Philadelphia (1993)

Rated PG-13: For Language and Sensitive Themes

Running Time:  126 minutes (2 hours and 5 minutes)

Genre/s: Drama

Release on December 24, 1993 (US Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

Distributed by TriStar Pictures

Written: Ron Nyswaner

Director: Jonathan Demme

  • Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett
  • Denzel Washington as Joe Miller

Perhaps one of the most notable film that tackles the issue of HIV/AIDS is the movie, Philadelphia. Directed by the acclaimed American director, screenwriter and producer, Jonathan Demme, the same man who directed the award-winning movie in 1991, Silence of the Lambs, where he won the Academy Award for Best Director at the 64th Academy Awards ceremony. Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is our spotlight of this timely, thought-provoking film.

What is the movie about?

Andrew Beckett, portrayed by Hanks (Cast Away), a senior associate of a law firm, was illegally dismissed by his partners. At first his partners claim that the reason for his dismissal was that he was incompetent, not being able to perform the task assigned to him.    

Later on, he found out that the reason for his dismissal from the firm was because his partners found out about his homosexuality and his present condition, being diagnosed as having HIV.  He asked the service of a personal injury lawyer named Joe Miller, portrayed by Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.), who declined to take on the case, thinking that he might contract the disease himself.  

With no one to help him, Beckett decides to represent himself in court, studying at a public library. Miller saw Beckett at the library being discriminated for his condition, decides to help Beckett with his case. 

Philadelphia is the film that gave Tom Hanks his first Academy Award for Best Actor during the 66th Academy Awards in 1993.  He would again win The Academy Award for Best Actor during the sixty-seventh Academy Award ceremonies in 1994 for his portrayal as Forrest Gump. Two consecutive wins for Thomas Jeffrey Hanks.

Philadelphia is one of those films that just shows everyone that AIDS is no joke at all. It is deadly, and it is incurable at the moment. The moment one contracts the sickness, thee is almost no chance at surviving it. Worse, everyone is vulnerable to it. Since we are talking about HIV, it might be fitting that we present to you guys a press release regarding about this. Read on please ...

HIV awareness must be made more understandable for young adults

Only 15 percent of young adults aged 15 to 24 years old have knowledge about HIV prevention, a UNAIDS Philippines study showed. The lack of an extensive sex education in the curriculum is seen as a contributing factor—directly or indirectly—to the country’s high HIV growth rate.

Durex Philippines recently launched its "Always Come Prepared" campaign that aims create HIV awareness and help prevent it. Key organizations-UNAIDS, Love Yourself, and advocates from the medical field, and Boys Night Out (BNO), joined hands with Durex on its mission to curb HIV in the country. 

UNAIDS Country Director for the Philippines Dr. Louie Ocampo shares that if the current trend of reported new HIV cases in the country, we are seeing tripling of numbers at about "265,000 cases by the end of 2028-2029."

Discussions on the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV have always been done in extremes – either it is too technical and clinical or it is peppered with myths and falsehoods – creating a large disconnect with young adults, the audience who matter the most. 

(L-R) BNO's Slick Rick, Reckitt Benckiser Read for regulatory Atty. Ricky Salvador, Sex Therapist Dr. Rica Cruz, UNAIDS Country Director for the Philippines Dr. Louie Ocampo, Reckitt Benckiser General Manager Chris Ritchie, Infectious Diseases Expert Dr. Marion Kwek, Love Yourself and Safe Spaces advocate Losif Cadelina, and BNO's Toni Tony and Sam YG.
“We believe that education is the best way to prevent HIV, especially among the young adults. If they are equipped with the right knowledge about HIV and its potential risks to their health, we believe that they stand a chance in protecting themselves against the chronic disease,” said (Karol Canlas) Durex Philippines (Brand Manager).

In September, Durex Philippines took the playful and quirky approach to bringing HIV awareness to mind with the launch of its “Always Come Prepared” campaign. Led by the radio trio of Sam YG, Tony Toni, and Slick Rick, the campaign aims to make the conversation on the threats and dangers of the disease lighter and easier to understand for the general public.  

To pique the interests of young adults on the campaign, Durex also presented a unique visual of a toy soldier using the condom as a parachute. 

“Their openness and tongue-in-cheek manner of talking about sex-related issues and concerns, particularly HIV, is a good way for us to reach the younger audience. Medical experts have long talked about the dangers of HIV, but why is it still rising in the Philippines? The message must have been lost somewhere,” said (Chrisel Segundo, Category Manager – Relief and Wellness).

Condoms are still the only known effective method of preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. With its latest campaign, Durex Philippines aims to raise awareness and encourage the public to take active precautionary measures against HIV. 

And with that, we hope that you were enlightened by our little public service announcement. To conclude, here is the theme song of the film. The music video of this movie - Streets of Philadelphia, with music and lyrics by "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen, was co-directed by Jonathan Demme together with his nephew Ted Demme. It won for Bruce Springsteen the Best Original Song at the 66th Academy Awards in 1993 as well as the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.  It also garnered 4 Grammy Awards: Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Source ("Justice, like lighting!")
"No law. No order. No heroes." What happens when the most dangerous criminals in existence are all that is left in a world overrun by monsters? In these four post-apocalyptic, caper films, six super-villains reluctantly work together with thirty-six other evil-doers to battle horrors that are worse than any of them combined. But can they trust one another enough to not murder each other? Based on the Marvel Comics property of the same name, these films will carry the same colorful vibe that all Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have had for a decade, while being more mature and darker in tone and approach, and also giving some spotlight to less-renowned characters.

