Ant Man Review

Have you noticed the running trend of superhero movies facing massive production problems? If you catched my Deadpool trailer reaction post you’ll remember that it’s been in production for close to a decade and the journey for Ant Man has not been any smoother. Ant Man started development all the way back in 2006 with Edgar Wright, better known as the guy who created Hot Fuzz and Shaun Of The Dead (better known as those two films that are always on ITV2), taking helm of the project. He was the perfect choice as director but as script drafts were completed and test footage was taken, creative differences with Marvel resulted in Wright leaving and Peyton Reed replacing him. It’s been established since his departure that Wright’s decision to leave was due to the film having to tie in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe which no doubt limited what he was able to do.

Fans of the big (well not so big) superhero were left wondering if the film they’ve been anticipating for years was going to be any good. The fact that Wright, who had great success adapting the Scott Pilgrim vs The World books, left had some wondering if anyone would be able to do it, let alone the guy who directed Yes Man. You can’t really blame them either as to the average person, Ant Man is a guy who can turn really small and that’s about it. The trailer that was released a few months before the films release in July managed to calm some down but it was cliched (insert main villain talking sinisterly in the background and a pan shot of the city skyline) leaving some to think this would be Marvel’s first big flop (if you don’t include any of the Thor films or Iron Man 2).

They were wrong.

Marvel's Ant-Man Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) amongst his ants. Photo Credit: Film Frame © Marvel 2015

So who is Ant Man? In this film he’s Scott Lang, an ex con who was jailed for burglary and is trying to become a better person so that he can see his daughter. However he realises that the outside world doesn’t treat ex cons so nicely and he soons goes back to his old ways which leads him to Hank Pym who is *surprise* the first Ant Man. Pym is a scientist who created the shrinking technology which allows ant man to shrink down to the size of….well…an ant. However after resigning from S.H.I.E.L.D over 3 decades ago ago and being forced out by his own company by Cross, who is close to replicating Pym’s technology and renaming it the yellow suit, Pym chooses Lang to take on the role of Ant Man to stop Cross at all costs.  “My days of breaking into places and stealing stuff are over. What do you want me to do?” “I want you to break into a place and steal some stuff.”

What ensues is a heist film which is a welcome change to the “fight the big baddy” plot that most marvel films follow. The humour in Ant Man is consistently on point though what else do you expect from a screenplay that was penned by Edgar Wright. Some of the funniest moments come from Michael Pena’s character Luis whose constant ramblings about “so this guy told my cousin” stories never failed to make me or the rest of the audience laugh out loud. At the start I thought he’d be a bit of a mistreated character and used only to progress the plot but he plays the comic relief role perfectly with every word he says being comedy gold, I’d be devastated if we didn’t see him when the inevitable Ant Man 2 comes along.

Main star Paul Rudd also deserves praise for his role as Scott Lang. The actor is best known for comedic roles like in Knocked Up and Clueless and this definitely helps in delivering quips throughout the movie but he handles the sentimental moments perfectly, very similar to Chris Pratt’s Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s no surprise that Rudd’s performance reminded me of Pratt as GOTG was also a film that was hyped up by many as being Marvel’s first flop before it’s release. It was absurd, it was crazy and it was bloody hilarious and proved all doubters wrong, surprising everyone and was undoubtedly one of the best films of 2014.

Michael Douglas was also fantastic as Hank Pym as was Evangeline Lilly as his daughter hope and I couldn’t flaw their chemistry as even though the whole “daughter hates her dad” cliche has been overplayed, it works well in the context of the story and explaining why Hank is no longer Ant Man. Even some of the less important characters such as Luis’ buddies Dave and Kurt, played by rapper T.I and David Dastmalchian respectively, were great additions to the cast and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a few chuckles from them.

Although it may have had a rocky production and the first 30 minutes of the film feel kind of slow and sluggish, the rest of the film more than makes up for it. I’ve seen the film twice already and wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again and it’s easily the best Marvel film I’ve seen all year (sorry Age of Ultron). If you haven’t seen it already then you should change that because Ant Man is in for the running for my favourite film of 2015.

So what are your thoughts on Antman? Loved it? Hated it? What was your favourite moment? Leave your thoughts in the comments below since I’d love to see what you thought of it. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @blinkclyro for some more fanboying.

