Posts Tagged ‘Michael Pena’

I like Marvel movies, I do, but they tend to stick to a certain formula when making its origin movies, or really making any movies for that matter. That being said there’s this undeniable force behind the movies that keep bringing me back time and time again: The movies have the ability to seamlessly blend humor, wit, charm, action, and amazing special effects. And they are always impeccable with the casting.

Marvel’s
ANT MAN

Directed By: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Bobby Cannavale,
Judy Greer, Patrick Wilson, David Dastmalchian, Anthony Mackie

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So okay, the plot is a little iffy, the whole “rag-tag, Ocean’s 11, steal an important relic but not before a big training montage” has been done to death. And there are many looming plot problems that put the entire story line into question (but I won’t spoil it, lest it be like that time on Big Bang Theory when Amy ruined the entire plot of Indiana Jones for Sheldon). Plus there’s a complete lack of a big female presence thing, except for Evangeline Lily who is awesome, but could really use another woman to talk to.

However, despite all these things there is one big thing in Ant Man that makes the movie worth watching even if none of the rest interests you. No, it’s not Paul Rudd’s undeniable self-deprecating charm, it’s not the incredible attention to detail in the “shrinking” special effects (that bathtub scene is so awesome), nor is it the awesome action sequences such as Hawkeye and Ant-Man battling it out. The thing, or rather person that makes Ant-Man worth watching is Michael Peña.

Michael Peña plays Luis, Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) partner-in-crime friend. But Peña manages to take the terms “goofy sidekick” to a whole other level. Luis is full of joy, even if things are going absolutely terrible in his life. Perpetually stoned, everything that comes out of his mouth is hilarious. But the thing that works is that you don’t write Luis off as just a goof-ball, you genuinely like the dude. And that is the genius of Michael Peña. Luis is not just comic relief, he’s much more.

AAAGGHHH! The Latino actor reacts pretty much how everyone reacts when they see a bug on their shoulder

We have to remember Ant-Man is the origin movie. It’s the TV equivalent to a pilot meaning there is room to grow. Now that we know the characters, now that we know his backstory, we can be launched into some exciting adventures. I can’t wait to see Paul Rudd and Ant-Man integrated into the MCU, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers. Because we all know that the Marvel movies work best when all their characters are together.

Rating: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

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American Hustle
Directed By: David O’Russell
Starring: Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Robert De Niro, Michael Pena

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Premise: American Hustle is about Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale), a married con man who falls in love with a seductive and equally cunning woman (Amy Adams). Together they run cons each taking on a role, her as a charming British woman Sydney Prosser. When they are caught by a desperate-to-make-a-name-for-himself, FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) he forces them to work a heist involving the New Jersey Mayor (Jeremy Renner), gambling, fake sheiks (a hilarious Michael Pena), and the mafia in order for them to avoid prosecution. Everything seems to be going well, that is until Irving’s unpredictable wife (Jennifer Lawrence) joins in the mix.

 

Things To Know About American Hustle

 

As a movie, it’s not Oscar worthy, but Amy Adams sure is.
The movie, as a whole, is nothing special. But when you break it down into little pieces, it has some incredible parts to it. The writing is great. The dialogue was witty, funny, and clever and the way the characters related to each other was extremely dynamic. The plot wasn’t particularly remarkable long cons have become such a staple in many movies now-a-days (you can blame Ocean’s 11 for that). It sometimes became side-tracked and muddled. Luckily for David O’Russell, he had Amy Adams on his side to keep things a float.

Amy Adams is so damn good.
Like really really damn good. First of all, she looked gorgeous. Beautiful dresses with strategically placed double stick tape. Secondly, she showed great range. It was a new side of her and there was something so uninhibited about it. The way she played off of Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale was great, but there was something electric that happened when she was joined with Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence stole every scene she was in.
Okay, so she may be a little young to play a role like this. And she most definitely stood out like a sore thumb, but there was no denying that she had a presence in this movie. Her character was wild, unpredictable, and completely out of her mind. And Jennifer Lawrence brought that spark she brings to all her roles when she gets really really tense. It was there when she was yelling at Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, it was there when she was yelling at Haymitch in Catching Fire or screaming for Peeta, and it was everywhere in this movie. Her scenes with Amy Adams were really incredible, tense chemistry palpable. Besides watching people have crazy break downs is a great American pastime.

Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper were a little out of place.
Christian Bale really immersed himself in his role and he was great to watch, beer belly and all. However, Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper felt not of the time. They felt too contemporary. Cooper had his moments, but it was too difficult seeing Jeremy as his character instead of as Jeremy Renner. I don’t know if it was the development of their characters, their acting, or just the fact that they were miscast. I loved Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, but he was out of place here.

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This is a movie to watch for the performances alone. Amy Adams is at her very best and should give Sandra Bullock a run for her money come Oscar time. American Hustle is definitely a movie to check out.

Rating: 3 ½ Stars

 

 

 

 

 

Held up by the find acting of its leads, End of Watch is a strong, gritty movie with consequences that will linger long after the movie has ended.

End of Watch
Starring:
 
Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, America Ferrera, Cody Horn

Premise: Best friends, Officer Taylor and Officer Zavala are cocky partners in charge of keeping the streets of LA safe. One day on patrol, the uncover a large crime that through a series of unfortunate events leaves them targets of an extremely dangerous drug cartel.

My Review: End of Watch does what a lot of movies fail to do. It develops a love between two people so well you actually care about them, their relationship, and their survival. In this case, it’s two cops who have been friends for many years. They are both work partners and “brothers from another mother” and their devotion to each other and each other’s family is palpable. The friendship and bond between Officer Taylor and Officer Zavala and the chemistry between their counterparts Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena is what holds this gritty, bloody, stressful movie together.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are incredible to watch. Jake has his rugged good looks, his lopsided side smile, and his confident charisma and it works well with Pena’s humor, good nature, and overall charm. They bring these characteristics to their characters and we know from the decisions they make, and their devotion to each other that Taylor and Zavala are the real deal. This bond and chemistry made the ending that much harder to swallow. I knew what was coming, I had a strong feeling how it would end, but I cared about these characters so much the effect on me was powerful.

Despite having a serious story line and putting its characters in extremely dangerous and nail-biting situations, there is also humor to be found in David Ayer’s (who also directed) script. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena joke and bicker like they’ve been doing it all their lives. This, combined with fantastic supporting actors, Anna Kendrick, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, America Ferrera, and lesser known actors, are what makes this film watchable.

Unfortunately, where it fails is in the camera work. I can’t tell whether this movie is documentary style, found footage style, or just a film where sometimes we cut to the POV of the camera our protagonists hold. It never really committed to one of these styles, which made it extremely distracting. However, as I became engrossed in the movie I forgot all that, and in some cases I found that it worked. Most of the time you never saw things before our hero’s saw them, making situations that much scarier.

Like I said before, End of Watch is a strong movie with situations that will haunt you long after the movie has ended. If anything, watch it for the great work by Jake and Mike (In my mind, I know them well enough to call them that.) but beware, it’s not for the faint of heart.

 

Rating: 3 ½ stars out of 5
(It would have been 4 if not for weird camerawork)