That was the short version of this pitch, and if you are still interested, read-on! Welcome to Dateline Movies, and this is our pitch for a film series for Marvel's Thunderbolts!

Also, since I only have a few ideas for this pitch, and I just basically wanted to share it with all of you, this will be a particularly shorter post in contrast to recent pitches. In addition, I will save the commentary for another post.

Source ("Dormammu, I've come to bargain.")

Setting and placement in the MCU timeline

The world continued to thrive under the protection of superheroes, but even with the large number of budding crime-fighters and costumed vigilantes, crime, either intergalactic or local, either mystical or technological, still remains a constant problem.

As the years go by, as the technology grow superior, as the humans and super-humans evolve, things take a sharp turn for the worse when "The Mandarin" makes his presence known. Though initially thought to have been a work of fiction, the real Mandarin had only been waiting for the right moment to take over the world.

With enough knowledge on occultism thanks to his background as a former Master of the Mystic Arts, The Mandarin decided to set his sights on the mythical nature of the Dark Dimension, a terrifying netherworld where time does not matter, and where sinister monsters reside. With his new power, Schmidt allows for more paranormal activities to take place on Earth, and allowing for more Dark Dimension dwellers to roam the world unchecked by creating smaller, undetectable portals. The ruler of the Dark Dimension, the dread Dormammu, takes an interest in his power, and recruits The Mandarin as his second-in-command, with The Mandarin being promised to have Earth as his own personal, private domain.

Source (About seven decades in space is probably enough to still make a a bad guy ... a bad guy.)
A newly reassembled "Advanced Idea Mechanics" (AIM), formerly branded as a notorious criminal think tank responsible for several terrorist attacks on United States soil, decided to take an interest in weaponizing the Dark Dimension creatures, much like how they weaponized the Red Skull, who returned from his exile from space. This was going to be a part of the organization's first Thunderbolts Initiative, where experiments and projects are done to create new weapons of mass destruction to keep the world safe from other threats. As such, The Mandarin took advantage of this opportunity to further his goals by making use of the group's experiments to strengthen and tame the monsters, and no one at AIM was the wiser.

The world eventually descends into chaos as more monsters destroy everything on sight, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process. In a desperate attempt to save people as Earth becomes a complete part of the Dark Dimension, the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange fights Dormammu. As Dormammu fought him on Earth, where time does matter, Strange had no choice but to kill the dark lord with forbidden spells, absorbing Dormammu's supernatural powers to prevent Earth from becoming nothing but raw energy. With Dormammu technically possessing Strange, Strange becomes convinced that by letting the monsters reside on Earth, not only will he be able to keep the world safe from external threats, but it would also control the population through fear. 

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5 (From top left, then bottom right)
Twenty years later, the remaining members of human civilization are forced to reside in five "domed cities" for their protection, all monitored by AIM, in partnership with The Mandarin himself, who sees wisdom in Doctor Strange's newly discovered idealism. These five cities included ...

"Pleasant Hill", an AIM facility with the appearance of a seemingly normal suburban lot that serves as a prison, training ground, and experimental testing site for the forty-two most dangerous criminals in the world, which consist of numerous successful subjects of the Thunderbolts Initiative, as well as The Mandarin.

"Technopolis", a collective name for three separate space stations orbiting the Earth's ionosphere where the most psychotic and bored, bloodthirsty elitists, who are forced to wear Iron Man duplicate armors for self-defense and for murder sports, and who believe are smarter than all of AIM combined, reside almost peacefully, and is managed by a nigh-immortal Justin Hammer.

"Mandarin City", the largest, most powerful domed city that mixes both Babylonian and Chinese architecture, is notable for occupying the entirety of the Eurasian corner of the globe, and it is the urbanized fortress of The Mandarin. It is divided into ten different districts, each ruled by ten of The Mandarin's most trusted disciples and children.

"Spider-Island", a semi-rural, isolationist, and technological domed city that occupies the entire Manhattan Island, and is overseen by an older, much more powerful Spider-Man, with assistance from his army of mechanized "Spider-Slayers", and his own personal research and development enterprise known as "Parker Industries". And ...

"Wakanda", formerly the most advanced and most powerful nation in the planet, complete with the most state-of-the-art equipment in the world, the domed city is now but ruin after Ulysses Klaue detonated two nuclear warheads, leaving the entire place to be haunted by numerous Dark Dimension dwellers and to be Klaue's personal Vibranium mine.

Source (Avengers: Standoff! had a decent premise, and a not-at-all decent execution. Just saying.)

"Marvel's Thunderbolts" is told over a span of four different movies. Each installment focuses on the exploits of forty-two super-villains that are brought under the latest version of the Thunderbolts Initiative. Here, criminals are exiled far and away from the secured domed cities, and are tasked to reclaim as much territory as possible from the Dark Dimension monsters, while also rescuing as many civilians as possible. Each of the villains are free to do whatever evil deed that they please, as long as none of which will strictly violate specific rules and regulations that are provided beforehand. 

