REVIEW: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Starring

Paul Rudd (Our Idiot Brother)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Michael Peña (American Hunstle)
Walton Goggins (Tomb Raider)
Bobby Cannavale (I, Tonya)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Tip “T.I.” Harris (Monster Hunter)
David Dastmalchian (Blade Runner 2049)
Hannah John-Kamen (Ready Player One)
Abby Ryder Fortson (Forever My Girl)
Randall Park (Sex Tape)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns)
Laurence Fishburne (Justice League)
Michael Douglas (Traffic)
Stan Lee (Avengers: Infinity War)
Michael Cerveris (Gotham)
Hayley Lovitt (The Gifted)

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Two years after Scott Lang was placed on house arrest due to his involvement with the Avengers in violation of the Sokovia Accords,[N 1] Hank Pym and his daughter Hope van Dyne briefly manage to open a tunnel to the quantum realm. They believe Pym’s wife Janet van Dyne might be trapped there after shrinking to sub-atomic levels in 1987. When he had previously visited the quantum realm, Lang had unknowingly become quantumly entangled with Janet, and now he receives an apparent message from her.Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)With only days left of house arrest, Lang contacts Pym about Janet despite the strained relationship they have due to Lang’s actions with the Avengers. Hope and Pym kidnap Lang, leaving a decoy so as not to arouse suspicion from FBI agent Jimmy Woo. Believing the message from Janet to be confirmation that she is alive, the trio work to build a stable tunnel so they can take a vehicle to the quantum realm and retrieve her. They arrange to buy a part needed for the tunnel from black market dealer Sonny Burch, who has realized the potential profit that can be earned from Pym’s research and double-crosses them. Donning the Wasp outfit, Hope fights off Burch and his men until she is attacked by a quantumly unstable masked woman. Lang tries to help fight off this “ghost”, but the woman escapes with Pym’s lab, which has been shrunk down to the size of a suitcase.Paul Rudd in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Pym reluctantly visits his estranged former partner Bill Foster with Hope and Lang. Foster helps them locate the lab, where the ghost captures the trio and reveals herself to be Ava Starr. Her father Elihas, another of Pym’s former partners, died along with his wife during the experiment that caused Ava’s unstable state. Foster reveals that he has been helping Ava, whom they plan to cure using Janet’s quantum energy. Believing that this will kill Janet, Pym refuses to help them and escapes with Hope, Lang, and the lab.Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Opening a stable version of the tunnel, Pym, Hope, and Lang are able to contact Janet, who gives them a precise location to find her but warns that they only have two hours before the unstable nature of the realm separates them for a century. Burch learns the trio’s location from Lang’s business partners Luis, Dave, and Kurt, and informs a contact at the FBI. Luis warns Lang, who rushes home before Woo can see him violating his house arrest. Pym and Hope are arrested by the FBI, allowing Ava to take the lab.Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Lang is soon able to help Pym and Hope escape custody, and they find the lab. Lang and Hope distract Ava while Pym enters the quantum realm to retrieve Janet, but Burch and his men also attack Lang and Hope which allows Ava to begin taking Janet’s energy. Luis, Dave, and Kurt help incapacitate Burch and his men so that Lang and Hope can stop Ava. Pym and Janet arrive safely from the quantum realm, and Janet voluntarily gifts some of her energy to Ava to temporarily stabilize her.Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer in Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)Lang returns home once again, in time for a now suspicious Woo to release him at the end of his house arrest. Ava and Foster go into hiding. In a mid-credits scene, Pym, Lang, Hope, and Janet plan to harvest quantum energy to continue helping Ava. While Lang is in the quantum realm doing this, the other three disintegrate.After the events of Infinity War, knowing that I would be watching a movie that took place before the events made me skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy this movie. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a film that as a standalone would be amazing. The synergy between the actors and actresses was perfect.   It’s just a charming movie. Funny. Heartwarming. Action Packed. The perfect film to make you forget that half of everyone in the Universe disappeared.

