Monday, July 20, 2015

The Incredible Shrinking Ant-Man

The latest offering from the MCU (and final release in Marvel Studio’s "Phase 2" schedule) is ‘Ant-Man,’ a comic book superhero who's familiar enough to die-hard Marvel fans but otherwise relatively unknown to the mainstream audience.  Although ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (Extra! Extra! read all about it here: proved that obscure titles can strike box office gold if done well, ‘Ant-Man’ is still a tough sell for Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios.  As a third-tier character, Ant-Man is often overshadowed by the more glamorous and popular Marvel properties like your friendly neighborhood Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man and Thor.  Can Disney repeat its unexpected GotG success with ‘Ant-Man’?
Development of the film got off to a rocky start when "Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” director and fanboy favourite (he’s British, so suuue me) Edgar Wright left and was replaced by Peyton Reed, who up til now is best known for the Jennifer Aniston-starred romcom ‘The Break-Up’ and the bubbly cheerleading guilty pleasure ‘Bring It On.’  Well, I don’t know how they managed it, but they overcame this "setback" in brilliant fashion.  Wright had a hand in the final script, and Reed’s background in comedy paid off handsomely.  It’s fun (and funny) watching Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man battling Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) on his kid's “Thomas the Engine” railroad track, but in addition to the visual pizzazz ‘Ant-Man’ also boasts great storytelling and solid character development. 
After witnessing the latest orgy of epic carnage and destruction in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ it’s a breath of fresh air to enjoy something smaller and more personal.  Scott Lang (Rudd), Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly, looking almost unrecognizable with short hair and even hotter than she did 10 years ago in 'Lost') and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are eminently relatable characters who complemented each other perfectly.  The movie also features some very funny moments, the highlights of which are when Luis (Michael Peña), a friend of Lang's when they were in prison, would go on about how he caught wind of their latest caper like some gossipy school girl who happens to speak ghetto while the various scenes are played out in perfect lip-sync pantomime.  To coin a cliché, 'Ant-Man' proves once again that "good things come in small packages."
Grade: A
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