how he won (or cheated?) the Millennium Falcon out from under Lando Calrissian [pullquote] …and how the frak the Kessel Run was made in less than 12 parsecs (which, as we know, is a unit of distance, not time).¬† These are things Solo is expected to show.[/pullquote]

Now here’s the first completely canonized Han Solo book, to fill in the gaps the movies don’t cover. It’s called Star Wars: Last Shot (A Han and Lando Novel), written by¬†Daniel Jos√© Older.¬†Apparently it delves into Han’s (and Lando’s) past and future. And like Han and Lando, the book is breezy, snarky, and funny.

[pullquote position=”right”]What’s challenging, structure-wise, is how the novel will make a coherent story without rehashing or rewriting established moments from these men’s lives that we haven’t already seen¬†–[/pullquote] not in the original trilogy, the new Solo film, and the slowly growing bookshelf of canon novels. If Last Shot is going to be weaving four viewpoints around (young Han, young Lando, mature Han, and mature Lando), telling a credible, interesting tale with all new information sounds somewhat impossible. (But hey, never tell me the odds!)

According to Amazon reviewers, Last Shot manages all these things, and gives us plenty of insight to our two most-beloved galactic scoundrels. And, of course, Chewbacca.

Here’s a direct link to Star Wars – Last Shot¬†on Amazon, so you can take a look for yourselves. The second link goes to the classic (now non-canon, but still awesome) Adventures of Han Solo trilogy. I still own the original books, in the first print of the first edition…and it’s time to get the first print of the new story!

 

Movie review: The Hurricane Heist

I didn’t see any of the Fast and the Furious¬†movies, so I can’t speak to how this compares to them. What I can say is that this is a poorly written movie from pretty much every angle I can think of.

The first thing I noticed was just how heavy-handed the character development was. It was laughable. They should have just put name tags on the characters and saved time: Hi, I’m a pretty girl who’s trying to make up for a bad decision in my past (but you’ll never find out what it was.); Hi, I’m a weather nerd who studies hurricanes because my father died in a storm; Hi, I’m the brother who never got over it. It just goes on and on. There isn’t a single character in the story that feels¬†like a real person.

The writers continually went for cheap thrills instead consistently building a story.

And don’t get me started with the way the weather was used. There’s the obvious hacks where the weather is tossing cars around in one scene, but a few minutes later, while the storm is getting worse, people can walk around in the wind.

For the record: the eye of a hurricane is truly fierce, but nothing like what they showed in the movie.

And they were horribly lazy with the continuity. There’s a scene near the end of the movie where characters are driving through the eye of the storm, and in the background there’s a hay field that looks completely normal. Just because the eye of a hurricane is “like a warm summer day,” doesn’t mean it’s not like a warm summer day after a fraking hurricane has come through.

Sure, the weather might be nice, but the fields, and everything else, should still be demolished.

This movie is simply a disaster itself.