REVIEW: WHIH NEWS FRONT (WEB SERIES)

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CAST
Paul Rudd (Role Models)
Leslie Bibb (The Skulls)
Corey Stoll (The Bourne legacy)
WHiH Newsfront is an online news program supported by the television network WHiH World News. It started in July 2015 and is part of the promotional campaign for the movie Ant-Man. In these online newsreports, the main item is about Scott Lang, a cyber criminal who is almost set to be released from prison. However the Battle of Sokovia is discussed aswell, and in the news headline ticker at the bottom of the screen, other references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be seen aswell.
The web series consists of a series videos on YouTube about Scott Lang and his future release. These videos are supported by posts on Twitter and Google. Some of the video’s were further discussed in articles where you could get a deeper inside.  The first video is a promotion video and announces the video for next week. Christine Everhart talks about next weeks news where they are going to discuss the Avengers at the Battle of Sokovia and the release of former criminal Scott Lang.
The second video was aired on July 7. WHiH reports that since the events at Sokovia, the issue for more goverment control and transparancy for superheroes, continues to be a important topic. The rest of the video reminds the viewers of the incident in 2012 where Scott Lang broke in at Vistacorp Headquarters and stole millions of dollars. More background information is given in the Mashable article: ‘Everyday hero or thief? Cyber criminal to address 2012 arrest.’
On July 10, 2015 WHiH News claimed to have obtained footage of the 2012 break-in at VistaCorp involving cyber-criminal Scott Lang. The next day they released the footage as a WHiH Exclusive.  The fourth video was aired on July 16. Christine Everhart takes an interview of Scott Lang via satellite to his prison. More background information is given in the Mashable article: ‘Confessions of a whistle blower. On July 15, 2015 WHiH released a Wired interview featuring Darren Cross discussing the future of Pym Tech. More background information is given in the WIRED article: ‘Pym Technologies. Where the Past Meets the Present
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A Great web series that provides  bit of back story to the Ant Man movie, the series is included on the Ant man Blu-Ray

REVIEW: FANTASTIC FOUR: WORLDS GREATEST HEROES

MAIN CAST

Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Lara Gilcrhsit (Defying Gravity)
Christopher Jacot (Mutant X)
Brian Dobson (Dragon Ball Z)
Samuel Vincent (Totally Spies!)
Paul Dobson (Transformers: Armada)
Sunita Prasad (Bates Motel)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Mark Acheson (Elf)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Kavadas (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Venus Terzo (Arrow0
Lee Tockar (Beast Wars)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)

This series, which started in September of 2006, features the four core characters of the series: Reed Richards (a.k.a. Mister Fantastic, a scientist whose body can stretch like rubber and the brains behind the operation), his girlfriend Susan Storm (a.k.a. The Invisible Woman), her younger brother Johnny Storm (a.k.a. The Human Torch), and of course, Benjamin Grimm (better known as the ever lovin’ blue eyed Thing), a rock encrusted strong man. These four live inside the mammoth Baxter Building in the middle of Manhattan where they also have their base of operations and a wide array of technical gadgetry courtesy of Richards’ incessant inventing. They use their powers for good, to protect the people of not only New York but of the world against many different antagonists, specifically their arch-enemy, Doctor Doom.

Marvel, in conjunction with Moonstone Animation, has done a very good job with this series. While the animation is obviously very influenced by Japanese manga and anime, the show is very much in the spirit of the early Lee/Kirby comic book masterpieces and it turns out to be a lot of fun. The fact that the Fantastic Four do more than just square off against Doctor Doom each week leads to encounters with familiar villains such as The Mole Man, The Puppet Master, and even the Super Skrull! Guest appearances from instantly recognizable heroes such as The Hulk, Prince Namor The Submariner, and Iron Man add to the fun but what makes this series work is the way that the writers have nailed the team dynamic so important to the comic book’s success. The stories may be a little simple by some standards and you could make the argument that they’re geared towards a young audience than they maybe need to be but they really are in keeping with the early episodes of the comic books that inspired them and for that reason they turn out to be quite enjoyable doses of action and escapism.

