Ant-Man and The Wasp (Review)

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Let’s be honest: I’m still recovering from Avengers: Infinity War (A: IW). Given I only saw A: IW a couple of weeks ago, it is still fresh in my mind. I, like many others, am desperate for a feel-good movie. Something to lighten the emotional weight now resting on my Marvel heart. I’m not asking for much; just a small, light-hearted story with plenty of strength in its characters. Something to share with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but still gives me breathing space. Something exactly like Ant-Man and The Wasp.

Where does Ant-Man and The Wasp Fit Into the MCU?

A: IW was massive. It was epic. It was all-encompassing, everything-at-stake type of stuff. It left me feeling like I had been in a marathon. From the beginning, you felt the anticipation as characters slowly started to meet and team-up. My heart was wrenched multiple times before we even reached the final scene. There is no way anything could possibly compare with it until next year.

AM/TW is the complete opposite. And it is so refreshing. The story is far more personal and brought back to a smaller scale. Yet this is exactly what Marvel needs for the last of its films in 2018. It can’t compete with the enormity of A: IW. Instead, AM/TW wins our ‘awwwwwww’ moments.

Ant-Man and The Wasp Stand Alone

You can find the synopsis almost everywhere on the interwebs right now, so let’s keep it simple.

Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are working on a big beautiful machine (kind of reminds me of the Hadron Collider) to search for Hank’s wife and Hope’s mum, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on the last days of ‘house-arrest’, following his part in Captain America: Civil War (#TeamCap). Scott suddenly has a flash of something Janet-related, calls Hank and Hope, and ends up in a marvelous pile of trouble. Along the way they face off against some other characters who are never really “bad guys” but more conflicts to keep the pace. They keep hanging around the storyline like flies ruining your BBQ. It is a fun jaunt in the private lives of Ant-Man (both incarnations) and The Wasp. In fact, it’s simplicity is the heart of the movie.

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A Movie Filled With Characters

The strength of the movie lies in the characters. Each of the main characters is given a bit more depth from the first; none more so than Hope. I really enjoyed watching her on the screen. In the first movie, she was aloof and unsure of what her role meant, even to her. In AM/TW, we see more motivation and participation. She now looks like she is finding her own place. Hope works with her father; not for her father. When they bring Scott on board, it is made very clear The Wasp is not a side-kick. It is all about partnership and it working together. Yeah, it’s all kinds of sweet.

The whole movie feels like this. In fact, the whole movie feels like one of Luis’ crazy storytelling moments. With more distinguishing features between the characters. There are people meeting people in crazy situations, and you really have to go along for the ride. Even the special effects are smooth–far smoother than Banner’s head sticking out of the Hulkbuster in A:IW (which is still infinitely better than Superman and Moustache League). When partnered with the fight choreography, it is really enjoyable to watch.

My only concern is Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). She felt a little … incomplete. Her story is connected with Hope’s family but her role in it felt a little convenient. The fight scenes are fantastic and for that, I really appreciate Ghost being in the movie. I just felt a little wanting. There is room for Marvel to bring some more Ghost to the table in future. Maybe not a stand-alone feature but I would love to see her pop-up elsewhere.

All is saved, however, by Cassie (Scott’s daughter, played by Abby Ryder Fortson). Yeah, I’m a sucker for a cute kid with sass. This kid is given the best lines. She completely rolls with the dry humour, takes on the adventure, and drives home the motivation Scott needs to do his damn job. And she has a killer wardrobe; I now want to dance around in pink skirts with camo-leggings and Doc-Marten-style boots. In fact, I think I just might do that. I can’t wait to see her costume in 10-years time.

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Is It A Family Movie?

This movie is all about family. From Hank and Hope searching for Janet to the open-family surrounding Cassie and all the characters in between. [Side-note: It is so beautiful to see a positive supportive extended family as portrayed by Scott, his ex-wife, her husband, and Cassie. Hooray for breaking down one wall of toxic Hollywood tropes]. Again, AM/TW brings everything back to what is most important: Family.

