By Robin E. Simmons

NOW SHOWING:

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Peyton Reed’s latest superhero movie is a welcome if light-hearted addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring heroes with the astounding ability to shrink! It’s much funnier and brighter than I expected. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are just about perfect.

Remember “Captain America: Civil War” when Scott Lang (Rudd) struggled with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. How to balance his home-life obligations with his responsibilities as Ant-Man. Now he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline) and Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to deal with secrets from their past as the duo finds itself in a classic battle with a powerful new enemy.

Admittedly, this iteration lacks the scale and ambition of recent Marvel entries, but it’s an improvement on the last Ant-man movie.

This action comedy hits all the marks. Even though the screenplay is a bit convoluted and the marvelous action set pieces seemed at times redundant, it was all redeemed by the heartfelt performances of the leads. I liked the emphasis on the importance of family and trusting your friends. That timeless message always works for me,

Yes, the plot is preposterous, but it’s big comic-book fun. And that’s what it’s really all about. Right?

NEW FOR THE HOME THEATER:

BITTER RIVALS: Iran & Saudi Arabia

Frontline BBC’s epic two-part journey into the most war torn region on our fractured planet examines of the dangerous rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has plunged the Middle East into sectarian war. Included: the roles religion and power politics play in the perpetual conflict.

This incredible, gripping and most relevant of documentaries looks at the dangerous rivalry that has plunged the Middle East into sectarian war. From revolution in Iran, reaction by Saudi Arabia and wars in Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, we see how religion and power politics drive perpetual conflict.

Much of today’s widespread violence across the Middle East has been portrayed as an ancient battle between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam.

But the real story is far more complex and contemporary – rooted in a rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia that has fueled sectarian extremism for political gain, with virtually every step the U.S. has taken along the way only ratcheting up the bloody conflict.

This powerful edition of FRONTLINE tells the epic, inside story of how this dangerous feud has plunged the Middle East into unprecedented levels of violence with exclusive, on-the-ground reporting from inside countries as well as Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Syrian, and Lebanon.

Bitter Rivals illuminates the essential history—and profound ripple effect—of Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle. It draws on scores of interviews with political, religious and military leaders, militia commanders, diplomats, and policy experts, painting the most comprehensive picture yet of a feud that has radically reshaped the Middle East, as we know it.

If you live on this planet and care about what’s going on, this timely, informative, compelling and graphic film is essential viewing. DVD/Frontline/BBC Arabic

robin@coachellavalleyweekly.com

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