As mentioned, the animation has been inspired by Japanese culture and so the characters don’t always look as Kirby-esqe as purists will probably want them to. Likewise, some of the CGI used in the backgrounds doesn’t blend as flawlessly as it could. That said, Kirby’s sense of grandeur and design is apparent throughout the series in the gadgets, the villains, and many of the backgrounds in the series. The voice actors suit the characters well with Brian Dobson as The Thing really standing out/p>
Ultimately this material isn’t going to blow your mind. It isn’t deep or particularly Earth shattering in any way but it does feel in tune with the source material and as far as superfluous bits of animated entertainment go, it’s just a lot of fun.

REVIEW: THE SUPER HERO SQUAD SHOW – SEASON 1-2

CAST (VOICES)

Charlie Adler (Wall-e)
Alimi Ballard (Sabrina: TTW)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and the X-Men)
Dave Boat (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Jim Cummings (Darkwing Duck)
Grey DeLisle (The Fairly Oddparents)
Mikey Kelley (Gravity Falls)
Tom Kenny (The Batman)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Travis Willingham (Dragon Ball Z)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Shawn Ashmore (X-Men)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
John Barrowman (Arrow)
A.J. Buckley (Disturbing Behavior)
Ty Burrell (Muppets Most Wanted)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Taye Diggs (Private Practice)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Suisan Eisenberg (Justice League)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Nika Futterman (Futurama)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Tricia Helfer (Powers)
Cheryl Hines (The Ugly Truth)
Josh Keaton (Justice League: Gods and Monsters)
Wayne Knight (3rd rock from The Sun)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Phil LaMar (Free Enterprise)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
James Marsters (Smallville)
Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends 2)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Ray Stevenson (Divergent)
Fred Stoller (Little Man)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Michelle Trachtenberg (17 again)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Jim Ward (Danny Phantom)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)