There are a few swear words in it, a couple of very subtle sexual-related jokes and nothing else to prevent me from taking the spawnlings to the movies (except for not being up to date on their Marvel movies because earlier films are not as child-friendly). The release in Australia is perfectly timed with school holidays, and equally well-suited for the Summer break in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re looking for advice on toilet breaks, however, go before the movie. There is so much character development and funny moments, you want to be toilet-trained before you go.

And yes. Stay for the credits. It’s a Marvel movie. What else are you going to do?

… Can’t … say … more …

Just remember: Stay Away From ALL Spoilers. The collective gasp from the audience is enough to know your ignorance is worth it. At least this time.

4 out of 5 inches

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  • I was invited to a preview screening on Wednesday 4 July 2018. All opinions are my own. I cannot be bought with free tickets and free popcorn and free water. Throw a frozen Coke in and we might talk… 😉

Do Your Spawnlings Wear Sunglasses?

sunglasses-featureI wear sunglasses all the time. Seriously, every day. Take a look at my profile picture. The spawnlings each have their own pair as well. However, shopping for sunglasses is a tiring exercise.

I recently did a review on some sunglasses over on GeekMom. Yes, I scored some freebies for it (perks of blogging). To be completely honest, I was really wary about any sunglasses purchased online. Remember, I am of the bespectacled species; pretty much useless if my prescripted lenses are even slightly out.

I also grew up in Northern Australia. Sunglasses are part of the uniform when you cross the border. And if the sunglasses aren’t meeting the grade, it will cost you big time in headaches, eyestrain, and a bunch of other health factors.

The idea of buying sunglasses online was as appealing as shopping in person–which I hate.

The thing is, how do you know you’re buying quality before you hand over your cash? You look for reviews of people who truly put something to the same testing you would.

And yes. My spawnlings like to destroy things.

So here’s the review for you again, in a more “Evil Genius Mum” standard. Again, you can read the full review over at GeekMom, with full costs and links; I’m just expanding upon the testing and suitability for each spawnling.

For the energetic 3-year-old honey badger

Zaltu is three years of pure energy (like a lot of three-year-olds), inspired and motivated by her older brothers. She’ll give anything a go, because “she don’t care!” Zaltu is not a stereotype; she likes all bold colours, surfing the waves with her dad, racing in Mario Kart with her mum, pulling out the DC Superhero Girls dolls, and dreams of being an astronaut. Generally, she likes the idea of sunglasses, but they never stay long on her face because they tend to interfere with whatever chaos ensues.

These Julbo Booba sunglasses have been an absolute hit. Zaltu loves wearing them everywhere. And yes, I do mean everywhere.zaltus-sunglasses

The sunglasses look good. They have bright bold colours with soft enough arms to rest easily on her head. Zaltu has a big head like her mother. We recently learnt Zaltu’s glasses fit an 8-year-old friend. True fact. I was a tad nervous about stretching them, but the sunglasses flexed really well.

The quality of the lenses is fantastic: plastic category-3 lenses, designed for full UV protection. These sunglasses are the genuine product, cutting out the glare so prevalent on both the beach and the ski slopes. And the added wrap-around feature is a boon to both light-leak and fitting on the head.zaltu-julbo-sunglasses

They are also fairly scratch-resistant. Zaltu throws these things everywhere. Yet they come up a lot better than the scratch-resistance I paid for with my sunglasses. They have survived the sandy beach and easily cleaned up afterwards. I’m not sure exactly what they have done, but these sunglasses have completely survived the Summer Holidays of a three-year-old. They are good.

For the experimenting 7-year-old scientist

Nefarious is the scientist, with the curiosity for why things happen (and how to make it go “BOOM!” again). He is the one to think outside the box and push things to the limits.nefarious-sunglasses-polaroid

Aesthetically, the style is a little more “classic cool” with bolder colours to choose from. They are the perfect transition point between the high-energy fun of the Julbos and the more conservative frames for the older kids. These frames are a harder plastic but not so hard as to stick into a kid’s head.

