Ant-Man- Movie Review

Marvel Studios’ newest movie, Ant-Man, was one of my most anticipated films of the year. Being a huge fan of both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Paul Rudd, the announcement of this movie was a dream come true to me. What enhanced my excitement was, during my pre-viewing research, finding out about the major role that the character Ant-Man plays in the Marvel comics universe. However, despite it not being a bad movie, I was somewhat disappointed with Ant-Man.

Before everyone reading this review flips out and spams me with hate, I want to point out the things I did enjoy about this film. Michael Douglas’ performance as Hank Pym was one of the best feats of acting from a primary character in a Marvel CU film to date. The emotion in his performance seemed, comparatively to the rest of the cast, more genuine. I really look forward to seeing his contributions in the future of the overarching Marvel CU narrative.

The character Paxton, played by Bobby Cannavale, was hands down the most genuine, and the overall best character in the movie. He defies all of the tropes of the ass-hole step dad/new husband character template. Instead, he provides us with a character that doesn’t hate or antagonize our protagonist, but cares about his family so much that the two come at odds. In fact, Paxton even tries to help Scott throughout the film, trying to help him transition into a functioning member of society. The only factor that makes him antagonizing in any way is the fact that he sees different plot events than Scott Lang. They are both characters in the same story, but they witness and experience different pieces of it. Therefore, they don’t have matching behavioral patterns in any way. They do, however, carry the same goal of protecting the people that matter to them at all costs. For a minor character in a Marvel CU movie, Paxton is hands down the best.

I also enjoyed the connections this movie makes to the rest of the Marvel CU. Trying to spoil as little as possible, there was an interesting encounter between Scott and another Avenger around halfway through the movie. This battle was very rewarding for hardcore fans of the Marvel CU. I also enjoyed the occasional dialogue references to the rest of the Avengers team, as well as a conversation drop of a character we have not yet seen on screen (COUGH COUGH someone swinging around in New York City COUGH COUGH). There is also a clear sense that the characters in this movie are living in a world that is dealing with the aftermath of the climax of Avengers: Age of Ultron. All of these factors helped to ground the movie as a piece of a larger narrative, rather than just a stand alone story.

However, a couple of strong performances and a plethora easter eggs alone are not enough to carry an entire film. A story that is part of a larger franchise needs to be able to work as a stand alone story as well. Therefore, I had some major problems with this movie that most critics and fans seem to be ignoring. In the scope of the entire Marvel CU, this movie is an excellent addition to the larger saga. However, as a stand-alone story, this movie isn’t very strong. The plot seems heavily rushed, certain key plot points are contrived, and the story is riddled with lack of explanation and plot holes. This is exemplified in the movie’s climax, particularly by a rushed connection between the antagonists of this movie, and a major enemy force throughout the entire Marvel CU. However, that is just one example; there are plenty more to choose from.

I also found the CG to be very unconvincing for a Marvel Studios film made in 2015. Every time there was a scene involving Scott changing his size, or a multitude of ants appearing on screen at once, I was instantly taken out of my immersion. It was very jarring, and definitely detracted from the overall viewing experience.

Despite killer performances from Douglas and Cannavale, some of the acting wasn’t very strong. Evangeline Lilly’s performance as Hope van Dyne was surprisingly stale, and the chemistry between her and the protagonist was nearly non-existent. Her emotional moments felt very forced, causing her contributions to the narrative to fall flat. As she is clearly going to be a very important character in the future of the Marvel CU, I hope she improves her performance quickly. I also found both the performances and plot contributions of Scott’s friend group to be weak. They could have been removed from the movie altogether, and almost nothing would have changed. In fact, it may have improved the film in some ways.

I feel like the majority of the problems I had with this movie can be summed up with one name, Edgar Wright. Wright is one of my favorite filmmakers and storytellers of all time. He was the original filmmaker behind this movie, but quit after Marvel Studios forced him to make drastic changes to his screenplay. There are clear remnants of Wright’s filmmaking style and writing present throughout this movie. However, it feels more like failed emulation of his ideas than his ideas actually coming across effectively. I wish Marvel Studios and Wright could have come to more of a compromise, which would have potentially made Ant-Man one of, if not my favorite, Marvel CU movie.