The recruits for the initiative are relocated to Pleasant Hill. Though it was established by The Mandarin to train more super-humans for his personal army, as well as to punish those who question his authority by forcing them to scavenge the wasteland for additional resources, Pleasant Hill is made to train the villains to assassinate The Mandarin. The goal of the whole operation would be to take over the world from The Mandarin, and lead society to a more utopia-like rule. The place is monitored by the reformed AIM, a group of the greatest minds on Earth who not only acts as the governing body in Pleasant Hill, but for all of the other domed cities in the world.

The chronological order of movies, each bearing an original title akin to the James Bond film series, are as follows ...
  • "Assault on Pleasant Hill" - The inmates of Pleasant Hill, with the assistance of the newly enhanced Red Skull, take control of the facility in an attempt to be free of AIM's control, and continue to do their villainous activities, but their actions ultimately result in dooming the entire prison to numerous hordes of Dark Dimension dwellers in the process.
  • "Quantum Sunshine" - In order to recapture the Red Skull, who plans to murder everyone with a massive black hole after sensing the majority of the world's pain and misery, the villains are sent to the space community "Technopolis", which is occupied by seemingly normal people permanently stuck to Iron Man duplicate armors, to retrieve M.O.D.O.C.
  • "The Hands of the Mandarin" - The Mandarin reveals that he is manipulating the Red Skull to be his energy tuning fork, as a means for him to conquer the universe, but the villains each debate on whether or not they should allow the Red Skull to either perform a planet-wide mercy kill, or use him to put everyone else under mind-control.
  • "Brave New World" - With The Mandarin killed, the villains rise-up to rebuild Earth into a utopia in the Dark Dimension by making use of the Red Skull's warp-generating powers to unleash an energy wave that brainwashes everyone, but when an unexpected enemy threatens the villains' success, they realize that they are not as strong as they seem.
The four flicks would be tackling the themes of justice, morality, and redemption. Specifically, all aim to answer one question: "Can the villains do a better job in making the world a safer place than the heroes could ever do?"

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5, Source 6, Source 7, Source 8, Source 9 (From top left to right.)
Cast of major characters

The four installments would be focusing on the following main characters, with the six main villains originally being retrieved from cryogenic incarceration for their respective crimes in the past ...
  • Helmut Zemo
  • A Sokovian colonel-turned-terrorist and assassin, who wants to rid the world of super-humans. The main antagonist of Captain America: Civil War, previously played by Daniel Brühl (The Cloverfield Paradox), Zemo would be struggling to adapt to a world that is dominated by super-powered beings, while fighting to keep his "humanity" in-check. 
  • Ava Starr / Ghost
  • A corporate saboteur and master thief who can become intangible after being caught in a "Quantum Anomaly". The main antagonist of Ant-Man and the Wasp, previously played by Hannah John-Kamen (Tomb Raider), Starr would be coping with her increasing inability to maintain a stable body, while also dealing with her inevitable death.
  • Samuel Sterns / The Leader
  • A cellular biologist and disfigured, genius telepath exposed to a blood sample of Bruce Banner / The Hulk. A side-character in The Incredible Hulk, previously portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson (Minority Report), Sterns would be struggling to overcome his insecurities, as well as his never-ending lust for power and world domination.
  • Helen “Hallie” Takahama / Jolt
  • A teenage, power-hungry and socially awkward wannabe super-villain who can turn her body into pure electricity. A new character introduced in the film series, Takahama debates with herself on whether she wants to become the monster that everyone already deems her to be, or be a superhero instead.
  • Emil Blonsky / The Abomination
  • A Russian-born soldier injected with a recreated version of the Super Soldier Serum, who can become a powerful monster. The main antagonist of The Incredible Hulk, previously portrayed by Tim Roth (American Ultra), Blonsky would be dealing with his increasing lack of touch with his own humanity, as well as his ever worsening damaged, war-torn psyche.
Source (With the heroes gone, who can you trust?)
  • Melissa Gold / Songbird
  • A disgraced S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who can create solid sonic-based projections and fly with a pair of artificial vocal cords. A new character introduced in the film series, Gold attempts to redeem herself after singlehandedly dooming an entire operation that resulted in the deaths of everyone residing in the Wakandan domed city, including former King T'Challa.
  • Arnim Zola / M.O.D.O.C.
  • A presumed deceased Swedish scientist formerly affiliated with H.Y.D.R.A., who personally spearheaded S.H.I.E.L.D.’s downfall. The secondary antagonist of both Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, previously portrayed by Toby Jones (Capote) Zola is now a cyborg with a database of weapons designs.
  • Elizabeth “Betty” Ross / Scientist Supreme
  • A scientist formerly studying gamma radiation, and the newly appointed leader of the re-purposed think tank AIM. A side-character from The Incredible Hulk, previously portrayed by Liv Tyler (Armageddon), Ross struggles with her newly obtained regenerating powers, as well as her own unresolved grief from her past relationship with Bruce Banner / The Hulk.
  • Leonard "Len" Samson / Doc Samson
  • A psychiatrist currently wed to Elizabeth "Betty" Ross, who gained super strength after exposing himself to gamma radiation and a version of the Super Soldier Serum. A side-character from The Incredible Hulk, previously portrayed by Ty Burrell (The Skeleton Twins), Samson serves as the team's psychiatrist and physician, and also Betty Ross' aide.
Source (The Avengers of the Future?)

