Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Avoiding Dogs in the Dog Days

Avoiding Dogs in the Dog Days by Guy S. Malone, Researcher

We enter the second half of summer, and the list of decent movies dwindles as studios and distributors gear up for the fall and winter awards season offerings.  Still there are some good ones, along with some that will arrive with much hype but little substance (Skyscraper).

Below, we've listed 17 movies by genre.  None will be to everyone's tastes, but sift through and you're sure to find a few to your liking.  Films are in bold and italicized, with best bets in ALL CAPS, preceded by their reputed release date--remember, some of the smaller films may come to a theater near you a week or two later than the date shown.

07/13  Skyscraper - In this Die Hard/Towering Inferno mishmash, Dwayne Johnson leaps tall buildings, this time as a war vet with an amputated leg and a tough past. Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber.
07/20  Equalizer 2 - The main attraction to this revenge-porn flick is Denzel as Robert McCall, delivering very satisfying vigilante justice, but what if it's someone he loves? Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, Pedro Pascal.

07/27  MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT - All together now: Ethan and his IMF team race against time in a mission gone wrong.  Rebecca Ferguson is back, does the plot matter? Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg.

ANIMATED07/13 Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation - Drac receives a vacation on a monster cruise so he doesn't have to serve others at his hotel.  Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi.

08/03  CHRISTOPHER ROBIN - Adult Christopher (Ewan McGregor) reunites with Pooh (Jim Cummings' voice) who helps him to enjoy simple pleasures.  Hayley Atwell; voices of Chris O'Dowd, Toby Jones, Brad Garrett..

COMEDY07/13  SORRY TO BOTHER YOU - Sundance favorite, Telemarketer (Lakeith Stanfield) finds success using a "White voice," then things become absurd.. Tessa THompson, Terry Crews, Danny Glover, Armie Hammer

08/03  The Spy Who Dumped Me - Comedy, two best friends (Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon) become embroiled in international intrigue when one of the women discovers her former boyfriend was a spy.

08/10  Dog Days - Various Los Angelenos' lives are changed as they are brought together through their mutual love of dogs.  Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Eva Longoria, Lauren Lapkus, Adam Pally, Finn Wolfhard

08/17  CRAZY RICH ASIANS - An Econ prof (Constance Wu) travels to her boyfriend's (Henry Golding) hometown of Singapore to find she is the target of an army of gold diggers who want her man.  Michelle Yeoh.

??/??  LEAVE NO TRACE - Debra Granik drama, a father (Ben Foster) and his daughter (Thomasin McKenzie), living off the grid outside of Portland, OR are pulled into urban social services and fight to get back to the wilderness.

07/13  DON'T WORRY, HE WON'T GET FAR ON FOOT - Gus Van Sant dramedy/biopic, Joaquin Phoenix as a man using art to rehab from a life-changing accident.  Rooney Mara, Jonah Hill

07/20  BLINDSPOTTING - Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal co-wrote and star in this dramedy about race and class clashing in a gentrified Oakland, CA.

08/03  THE WIFE -  A wife (Glenn Close) gives up her career aspirations to support her Nobel Laureate husband (Jonathan Pryce). Also, Elizabeth McGovern, Christian Slater.  Close finally scores an Oscar.

MUSICAL07/20  Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again - Against our better judgment, we mention this, and we believe they had this sequel's name before they made the original. Meryl Streep, Lily James, Amanda Seyfried.

SCI-FI/FANTASY08/03  The Darkest Minds -  Based on Alexandra Bracken's YA dystopian thriller, four teenage plague survivors develop strange skills and must escape bounty hunters. Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie.

08/10  The Meg - Guilty pleasure as Jason Statham pursues a shark that makes Jaws look like a minnow to save folks trapped in a submersible.  Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose.