Overall, Ant-Man was not a bad movie. It just simply did not live up to its potential. Multiple flaws that could have easily been improved upon during the filmmaking process were not fixed for the final product. Further, the screenplay relies on being part of an overarching cinematic universe as a crutch for lazy storytelling. Therefore, while still being a decent movie, it comes in second to last (just above Iron Man 3) in my ranking of all of the Marvel CU films. 

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 1

Hello my fellow classmates, my name is Joshua Klafter. However, people tend to call me Josh. I was originally born in New Jersey, but spent most of my time in New York while living there. I moved to South Florida when I was only five years old, but I still have some fond memories of my time up north.

I am a Journalism major, with a concentration in Political Science. I am taking this course not only to fill an elective requirement, but for a more personal reason as well. For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated with both international affairs, and all forms of media. I feel as if this course will combine these two interests of mine into a rewarding educational experience.

I have a wide range of hobbies and interests, but here are some of my main ones. I love to write, both fiction and non-fiction. I have currently written two novels, countless short stories and poems, and a multitude of news articles and editorial pieces. While I consider writing to be my central passion, I also love consuming media. I spend most of my free time watching movies and shows, particularly anime (Japanese animation) and comedy.

I hope to someday harness these interests into a career path. I would ideally like to start off reporting international affairs, evolve into an editorial writer on either media or international affairs, and conclude my career as a full time novelist. However, life doesn’t get to be just set in stone like that, who knows what will happen along the way. 

As I have never left the United States, I have no experience abroad. However, I have an immense desire for travel, and I hope to visit every single continent at least once at some point in my life. My two main travel goals for the near future are to go to Israel and Japan.

There you have it, Josh Klafter in a nutshell. I hope you learned some basic information about me. I look forward to learning more about all of you. I hope you all have a great weekend, and I am looking forward to the rest of the course.


Update: World Communication Systems Blogs

As I am currently a college student studying Journalism, it has always been a given to me that I will be doing a massive amount of writing throughout my studies. However, what I did not expect is the necessity for weekly blog updates in my World Communication Systems course. I wanted to give you readers a heads up regarding these weekly posts, so you wont be confused about any unusual content. Each post for this course will be clearly labeled, so you will know exactly which posts are for the course and which aren’t. Note that regular content will not be interrupted in any way. Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

Rick and Morty: S2 E4- Review

After the previous episode of Rick and Morty became my favorite of the series thus far, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I knew that nothing could top the emotional and comedic high of it’s predecessor. However, what I failed to remember is that there isn’t a bad episode of Rick and Morty to date. Every single one is fantastic in its own right. Going in with that perspective, this episode did not disappoint.

While this episode was filled with outstanding humor, it was also terrifying. The concept of an alien race being able to transform themselves, enter a host’s home, and manipulate the host’s memories to make them think that they had been a part of their life for years is extremely unsettling to me. While I was laughing throughout the entire episode, a sense of fear and tension really began to hit me after the credits rolled.

While the topic of the episode was approached hilariously in the show, I came to the realization that this could easily be happening in reality, and I wouldn’t know any better. I don’t have an grandfather who travels the multiverse and knows all about different aliens and their cultures. I just have myself, and my personal beliefs about a massive universe that humans have yet to explore. Believe it or not, I actually had a hard time falling asleep after watching this chilling episode. Whether it be fear of the potential reality of its plot, or the existential crisis regarding the vastness of the universe that it caused, this episode really got to me.

While the twist ending was somewhat predictable, it still came off as clever. However, it ended up leading to more confusion than it did comedy. The only reasonable conclusion I could come to to explain this turn of events is somewhat farfetched, but ill do my best to help you readers understand it. Rick and Morty takes place in a multiverse. In each individual universe, there is a different Rick and Morty, and in some cases, a different Beth, Jerry, and Summer. This episode tips the theory that each individual episode, episode cluster, or even season may take place in a different universe in the Rick and Morty multiverse. However, knowing Dan and Justin, the twist could just be for laughs, and be completely forgotten about in the overarching narrative of the show.

Evidently, while this episode did not surpass its predecessor, that doesn’t matter to me. I connected with episode 3 of this season on a personal level. Therefore, I have unintentionally formed a bias; somewhat harming my critical perspective of the show. However, my reviewer’s eye is not even close to being destroyed in any capacity. I still found this episode to be well written, laugh out loud funny, and even disturbing. If an episode can pull off all three of those seemingly contradictory things with complete ease, it is truly a masterpiece.

