Triple Scoop Reviews: Ant-Man and The Wasp, The Dark Crystal, Rehearsal for Murder

The holidays are basically over, thank God. (I kid. Sort of.) Now that we just have New Years and the inevitable what have I been doing with my life anxiety that comes with it, let’s get back to reviewing a random assortment of movies, shall we?

Just a reminder for all of you strawberry ice cream loving weirdos out there, the rating system goes like so: chocolate equals favorite, vanilla equals second favorite, and strawberry equals least favorite. Though, admittedly, that doesn’t always mean much when I like all three films, especially if they’re wildly different films as they are today. (Gotta be honest: I pretty much just did a coin toss when it came to choosing who got chocolate and who got vanilla this time.) It’s a messy ratings system borne out of silliness, rather than practicality.

With that in mind . . .

Ant-Man and the Wasp

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Netflix (DVD)
Spoilers: Very few
Grade: Chocolate

I never got around to seeing Ant-Man and the Wasp in theaters. Maybe it was Marvel fatigue. Maybe I was just lazy. Maybe it was leftover annoyance with the first Ant-Man. (I laughed pretty hard at some of the jokes, but I was so frustrated for Hope Van Dyne by the end of the movie that I basically just wanted to murder people.) Still, after the trailer for Avengers: Endgame came out, Mek and I were like, “Yeah, we should probably go ahead and watch this.”

Fortunately, I enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp so much more than its predecessor. In fact, I don’t know that I have any complaints about it: I’m so much happier with how Hope’s treated in this movie, and I love that she and Scott both get the chance to save one another. Michael Peña is hilarious, particularly in the truth serum scene. (Oh my God, the truth serum scene.) Scott’s daughter is still cute. Randall Park might be even cuter. I either didn’t know or totally forgot that Walton Goggins was in this, Laurence Fishburne, too, and I’m always excited for any chance to see Michelle Pfeiffer. I also really appreciate the movie’s relatively small stakes: no one’s trying to save the world or conquer another universe. This is just a hero who wants freedom from house arrest, another hero who wants to save her mom, and a sympathetic villain who doesn’t want to die and/or be in constant pain anymore. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a joyful, funny, feel-good story, which is the kind of thing I’ve been into lately. Also, not shockingly, the size gags are the best.

I should go see if there’s any good Janet Van Dyne fanfic out there (specific to this particular iteration, that is). I understand why the film didn’t have time for it, but holy shit, is there some serious fanfic potential in her arc. Good lord.

The Dark Crystal

It me.

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: Definitely
Grade: Strawberry

After Netflix announced the cast of the upcoming Dark Crystal TV series–which, if you didn’t hear, was EVERYONE–I decided it was maybe time I finally got around to watching the actual movie. No, I never saw it as a kid. I’m not sure why, exactly; I loved The Labyrinth well enough. Unfortunately, I suspect The Dark Crystal works best when you’re young–assuming it doesn’t scar you for life, that is, which it totally could’ve. Shit gets dark in that movie.)

Some stuff, I really do enjoy. I like that the Skeksis and the Mystics are two halves of the same beings. I really enjoy the memory swapping scene, random as it is. (Dreamfasting sounds like Slim Fast for dreams, which is a story I need to write immediately.) Kira herself doesn’t have much in the way of personality, but she’s still pretty cool: she speaks multiple languages, can call animals, manages to resist brainwashing, and, oh yeah,  HAS WINGS. And, of course, Fizzgig is the absolute best; I desperately want one immediately. Y’all don’t even wanna know how much ranting you would’ve endured if Fizzgig had actually died.

Still, for a fairly short film, The Dark Crystal has a pretty slow, plodding pace. Lengthy exposition and narration don’t help much, and the Skeksis, in particular, are kind of excruciating to watch. (Though watching Mek’s mounting homicidal rage as the Chamberlain repeatedly made this noise was kind of worth it. Also, I feel it’s important to note that the design of the Skeksis was killing me because I knew I’d seen these assholes before; it wasn’t until Mekaela suggested Farscape that I realized they were totally the Halosians.) The worst, though, is definitely Jen, who is a deeply worthless hero: whiny, useless, and boring, like all the farm boy protagonists he’s drawn from. Visually, the Gelflings themselves are enjoyably creepy in that whole uncanny valley sort of way; vocally, though, Jen mostly reminds me of a young Matthew Broderick doing a young Luke Skywalker on Tatooine impression, and it is insufferable.