The main antagonists per movie

The following characters are to be the primary, and ironically villains of each installment ...
  • Johann Schmidt / Red Skull - (Assault on Pleasant Hill)
  • The former leader of the modern incarnation of HYDRA who was exiled to space for his abuse of an Infinity Stone, the Red Skull is now reduced to a paranoid, bulky, warp-making cyborg. Originally the main antagonist of Captain America: The First Avenger, he was played by Hugo Weaving (Hacksaw Ridge) in the latter movie, and previously played by Ross Marquand (A Lonely Place for Dying) in Avengers: Infinity War.
  • Justin Hammer / Crimson Dynamo - (Quantum Sunshine)
  • The founder and CEO of Hammer Industries, and formerly a rival to Tony Stark / Iron Man, Justin Hammer, equipped with a lightweight suit that absorbs and reverts kinetic energy, became the founder and proprietor of "Technopolis". Originally the secondary antagonist of Iron Man 2 and a minor character in All Hail the King, he was previously played by Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) in both films.
  • "The Mandarin" - (The Hands of the Mandarin)
  • The morally ambiguous and immortal emperor of "Mandarin City", which dominates the vast majority of China, who is a former Master of the Mystic Arts who left the order to rule the world himself with his own sinister army. Originally teased all throughout Iron Man 3, many initially believed him to be a myth, after the discovery that an impersonator was taking his place in the past.
  • Saxton Smithers / Blackheath - (Brave New World)
  • The brainwashed and quasi-lobotomized African-British eco-terrorist, who became the unwilling host to a plant-based Dark Dimension dweller, resulting in him gaining the ability to manipulate all botanical life. A new character introduced in the film series, Blackheath was originally made a prisoner of "Technopolis", as well as being the community's ultimate source of food, until he was freed by the Thunderbolts.
Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5, Source 6, Source 7, Source 8, Source 9 (You know they're bad.)
Other Thunderbolts who appear in cameos only

The following are characters that also operate as Thunderbolts, and are ones that I personally thought would be interesting to include in the roster, but are all regulated to minor roles ...
  • Abigail Wright / Mercy
  • A mysterious, mute teenage girl who can manipulate air, earth, energy, fire, and water based on her finger and hand movements, and the leader of an uprising in "Technopolis".
  • Arthur Parks / Living Laser
  • A genius scientist turned mercenary, whose attempt at recreating Tony Stark / Iron Man's arc reactor technology resulted in him becoming a being of pure energy.
  • Chen Lu / Radioactive Man
  • A human mutate who can generate and absorb lethal amounts of radiation, and can create energy blasts with his own bare hands, while also carrying the potential to be a walking nuclear bomb.
  • Claudia Carr / Chemistro
  • A scientist and smalltime criminal obsessed with fortune, who commits various robberies with her alchemy gun, a weapon that can turn anything that it comes in contact with to gold.
  • Francis "Frank" Payne / Constrictor
  • A psychotic former SHIELD agent who lost both of his arms from a botched operation, and were replaced with mechanical limbs, who makes use of snake-themed gadgets to commit crimes.
  • Jerome Beechman / Mandrill
  • A host to a malevolent Dark Dimension dweller, who gained not only the appearance of an actual Mandrill, but also managed to gain the abilities of enhanced strength and sex-based control pheromone secretion.
  • John Falsworth / Baron Blood
  • A supposedly ancient vampire-like super-villain and heir to a rich family's fortune, who gained the abilities to fly, heal rapidly, and fight with ease after coming in contact with a Dark Dimension dweller.
  • Jonathan "Johnny" Horton / Griffin
  • A host to a malevolent Dark Dimension dweller, who became disfigured and looked strikingly similar to an actual griffin, but managed to get the abilities of flight and super strength.
  • Paul Pierre Duval / Grey Gargoyle
  • A saddened scientist whose attempts at experimenting with the Dark Dimension dwellers resulted in him gaining the power to have anything that he touches turn to stone.
And that is where we conclude our latest movie pitch! Again, we apologize for the very lengthy delays. Most of the reasons being school, and of course, college entrance exams. Hooray, what fun, right? In the meantime, while you wait for us again to post some new content, and for the next MCU film to come around, do enjoy this fan-made concept trailer for Avengers 4, made by YouTuber "Mr. Krepshus". Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies! 

Source (Get ready for some annihilation!)

Ang Babaeng Allergic sa WiFi (2018)

Genre/s: Romance

To Be Released on August 15, 2018 (PH Release Date; Limited Release Only)

Presented by Cignal Entertainment, OctoberTrain Films, and The IdeaFirst Company

Writer and Director: Jun Robles Luna

  • Sue Ramirez as Norma
  • Jameson Blake as Aristotle "Aris" Miller
  • Markus Peterson as Leo

  • Produced by Perci M. Intalan and Jun Robles Luna
  • Music composed by Emerzon Texon

Life without WiFi ... the mere thought of it makes we want to hyperventilate. And why not? Our dependence on the Internet to communicate and develop personal relationships is such that we feel lost without it. But what if you are forced by circumstances to avoid it, is there life or love without it? Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and this is is the interesting story of "Ang Babaeng Allergic sa WiFi", a quirky exploration of love in the world of the Internet.

What is the movie about?

The Internet has taken over the world, but for one young woman, Norma, played by Ramirez (Hanggang Saan), she does not seem to mind the fact that she is almost completely attached to it.

