Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: "Ant-Man" stands tall

Marvel topped off Phase Two of their cinematic universe in small fashion, introducing the hilarious Paul Rudd as their newest Avenger, Scott Lang, otherwise known as the Ant-Man.

Given the production issues: Writer-Director Edgar Wright leaving the project after a decade due to creative differences with the studio and Marvel not replacing him till near principal photography, Ant-Man is an impressive feat. That said, Ant-Man may not feel as fresh as recent Phase Two entries, such as Guardians of the Galaxy, but Director Peyton Reed's (Yes Man, The Break-Up) film is just as funny and equally endearing. This film is a testament to Marvel's keen sense about their audience and the relentless expectation put upon them to deliver time and again.

Don't get me wrong, Ant-Man is structured like any run-of-the-mill origin story as it hardly deviates from the path long traveled by the superhero genre since Sam Raimi's original Spider-Man flick back in 2002. However, unlike most superhero movies, Ant-Man is lite on action, which means, like 'Guardians,' this film relies heavily on its talented cast and character relationships. And in the end, that's the film's strength.

Michael Douglas highlights the film as an aged Dr. Hank Pym, a scientist whose serum shrinks the distance between atoms of any object; in other words, it makes things smaller. When Dr. Pym's protégé, Darren Cross, played to menacing perfection by Corey Stoll (of the American House of Cards), recreates the serum for Hydra, Hank recruits Professional Burglar and Ex-con Scott Lang (Rudd) to steal it back. Even Evangeline Lilly (LOST) gets her fair share of screen time as Hope, Hank's estranged daughter whose caught in a love triangle between Darren and Scott. These four have well-developed, complex relationships with one another that evolve as the story progresses, leading to many heartfelt, heart-breaking, melodramatic moments. This is where Ant-Man stands tallest.

Did I mention the film's funny, too? Given the final product, it's easy to see why Marvel wanted a director and a lead with backgrounds in comedy. Peyton Reed brings an impeccable sense of comedic timing to most of the jokes, particularly the physical gags that take advantage of the ant men's changing sizes, while the endearing Paul Rudd charms us with his signature wit. We want Scott to win over the bad guy and to mend the broken relationship with his own daughter and family.

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