Wednesday 22 July 2015

Ant-Man (Movie Review)

Marvel has done it again. They've taken another one of their lesser-known comic-book heroes and brought it to wondrous life on the big screen. Last year it was the Guardians of the Galaxy, this time around it is Ant-Man, a hero whose powers come from a suit that enables him to shrink down to the size of an ant (as well as communicate with/control the ever-present ants), all the while retaining his full, human strength.

The movie opens in 1989, where we see a scientist known as Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man and creator of the Pym Particle) refusing to let his shrinking technology get militarized. This results in a rift between him and his protégé, Darren Cross, the movie's villain, who in the present day is in charge of Pym Technologies and has managed to replicate the technology in a shrinking suit of his own, the Yellowjacket.

This prompts the present-day Hank to recruit a new Ant-Man, the much younger Scott Lang, a skilled burglar who is fresh out of prison and determined to turn a clean slate for the sake of his young daughter. His plan is for them to steal the Yellowjacket suit from a heavily-protected vault deep inside the Pym Technologies building. They are aided by Hope van Dyne, Hank's estranged daughter, who is working with her father to foil Darren Cross, despite seeming loyal to him on the surface.

And that right there is the basic premise of the movie. So in other words, you can think of it as a heist movie with a superhero twist, one that works as both a standalone movie and a bonafide addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It also works as a family comedy of sorts, and as such, is one of the funnier entries in the MCU, even though it is nowhere near as quirky (read: brilliant) as Guardians of the Galaxy.

Paul Rudd does a more than decent job as the titular character, bringing to the table his distinct flavor of comedy gold. But I think it is ultimately Michael Peña, who plays Luis, the talkative former cellmate and friend of Lang's, that garnered the most laughs in the cinema where I watched the film. The biggest highlight of the movie though was the shifting perspectives, and I think this is where the movie truly shines.

Whenever Ant-Man shrinks, we are treated to a view of the world that makes the typically mundane seem grand or epic. So while the action (and the movie as a whole) might be taking place on a way smaller scale than other movies in the MCU, it is nonetheless visually-stunning and breathtaking, in a refreshing sort of way.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

IWSG: Getting Social, the Professional Way

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and those interested in joining in can visit for more information.

Recently, I've found myself spending a lot of time on LinkedIn. And for the two or three people out there who don't know what that is, it is yet another social network where writers tend to hang out; just think Facebook, but instead of friends, you've got connections, the professional kind. I opened an account years ago, but I'd never really been active on the platform, until now.

What was it that rekindled my interest you ask? Well, the answer to that question has more to do with advancing my career prospects than with writing, not that I don't consider writing a full-time professional endeavor in it's own right. I've heard stories of people being poached by giant tech companies based solely on the strength of their LinkedIn profiles. And between you and me, I feel like I could really use some giant-tech-company love right about now, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, so I've been on LinkedIn these past few weeks, trying to grow my professional network, all in a bid to hit that 500+ connections that is supposedly meant to signify how well-connected you are. And since most of my early connections were writers themselves, basically 95 percent of the requests and suggestions I've been receiving are writers as well. I presently have over 800 connections, but you are more than welcome to add to that number by sending me a request:

Contrary to how it might look, I am not just trying to gather as many connections as I can. I genuinely feel that I've learnt a lot from the writers in my network, just by reading their posts and observing their various interactions. Granted, some of them were too busy shilling their wares to say more than a cursory hello. But even that is being done in a professional, non-spammy way, which is more than can be said about their counterparts on Facebook and Twitter.

What about you? Are you on LinkedIn? If so, then what has your experience been like since the day you joined? And if not, then what other social networks do you tend to gravitate towards, and why?