I will confess to you that every time I see a trailer for a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, I think that this is the one where they finally fall flat on their faces and give a us a lemon. I mean there have been a lot of movies coming out of this group: the Iron Man movies, the Thor movies, a Hulk movie, the Captain America movies, the Avenger movies, Guardians of the Galaxy ... there have been eleven movies so far, and that doesn't count the two television series (which, as you may have guessed, I love). So far, all the films are very well done, and each one seems to one-up the previous film in some way.
It's just kind of natural to think that sooner or later, Marvel is going to get greedy and churn out a ill-conceived and hastily produced installment just to cash in on its own popularity. And maybe they will, but it's not going to be with their latest release Ant-Man.
Ant-Man ... Ant-Man ... Ant-Man. This is just about as much fun as you can have in a movie. It's got the superhero gadgets, the super-villian, and the world-is-in-danger-and-must-be-saved scenario. It's got the ordinary guy who finds himself in an extraordinary position and has to use the power of love (and a lot of technology) to overcome his own fear and seemingly insurmountable odds. It's got Michael Douglas.
In an anthill, here's the story: Hank Pym (Douglas) invents a technology that allows him to alter the size of matter. It's really cool stuff, but Hank knows that in the wrong hands, it can become a destabilizing weapon, and so he hides the technology. However, he has a young protégé, Darren Cross, who becomes obsessed with duplicating Hank's work. Cross indeed succeeds in duplicating his mentor's work, but Cross's only goal is use the technology to become the richest and most powerful man on earth, and he will stop at nothing to do that. Hank knows he must stop Cross, but he is too old to do it himself. He enlists the help of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a down-on-his-luck ex-con, and introduces Scott to the technology that turns him into Ant-Man.
This movie has all of Marvel's usual finesse. It is a slick production, great visuals and special effects, excellent cast. And once again, although this is the twelfth movie in a franchise that encompasses the fictional reality that Marvel calls the Cinematic Universe, the viewer is guided nicely into the story, and while it helps to have seen the other films, it is not necessary to have seen them.
Particularly pleasing to me was the use of humor in this film. Although there is an effective "saving the world" storyline, the film doesn't take itself too seriously. It takes ample advantage of the inherent comic value of the ability to change the size of objects, and it has a scene-stealing performance with Michael Peña as Luis, Scott's buddy from prison who is prone to convoluted monologues.
Ant-Man is another hit for Marvel. Slick, fun, and well-acted, it is everything you have come to expect from Marvel Studios, and is worth every penny of the price of admission.
Having no prior knowledge of Ant-Man other than his alter ego, Hank Pym (and I have no recollection how I knew about that) I was mildly reluctant to spend two hours or more stuck in a theater watching a super-hero flick, the trailer of which hadn't seemed particularly inspired. But it was Bernie's birthday, and he wanted to see Ant-Man, so I went.
Note to self: always give Bernie the benefit of the doubt. (At least after checking IMDb to make sure he's not dragging me off to see another Skyline.)
I had seen the trailer a couple of times, but the preview gave me no clue how entertaining Ant-Man would be. At the front of the movie, I thought, "Wait. Is that supposed to be funny?" and moments later, I was roaring laughter along with the rest of the audience. Really, I had the feeling that the writers of Ant-Man had followed me secretly all my life and picked out humor that was specifically tailored to my funny-bone.
Don't worry about not having read Ant-Man comics in your youth -- you don't need them to follow the story. Marvel Studios did an excellent job of telling the audience everything they needed to know about the history of Ant-Man without being at all boring about it.
The only bad thing about this movie is that it will probably be Christmas by the time the DVD comes out. Really, I don't know that I can wait that long to see it again.
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