The good thing about the harder plastic frames: they have survived tree climbing, being sat on by Sinister, and a short but effective game of tug-o-war with Zaltu. The frames have a small amount of flex to the structure, but not so much to bounce out a lens.

Of course, Nefarious loved the reflective lenses because they hide his eyes. Yes, I did explain to him about the practicality of the lenses, but he didn’t care. He is seven. He just loves rolling his eyes at me behind those shades.nefarious-polaroid-sunglasses

Only downside: they don’t wrap around and stop the light leak on the side. However, Nefarious says he hates that style. So clearly this is my issue, and I should be grateful he has sunnies he is willing to wear.

For the smooth 10-year-old chilling out

Sinister is the more subtle of the three spawnlings. While he loves to be the class clown, he only likes the attention if he is in control of it. At heart, he is quite conservative and deep-in-thought. Sinister is the one to sit back and watch you from behind his sunglasses, playing out a million and one scenarios in his head.sinisters-sunglasses

Again, smooth, classic style but in a colour variant he likes. These are the hardest plastic of all the frames. There is no flex in the arms whatsoever. The true test of comfort: Sinister is still wearing these on top of his sunburnt nose and there is no pain.

Like his brother, Sinister also likes the mirrored lenses. He also appreciates the single colour scheme, as he feels a little more ‘grown-up’. What I did notice with this pair is that the frames are ever so slightly curved to the face. Even though they are not fitted, they do provide a bit more protection to the eyes on the sides.sinister-sunglasses

See those water droplets in the photo above? No watermark. Not sure exactly what special feature that is, but from a prescripted lens point of view (who hates any smudge or scratch on her glasses) this is AMAZING. What kind of dark magic is this?!? And how do I score some!!

Each of these sunglasses survived the Spawnling Test Zone; buried at the beach, thrown across the room, sat on by older brothers, running through water features, spinning around and around on a spinning teacup. The worst they seem to have is a slightly loose screw in one arm on Zaltu’s sunglasses, which is easily fixed at any glasses shop or with your own tiny screwdriver at home. I wear glasses all the time and a loose screw is nothing new in this family… or in our glasses.

I’m still stunned by how easy it was. Vision Direct is an Australian website, and they deliver anywhere in the world. They provided me with the kids’ sunglasses for reviews, and now I am so impressed I am going back to them for my own prescripted sunglasses (at my own expense).

The hardest part of the whole process was probably measuring Zaltu’s face for her glasses—have you recently asked a three-year-old to stand still for 10 seconds?

Review: Monstrous (The Game)

Out of all the elements of this new game, the one that hooked the spawnlings was:

Throwing Cards Inside

Despite all of their Evil Genius training to take over the world, they are still little spawnlings at heart. Awwwww…

Of course, they also loved the mythical monsters, the references to Greek Mythology, the fantastic artwork, and especially the competition to be the GREATEST OF ALL GODS!! But let’s be honest here: Any game that allows them to break what is usually a standard rule in the house is ALWAYS going to win esteem points in their minds.IMG_0879

Monstrous was sent to me to play and review by Good Games (Australia). The deal was simply to play it with EG Inc and tell Good Games what I thought. They are familiar with my blog and my ever endearing personality – so they know they are going to have an honest and upfront assessment of this game. As will you.

So What Is It?

IT is a ‘tabletop’ game with card-throwing as a key feature. As individuals, 2 to 5 gods can play; as teams, you can have up to 10 gods fighting over the table. The box says “ages 10 and up” but 7yo Nefarious handed me my glorified derriere so I think you can safely include younger spawnlings. Zaltu (2yo) was not invited to play – I’m already at risk of injuring myself. I don’t need to add her to the mix.

