Shmee Hangs Out With Ant-Man And The Wasp!

After the success of 2015’s Ant-Man there was never a question that there would be a sequel, and here it is, Ant-Man and the Wasp.  After Avengers: Infinity War and even Black Panther, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a much smaller movie, with way smaller stakes.  Which is a nice change of pace.  It is a fun little comedy in the middle of the rest of the MCU’s epic goings on.

It has been two years since Captain America: Civil War, but before Infinity War, and for his part in that little skirmish Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest.  Unfortunately he didn’t tell Hope van Dyne-Pym (Evangeline Lilly) or Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) about his little trip to Germany, and since it gets them in trouble with the law as well, they are not supper happy with him, but when Scott has a dream about Hope’s mom Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) they will all be forced back together to try and save her from the Quantum-Zone (don’t ask me why Marvel hyphenated it).

Like I said in the opening, the stakes are very small.  At worst a woman that everyone thought was dead, would stay probably dead.  Not a great outcome sure, but compared to worlds ending or countries being taken over, it doesn’t rank very high on an average superhero’s emergency list.  The plot also uses a lot of coincidences to drive itself forward.  Now is the time a black market tech salesmen comes after Hank and Hope, and now is also the time that Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and her issues emerge.  Not to mention none of this can wait three days for Scott’s sentence to be over? Sure.  Thankfully the ride is enjoyable enough to gloss over all that stuff.

The cast is excellent.  We all knew Rudd was good from the last movie, but this time Lilly gets a little more time to shine, which is nice, and I am always on board for more Michelle Pfeiffer, but I think she was too young looking for the age they wanted her to be, so they did some pretty distractingly bad aging makeup.  She is Michelle Pfeiffer don’t mess with that!

After Infinity War it was nice to watch something more scaled back.  To watch a little story in the MCU before things get crazy again, and if the after credits scene for Ant-Man and the Wasp is anything to go by, things are going to get nuts.  If you have liked the average Marvel superhero movie, you will like Ant-Man and the Wasp.  If not, this wasn’t a game changer.  Just a fun little mid-summer popcorn flick to pass the time until the MCU comes unglued next year.

With The Division, Ubisoft Continues To Have Problems With Tone

A while ago I complained that Ghost Recon: Wildlands has a tone issue.  It is a very serious setting, but in all actuality it is a co-op version of Grand Theft Auto: Bolivia, but with higher powered weapons.  The Division has the same problem: New York is a wasteland after almost being wiped out by a bio-terror attack, and people are struggling to survive.  Which is a great setting for a third person looter similar to Borderlands, but with cover based shooting.  I mean someone has to go in and murder all those people that are looting and then take all their stuff for themselves.

The Division is all about getting better items so you can shoot bigger bad guys and then in turn get better items.  All the while your character gets more and more ridiculous.  I mean look at this majestic neon trash Mounty:

She has matching neon striped guns and backpack, with purple headphones, and not seen, yellow shoes that she got from giving a sick homeless person a can of pop (like in the real world, the only reason to help the needy is to get cool clothes).  She might look odd now, but trust me, she could be crazier, and yes that icon by her gun does mean she has a turret that shoots taser bullets.

Listen, The Division is a fun game, and looter genre has a great loop.  Getting guns and gear with bigger numbers and cooler abilities is very fun and addicting.  I am just tired of Ubisoft making these super serious worlds and putting silly games in them.  If you are going to have a looter in New York why not do a future version of The Warriors, and then have a bunch of crazy themed gangs (The Division’s flame thrower wielding Cleaners not withstanding).  That way the player will at least feel good about what he is doing in a trashed version of the Big Apple, but no, we get a sad and haunting story mixed with zany gameplay, again.  Ubisoft’s games are good, but they just need to stop trying to be so serious.

Shmee Fights Crime With The Parrs In Incredibles 2!

We had to wait fourteen years for a sequel to The Incredibles, meanwhile we got three Cars movies.  How is that fair?  Especially when Incredibles 2 is so amazing and the Cars movies are so mediocre.  Oh well, it is finally here, and you should go see it.  It more than lives up to the original, and it manages to expand the Incredibles storyline in meaningful ways.

Unlike most Pixar sequels which take place years after first film, Incredibles 2 picks up exactly where the first film left off.  With the Parrs (The Incredibles) fighting the Underminer.  Sadly things do not go as planned, and the Parrs are once again on the outs with local law enforcement.  Luckily for them Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) has a plan to make “Supers” legal again, and that plan is to show the world how great Superheroes are.  All his plans hinge on the very marketable Elastigirl (Holly Hunter).  Much to the chagrin of Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson).

While at first the setup for this seems lazy: Mr. Incredible stays at home and is an unprepared and jealous father, while Elastigirl goes out and finds new purpose in life with her career, but Incredibles 2 is able to start there and move in to deeper and more touching territory.  Mr. Parr does have issues, but he doesn’t give up, and he works on being a better dad.  Mrs. Parr is able to remember the joy of helping and saving the day.  At the same time proving why she is a top tier “super” and not just some sidekick.  The kids?  They are just great kids with normal kid problems.  Except for Jack-Jack, who has all sorts of fun issue causing powers.