As she indulges in the many joys the Internet can give her, as well as her flourishing relationship with her boyfriend Leo, played by Peterson, she discovers, to her horror, that the very thing that keeps her the happiest is killing her. She has "Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity" (E.H.S.), which means exactly what it says in the title of the movie.

Forced to disconnect herself from cyberspace so as to keep herself safe, Norma retreats to a nearly secluded, and idealistic provincial land. There, she is forced to come to terms with the real world, without the Internet, and she must finally know if true love is with her boyfriend, or a secret admirer of hers, Aristotle "Aris" Miller, played by Blake (2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten).

On the premise of the flick, director Jun Robles Luna mentioned that “what interested (him) most about the idea, when I came across a 2009 news report about a British man who was allergic to Wi-Fi, is the opportunity to explore the underlying sadness and emptiness of modern relationships.”

On the social themes of the film, he added that “nowadays, with the advances of technology, no matter where we go, it’s so easy to get in touch with our loved ones. But a lot of our correspondence has also been reduced to emojis and likes and superficial interactions online. What happens if the technology that’s supposed to connect you to the whole world suddenly isolates you literally and takes away your freedom and the life you once lived and knew?”

Honestly, I am gently surprised that a person can actually becoming allergic to the Internet itself. I do look forward to seeing Cignal Entertainment's first-ever movie film myself, and I do hope to see you at the theaters. There are seven other films made by Filipinos currently showing in the Philippines, much like this little potential gem. All of these eight movies are part of the P.P.P. And what is that, you ask?

“Ang Babaeng Allergic sa WiFi” is Cignal Entertainment’s first venture into full length feature film production and is one of the eight feature films chosen by the Film Development Council of the Philippines for the Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino 2018 happening in August.

The Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino (PPP) is a nationwide week-long celebration which will exclusively screen Filipino films in all theaters nationwide from August 15-21, 2018. It is now on its second year and is in line with the Buwan ng Wika. This is organized by the Film Development Council of the Philippines in partnership with the theaters, and public and private partners.

For more information you may check-out Cignal Entertainment’s Facebook page by clicking here, and check-out the film's official Facebook page for more updates here. And as always, we leave a video related to our subject at the end of each of our posts. Be sure to listen to an original song for the movie titled "Wish" by Keiko. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Photo by Eugene Lim on Unsplash

One lazy afternoon while watching re-runs of gymnastic competitions, I got a sudden urge to check out movies about gymnastics. There were three which were consistently on the list of several movie aficionados. These include "An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars" (2012), "Stick It" (2006), and "The Gabby Douglas Story" (2014). I made a mental note to watch these movies soon.

Gymnastics Equipment

When watching movies like these, scenes showing gymnastics equipment are expected. But of course. So it was inevitable that during my search for these movies , I came across references for gymnastics equipment as well.  One in particular caught my eye. 

The main reason being that I have no idea as to how it is used and so my curiosity got piqued. This is called an air tumble track. It comes in different colors and sizes including the airtrack small. It even has a fun factor attached to it as it allows you to slide while combining the benefits of having a trampoline, spring floor, and a landing mat in one for serious gymnastics practice.

A quick look at the site reveals a wide variation of air trak mats for sale

Going back to movies about gymnastics. While flipping through the channels on tv,  I stumbled upon this replay of an episode of the animated show, Family Guy, on Fox. I was not able to watch the entire episode, but I was able to watch one specific scene specifically, wherein one of the show's main protagonist, Stewie Griffin, voiced by the show's creator, Seth MacFarlene, makes use of "Gymkata" to save a woman. After watching the scene, I thought to myself, "what is Gymkata?", and "why is this referenced and used for a gag?" 

I did some research, and from my discovery, Gymkata is actually an obscure 1985 martial arts film starring real-life gymnast Kurt Thomas, and is directed by the man who gave us arguably the most notable Bruce Lee film of all time, Enter the Dragon. Long story short, after reading about this typical 80s-themed, weird yet interesting film, I too wanted to learn more about this art, which is a fusion of karate and gymnastics.

From all of us here at Dateline Movies, we hope you too can learn a little Gymkata as well. Remember to get yourself an air track or two to make learning more interesting. If you are still at a loss on what the practice really is, take a look at the film's trailer here, and stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!

Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

Rated PG-13: For Mild Violence

Running Time: 118 minutes (1 hour and 58 minutes)

Genre/s: Action, Comedy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on July 4, 2018 (PH Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios

"Ant-Man" Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

"The Wasp" Created by Stan Lee, Ernie Hart, and Jack Kirby

Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari

Director: Peyton Reed

  • Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man / Giant-Man
  • Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne / The Wasp 
  • Michael Peña as Luis
  • Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch
  • Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr / Ghost
  • Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne / The Wasp 
  • Laurence Fishburne as Doctor Bill Foster
  • Randall Park as Agent James "Jimmy" Woo
  • Michael Douglas as Doctor Henry "Hank" Pym / Ant-Man 

So, it has been awhile ladies and gentlemen. An entire month, to be exact. A lot can happen at the start of the school year, such as having to go through another research process at the second week, loads of review days for college exams, and getting reassigned to editor-in-chief for the school paper. The sad thing was that we were working on plenty of other movie reviews last month, but they all remained in blogging hell. But we are back now, and we will remain as active for as long as we can.

