Review: ‘Ant-Man’ is no small Marvel

15 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Ant-Man’ cast would mostly sneak into stuff if they were ant sized.

I mean, I’m not a complete doofus and neophyte at my comic book heroes. Both an entertaining and eminently disposable superhero movie, Ant-Man rounds out Marvel Studios’ much-vaunted ‘Phase Two’ of its masterplan to maintain world domination of mainstream cinema.

Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Pena and director Peyton Reed admit that they’d use that power for access to fun stuff — hey, who wouldn’t? — but Douglas redeems them all. Let’s get one thing straight upfront here: is not the genre-bending crowd-pleaser that last year’s Marvel smash Guardians Of the Galaxy refreshingly turned out to be.

Peyton Reed: As a fan, I was sort of watching and reading: “I’m psyched to see Ant-Man, I can’t wait!” And then the thing happened, and all of that preceded me. In short, thanks to some catchy comedy stylings and a breezy, easygoing take on its hero’s origin story, Ant-Man will simply show you a good time and then show you the door. Based on a comic-book character that debuted in print over 50 years ago, charts the microscopic misadventures of a wisecracking white-collar crook named Scott Lang (a breakout for long-serving comedy specialist Paul Rudd). I could – with a decent pint and a tailwind – explain to you exactly and at great length why Batman Begins is a very fine film, while The Dark Knight Rises is a tedious load of old bollards. I had known Kevin since 2003; I had developed The Fantastic Four for about a year at Fox, when Kevin was a junior at Marvel, and then later I came in and pitched on Guardians [of the Galaxy].

Unable to hold down a normal job but committed to providing for his young daughter, Lang reluctantly re-enters the criminal realm by joining in a job organised by his kooky ex-cellmate Luis (a scene-stealing Michael Pena). Lang does that by donning a Pym-invented Ant-Man super suit, which allows him to shrink in scale but increase dramatically in strength. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do the project,” says Lilly, who is pregnant with her second child, promoting Ant-Man. “Life is short and I want to have fun when I work.” Mind you, there were a few hiccups along the way.

However, after completing a complicated safe-cracking job that comes up empty, Scott learns he has become the unwitting linchpin in a grand scheme designed by veteran molecular scientist Doctor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). One of them was the replacement of original Ant-Man director Edgar Wright with Peyton Reed over “creative differences” with the Marvel team. “Well, it was something that was intentional, and it was bit of hangover from Edgar Wright,” Lilly says of Hope’s attitude and look. “We had these discussions about Hope, and that was Edgar’s vision that she was a film noir chick and I loved it.” “I had never heard of Ant-Man when they called me,” admits Lilly. “I thought they were pulling my leg. The famous creator of “the Pym particle” — a miraculous bit of tech that can reduce the size of anything (or anybody) to the most minute proportions imaginable — Hank has a heist in mind for Scott that might just save the world from oblivion. I thought that or they were making Ant-Man up because they had run out of a roster of superheroes in the Marvel archives.” After her usual in-depth research, she began to shape her performance first with Wright and then with Reed in and around the Atlanta, Ga. locations. “Somebody once told me I have over-commitment issues.” “It intrigued me to study the Marvel movies,” Lilly says. “The stories and structures are great, and they know how to build a good character arc, and they don’t take it all too seriously.” “It was the most exciting thing for me about the role,” says Lilly. “And you know, of course, while we were filming, and during post-production, there was a lot of buzz on the Internet – is Evangeline playing the Wasp, and is she a superhero? “And I just couldn’t have felt more comfortable or more happy saying, ‘Actually, she is just a really capable, very powerful force to be reckoned with’ … my super-suit was my power suit that I would go to work in as a high level scientist.” “If you stay through the credits of (Ant-Man), there’s a chance you’ll see something,” Feige says. “We have plans for her in the future and we see that not so subtly in this film.” While Hank has prevented his super-shrinking research from reaching the public domain, an evil former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is on the brink of fully developing his own weapon of mass reduction.

It was their idea to key off that Marvel Premiere issue, “To Steal An Ant-Man,” about the introduction of Scott Lang, and make it a mentor-pupil story. The self-deprecating sense of humour at work here (obviously the work of Rudd, who had a hand in the screenplay) carries a long way as a viewing experience. The inventor of the suit is the requisite benevolent-scientist-who-hid-his-invention-from-those-who-would-use-it-for-evil, here played with a kind of weaponised avuncularism by Michael Douglas. This is important, as the novelty of watching so much small-scale action unfold in incongruously confined settings (the first big sequence kicks off in a bathtub) will invariably wear off for some onlookers.

Though we are often straining to keep our eyes focused on Scott’s minuscule misadventures in full flight — sometimes it’s though we are looking at a computer-animated blur — the massive gravity of his micro-mission is never lost on the viewer. However, as an energetically crafted and unapologetically fun exercise in outsized escapism, it can stand tall with the likes of Thor and Captain America. I wished for flight myself, with enough strength to rescue Megan Walsh from any earthquakes or alien invasions should happen to befall our Standard 3 class at Insoll Avenue Primary in Hamilton. There’s the section where Scott goes in to steal the suit, and McKay had called in this securities expert, and we sat with him and talked about how you would get into a safe. Wright might not be a superhero purist in the mould of Alan Moore or Frank Miller, but he can tell a damn good joke, and he gets geek culture as well as anyone on the planet.

Because I think for someone that has never seen a Marvel movie or read a Marvel comic, if you see a poster — ! — it’s like, come on, what is that? Next to Rudd and the aforementioned Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit) has a nice turn as Douglas’s daughter, while Corey Stoll (House of Cards) does similarly well as the chief villain.

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