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F- Movie Review

I finally managed to see Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F. I caught it on the final night of its short, limited release run. As a pretty big Dragon Ball fan, I was excited for this movie from the moment of its announcement. However, when I heard that it was making strides in the box office, being the first limited release short run film to break the top 10 of the week, I knew I had to be one of the people to financially support it with my ticket purchase. While Resurrection F was a very good movie, it had some problems that need to be addressed.

Resurrection F picks up in the aftermath of Battle of Gods. The Frieza Force manages to collect all eight of Earth’s dragon balls. They use their one wish to bring their second in command, Frieza, back to life. Hellbent on getting revenge on Goku for defeating him, he spends four months training, eventually obtaining the ability to enter a fifth form. After gaining this ability, Frieza and his army immediately travel to Earth in search of Goku. It is up to Goku and Vegeta (currently training under Whis) to defeat Frieza, and send him back to Earth’s Hell for good.

Resurrection F did have some very strong elements. The seamless blending of 3D and hand drawn animation was superb. Although we didn’t have as big of a character roster as in Battle of Gods, it was still great to see everyone’s favorite pop culture icons return to the big screen. We also got the introduction of Jaco, a great comedic character that I look forward to seeing more of in Dragon Ball Super. It was also interesting to see Beerus and Whis as allies to the protagonists, rather than the primary antagonists of the story.

However, despite all of these positives, I had a few major issues with this movie. Dragon Ball is a traditional long running shounen anime franchise. Therefore, it is expected to feature epic battles that each arc of the narrative centers around. However, it is also expected to have slower, story building moments. Battle of Gods balanced these two key narrative elements perfectly. Resurrection F, while successful in the first of the two, featured almost none of the latter. The majority of the film’s hour and a half runtime was spent in battle, whether it be Goku’s allies fighting the Frieza Force, or Goku and Vegeta fighting Frieza himself. While these battles were strongly animated, choreographed, and written, the movie was lacking in the small character moments that made Battle of Gods so good.

My strongest problem with this film, however, was the lack of risk taking. Without getting into spoiler territory, the climax of this movie provided potential for a great opportunity for a future movie, or a future arc in Dragon Ball Super. However, Akira Toriyama decided to play it safe, making the ending very cliche. The conclusion was too traditional in more ways than one, contrasting the very unexpected ending of Battle of Gods.

To conclude, Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F is still a good movie that is definitely worth the price of admission. However, its lack of character moments and risk taking made it an overall weaker entry into the franchise than Battle of Gods. Dragon Ball fans such as myself, however, will like this movie, regardless of these flaws. However, fans of storytelling and film, also such as myself, will find it has some problems. I look forward to how Dragon Ball Super will handle retelling this story as the second arc of the show. I hope that they take the time to implement more character moments, and perhaps alter the ending in a way that will allow for more experimentation in the show’s future.

Rick and Morty: S2 E3- Review

It is episodes like these that really make you realize how much of a masterpiece Rick and Morty is. When an extremely foreign and over the top concept can conclude with such a down to earth and emotional ending, you know Dan and Justin are doing something right. Not only did this week’s episode surpass the first two in humor, drama, and writing; but it has cemented itself as my current favorite episode of the entire show.

During a casual drive through space, Rick, Morty, and Summer follow a distress signal that takes them to a ship. The crew complains that the people of their planet have been taken over my a hive mind known as Unity. From this premise, you would think the episode would go in the generic route; the heroes helping the band of survivors defeat the consciousness and save their people. However, it completely diverts from that path, leading to one of the most unique and original episodes of a science fiction series to date.

I found this episode to be a clever satire of classic episodic science fiction shows, namely Doctor Who and Star Trek. If this were one of those shows, it would be very easy to predict the entire plot of this episode from the get go. However, this episode makes a sharp divergence, showing how unique Rick and Morty truly is.

The B plot in this episode was also very strong. Although we were treated to character development from Jerry, the true treat was Beth’s development. We really learn about her inner psychology, namely why she keeps Rick around in the first place. This gives the viewers a more three dimensional perspective of her character, without changing her base personality in any way whatsoever.

