Ah, winter. For all the bad press you get for your torrential rain, glacial temperatures and unpredictable wind patterns, I don’t think you get the credit you deserve for allowing true sloths like me to embrace our sloth-like tendencies and spend as much time as possible in front of big and small screens. Of course, the creators of the NZ International Film Festival saw your merits and scheduled it wham-bam in the middle of your peak nastiness. But, for mainstreamers like me – the benefits of our winter coinciding with blockbuster summer season in the States means winter is that much more awesome for us down under. Cases in point, massive Marvel release Ant-Man, and new to Netflix addition Suits. Here’s my sloth-like take on both.
I have to admit to being a little bit sceptical about this latest Marvel outing, despite the fact that anything out of the Marvel studios normally makes me salivate. But this one, even with Brit director/legend Edgar Wright (originally) in the director’s chair, and thinking woman’s crumpet Paul Rudd in the titular role, just seemed a little bit too weird to work. I mean, a seemingly ageless Michael Douglas invents some suit that can shrink a grown man to the size of an ant, make him super strong, and able to control an army of ants? I mean, really?
But, thanks to strong early reviews, some excellent (and hilarious) trailers, and my love for the Rudd, the ANTicipation was building by the time I headed along on Thursday night (sorry, not sorry). And it was well rewarded. Ant-Man is a super fun, super funny, super surprising time at the movies. Sure, it’s a Marvel movie, but it’s kind of like Marvel’s version of an indie movie. For once the film makers resisted the temptation/ignored the Marvel mandate to ensure a massively huge and epic final action sequence. In fact, with a pint sized hero, to have done so would have seemed (sorry again) totally out of proportion to the rest of the film. But that isn’t to say this film doesn’t pack some punch – it uses its small heroes to superb effect, and I am going back ASAP to see it in 3D to really soak it in properly (trusted sources tell me the 3D is incredible).
But the main surprise here was the funny. It definitely is in the same camp as Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of never taking itself too seriously and always finding the laughs. Which it kind of has to when it is getting audiences to buy into an ant-sized super hero (in the same way as Guardians had to with a talking tree). The real comedic revelation here was Michael Pena, as Rudd’s actual partner in crime Luis. Pena has quite the CV of excellent supporting roles, in great dramatic fare like End of Watch, but I have never seen him bring the funny before – and he totally steals the show here. Fans of Jono and Ben may particularly enjoy Ant-Man’s much smarter, better and funnier version of their Good Story Bro. But Pena isn’t the only funny thing here – circumstances are milked for their ridiculousness, as can be seen in the trailer with an altercation between bad guy Yellow Jacket (an excellent Corey Stoll) and a Thomas the Tank Engine train set. Utter genius.
The script is cracking and witty and fast paced – and much of that will be Edgar Wright’s influence. Having seen the film it is very hard to know what led to him and Marvel parting ways half way through production, but the film doesn’t appear to have suffered for it. The choice of comedian Paul Rudd as Ant-Man was truly inspired – and if this doesn’t see Rudd go on to become the huge star he has deserved to be for years then I will eat my hat. Marvel’s casting of Chris Pratt and Rudd – actors with solid comedic chops who also look great/can kick ass, is well and truly paying off for them. This is a fabulous time at the flicks for young and old (it is probably the most family friendly of all Marvel’s offerings yet), and gets 4 and a half multi-coloured M&Ms from me.
My love for Netflix holds no bounds, and when I learnt they had added the first three seasons of legal drama Suits (which I had seen the first season of already) to their catalogue I was tempted to propose marriage to it then and there. I should start by saying though – with no malice intended – that I don’t really like lawyers. Five years at law school will do that to a person. There are exceptions to every rule though – and my brother, sister in law and good friend who happen to be awesome people while at the same time lawyers, fall into that category. So, it turns out, are the lawyers (or not quite lawyers) of Pearson Hardman – the fictional Manhattan law firm which is the focus of Suits.
The premise of the show is pretty simple. Mike Ross (who may be my new Josh Lyman) is a genius with a photographic memory who spends his time smoking weed and getting paid to sit the LSATS (test to get into law school) for other people. When he accidentally stumbles into an interview room with Harvey Specter – closer extraordinaire at Pearson Hardman – he intrigues Harvey, who ends up recruiting him into the firm, knowing full well that Mike hasn’t attended law school, let alone got a law degree. But what he lacks in qualifications he more than makes up for in geniusness – and drama ensues.
Although Mike and Harvey’s bromance is the central heart of the show, the colourful ensemble of supporting characters – from total boss/Harvey’s PA Donna to clothes horse/Managing Partner Jessica (great name, eh?) to I-can’t-even-describe-him-he’s-such-a-weird-paradox Lewis – are what really makes this show sing. It carefully entwines its procedural cases with its OMG-are-they-really-doing-that series long plot lines to demand binge watching. But it never gets ridiculous (like Scandal, which has well and truly jumped the shark) – everything that happens seems eminently believable in the world of massive egos and pay checks that is corporate law. Netflix only has the first three seasons, with season 5 currently showing on Lightbox (which could start me on a rant about the different streaming services splitting shows with little regard for the emotional impacts on little old us, the consumers). Suffice to say, I will find a way to catch up. I can’t live without Mike and Harvey for long. 4 multicoloured M&Ms for Suits.