Back to the post at hand, we were left shocked and traumatized to the core by the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Now Marvel Studios decided to give us some breathing space in preparation for an epic finale in 2019. Are the Earth's Tiniest Heroes enough to tide fans over until Captain Marvel, and finally Avengers 4? Welcome back to Dateline Movies, and movie court is back in session for the case of Ant-Man and The Wasp!

Since it is still showing in theaters, a spoiler warning is in order. You really don't need a truth serum to know that one, right?

What is the movie about?

After former thief Scott Lang, played by Rudd (Clueless), participated in a battle that he should not have, he is rebranded as a criminal, and is now placed under house arrest, under the strict supervision of F.B.I. agent Jimmy Woo, played by Park (The Interview).

It has been two years since Scott reached-out to both Hope Van Dyne, played by Lilly (Real Steel), and Hank Pym, played by Douglas (Wall Street). The father-daughter team-up has been spending their time trying to rescue Hope's mother and Hank's wife Janet Van Dyne, played by Pfeiffer (mother!), from the Quantum Realm.

But their little rescue mission is being derailed by the emergence of two villains: gangster and arms dealer Sonny Burch, played by Goggins, and the enigmatic phaser known only as "Ghost", played by John-Kamen (Both Goggins and John-Kamen appeared in Tomb Raider). To rescue Janet and save the world from the dangers of the Quantum Realm, it would take the combined might of Scott, Hope, Hank, Scott's best friend Luis, played by Peña (End of Watch), and Hank's former assistant Bill Foster, played by Fishburne (Passengers).


What we think of the movie?

The Defense:
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp is definitely one of the funniest M.C.U. entries, so far.

Comedy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe tends to be a mixed bag. There are cases that it does make a movie, and also adds layers to a character, and there are times when they are oddly placed, to the point that the placements pretty much ruins the entire movie. Ant-Man and The Wasp definitely delivers on the laughs, although I might say that there is some part of me that still wonders on how Edgar Wright, the originally slated director of the first Ant-Man movie, could have continued his story arc.

There are two scenes that I want to highlight, and one of them, of course, involves comedic standout Luis, played by none other than the ever lovable Michael Peña. In this particular sequence, we get the obligatory "Luis Recounts an Event in Funnily Excessive Detail", but this time, he is under the influence of "not" a truth serum. Luis', Kurt's, played by David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight), and Dave's, played by Tip "T.I." Harris (Takers) insistence that it is a truth serum, much to the maker, Uzman's, played by Divian Ladwa (Lion) dismay, is hilarious. 

The other scene that I very much enjoy is when Janet, who through the power of convoluted quantum science made Scott Lang into an antenna, takes control of Scott and course corrects Hank and Hope's quantum tunnel, the gateway to the Quantum Realm. (They really had to add "quantum" to everything, huh?) Paul Rudd definitely steals this scene by acting as if it is Michelle Pfeiffer controlling him, and what really seals the deal is when Janet uses Scott's body to express how much Janet misses her family, much to Hank's confusion.

There is this one scene when both Scott and Hope visit Scott's daughter Cassie's, played Abby Ryder Fortson (Playing It Cool) high school to obtain his old suit, Scott's new regulator malfunctions and he reaches the size of a ten-year old. It might be dragging for some, but it is just the kind of lighthearted nature that makes this film a decent time at the theater.

  • It ties in exceptionally well to the events of Avengers: Infinity War, even if it is completely standalone in nature.
Marvel's recent line of standalone films are given much more chances to stand on their own two feet, without having to constantly place Easter eggs or have pointless cameos just to cement its place in the universe. That trend lives-on as, even if they cranked-in a few references to the events of Captain America: Civil War, this movie, from start to finish, really did feel like a movie about its two titular leads in their own adventures. It is completely standalone is what I am saying, and they did not even get to have any of the other heroes out there to at least make a cameo just to keep things focused.

However, even if it is pretty much a standalone feature, it manages to tie-in relatively decently with the happenings of Avengers: Infinity War with just one mid-credits scene. I will not spoil it to you here, since it would ruin the surprise, even if I have already mentioned a lot of spoilers with regards to the film. Let me just say that the stakes for Scott Lang have just increased once Avengers 4.

  • Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are an awesome pair.

Once again, Marvel knock it out of the park with yet another star-studded cast, and the best performance among all of them is given by the film's main star. There really is so much to say about Rudd in his second, major outing as our ant-controlling, minuscule hero. Aside from the fact that I enjoyed that scene when Janet takes control of Scott's body, as Rudd pretty much personifies Janet's unique personality traits, I love how Rudd has a very touching, very relatable with his on-screen daughter Abby Ryder Fortson, who continues to be an integral part of the Ant-Man story with her small but meaningful performance. In fact, their small pretend treasure hunt is a dun exploration on how much they have connected as a family.

Evangeline Lilly finally gets her time to shine as the highly anticipated Wasp, and her next to perfect chemistry with Paul Rudd continues to shine. Just seeing Lilly tease Rudd's character whenever his regulator malfunctions, and just seeing her be her usual snarky self, is pretty entertaining. And heck, she even gets the honor of having the very first fight scene all to herself.

However, there is something about this script that made me feel as if not all of the actors managed to actually stand-out. Regardless, all actors, including Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Michael Peña as Luis, and even Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster are all pretty good.