But maybe the biggest bummer about watching this movie is that I’m actually less interested in checking out the TV series, now that I know it’s a prequel about three Gelflings who work to start a rebellion against the Skekis. Prequels are so rarely ever my jam anyway, but especially when there’s such an obvious foregone conclusion, like, the rebellion’s gonna fail, folks, and the Gelflings are all gonna DIE. Yes, yes, except Jen and Kira; I’m saying, we’re still looking ahead to mass puppet genocide. I don’t mind dark children’s stories, but even for me, that’s a bit much.

Rehearsal for Murder

Look, there aren’t a lot of GIFS for TV movies made in the 1980’s, okay?

First Watch or Rewatch: First Watch
Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or Other: Amazon
Spoilers: YES
Grade: Vanilla

Last month, Claire suggested in the comments that if I enjoyed murder mysteries, I might want to check out this TV movie, Rehearsal for Murder. Since it was free on Amazon, we did just that, and let me tell you, people: Claire was right.

Rehearsal for Murder is a pretty clever story. I’m a sucker for the whole setup: an actress dies, supposedly having killed herself after a poor opening night, and a year later her playwright fiancee gathers a group of people from that show (a few other actors, the director, a producer, etc.) to test read his new play . . . only the play is clearly a front for catching the real killer. I wish I could say I figured everything out, but that wouldn’t be true, although I did get pieces. I noticed the cab, but forgot about it later. I knew the lighter was important, but thought it was a clue indicating someone else. I was immediately sure that there was an affair/blackmail situation going on, and I figured the actor-cop was involved somehow, maybe as an accomplice or a hitman. It definitely never occurred to me, though, that everyone was in on the set-up, like a reverse Murder on the Orient Express. The twist was set-up extremely well, and I was very satisfied by the story and its structure. TBH, I’m a little surprised this movie wasn’t based on a play.

As this is a TV movie from 1982, the film quality is . . . not the best. I wouldn’t mind seeing it redone with decent cameras for the big screen. But if you’re looking for a clever mystery that’s also a Boy Meets World reunion, this is it: both Mr. Matthews and Mr. Feeny play significant roles here. (Hence the GIF above. Also, God bless William Daniels; I just love that man’s voice.) Also of note: Robert Preston, who has a lot of presence as our playwright detective hero, and Jeff Goldblum, who is his usual delightful self.

“Who Won, And What Was The F*cking Game Anyway?”

I’ve been super excited to see Atomic Blonde, ever since I first saw the trailer back in April. However, I couldn’t help but notice that there was like almost zero buzz about the movie after it initially came out, at least not on my social media. I figured that probably wasn’t a great sign, but I still wanted to check it out for myself, so Mek, Lindsey, and I all went to the movies last week to give it a shot.

Well. It’s got problems, all right. On the upside, Charlize Theron kicks some serious ass.

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Coming Soon-Ish: A Whole Bunch of Trailers From Comic Con

It’s been years since I’ve been to Comic Con, but my little nerd heart still fills with envy every July. All that cosplay, all those panels, and so many, many trailers.

Fortunately, you can get most of that online now.

The Defenders

This looks pretty damn awesome.

I’m not gonna lie: I never actually watched Iron Fist. I figured I’d at least try it, but I read so many crappy things about the show that my already lukewarm interest just fizzled out. There are so many shows that I’m actually interested in trying; I couldn’t make myself waste time on one I just didn’t care about.