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When I saw a preview of The Super Hero Squad Show back in February of 2009, I thought it looked pretty interesting, but certainly aimed at the kiddies, and as it aired on Cartoon Network, I never saw an episode. In fact, I forgot all about it, and when I got my hands on this disc, I thought it was an animated take on the old Fisher-Price Marvel kiddie figures. So I had no expectations coming in. Well, my only expectation being that it would be bad. So it was with a good deal of shock that I found it to be a pretty entertaining action-comedy series, if you don’t mind the cheese-level of many of the jokes.MV5BMTY4MzMzMzM2OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE2OTc3MjE@._V1_The Super Hero Squad (sort of a loose version of the Avengers) is made up of an assortment of Marvel heroes, including Iron Man (as the leader), Captain America (who provides aid on a regular basis), Wolverine (adding the X-Men’s popularity,) The Hulk, Thor, a spacey surfer-dude version of the Silver Surfer, and Falcon (obviously added to bring some diversity.) Joining them is the mostly unknown Reptil (a dinosaur-powered bit player from the Avengers comics) who is both a young guy and Hispanic, helping fill out the P.C. scorecard a bit more and give younger viewers a stand-in.  They go up against Doctor Doom and his legion of bad guys (and ineffective henchmen), as he searches for the Infinity fractals, shards of the Infinity Sword (which seems connected to the Infinity Gems of the Infinity Gauntlet. Infinity.)MV5BMTUwMzc1OTEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjU3MDg3MjE@._V1_Though the storylines are pretty solid and offer big action-packed battles, the bulk of the show is comedy, with the character’s out-sized personalities carrying the jokes, be it Thor’s overwhelming concern about his appearance or Captain America being stuck in the ’40s. Maybe I don’t give kids a lot of credit, but I can see a large portion of these gags flying over their heads, which will make the show far more enjoyable for adults than one would have expected. There was more than one joke that got a genuine laugh out of me, though many of them rely on bodily functions or pratfalls for the punchline. The wordplay and character-generated jokes are much more entertaining and fun, especially Thor’s Asgardian versions of modern language, the Silver Surfer’s alien view of Earth life, and anything involving the always-ridiculous floating head known as M.O.D.O.K. (voiced hilariously by Tom Kenny.) One joke about the Hulk swallowing a yo-yo is technically genius. The only thing about the show that doesn’t really work is Reptil, who feels like the Poochie of the show, coming off as a bone tossed to kids, with his dino-focused power, youthful role and extreme behavior.MV5BNzQ1MjI0NzUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzk1OTc3MjE@._V1_This version of the Marvel Universe smartly keeps the same look for its characters, giving long-time Marvel fans an in for the series, but presents them in a super-deformed style (squat bodies, large heads and feet, four fingers) that’s kid-cartoon friendly and which easily separates it from any other version of the Universe you’ve ever seen. That way, there are no issues with continuity or previous incarnations, and the show can be enjoyed on its own merits (allowing them to do something like make Dr. Strange a complete lunatic.) That’s a good thing, because the show is loaded to the gills with fan-service goodies, like the episode titles (which reference famous comic titles) and title cards which replicate memorable cover art. The show also pulls characters from the depths of the Marvel roster, like Screaming Mimi and the Melter, and having silly cartoon fun with them. Taken simply as a silly, almost What The–?! treatment of the characters, it’s well worth a look for comic-book fans out of grade school.MV5BMjM1ODQ2NDUxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjk1OTc3MjE@._V1_On a non-story note, the theme song, provided by Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder, is an energetic blast, while the voice cast for this series has to be one of the best for a non-prime time animated series, with tons of veterans of the cartoon industry, like Kenny, Tara Strong, Jess Harnell, Grey DeLisle, Cree Summer and Charlie Adler, along with plenty of genre stars, including Robert Englund, Tricia Helfer, Jennifer Morrison and Adrian Pasdar. It’s rare to see a show like this pull this kind of voice cast.MV5BNzQ1MjI0NzUzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzk1OTc3MjE@._V1_The overall plot of the cycle will feature the villain Thanos seeking the six stones of the Infinity Gauntlet, a powerful cosmic weapon. Opposing him will be the titular Super Hero Squad, which is made up of goofball takes on Iron Man, Thor, Falcon, Wolverine, Hulk, Ms. Marvel, original character Reptil, Scarlet Witch, and sometimes Captain America. While the first two shows focus specifically on the Thanos plot, other episodes detour into one-off excursions. For instance, “World War Witch!” takes the heroes back in time to when Cap was fighting the Red Skull alongside the Invaders in WWII, while “Support Your Local Sky-Father!” pits Olympus vs. Asgard, and it features the Marvel Universe rendition of Hercules.

 

REVIEW: THE AVENGERS: EARTH’S MIGHTIEST HEROES

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Brian Bloom (Vampirella)
Chris Cox (All Star Superman)
Jennifer Hale (The Rick)
Peter Jessop (Jla Adventures)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Eric Loomis (Shin Chan)
James C. Mathis III (Undercover Brother)
Colleen Villard (Duel Masters)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Rick D. Wasserman (Planet Hulk)
Wally Wingert (American Dad)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST COICES

Gabriel Mann (Cherry Falls)
Drake Bell (The Reef 2)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Steven Blum (Wolverine and Teh X-men)
Alex Desert (The Flash 90s)
Vanessa Marshall (Duck Dodgers)
Kari Wuhrer (Eight Legged Freaks)
Elizabeth Daily (Valley Girl)
Troy Baker (Lego Batman)
Nolan North (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Crispin Freeman (Hellsing)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Grey DeLisle (Danny Phantom)
Cam Clarke (He-Man)
Lance Reddick (Lost)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Nika Futterman (Hey Arnold!)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)
Jonathan Adams (Bones)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
David Kaufman (Superman: TAS)

