Saturday, July 18, 2015

I saw Ant-Man...

Peyton Reed's "Ant-Man"is the latest in an expanding tapestry of interlocking Avengers films. In fact, it sets forth a new phase for the powerhouse franchise by being both different and yet in tune with previous chapters. 

In actuality, "Ant-Man" (per Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd's script) is an overlap of two superhero legends, incorporating both men who have filled the alias' space over the years. In this respect, the film offers us the scientist who started it all, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a former burglary convict whom Pym helps modify toward greatness. It's Lang who becomes the focus; however, Pym's presence is perpetually felt, which should satisfy those loyal to the superhero's source.

In a broader sense,"Ant-Man" is a heist/caper yarn (the aim: to sabotage high-tech information from a bad guy) and more so, a redemption tale for its two principles. From out this, we learn that Pym hid his impervious, miniaturization suit in fear that it might fall into the wrong hands; Lang, on the other hand, is a once aspiring electrical engineering with a nagging conscience, who discovers the wearable device during a safe-cracking theft, staged as a test by Pym.  

In addition to possessing the remarkable suit, Lang has a supportive team, part of which is formed in advance Pym's entrance. This wannabe SHIELD unit consists of Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris); Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and the happy-go-whistlin' Luis (Michael Pena in an amusing, down-to-earth part). The trio makes an offbeat combination, but jive perfectly with Lang's off-kilter circumstance, lightening the story, which maintains a cheerful tone even when Lang must face the awkward dynamic of his ex, his daughter and her new husband (played by Judy Greer, Abby Rider Fortson and Bobby Cannavale). 

More than any other supporting character, Pym's resourceful daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), keeps the film anchored, establishing herself as essential in the mission's success. (However, for those familiar with the mythology, a nagging question remains: when precisely in the Marvel franchise will she officially suit up as the legendary Wasp?)

Opposing the good guys is Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), a Pym protege, who thirsts for power as the equally miniaturized Yellowjacket. It's through Cross' Hydra-blinded course that Lang becomes an underdog to cheer on, especially when he breaks into Pym's old company with his faithful ant army to spoil Cross' plans. There's also a stunning brawl between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket on a train set, supported by clever cuts that grant awe-inspiring perspectives. 

"Ant-Man" actually excels in all of its diminutive escapades. It's not just a cute "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" (not that there's anything wrong with that), but to its benefit, recalls such edgier splendors as "Attack of the Puppet People"; "Devil-doll '35"; "Dr. Cyclops"; "Fantastic Voyage"; "The Incredible Shrinking Man" and even such "growth" films as "Amazing Colossal Man" and "Village of the Giants" (the latter two potential blueprints for Giant-Man's entrance, but that's another story for another time).

To strengthen its connections to previous Marvel movies, "Ant-Man" also lets us revisit old friends, including a special appearance by Anthony Mackie's Falcon, which occurs when Ant-Man must "borrow" equipment from the Avengers headquarters. We're also treated to cameos by John Slattery as Howard Stark and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter. These popular characters remind us that Ant-Man will be (and has always been) a part of Marvel's legacy, solidifying the movie's essential spot in a growing cinematic universe, set to continue in "Captain America: Civil War". 

On the whole, "Ant-Man" is a great way to spend one's time and a swell way to get the legend (and the men behind the outfit) into the Marvel/Disney landscape. It's where the tiny titan should have been from the start. Better late than never, though, and considering how well this one turned out, perhaps it's a blessing that those who made it had the right vision (and ample time) to bring it to astonishing realization.

1 comment:

  1. BTW: I found Michael Douglas' computerized alteration for the '89 flashback prologue most impressive: the best of this type of alteration I've seen on film to date. Makes me wonder where such will lead with other such excursions: maybe Harrison Ford turned young for a Han Solo prequel? Well, one never knows...