Box office: Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’ scores $6.4 million Thursday night | News Entertainment

Box office: Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’ scores $6.4 million Thursday night

17 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ant-Man star Paul Rudd pranks Conan again with that same old Mac & Me clip.

Ant-Man arrives in theaters today, introducing moviegoers to Marvel’s latest superhero: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who takes on his new abilities under the mentorship of Dr.Ant-Man is the latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what a pocket rocket of a film it is, full of thrills, laughs and cool special effects. It’s not too violent (as the PG rating suggests) and almost devoid of the one thing guaranteed to make my 10-year-old adviser avert his eyes in horror: romance. Every time the Ant-Man star has shown up throughout the years, he brings along a clip with him from the “terrible ET rip-off called Mac and Me.” But with Ant-Man, things are going to be different.

Here are some little-known facts to carry into the theater with your popcorn: There are actually TWO Ant-Men: The first Ant-Man, introduced in the 1962 Marvel Comics story “The Man in the Ant Hill,” was Hank Pym, a scientist who found a way to shrink in size. Michael Douglas plays him in the movie, while Paul Rudd stars as the second Ant-Man, a thief named Scott Lang who became a bug-sized good guy under Pym’s guidance. Ant-Man hasthat in spades, with comic actor Paul Rudd terrific in the title role, but is also more of an outright caper, a sassy, snappy heist movie that at its best crackles like Ocean’s Eleven. Watch below as Rudd pulls one over on O’Brien not once, but twice, and for more on Rudd’s lasting legacy with O’Brien, watch a montage of the many times over the years when he’s pulled this prank.

He’s an underachiever: Even though he was a founding member of the mighty Avengers, Ant-Man generated insect-size sales for Marvel Comics. “Ant-Man never became one of our top sellers or had his own book,” writer Stan Lee admitted decades after introducing him, blaming the character’s artists for not drawing him next to objects that dramatized his tiny size: “You thought you were looking at a normal guy wearing an underwear costume like all of them. Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) and his wife Janet Van Dyne (the superheroine The Wasp) were founding members of the Avengers, but Pym was eventually ousted from the group. It’s directed by Peyton Reed, who stamped his comic credentials with The Break-Up, with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, and the Jim Carrey vehicle Yes Man.

It didn’t have the interest.” He was the butt of jokes on “SNL” back in the ’70s: Befitting his puny stature in the superhero world, Ant-Man (played by Garrett Morris) was derided in a 1979 episode of “Saturday Night Live” after explaining his powers at a superhero party: “I shrink myself down to the size of an ant while retaining my full human strength.” Jeered John Belushi as the Hulk: “Whoa, best stay out of this guy’s way!” His powers don’t make sense: James Kakalios, physics professor at the University of Minnesota and author of “The Physics of Superheroes,” explains why it’s so hard to make yourself smaller or larger as Ant-Man does: “You can’t just remove or add atoms … where would they go or come from?” And no, you can’t just mush them closer: “Squishing atoms together like that would probably require enough pressure to set off a nuclear fusion reaction,” warns NBCNews.com science editor Alan Boyle. The plot is uncomplicated: Rudd is Scott Lang, an athletic thief trying to go straight so his estranged wife Maggie (Judy Greer) won’t stop him from seeing his young daughter. But scientist (and a previous Ant-Man) Hank Pym (a still punchy Michael Douglas) taps him for one last job: break into a high-security lab to stop the brilliant, mad Dr Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from taking over the world. The stakes are relatively low – no planets were endangered in the making of the movie – and the set-pieces are a departure from the city-destroying tableaux to which Marvel has become increasingly hooked.

The moment turned out to be a defining one for the Ant-Man character — but according to Jim Shooter, who wrote the issue, he never intended to make Ant-Man a spousal abuser: “In that story (issue 213, I think), there is a scene in which Hank is supposed to have accidentally struck Jan while throwing his hands up in despair and frustration — making a sort of ‘get away from me’ gesture while not looking at her. [Artist] Bob Hall, who had been taught by John Buscema to always go for the most extreme action, turned that into a right cross! Despite his comicbook chops, Ant-Man gets a yawn from casual fans for his less-than-impressive skillset, which includes the technology to talk to ants and alter his size (while somehow retaining the strength of a human). Kakalios points to his helmet, which he thinks compensates for diffraction effects when he’s ant-sized, “keeping his voice from sounding too squeaky and adjusting his hearing range so he can actually hear what is being said about him — though maybe he does not want to hear all that.”

