ANT-MAN AND THE WASP – Heroic Partners

ant-man-and-the-wasp-poster 2If there’s one thing that Marvel Studios does best, it is taking some of the lesser-known heroes from Marvel Comics and making them household names via the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, the MCU began with what was thought of at the time as a B or C-list hero: Iron Man. And one of the best conversions to stardom was Ant-Man, which made his cinematic debut in 2015.

The adventures of the tiniest Avenger continue with Ant-Man and the Wasp. This film captured more of the fun tone of the first film and brought even more “wow” moments to the table. Director Peyton Reed returns with more exciting action and funny character scenes, making this film head-over-heels better than the first Ant-Man film (which I also enjoyed). The sequel was clever and light in its execution, which also contributed to some frustrating leaps in logic.

Still, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a welcomed addition to the MCU. And it was an ingenious move of Marvel to place this film on the release docket right after Avengers: Infinity War. The former brings some desperately-needed levity back to the MCU after the very heavy and dark events of the latter.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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Reviewing the Classics: MCLINTOCK!

McLintock PosterOne of the unfortunate casualties of the current cultural climate is our inability to laugh at ourselves and the absurdities of life without feeling guilty or uncomfortable. “In good humor” is a phrase met with suspicion and derision by people with little to no sense of humor. And certain classics – be they film, literature, and other art forms – are chided for their “insensitivity” and cast into the netherworld of obscurity – no matter what truth about humanity they may or may not have brilliantly conveyed.

Such is the case with McLintock!, the 1963 comedy/western film starring screen legends John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. It’s one of my favorite of Wayne’s films – right up there with The Searchers in terms of quality entertainment. McLintock! is one of Wayne’s most unconventional films. However, a film like this, with its broad humor and stereotyping, could never be made today, lest it is met with protests and condemnations from academia, government, and other corners of the professional protest industry.

Set near the end of the 1800s, John Wayne plays cattle baron George Washington “G.W.” McLintock – a man who seemingly has everything (at least to those outside of his inner circle) and engenders all sorts of jealousy from lesser men young and old. But when his estranged wife Katie (O’Hara) returns to his life after two years away, G.W. hides his hurt by locking horns with her, and Katie is more than eager to dig her heels in the sand. What follows is a story inspired by William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew – complete with back-and-forth manipulations and a classic battle of wills.

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On Memorial Day

arlington-national-cemetery

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!”

Every Memorial Day, I think back to my visit to Arlington National Cemetery – just standing there amongst the graves in reverent silence. It’s one of the most special experiences of my life. The graves seemed to go on forever – dotting the bright green landscape with pillars of white. To think that every one of those men had a family, a mother, a father, more than likely children and a wife.

America is great country, idea, and culture worth fighting, and if need be, dying for. One need only look at the hills of Arlington for proof of that. It is that noble American spirit that has also sent our fighting men and women to die for the liberation of other nations and peoples around the world.

If you find yourself ever doubting the truth of American nobility and greatness, please go visit Arlington. It really puts things into perspective and humbles the spirit. There are many Americans, especially the younger ones, who unfortunately have a poor outlook on this nation – and that’s really sad.

They don’t realize how good they have it, and just how many people have fought and died so they can live a life of peace, where the only daily struggle they have is what type of coffee they’ll have at Starbucks.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day and every day. Their struggle has enabled us to live the American life they never will.

PARKLAND – The Fallen Idol

Watching Chappaquiddick last week, with its surprisingly straight retelling of a controversial historical event, brought to mind another excellent historical drama which involved another Kennedy. Though this film is decidedly more sympathetic to the Kennedy at the center of it.

Very few historical events have captured the public imagination as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The 2013 film Parkland attempts to shed some sobering light on this event and does a great job doing it. The film is a very real and intense look at those few hours in Dallas in November of 1963 and removes the veil of legend and purported conspiracy on what was a very tragic event.

With a stellar cast and almost constant tension, Parkland is a great piece of historical cinema and joins Chappaquiddick as another straightforward, unbiased look at a historical event. But I would expect nothing less from producer Tom Hanks and the rest of the group who produced such great historical dramas as Band of Brothers, The Pacific, John Adams, and From the Earth to the Moon.

In the midst of tearing the veil of legend, Parkland also gives the viewer a stark look at just how much the American public idolized John F. Kennedy. All their hopes for the future were placed on his weak and finite shoulders. What the film highlights most is humanity’s propensity for idol worship. Putting one’s faith in a person, especially a politician, is never a wise choice.

SPOILERS AHEAD

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