08/31  Kin - Earthly and alien forces pursue an ex-con and brother, who are in possession of a strange weapon. James Franco Dennis Quaid, Zoe Kravitz, Carrie Coon.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp review by Guy S. Malone, Researcher

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) gets a lot more right than it does wrong, and in Ant-Man and the Wasp it hits on all cylinders.  The third movie from the studios this year, it is also the most modest.  It isn't the mega-blockbuster that gives us a whole new nation and MCU's first person-of-color lead, nor is it a mega-superhero apocalypse.  But it is the first Marvel Studios movie with a female character in the title--Evangeline Lilly's "Wasp" AKA Hope Van Dyne--and it's arguably the funniest film in the canon, thanks to Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a regular guy and ex-con who is the most ill-suited superhero (thank goodness his "Ant-Man" suit sizes change at the push of a button).  Rudd also wrote the script, along with Erik Sommers, Chris McKenna, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari.  The writers and Director Peyton Reed inject enough heart to keep the story grounded but not so much that it's schmaltzy, and they add just enough humor to enhance the strengths of a gifted array of actors, keeping the exposition and sciency talk light and palatable.

As the movie opens, Scott is still under house arrest for becoming one of "Cap's" outlaw allies in Captain America: Civil War, which also explains why Ant-Man is missing from Avengers: Infinity War.  Those exploits, unfortunately, also put Hope and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) on the run, but they are also on a mission.  Harking back to the first Ant-Man, when Scott entered the Quantum Realm and returned unscathed, father and daughter rekindled hope that Hope's mother, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) might still be alive after entering that subatomic realm some 20 years earlier.  Using Hank's size-changing technology, they stay on the move with a laboratory that can shrink to suitcase size, complete with travel handle and wheels.  As angry as they are at Scott, they find that they need him in their quest, an adventure Scott doesn't want with only three days remaining on his two-year house arrest.

With that set-up, a mind-boggling array of characters and subplots complicate matters: Scott wants desperately to be the father his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) deserves and to work together with ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new husband Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), a cop, to bring it off.  Speaking of cops, FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) makes a habit of surprise house checks, trying to catch Scott violating his house-arrest.  And, along with his former prison mate, Luis (Michael Pena), Scott is trying to get a security business off the ground with partners Dave (T.I.) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).  Meanwhile, Hank and Hope purchase black market quantum technology from Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a profiteer who double-crosses them.  Hank solicits help from Dr. Bill Foster, (Laurence Fishburne), who left Hank's lab years ago under a shadow of suspicion.  And we haven't even gotten to the big villain yet--"Ghost"/Ava Green (Hannah John-Kamen), who wants Hank's Technology for her own ends.

There was a point, about one-third of the way in where we thought, there's too much going on; like a juggler with too many balls in the air.  But by the midway point, the tangents started connecting, and by the last act, everything fit nicely.  This is a credit to both Reed and the writers, who deftly intertwined all of the moving parts.  One of the smartest moves was one of the most original: having Scott and his family, including the man who took his place, be mutually supportive.  This convention-defying plot element gives Scott a stable base amid the chaos that surrounds him.  The writers do a marvelous job of setting Walton Goggins up to play the cheerfully verbose baddie he excels at.  Randall Park is equally effective as Scott's socially and emotionally conflicted watchdog.  It seems odd to mention comic relief in what is essentially already a comedy, but Michael Pena's manic enthusiasm, with T.I. and Dastmajian playing off of him, create a team that rivals the Marx Brothers for zany antics.  On the more serious side of the movie is our "villain": Hannah John-Kamen is electric.  We first saw her playing a terrorist in season 2 of The Tunnel, and she is a force on-screen.  Like Killmonger in Black Panther, Ghost has reasons for what she does, and we can sympathise, to an extent.  But it is Evangeline Lilly as Wasp/Hope, who steals the movie.  She has trained all her life, and when Hank lets her take wing (literally), she does so with passion and gusto.  Rounding out the cast with Douglas, Pfeiffer, and Fishburne, we are hard put to think of a better ensemble in the MCU.  See this one on the big screen for the full visual treat.
9.0 out of 10 on an Entertainment Scale


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