Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ant-Man

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ant-Man_%28film%29
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Fresh out of serving his jail sentence, burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds it hard to keep a job despite holding a master’s degree in engineering. Desperate to have enough money for child support so he could be with his daughter, he goes back to his old ways and robs an old manor. Instead of money, though, he finds nothing more than a helmet and a suit in a vault. He tries them on and gets the surprise of his life, discovering that his new costume gives him the ability to shrink himself and go back to his original size at will. What he does not know is that he has been manipulated by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who needs his expertise to break into Cross Industries and steal the Yellowjacket, a similar gear his protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) plans to capitalize on through military deals. Pym’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), wants to don the suit herself, but he just would not let her. Instead, the three form a team to make sure that such delicate technology wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Marvel has already perfected their formula of incorporating wit and humor in their superhero movies, and the decision to stick with it is a good one because it works. Come to think of it, one too many superhero films have bombed in the box office for taking themselves too seriously. Luckily, Marvel is not afraid to experiment, and it almost always pays off because the result ends up being a good mix of action, humor, and good character development. In the end, there is just something for everyone to enjoy, instead of being constantly reminded that you are watching a superhero flick.

Perhaps the downside would be the existence of the shared Marvel cinematic universe itself. The main dilemma in this film is indeed something that could threaten humankind, but nothing that the Avengers couldn’t fix. And so you end up thinking that it wouldn’t be that bad if Ant-Man fails because the Avengers could always step in anytime anyway to clean up his mess. As such, perhaps it would be a good thing to forget the Avengers for a while and concentrate on our superhero du jour, but it is a bit difficult to do with all the references you encounter in the film’s two-hour run.

Talking about insignificance, the minute size of the hero and the villain means keeping damages to a minimum, or maybe not because they also blow up a building or two. But still, the ultimate duel, for example, takes place in a kid’s playpen. Unlike Loki and Thor, for instance, who could destroy entire cities when they decide to play roughhouse, Ant-Man and Yellowjacket’s fights seem epic when magnified, but downright hilarious when you zoom out. But then again, their size is not really an issue here because their actions have real life consequences that could turn into serious problems if left undealt with.

Rudd does not really channel the aura of a superhero, but is a good fit because the role just does not require him to. Lest we forget, Ant-Man is really dependent on his suit, and could actually be replaced by anyone who gains possession of his costume. But wait, so is Iron Man! Perhaps what I am driving at here is that Ant-Man’s powers are a bit unorthodox, which might make appreciation a bit more difficult to come by. Do not lose your trust on Marvel, though. They know what they are doing, and this film will be a box office smash for sure. And then you could also look forward to him appearing in other Marvel crossover projects.

As for Lilly, Marvel appears to have big plans for her. It is always good to watch a kick-ass leading lady who intends to rival her leading man instead of just being the obligatory damsel in distress. Hope van Dyne can kick ass, and hopefully she could do more in succeeding films. The rapport among the three is awesome, by the way, and the teamwork they have with their ants is something even the Avengers themselves could learn something from.

There are two post-credit scenes. The first one involves the introduction, or perhaps the more accurate term is “rebirth,” of another superhero. The final one involves three cameos, in effect a brief introduction to Civil War. Make sure you stick around so you won’t miss it!


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