I have, however, read a bunch about the show (and have, of course, watched Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Daredevil), so I’m hoping I’ll be more or less prepared for The Defenders because it looks pretty great. Evil Sigourney Weaver looks AMAZING, and I’m absurdly excited by the shot of her and Madame Gao together, like, holy shit, BADASS VILLAINESS ALERT. (I should probably be counting Elektra in that, too, but I had very mixed feelings on Elektra after the giant mess that was Daredevil’s second season.) Meanwhile, our heroes–well, the three I actually care about anyway–are just perfect. I like all their banter, the not-exactly-camaraderie between them. (Particularly, “God, you’re weird.” Jessica Jones is the best.) I am, as ever, super excited about the team dynamics.

But. One thing? It has occurred to my sister and I that Claire is the only character who’s crossed over to all four shows, the only character currently connecting all of our heroes together, and I need to be absolutely clear about this: if Claire dies so that our heroes can have a thematically relevant “push,” I will burn things to the fucking ground.

Otherwise, I’m into it.

Thor: Ragnarok

I almost didn’t watch this trailer. They already sold me with the teaser, and once I’m hooked, I usually try to avoid seeing too much before watching the actual film itself. Ultimately, though, I caved and I’m actually glad I did because this is a spectacular trailer. Still. It’s the last one I’ll watch voluntarily. (I mean, within reason. If a Ragnarok trailer plays while I’m at the movie theater or something, I’m not, like, gonna close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears, and sing “LA LA LA” to avoid it. Mostly because I’d rather not get murdered by angry nerds. Or at all.)

But man, this looks great. I’m into ALL of it: Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie, Jeff Goldblum as Alien Jeff Goldblum, a team-up between Thor and Bruce/Hulk, another team-up between Thor and Loki, Cate Blanchett as the Goddess of Death. (Seriously. I NEED that hat. I NEED IT.) The action looks spectacular, the music is perfect, and oh my God, Hulk talks! Like, for more than three words at a time!

I’m ready for this, you guys. I’m so, so ready.

Justice League

Eh. Flash made me laugh a couple of times, especially the line, “It’s really cool you guys seem ready to do battle and stuff, but I’ve never done battle. I’ve just pushed some people and run away.” HA. I suspect that he and Wonder Woman are easily going to be my favorites. And I’m definitely into J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.

Still, I feel like my reaction to this trailer was more lukewarm than most, partly because some of the action feels muddy to me, or perhaps because I just couldn’t get past the line: “Superman was a beacon to the world. He didn’t just save people. He made them see the best parts of themselves.”

Cause like, no? I mean, traditionally, sure, that’s exactly what Superman’s supposed to be around for, but you don’t get to just throw in a bullshit line like that after Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, where Superman was kind of a glum asshole and half the country didn’t trust his alien ass. That is some what-the-fuckery of the highest order. I am not okay with this.

Ready Player One

This is . . . sort of interesting? It’s been quite a while since I’ve read the book, which if memory serves was enjoyable enough, though I liked it more in concept than execution. That’s kind of how I’m feeling with this first trailer: I’m still interested in the world, in OASIS, in catching all the many, many pop culture references. Considerably less into the VO, however, and many of the CGI/action scenes. I’m not exactly blown away by the look of the film, which is a unfortunate. A story like this, you kind of want it to look spectacular. You want it to look like nothing you’ve ever quite seen.

Then again, it’s only the first teaser. I might be more impressed with other trailers down the road. All I know is, at this point, even I’m starting to get a little tired of everyone’s 80’s fetish. Can we finally skip forward a decade, please? (In the film’s defense, there are 90’s references here: the most obvious one being The Iron Giant. But that line “I wish I’d grown up in the 1980’s like all my heroes” . . . yeah. Cue some serious eye rolling.)

Stranger Things

Speaking of 80’s nostalgia.

I’m definitely more excited about this than Ready Player One. Cause, like, c’mon. Thriller. Plus, so much great spooky imagery and just . . . I don’t know, neat stuff. Sorry, apparently I have no articulation today.

I’m super interested in Will, which is cool because last season was mostly about the people around Will. (That’s not a knock. That’s what first season needed to be. I’m just happy to see second season move past that.) I completely forgot they got Sean Astin for this, which is obviously perfect 80’s casting. And Eleven! ELEVEN!