  • Some of its creative visuals, evident especially in Ghost's phasing abilities, and costume designs are a-okay.
Like all other previous M.C.U. titles, Ant-Man and the Wasp also has some of the most decent, eye-catching visuals cinema has to offer, even if they are not as grandiose or memorable as the ones featured from its predecessors.

I have to say that I enjoy the two titular leads' costumes, especially Scott's latest Ant-Man suit, because its much sleeker, and much more contemporary take on the trademark costume makes him much more believable to see on-screen. At first, I was not that exactly sure with The Wasp's costume, since they just pretty much just gave her with the usual black leather suits with an extra sprinkle of yellow coating. I was actually yearning to see The Wasp's sleeveless suit from The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes animated series, since it makes her standout more. However, after giving enough thought into it, I have to say, The Wasp's suit here is brilliant, and it does make the idea of a sleeveless suit less logical in terms of the movie.

Perhaps the best costume design for me is arguably Ghost's. By removing the cartoonish cape from the character's earliest appearances, and by taking inspiration from the modern comicbook version's slightly ghastly appearance, you can immediately tell that, from a distance, Ghost is definitely someone that you should not be messing with. And her menacing get-up is equally complimented by the unique special effects that are featured whenever Ghost makes use of her phasing abilities.

Even if the majority of the film takes place in less than imaginative set pieces, the times when it does actually try to be playful with visuals become a tad bit memorable. The entire sequence of Hank Pym entering the Quantum Realm, only to be threatened by the general quantum weirdness that lingers in this pocket dimension is wonderful. From the color, to the unrealistic and heavily imaginative designs of certain Quantum Realm features, everything about that sequence makes me wish that the entire movie is set in it. Plus, the Hank's portable laboratory that serves as the location of his Quantum Tunnel is also pretty creative in design, especially that weird computer system that they have.

Lastly, the two main action sequences, The Wasp's solo fight, and the climactic pursuit of Hank's shrunken laboratory, combined with Christophe Beck's good score, are quite the delight to watch. I personally did enjoy the last fight because we did not have to sit through yet another CGI-filled and over-bloated extravaganza, and we are instead treated to a cat-and-mouse pursuit between our villains and our heroes, who are all fighting over a shrunken building! Yes, a building.


The Prosecution:
  • Every single creative, comicbook-inspired concept is wasted.(Showing all of them in the trailers is also a mistake.)
Now that the elephant is out of the room, I think that it is time for me to be clear that Ant-Man and The Wasp ... is only an "okay" movie. I mean, it really is not overly unwatchable. It does have its fair share of moments, but ultimately, it somewhat boggles down to "uninspired". The real problem here lies with how this movie managed to not make use of what makes it unique, unlike how all of the Captain America movies centered on political affairs and the lead hero's struggles with time, how the Iron Man trilogy tackled corporate corruptions and the protagonist's growing fear of the unknown, how Spider-Man: Homecoming featured a coming-of-age story from a superhero's perspective, or how the Guardians of the Galaxy explored the cosmic side of the M.C.U. In other words, this films struggles to find its groove, and it shows.

And when I mean uninspired, I really do mean that they wasted every single one of their most interesting concepts and ideas. Hey, you know the Quantum Realm? Yeah, Janet Van Dyne is stuck there for nearly two to three decades, and the pocket dimension could seemingly give people powers from prolonged exposure. Sounds interesting, right? Well you can forget about it and settle in for spending more time in the least interesting sets yet, from Scott's house, a gangster's restaurant, to San Francisco's roads. You mean to tell me that Janet has a sort-of link to Scott after his trip to the Quantum Realm? Yeah let us just use that concept for one scene, use that for laughs, and never ever bring it up again. So Bill Foster can grow almost as big as Giant-Man, and that Hank has a lot of skeletons in his closet? Yeah, no one wants to see any of those. In fact, why bother showing any other cool story points when we can just show them all in the trailers? 

I cannot remember this idea that I stumbled upon somewhere over at Facebook, but the idea revolves around Ant-Man and The Wasp following the same story structure of The Godfather: Part II, wherein one story takes place in the present, revolving around Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne, the other talking about Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne's doomed mission. I think that would have given the writers so much more room to explore all of their unexplored ideas. I suggest that, by following this structure, they ought to have the present arc about Scott and Hope attempting to recover the portable laboratory from Sonny Burch, who is working with Ghost to harness the Quantum Realm's power, and the past storyline revolve around Hank, Janet, and Bill discovering a conspiracy within S.H.I.E.L.D. This way, we get a much more character-driven story, complete with world-building that expands Hank and Janet's past adventures.

The list of the things that went wrong goes on and on, and the biggest disappointment comes in the form of its supposedly main villain: Ghost, which brings us to ...

  • Everything that could have made Ava Starr intriguing and sympathetic is mentioned, but never explored.
After three years of giving us brilliant, threatening, sympathetic, and most of all, fully developed super-villains, Ant-Man and The Wasp decides to take a bold misstep, deciding that since this film is more or less just meant to be a filler episode, less effort should be given to fleshing-out the main antagonist, and by less effort, I mean absolutely no effort at all.

