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Lightning Movie Reviews – Ant-Man, Ultron, Minions

I have some catching up to do, so you get some quick thoughts on some recent flicks.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – The first movie was so successful, so it would’ve been difficult to meet expectations here. Ultron definitely was a half-step down but still had some great action and humor. Ultron himself could’ve used a bit more menace – something Spader would’ve been capable of, and in the end Ultron comes off a bit odd. I loved the Vision though, and for all the worry about Quicksilver and the comparison to the X-Men movie version, he and Wanda were great in their limited role. Special shout-out to Hawkeye who filled the ‘heart of the team’ role admirably, and was probably the funniest of the Avengers.

Ant-Man – Okay, I really enjoyed Ant-Man. Thought of as the riskiest project in the MCU after Guardians of the Galaxy, especially with all the turmoil surrounding Edgar Wright’s departure. It didn’t catch fire like Guardians but has performed solidly, tracking to match or exceed Captain America: The First Avenger. The visuals were a ton of fun and seemed to keep some of the Edgar Wright weirdness around. I wish Hope could’ve been Wasp here but I’ll deal as long as they get her in for future MCU movies. I also hope we get to see more Hank Pym – I’d love to see Michael Douglas as Hank going toe to toe with Tony Stark.

Minions – Minions is the classic example of something that is funny in small bursts but drags when expanded out to feature-length. Like how Pinky and the Brain were funny on Animaniacs but significantly less so with their own 30 minute show. There were a few chuckles and it certainly wasn’t so bad as to be painful, but it’s telling that the biggest smile for me came from when (spoiler alert) young Gru appeared at the end. Catch it when it’s on FX or whatever.

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Movie Review – Lincoln

This isn’t normally what I go to the movies for, which if you’ve read my previous reviews, you could probably guess.  It’s not exactly comparable to The Avengers or Ponyo.  Still, Lincoln is a damn fine movie.  The main thrust of the movie examines Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) as he pushes to get the 13th amendment through the House of Representatives early in 1865.  Mixed with this is marriage strife, caused in part by Robert Todd Lincoln’s (Robin, er, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) desire to join the Union army.  Sally Field was excellent as Mary Todd Lincoln, as well.

The scene-stealer for me, was Tommy Lee Jones as Radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens.  He had the best lines, thanks in part to the fact that the debates in the House were as much rap battles with put-downs and sly remarks as they were stately debates.  You can add James Spader and Tim Blake Nelson to that list of scene-stealing too, as lobbyists employed to try and win over lame-duck Democrats to the Republican side on the amendment.

The Oscar buzz for this film is well-deserved.  I could listen to this version of Lincoln tell his stories for hours.  Definitely well worth seeing if you are in the mood for some more thoughtful fare before the big summer movie season.