The strongest element of this episode, however, was the ending. I have never come close to crying in a Rick and Morty episode, until now. Although there have been emotional moments in the show before, none have even come close to this in impact. If you thought Beth had amazing character development in this episode, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the look we get into Rick’s psychology in the last few minutes.

Evidently, this was both the technical best episode of Rick and Morty, as well as my personal favorite. Its episodes like this that prove the genius of Dan and Justin, cementing Rick and Morty as the best adult animated comedy on American television. My only worry is that, despite their high quality, future episodes of this season wont be able to live up to this one.

RTX 2015- RWBY Volume 3 News Recap

RTX 2015 came and went, leaving us with some exciting news for volume 3 of RWBY. Although we didn’t get an official trailer, we were treated to some interesting footage. With design reveals of new characters, as well more production news to accompany that, it is clear that we are in for a treat with this volume.

Firstly, we were shown a five minute long scene from volume 3. This footage confirmed that a major part of the show’s third volume will be the highly anticipated Vytal Festival Combat Tournament. Reminding me of the the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter, this is bound to be one of the best story arcs in the show yet. This footage also introduced a new team comprised of interestingly designed characters. However, it is unclear which of the four kingdoms of Vytal this team is from. It might have been said in the audio, but, as this was leaked footage, the audio was hard to make out.

However, the biggest RWBY news of the convention came in the form of images. We were shown images of both the arena that the combat tournament will take place in, as well as the festival grounds themselves. However, the revelation that got me most excited were the new character designs. We were shown images of both Qrow (Ruby and Yang’s uncle), and Winter (Weiss’ sister). Based on her character design alone, Winter Schnee is shaping up to be one of, if not my favorite RWBY character. Winter will be played by Elizabeth Maxwell, and Qrow will be played by the legendary Vic Mignogna.

On a more tragic note, information was released on the situation with the character of Ren. There were three options as to what they could have done with the character. They could have made him become mute after an accident, killed him off in between volumes, or changed his voice actor. It has been officially announced that Monty Oum’s brother, Neath, will be replacing the late Monty as the voice of Ren. I am glad they went with the third option, and chose someone so close to Monty for that matter.

In conclusion, it was confirmed that RWBY Volume 3 will be released in the last quarter of 2015, though an exact date was not given. Although I was disappointed that we didn’t receive an official trailer, I completely understand the situation the RWBY team must be in after Monty’s passing, and am grateful that we got anything at all. Although I don’t expect it to, RWBY Volume 3 doesn’t seem like it will disappoint.

Rick and Morty: S2 E2- Review

I didn’t think it could get any better than last week’s episode; to my surprise, it did. This week’s episode of Rick and Morty was one of the best yet. The entire episode is a non-stop train ride of clever comedy and bizarre visuals, in both the A and B plots. In other words, it is the most Rick and Morty episode of Rick and Morty yet.

One of the definite high points of this episode was the plethora of throwbacks to season 1 episodes. Almost every scene is saturated with easter eggs. However, none of them feel forced. On the contrary, they feel like a reward for dedicated viewers, those who aren’t just tuning in for the first time.

It would be criminal for me not to talk about one of the best scenes in the show thus far. There is a particular scene that takes place when Rick and Morty are in the arcade. Rick forces Morty to play an arcade game titled Roy. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was one of the most morbidly funny scenes in Adult Swim history.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of this week’s A plot was the telepathic gas cloud known as “fart”. The way he blent into the relationship dynamic between Rick and Morty did not feel forced at all. In fact, it led to a ton of great comedy. The character felt like a hybrid of a David Bowie song and a Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared video. Although it is very unlikely, I would love to see him return to the show sometime in the future.

However, this was the first time in a while that I preferred the B plot to the A. The B plot, while hilarious if interpreted as simply a long bash at Jerry, can be analyzed as much more than that. To me, I saw it as a look into the psyche of Jerry, giving us some major, and frankly needed, character development. Now if Dan and Justin could give us some Beth character development, we’d be all set.

Evidently, this episode is one of the best of the show yet, and definitely the best of season 2 thus far. It is insane to think about how much happened in its 22 minute runtime. It had the content amount of a feature length film, yet it still didn’t feel rushed. I can confidently say that this is one of the episodes that you should show someone if you are trying to get them into the show. If the season continues at an incline with regards to episode quality, we are definitely in for a treat.