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Photo by Good Games

 

General Guidelines

All the players are gods (it doesn’t matter which god you are – if someone asks if you are a god, you say YES!). And all the gods are a little miffed about dwindling faith on Earth, with offerings and sacrifices and what-not. So Zeus commands the gods to ‘thrown down some monstrous pets’ and scare a little faith out of the pesky mortals.

The real stars of this game are the monsters – and don’t they look beautiful! I have been a fan of Greek Mythology since I was 8, especially the artistic interpretation of the mythic creatures. Monstrous is true to form.IMG_0900

Each monster has a range of powers to use, and it totally depends on which side up your card lands. There are TRAP powers, MONSTER powers, and LOCATION powers. Some of these powers release a ‘Faith’ count to you. And the god with the most faith at the end of the game wins.

Let’s Play

I’m just going to pre-empt all of this with a single statement: I am an un-coordinated git on the best of days. The spawnlings know this. It’s pretty fair to say I lost the game.

The order of events is like this:

  • Throw a Monster
  • Check for Traps (if you have landed on another monster)
  • Check for Monster powers
  • Check for Location powers
  • Collect your Faith tokens (if any)
  • Draw a card
  • End your turn

IMG_0898So, you set up the Locations. Each god has a Player Card, with instructions and guidelines (very handy). You have your Monster Deck, and your Underworld (discard pile). It is easier standing around the table when you have your turn to throw – if your hand crosses the edge of the table, your throw is discounted and your Monster is discarded to the Underworld. Position is everything; Distractions are hilarious.

See – fairly easy going game, right?

Until you have your spawnlings (and husband) start setting up traps on your closest location.

To be honest, I was surprised at how much room there was for strategy in a game I thought was just ‘card throwing’. Each of the monster powers can be used in unique ways to give you the greatest impact on the table. If you’re a complete klutz like me, Pegasus will be your best friend – he has extra throws. Gorgons have always been, and will always be, absolute b*****s. Land on one of those and your card is GONE. And the Harpy – she steals your Faith, just like the lunch of King Phineus.

However, if you’re fellow gods pick up on your inability to throw a damn card, they are likely to start setting up traps on your more … ‘reachable’ locations. Once trapped, you lose your buddy Pegasus FOREVER!! L

Did we like the game?

Oh, yes! I have never played a game that required throwing things at the table. That’s not to say I haven’t thrown things across the table in frustration, but never as part of the game. This was novel and lots of fun.

There are lots of powers and interactions to keep track of during the game, but the rules and structure of the game are very simple to follow. The spawnlings loved it and have asked for it again next weekend. The best part is, you can change the game with locations and layouts, so maybe next time I will have a chance? Unlikely…IMG_0899

If there was anything I would change about the game, it would be the value of the Faith tokens. They come in 1, 3, 10, 30. I think I can see why they went with these combinations, but for the younger age groups, it adds a little extra work. If we had 1 and 2 value tokens, we would probably need more of them – though, the spawnlings would be faster in calculations.

For a throwing game, the cards are pretty good quality. Good durable card with a smooth glossy finish that won’t fade with wear anytime soon. Even when the Cyclops misjudged his step and went skidding across the table into a nearby wall, he walked away without even a scratch.

Monstrous is available through Good Games, for $39.95. Tell them I said hi. And thanks for the Pegasus.

Review: Matilda the Musical (Sydney Performance)

Let’s get one thing straight – I was not paid for this review.

I soooo wish that I was, because the tickets are expensive (we paid for the cheapies at $80 per seat). And I do not have any photos or video to share. What kind of hypocritical monster do you think I am?

matildaFor those of you who are really clueless, Matilda the Musical is the musical adaptation of the book Matilda, written by Roald Dahl. Here’s a pretty good intro back when it started in London.

