Monday, July 20, 2015

Ant-Man (2015) (PG-13)

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, T.I.

In the final stage of Phase 2, Marvel comes out swinging with the hero least likely: Ant-Man. This title made the general population not in the comics-know snicker at how silly a hero called Ant-Man (2015) sounded. But to the naysayers, I must protest. Least you forget the laughter bellowed through the internet as we were told that Vin Diesel would play a sentient tree or that Bradley Cooper would be voicing an anthropomorphized raccoon (which Rocket denies being, of course)? “Marvel has lost it!” we cried as our beloved heroes were becoming ridiculous. But in retrospect, it was a genius play by the filmmakers and our hearts were Marvel’s once more. And Ant-Man is no exception.

When a newly paroled burglar Scott Lang (Rudd being unknowingly charming as hell) needs money to gain visitation rights to see his daughter, reclusive scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas, having
a blast on screen) hires Scott for a heist that could save the world. Given a top secret suit, capable of shrinking the wearer to the size of an insect while retaining the strength of a full grown person. Oh yeah, and he controls ants. Ok. It’s a bit much to take in.

Like most all Marvel releases, Ant-Man keeps that tradition of page to screen sharpness and awe with both it’s brilliant cast and tight link to the rest of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe. You’re welcome.). Paul Rudd brings a lightness to the character that is hard not to like. Evangeline Lilly (Lost) does a nice job bringing the tough female lead front and center even in a boys club. And Michael Douglas, need I say more. He is playing the role whole hog and going with it. The supporting cast is strong. Corey Stoll (The Strain) as Yellow Jacket was not the best written antagonist, I’ll admit. Though Stoll creates a character that shows an inner hurt with his relationship to Pym that is peppered subtly amongst the blatant atrocities he commits. Scott’s sidekicks (Pena, Dastmalchian, and T.I.) brought a goofy charm that’s become a callback of the MCU. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn't credit little Abby Ryder Fortson who played Cassie Lang, Rudd’s daughter in the film. She has the strongest timing I’ve seen from a child actor in a while. She held her own with the adults.

The look of the picture is brilliant. Mixing the real world with shrunken POV of the titular hero brought back memories of watching Honey I Shrunk The Kids (1989) as a youth. With the advantage of modern effects, the big to small transitions are smooth, blending lightning fast fight choreography with well rendered CGI. One of the more tough plot devices to work out, had to have been the ants. They were handled perfectly, making their time on screen worth while and important to the story. Peyton Reed's (Bring It On (2000)) direction is everything an audience would want in a hero movie. Although, I still imagine where Edgar Wright might have taken the project if he had stayed on (he did get a writing credit, however. Best not to dwell.) But again, praise to Reed for created a great film.

Best. Ant Farm. Ever.
Ant-Man rides that tightrope of serious and silly which keeps the viewer entertained until the final scene after the credits (now you know to wait around). The action is inventive, the characters are memorable and the movie as a whole works on all levels. As summer blockbusters go, Ant-Man succeeds. Is it weird, implausible and straight out of left field? Yes! Of course it is. That’s what we keep getting in line for. Go beat the heat Pay to be A/C’ed and be entertained. That’s what the summer’s about. Just remember, it’s only a (comic book) movie.

This Kid = Comedy Gold

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