There was no time to have it redrawn, which, to this day has caused the tragic story of Hank Pym to be known as the ‘wife-beater’ story.” [JimShooter.com] In the decades since, Marvel has repeatedly revisited the domestic abuse of the infamous issue. There are some very funny moments here, including a reminder, for anyone who still needs one, that it’s unwise to tell a woman she doesn’t know how to throw a punch. In one story, Hank Pym attempted to atone for his actions by opening centers, in his wife’s name, that provided support for women and children who had suffered domestic abuse.

Clearly Marvel must’ve known the pint-size hero would be a hard-sell to the moviegoing public as they omitted Ant-Man’s character from the first Avengers film and made Ultron’s father Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in the sequel. The sequences in which Scott is insect-sized and assisted by an army of ants, terrestrial and airborne, offer a brilliant inversion of perspective: Ant-Man dodging a vacuum cleaner, for example, or in a showdown with Dr Cross (suited up as the evil Yellow Jacket) on a child’s Thomas the Tank Engine set.

They finally came around to bringing Ant-Man to the silver screen, but production did not go smoothly, adding to the doubts looming over this character’s cinematic success. Jake Shreier’s Paper Towns, based on the 2008 young adult novel by American author John Green, is a humorous and engaging coming-of-age story that reminds us films about teenagers can be set in the ordinary here and now, not just the dystopian future. But if comicbook lore and the ability to shrink aren’t enough, then there’s another hook: the comedy-infused plot and mind-blowing special effects.

Quentin Jacobsen thinks it’s miraculous that of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all the towns in suburban America, Margo Roth Speigelman moves into the one next to him. “From the moment I saw her I was hopelessly, madly in love.’’ They are fast friends through childhood, but in high school drift apart. Margot (English model turned actor Cara Delevingne) is a hot girl with a wild streak while Quentin (Nat Wolff) is an A-student who is perhaps too nice for his own good. The effects alone are worth the watch and help to legitimize Ant-Man as a real character who can pack a punch and is not just a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids knock-off. After a summer of deafening climaxes and exploding planets, the dramatically-lowered stakes have the welcome effect of humanizing this most unlikely of superheroes.

It’s so real and believable that you’d swear the three young actors had been friends from childhood, with Abrams especially good. (I read he has the lead role in the planned film adaptation of DBC Pierre’s Booker Prize-winning high school shooting novel Vernon God Little, which seems ideal casting.) Things seem to change for Q when Margot dragoons him into a night of daring exploits — removing the eyebrow of a sleeping jock and so on — to “rain vengeance’’ on her cheating football star boyfriend. Indeed she has vanished, and this takes us to the heart of the film, an often hilarious road trip from Orlando, Florida, to upstate New York in search of the gone girl. Suggestive of something dredged from the subconscious of HG Wells, Ant-Man’s costume is a retro-future steam-punk wonder – an outfit you can almost picture a person donning in the real world without being laughed off the street or bundled into the back of a police van.

Pym still shows up, albeit as an older mentor figure played by Michael Douglas, but it’s clear that Lang is better suited for Marvel’s movie universe than the original Ant-Man. The paper towns of the title refer to the teenage sense of phoniness immortalised by JD Salinger’s Holden Caulfield but also to the non-towns cartographers put on maps to protect their copyright. They can send dinosaurs to the moon but, until recently, Hollywood special effects houses were unable to persuasively conjure younger versions of older actors. Overall, Rudd’s comedic prowess pairs perfectly with the script, which draws elements from heist-thrillers such as Ocean’s Eleven and the smirking humor of your typical Paul Rudd comedy.

Paper Towns comes to the screen in the wake of the huge success of last year’s film version of one of Green’s more recent novels, the teen cancer sufferers love story The Fault in Our Stars. But in 2015 they have assuredly mastered the challenge, with a plausibly fresh-faced Arnold in Terminator Genisys and now, in Ant-Man, a “young” Michael Douglas, who looks as if he’s just slithered off the set of Basic Instinct. Like 2014’s equally absurd (talking trees and racoons, anyone?) but insanely lucrative Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man puts the laughs front and center, making for an all-around fun ride. He also has an admirable impulse to resist tidy endings, one that is respected by screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, who scripted both films. This is a thoughtful, charming movie about young people on the threshold of adulthood coming to terms with what they are leaving behind, and what lies ahead.

But unlike recent forays, where the action on screen seemed to exist simply to provide a link to the next movie, Ant-Man is more or less stand-alone – a solid chunk of entertainment that can be enjoyed on its merits, without additional context.

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