The music is by Tim Minchin – a bloody Aussie legend, able to mix music and comedy like a magical potion concocted by the toe-less itchy lady down the road. You may know him better from Californication, but trust me – go check out his Comedy Festival performances. And he is a dad – real Evil Genius Parenting potential there.

The main motivation for us attending was EG Dad. He loves Roald Dahl, and has just finished reading Matilda with young Nefarious (having previously read it with Sinister around the same age of 6). When you consider the original dark history of the book , I am surprised that any of it is aimed at kids. Seriously, the initial version was so depressing, the editor sent it back saying WTH DUDE?!?! But the idea of a gifted little horror like Matilda… well, it just appeals to our entire family.

The musical is pretty much the same – wait. It’s even better. The opening scene really sets the feel for the whole performance. It starts with a party scene, and all these precious little “miracles” being spoilt and lauded over by their parents – made to feel like they are so much more than anyone else there. Dressed in fancy clothes, given toys, starring in their photos, and being taken to fancy theatre performances.

I kid you not – when I saw this scene, I laughed even louder. At myself, and the parents around me with all their precious miracles. Little princesses and princes, being told they are special and this musical is just for them.

I see what you did there, Minchin. *slow clap* Well played, sir. 

Of course, I was then distracted by the quick travel in time – back to the birth of Matilda. Distracted, because the guy playing the Doctor… well, he kind of looked like the Doctor. As in David Tennant Doctor. Go see it and tell me you don’t notice.

Anyway, back to the performance over all.

The kids in this are brilliant. They really are. The actress portraying Matilda is able to elicit both heart-wrenching sympathy for her lonely plight, while balancing a certain level of a secret joy at the mischief she causes. Of course, the path to Hell is always paved with good intentions – and her ability to escape more severe punishment is highly admirable. While the season is shared by four actresses, each performance is solely carried by one pint-size actress. And wow – this one carried it with gusto. No wavering, no slouching. Just pure spunk.

And Miss Honey – otherwise known as Elise McCann. She is amazing – her voice is quite seriously, just like honey. And she carries a little flame of mischief herself, from the very beginning.

Word of warning – there are moments that are a little terrifying for young children. Zaltu didn’t have the attention span beyond Intermission (she is 2), but Nefarious surprised me. He was quite upset with the sub-story regarding the acrobatic/daredevil couple. I won’t spoil it for you (I’m not that EVIL), but it is quite emotional, and sensitive kids might become even more sensitive to the emotional toil of the play.

Remember, minions – it is a dark story to begin with. And Minchin has been true to form in expressing that with the music. The story line itself does differ slightly from the book, but not too greatly.

One more thing to note – the set design is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! The movable set pieces move so smoothly – each transition between scenes is such a pleasure to slide from one to another. The strobe lighting is a bit ick, but the scene with the Hammer-Throw uses lighting in a way that has you escape from the confines of the theatre hall and fall into the arms of Trunchbull herself. Yeah, doesn’t sound great but you’ll love it.

We had seats in the front row of the Grand Circle (upstairs, looking down to the stage). I liked the seats – it gave the kids a bit more space to stretch their legs while watching. And we had a clear view. And I only had to sell one kidney for them. I have heard from other minions that front row seats are also fun – keep an eye out for paper airplanes.

Matilda ‘officially’ opens with the red carpet fancy thing on Thursday 20 August 2015 in Sydney, at the Lyric Theatre.

Seriously though, if you are in Sydney (or can travel) this is definitely something worthwhile considering to see. Adults and kids.

And damn it – read the book to your spawnlings. They deserve it. They deserve to be inspired by a little spawnling who refused to accept the crappy hand she was dealt, and demanded a reshuffle of the whole damn deck.

If that doesn’t inspire you to take over the world, I don’t know what will.

EDIT: News in – Matilda is coming to Melbourne as well. Princess Theatre in March 2016. Probably Ticketek again. Check it out.

ANOTHER EDIT: More news in (22 May 2017) – Matilda is now heading to Adelaide. Tickets can be found HERE