If I had a negative–and I’ll admit there wasn’t much of one–my initial reaction to seeing Jonathan was this: Oh, right. So you still exist. *sigh*

But honestly, there’s so much awesome here that I’m pretty sure I can deal with Jonathan. And hey, there’s always the chance that he gets eaten by a monster!

Westworld

Nice little teaser. Atmospheric. Violent. Solid music choice.

I don’t have too much else to say about this except that I’m interested, and for the love of God can we find Elsie yet? (Preferably alive, but I suppose I’ll take confirmation of her dead body, too.)

Voltron: Legendary Defender

VOLTRON! While I’m extremely bummed to hear that Season 3 is only 7 episodes, I’m ecstatic to hear Season 4 is coming out in October. So. Okay. I can handle this.

I’m pretty into this trailer. (Definitely more, anyway, than I was into that weird leaked footage or whatever that came out a month or two ago.) I’m happy to see that we haven’t just skipped ahead to a time where Voltron is up and running again, like, I definitely want to deal with Shiro’s disappearance, not just easily replace him and move on until he’s found. Hopefully found? I’m interested in seeing what the team dynamic is like without Shiro: like, there ought to be changes, not just a single scene of Keith angst–although I’m all on board for the Keith angst. Still, I don’t want Shiro to permanently vanish. I like Shiro!

Anyway. I’m jazzed. Less than two weeks to go!

Bright

I’m interested in this. I don’t know if I’m quite as sold as the rest of the internet, and the words “from the director of Suicide Squad” make me shudder just a bit, but a cop movie with orcs and elves and fairies and Will Smith? I mean, how could I not be at least a little interested?

Also: Toyota Corolla. Yes.

Star Trek: Discovery

I feel like every Discovery trailer leaves me feeling pretty iffy, and this one is no exception. Some of it looks interesting: casting, some nice shots. But the trailers still aren’t grabbing me intellectually or emotionally yet, and I really wish I could shake off all the ‘doomed Captain Michelle Yeoh’ vibes I seem to be getting.

Mostly, I have no new thoughts here other than disappointment that Jason Isaacs has an American accent for no good reason I can tell. Also, it’s been officially released that our hero Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is Sarek and Amanda’s adopted daughter, and while the creators have promised that there’s a great, non-continuity-breaking explanation for that, I’m raising an extremely skeptical eyebrow here.

Come on, people. Haven’t we already deja-ed this vu? Have we not already learned our lesson that giving Spock a sibling that no one’s bothered to mention for decades is a really lousy idea?

Riverdale

Okay, I had my problems with this show by the end of the season, but I absolutely have to check out Season Two now. Oh my God. The melodrama. I laughed so hard at this one line. I’m not even going to tell you the line. I think you’ll know it when you hear it.

I’ll admit to some confusion: I thought Cheryl’s Evil Mom made it out of the fire unscathed? Maybe I’m remembering wrong? Or maybe she ran back into the burning house for some reason? (Perhaps to save Spooky Granny, who was the one I actually thought might have burned alive?) Either way, what matters it that Cheryl is as charmingly disturbing as ever. I appreciate this.

Also worth a mention: do they not have ambulances in Riverdale? Or was it actually quicker for Archie to pick up his bleeding and bullet-ridden father and haul him to that hospital from the 1950’s? Oh, Riverdale, and you’re amazingly outdated town aesthetics. On a positive note, I’ve discovered that my interest in Archie himself has picked up a bit, now that he’s possibly keeping dark secrets and there’s nary a hint of an acoustic guitar in sight. Maybe we can keep that up?

Supergirl

Meh. I mean, I’m still going to watch it. I think S2 was definitely an improvement on S1, but this trailer does so little for me. Normally I’m all about the weird, strange dichotomy between superhero and alter ego, but Kara acting like the decision she made to choose duty over love is an essentially alien choice, and how her whole life as a human has been a lie and angst angst blah blah, just, nope, not here for that. Besides, if two seasons have taught me nothing else, it’s that when Kara gets angsty about something, it usually means she reacts like a snappish 13-year-old, and it’s literally my least favorite thing about the show.

On the upside, I perked up considerably when Adrian Pasdar appeared.