Batman: Arkham Knight review

“Remove yourself from the piece.” This is a piece of advice, well not so much a piece of advice rather than a rule, that I got repeatedly told during my first year of journalism. While it’s easy enough to stick to this rule while writing about the news or something miscellaneous, it proves to be far more difficult when it comes to something you’ve got a great interest in. I’m sure anyone who’s read any of my pieces about Biffy Clyro can see what I mean though I never was subtle about my love for the band.

When I got Arkham Knight, the final chapter in the Batman videogame trilogy by Rocksteady, I knew I’d face this same issue again. However this wasn’t due to the fact that I’ve been a fan of the Caped Crusader since I was a child. Although I’ve followed the superhero through the majority of my life, watching the Christopher Nolan film trilogy countless times and religiously viewing the 90’s animated series, there’s something about the Arkham games that’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

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I can confidently say that this pure disbelief at how immersive a game can be is not only still part of this explosive finale but it’s been somehow improved beyond my expectations. The first thing you’ll notice as soon as you start up the game and create a new save file is the absolute scale of Gotham, standing on a radio tower and seeing how much area you have to traverse. As cliche as it sounds, Gotham is a character in itself, gothic architecture perfectly matching the dark atmosphere that shrouds every inch of the city. From the grand buildings of Founders Island to the conveniently named Bleake Island’s broken down homes and abandoned buildings, there’s a real sense of variety that helps each part of Gotham stand out.

This variety is well needed though seeing as you’ll be spending countless hours gliding over and driving through the gritty streets fighting some of the batman’s most notorious villains. The main story will take up a large chunk of your time and will have you tackling the Scarecrow’s nefarious plans to pollute Gotham full of his fear toxin which, if you didn’t already guess, transforms its victims into violent individuals tortured by their worst fears.Despite the fact there’s not any scenes as creative as the nightmare levels from Arkham Asylum, the story is still interesting and once you’re inevitably inflicted with the toxin yourself, the plot becomes even more interesting.

The main campaign is far from terrible but a few things hold it back from being truly exceptional. Arkham Asylum was called so because of the Asylum it was set in, Arkham City was called so because of the city it was set in and unsurprisingly enough Arkham Knight is called so because of the name of the main villain. After the amount of hype the character received in previews, it disappointed me how Rocksteady treated him. Anyone with a reasonable knowledge in Batman will know who he is and even if you don’t, you’ll be able to guess who it is if you remember the most important rule in entertainment: if you don’t see them die then they’re not dead.

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One of the game’s major selling points also suffers some flaws. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the Batmobile in this game. The driving was perfect, making light work of any trees, fragile structures and bins that got in your way and I’ll even back up battle mode which has been criticised by a lot of reviewers. It was consistently challenging and as long as you go into the settings so that you can toggle the mode, the controls are near enough flawless. However this battle mode brings with it something that I just can’t let slide by and that is stealth sections in a tank. Yeah I said it. Stealth sections. In a tank. Now I know that this might have seemed like a fun wee idea by some developer at the time but so did communism and look what that lead to it.

Fortunately the plot does hold your interest and you really do feel like this is the endgame. In past games you felt like, yes, you were at risk but Rocksteady never really took any punches at your feels until the end of Arkham City. Now every character you come across, regardless if they’re a villain or ally, is just as vulnerable as you are. You might have your batmobile and your belt full of gadgets but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was outnumbered and on the brink of failing. It’s not an easy game either with some sections even at normal difficulty forcing you to prove your worth. It might be the weakest story in the series but it’s like saying Return of the Jedi has the weakest story in the Star Wars trilogy.

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Despite these problems I had with the game, I had an amazing time with Arkham Knight. The combat is as flawless as past iterations and has had some tweaks such as environmental takedowns and better animations, you can even get the batmobile involved and fight alongside Nightwing, Catwoman and Robin. The side missions are also a blast to play through, providing some of the game’s best moments including an appearance from one of batman’s lesser known antagonists. Of course there’s the riddler challenges as well which are just as difficult before and will be a challenge to get through but will be essential for you getting that 100% completion rating and the real ending to the game

Overall Arkham Knight is one of the most entertaining games I’ve played in years and is the first game I’ve played on PS4 that’s felt like a truly next gen title, utilising the console’s specifications to deliver an immersive experience that makes you feel like the Batman, finally allowing you to relive those childhood dreams.