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Both Marvel and DC have to an astonishing degree started to pick up these last few years, with several well-appreciated shows that I really enjoy: Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Green Lantern TAS, and now this; The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It’s very rare indeed for a superhero cartoon of this magnitude to be  great from start-to-finish, but that’s what Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is, right from Episode 1 `Iron Man is Born’ to the finale `Avengers Assemble!’. There are literally no dud episodes whatsoever! The whole series is infused with tremendous intrigue, exceptional plotting and some of the tightest continuity I’ve ever seen in a TV series. The number of sub-plots and story-arcs that are juggled here is staggering, but the creative team handled it all with such precision. The coherency, intricacies and pacing is nothing short of exemplary overall. This isn’t just essential for kids; adult Marvel fans will get bags of satisfaction from watching this cartoon!MV5BMTgxOTA1Nzk3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk0MzY2MjE@._V1_So what exactly can folk expect? Well, as I said, the choicest pieces of Marvel history (be it in comics or on film) have been successfully adapted and utilized here. From how the Avengers banded together to life-changing events like the Civil War threat and the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion (adapted beautifully here!). Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man/Yellowjacket, the Wasp and Black Panther are all superbly established before `Assembling’ for the first time, members come-and-go, characters undergo changes, Hawkeye, Ms. Marvel and the Vision join the ranks, and all-manner of superb guests join the party, such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Fantastic Four and even those Guardians of the Galaxy!

And on the villains-front, you can be subjected to a cracking-bunch of dastardly rogues, such as Loki, the Red Skull, Hydra, A.I.M., Baron Zemo, the Enchantress, the Masters of Evil, Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and (of course!) chief arch-nemesis Ultron. And it’s not all just for window-dressing. The depictions of all these characters (hero, villain and otherwise) and their worlds is just pure gold. It’s perhaps the most faithful animated portrayal of the Marvel Universe.
Really, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes could (and should) have gone on for more seasons. Instead, Marvel pulled the plug in favor of the replacement show Avengers Assemble. Thus in the last batch episodes, you DO get the feel that the writers were trying to wrap things up and give the show a grand swansong to make way for the next-cartoon-in-line. Admittedly, there are a few loose ends left over, but the series is mostly wrapped-up in winning style with a very acceptable conclusion. And in an age where too many shows are cancelled prematurely/end on a sour note, it makes that final moment of `Avengers Assemble!’ all the more of a triumph, just like the entire series itself.

REVIEW: AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND

 

CAST (VOICES)

Linda Ballantyne (Sailor Moon)
Tony Daniels (The Black Mirror)
Graham Harley (The Cutting Edge)
Roy Landry (The Little Bear Movie)
Hamish McEwan (Amelia)
Ron Rubin (Flying Rhino Junior High)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
John Stocker (Babar)
Rod Wilson (Chloe)
Lenore Zann (X-Men: TAS)

MV5BMTQxNDc0MjM4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDc0MDI5MDE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Although set in New York, this cartoon is loosely based on the Marvel comic entitled ‘Avengers West Coast’. The team roster includes founding Avengers Ant-Man and the Wasp alongside long-term members Scarlet Witch and the Vision, newer members Tigra and Falcon, plus best friends Wonder Man and Hawkeye, the latter seen in the recent film ‘Avengers Assemble’. Fellow characters and founding members Captain America and Iron Man make guest-appearances in one episode each, as does Sub-Mariner himself, Prince Namor.Although the costume changes weren’t popular with everyone, I really enjoyed team-leader Ant-Man’s new suit which featured a miniature rocket-ship worn as a backpack; when Ant-Man shrunk, he could go aboard the backpack and fly it on missions!MV5BMTg0MTk5NDIyMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTYwMDQ2MjE@._V1_The stories, as you’d expect, are very child-friendly, but the relationships between the characters are subtle enough for adults to enjoy. In this series, Ant-Man and the Wasp’s marriage is portrayed as a very strong one with lots of teamwork, there’s a bit of a love triangle between Wonder Man, Scarlet Witch, and the Vision, and when Captain America shows up, there’s a bit of friction between he and the team’s leader, Ant-Man.MV5BMTQzOTc0OTY2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTY4NTM2MjE@._V1_

All in all, I feel it’s a shame that the loose ends concerning Wonder Man’s ailments, and the evil alien gang, the Zodiac, were never resolved before the series was cancelled.