Apparently Brad Bird didn’t spend the last fourteen years just ignoring The Incredibles, he was finding a story worth telling, and it worked.  While I didn’t like waiting a decade and a half, I am pleased with the results.  Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another fourteen years for Incredibles 3.  I don’t know if I can make it through Cars 4-6.

Shmee Meets Tonya!

For us kids of the late 80’s and mid 90’s, we remember the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident vividly.  Low class villain Tonya Harding tried to get ahead by bashing in the knee of her main rival, America’s Sweetheart, Nancy Kerrigan.  Of course that isn’t quite what happened.  That is just the way it was reported, and thus how we remember it.  In all actuality Tonya’s ex-husband hired some guys to scare Kerrigan, and they went a little rogue.  According to him anyway.  The movie “I, Tonya” explores all this, and it does its best to get across all the wildly different stories about what happened.  It is an interesting and funny film, but sometimes the tone doesn’t quite jell with the content.

“I, Tonya” follows the life of Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie) from her early life to her trial and judgement just after the 1994 Winter Olympic Games.  It is also partially told through re-enactments of interviews with Tonya, Tonya’s Mother LaVona (Allison Janney), and Tonya’s Ex Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan).  Gillooly and his crew are rubes of the highest order.  So much so that the movie is more comedy than drama.

The main problem with film, other than the fact it is told by very unreliable narrators, is that its comedic tone often clashes with the violent and verbal abuse that is directed at Tonya by LoVona and Gillooly almost nonstop.  We will be laughing at the idiocy of Gillooly’s goons one minute and then see him punch Tonya in the face the next.  It is jarring to say the least.  The juxtaposition happens so often that you almost feel like the movie wants us to laugh at it, but the director Craig Gillespie and the actors made clear in interviews that we are not.  They were just going for that whiplash effect.  I am just not sure it is always successful.

As with all character movies, they are only as successful as their characters, and the lineup for “I, Tonya” is fantastic.  Allison Janney makes everything better, and Margot Robbie and Sebastian Stan more than keep with her.  The side characters are all wonderful too.  It is a real acting showcase.  It is no wonder that Janney won an Oscar and that Robbie was nominated.

“I, Tonya” is streaming right now on Hulu, and it is well worth spending the two hours to watch it.  The abuse may be hard to watch, and the language is rough, but it was insightful to finally get Tonya’s take on the scandal.  Plus, the actors are all great.  “I, Tonya” is not your average sports movie, there are no heroes, and nobody wins the gold, but I enjoyed being introduced to Tonya Harding.

Sharp USA Is Not The Brand It Used To Be! Shmee Reviews The Sharp 55P8000U!

I saw a deal on Dell that was too good to be true.  A Sharp 55″ 4K HDR TV with full array local dimming (Model: 55P8000U) for $500 and a $200 Dell gift card.  Sharp used to be a brand that was listed among the top electronics brands.  Its four color LCD screens delivered amazing contrast, and in the HDR era it is technology worth revisiting, so I figured I had to give it a shot.  It turns out it was not a shot worth taking.  In 2015 Sharp sold its North American branding to Hisense, a budget Chinese brand, but in 2017 Sharp, now owned by Foxconn, sued Hisense for the rights to its brand back because Hisense was selling “Shoddy TVs”.  They were right, the Sharp 55P8000U has some positives, but it isn’t worth $500.

Let’s get the positives out of the way first, the 4K picture is sharp, and you can get good color out of it after some calibration.  The HDR does look great in some instances.  It can be stunning if it is something you have never seen before.  The lighting just jumps out at you in games like Forza 7 and The Witcher 3, but things get sketchy from there.

The sharp picture of the Sharp 55P8000U degrades rapidly from an angle.  Meaning you always have to look at the TV from straight on.  The local dimming feature is slow (local dimming dims the LED backlight to increase black levels in dark scenes), so you can see the dark areas getting dimmed and undimmed.  Which is distracting.  The HDR encoding can be glitchy, if you are playing a game or watching a movie that takes place in a mid-dark place or time, like dusk or dawn, and then there is another intermittent light source like a candle, the screen kind of flashes between color pallets.  From gray to dark, and then back again.  This happened nonstop in The Witcher 3.  Lastly, the TV passthrough does Dolby Digital 5.1 which is great, but no matter what, I could not get the lip-sync to line up, so I had to bypass it and hook my Xbox One X straight up to my sound-bar.  Which is fine until I want to hook up something else to my TV.  The TV also has HDMI Audio Return Channel, but its lip-sync is worse than the passthrough, and it is only stereo.

If you just need a TV for a den, or something you don’t want to worry about the kids breaking, the Sharp 55P8000U could be good for that.  Provided that you turn off all the TV’s advanced features, and you get it for under $300 on Black Friday or Prime Day or something.  The 4K picture was good, and the HDR in non-demanding titles was pretty good.  It is just hard to recommend when there are a lot of TVs now in the $350 to $500 price range that provide the same or better experience.  Heck, TCL is owning that market right now, so even with the $200 gift card, I sent back the Sharp 55P8000U.  Maybe in 2020 when Sharp gets its name back they will be worth trying again.