So Ghost's backstory goes like this. Back way back when, when Hank Pym and Bill Foster were scientists for S.H.I.E.L.D., Pym fired his former project partner Elihas Starr, played by Michael Cervais (Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant), after he suspected him of being a traitor to the agency. Desperate to clear his own name, Starr attempted to build his prototype Quantum Tunnel, but it only resulted in his and his wife, Catherine's, played by Riann Steele (Sket), deaths. The blast also affects the young Ava Starr, giving her uncontrollable phasing powers that is slowly killing her. S.H.I.E.L.D. found-out about this, so they trained her to be an assassin, but after the agency collapsed, Bill adopted her in her quest to cure herself, to almost no avail.

First off, I just want to point-out how strongly similar Ghost's origin story is to Whiplash, played by Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), who was the main antagonist for Iron Man 2, and was also angry at the main character's father for discrediting his co-worker. Second, you can immediately tell that the writers have almost no idea which motivation should the villain take. Should it be about revenge for the deaths of her parents and for the fact that she is raised to become a child soldier, or should it be desperation for a cure? Third, had the story focused only on Ghost's desire to survive, combined with the moral argument of either letting Janet or Ava die, Ghost could have been a truly unique antagonist. I mean, you really don't get to hear about a villain just wanting to live everyday, after all.

Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to Ghost is that her own needless origin story is talked about in the laziest way possible, through an expository monologue. Heck, even after Ava reveals her whole story, it is never brought-up again later on. 

Also, the introductions to both Sonny Burch, Jimmy Woo, and Bill Foster feel unnecessary and pointless, because Burch is just an average street-level villain who takes the spotlight away from the supposedly main antagonist, while Jimmy Woo is your more comedic Inspector Javert that makes little to no impact on the overall story other than being Scott's parole officer, Foster has no other reason to be here than to be a fun reference to the comics. No offense to the actors though, at least they did the best they all could have. On the plus side, both Burch and Starr survive their debut appearances, so I do expect that they get much more expanded roles in the third Ant-Man outing.

  • For a superhero film, there is not much action or stakes to go around.
Did you notice that I only mentioned two fight scenes? You know, I really would have loved to talk more about the action scenes, if only they actually added more.

Yes, this is arguably one of the most dialogue-driven M.C.U. films to date, and yes, it does feel sluggishly paced after an endless barrage of jokes, and even a scene dedicated to explaining the intricacies of the Quantum Realm. Yes, even if the jokes are as funny as I have mentioned awhile ago, it eventually feels bloated, as if the writers have absolutely no idea what they should be doing. This becomes evident in the truth serum scene, with Luis pretty summarizing things that we already know, even the details that non-M.C.U. fans should more or less be familiar with, from his origin story, to his involvement in Captain America: Civil War.

Also, is it me, or did the film pretty much just rehashed the core story of the first movie, with Scott again trying to be a model father and law-abiding citizen in a brave, new world, and eventually becoming involved in a game of hot potato against villains who want something made by Hank Pym? Yep, they did. To paraphrase what YouTube user "Browntable" said, just because this film is made for the sole purpose of keeping audiences busy until Avengers 4, it shouldn't be dull overall. It should still be groundbreaking in the best way possible, and it should always strive to standout.

  • Michelle Pfeiffer's Janet Van Dyne is just a glorified, overhyped cameo.
Finally, for my other biggest gripe against this film, aside from the squandered villain, and that is the underuse of Michelle Pfeiffer as the highly awaited cinematic debut of Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp in this universe, and the most popular incarnation in the comics. Remember the feature-length set-up for the return of Janet Van Dyne that was released in 2015? Prepare to lower your expectations, as we only ever get to see Janet at the very last scenes of the film, including the post-credits scene.

Honestly, that really won't be much of a problem, had they not treat the character as if she is extremely that important to the film. Her appearance here also raised much more questions than answers, as now she possesses a wide variety of powers that become useful at the ending, which conveniently placed the film closer to the conclusion. How convenient? The entire film revolves around Ghost getting Janet's quantum energy, which could kill Janet but heal Ava. How did this film resolve such a tremendous conflict? Janet heals Ava with a magic touch, without a context on how she got her powers, or how she even managed to survive the dangers of the Quantum Realm, then the film ends with, you guessed it, avoiding being arrested by Jimmy Woo and his team for violating his house arrest sentence. Sigh.

The movie would have been way better if Janet is made into a sentient plot device, similar to what was done with The Vision, played by Paul Bettany (Priest) in Avengers: Infinity War, leaving Pfeiffer much more room to interact with Douglas and Lilly, and delivering on that family dynamic that is sorely missing from the Pym family in this flick. Alas, Pfeiffer is wasted in a potential-filled yet overall squandered film that could have been great with its interesting ideas, but only settled for "okay" with it by-the-numbers execution. It's not a bad film though. I'll give you that one.

The Ruling: Not Guilty!

Two charming leads and a sense of humor are probably just enough to make Ant-Man and The Wasp a fun, laid-back time at the theaters, despite having a boring and unoriginal story that does not live-up to its unique potential.

So to answer the question of this film being a decent enough a feature to keep fans hooked? It depends actually. If you are a fan of the franchise, surely you will take the time to appreciate the film for what it is, but if I were to be a typical audience member who has no interest in the franchise, I definitely would not be waiting until Avengers 4, unless if I were to be interested in the resolution to the mid-credits scene's cliffhanger. I do hope Marvel gets Ant-Man back on track in their succeeding films.

And with that, we end our latest movie review in a long time. Hopefully you too can stick around for more of our content in the coming days. Before you leave, here is Ant-Man's official theme song, composed by Christophe Beck. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!