Legends of Tomorrow

This looks like considerably more fun, although some of the footage is old, and I had to roll my eyes a little at the line “Rip has been hiding something from us,” because, like, of course he has. That’s basically what Rip does. (Also, Victor Garber’s Titanic joke, which made Mek laugh and made me go, “Oh, you assholes.” Although we both agree with the sentiment: never, ever step foot on the Titanic.)

I am, however, into Billy Zane and all the circus stuff. And “DIE, CLOWN” definitely cracked me up. Is that a band name? It oughta be a band name.

The Flash

Aaaaaand back to the angst, although I’m actually a little more interested in this particular angst. Seeing the dichotomy between how Iris and Cisco are coping without Barry is kind of fascinating, and makes me wish that Barry was going to be gone for longer than an episode, which I seriously doubt. I love that Iris seems to be leading Team Flash, and I find myself desperately hoping she won’t just disappear on the sidelines when BA returns. I really shouldn’t let myself hope that hard.

I’m . . . okay that Caitlin appears to be on Team Flash again, but I need the show to actually address her dual nature, not just act like everything’s okay again. Cause, like, Jesus, that was one of the only things I praised about the goddamn finale. I’m also pretty bummed that her hair is brown again (c’mon, her Killer Frost look was the best!) and that Tom Felton is apparently leaving the show. That’s disappointing. I liked Julian, and if he’s not going to be around, I really need Caitlin to just be single for a year.

Arrow

Bleh. Not really feeling it.

Considering the nature of last season’s cliffhanger, I’m not surprised about how little we see from most of the cast. (Other than Black Canary, who apparently does survive.) Unfortunately, that means half this trailer is just summarizing the season finale, and the other half is all about Oliver’s relationship with his son. What’s interesting to me about this is that I probably could’ve been okay with William as a recurring character earlier, like Dad + Mayor + Vigilante could have been interesting to see if they balanced it right. But if their whole relationship is just gonna be William, like, semi-brainwashed and blaming Oliver for everything, up to and possibly including his mom’s death? Yeah, I’m not really up for that.

Inhumans

This trailer looks a little better than the first one. Unfortunately, Medusa’s already terrible wig somehow looks even worse in motion. The effects here are pretty awful, and this isn’t some low budget show on TNT or Syfy. I’m not forgiving that crap.

I want to be interested in this. I like superheroes. (Obviously, considering how many superhero trailers I just talked about.) I like Ken Leung and Iwan Rheon. There’s a giant dog. I’m excited about a hero who only speaks through alien sign language. Unfortunately, said hero is coming off awfully blah to me thus far. Rheon appears to be disappointingly typecast, like, I kind of wish he was playing Black Bolt instead. (Or if they actually got a deaf actor, maybe? I don’t know that much about Black Bolt, but couldn’t they use a computer generated voice for the few times he has to speak and kill people?) And I’m still not sure if the show is connecting to Agents of SHIELD, even though AoS is where we were introduced to the Inhumans in the first place. (Agents of SHIELD, man. They’ve been so screwed over by Marvel.)

Finally, Teen Wolf

This trailer isn’t from Comic Con. The season premiere is airing this Sunday, and I decided not to watch any more new footage before then. But I figured I’d post this trailer I saw a couple weeks ago, since it did manage to reignite my interest, what with Stiles and Derek and Jackson and everyone else who isn’t Danny coming back again. (Poor Danny. We’ll never know what happened to you, will we?)

The idea that all the humans are going to be, like, infected with fear or something and turn on all the supernatural folk is kind of fun. My obsession with the show has seriously waned after the last disappointing season, so I’m glad that this trailer has managed to grab me again. Cause, like. Final season. I have to finish it.

But people. I am not here for what appears to be a steamy Scott/Malia hookup in the shower scene. No. Don’t do this, show, not in the last season. Don’t be the Chakotay and Seven of Nine of MTV.

Be a dream sequence, or there will be fierce-if-relatively-impotent disapproval.

ETA: Apparently, they’ve chosen to be the Chakotay and Seven of Nine of MTV. Goddamn it, show.