Friday, August 7, 2015

Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-Man (2015) directed by Peyton Reed

Dr. Hank Pym was a scientist back in the 1980s who discovered the Pym Particles which he used to power a super-suit. S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to buy his technology but he refused to sell. After this brief introduction, the movie jumps to the present day where Scott Lang is let out of prison after serving three years for a white-collar crime. He wants to go on the straight and narrow so he can see his daughter, but his ride from prison is not her mother--it's his ex-cell mate. The cell mate lives in a sketchy San Francisco neighborhood and has sketchy friends as well. Scott moves in temporarily till he can get back on his feet. Scott tries to get a decent job but can only get one by lying about his criminal record. That soon comes out and he considers pulling a heist with the guys. A friend of a friend of a friend let the cell mate know that a rich man's safe will be left unguarded while the man is out of town. They plan a heist that gets them into the safe, but the only thing inside is a crazy suit and jars of liquid. No money or valuables! Scott takes the suit anyway, then tries it on. He pushes a button and BAM! he's shrunk to the size of an ant. A voice starts talking in his head, encouraging him and providing guidance. Scott breaks back into the man's house to return the suit only to get busted by the cops. While in holding, a much older Hank Pym visits him and offers him a job--use the suit to rob Pym Technologies because his 1980s research is about to become public in a bad way. Another heist is in the works.

The movie has an amazing blend of drama and comedy that somehow works so well. Marvel has the sense to make movies with human drama and the triumph of good over evil without feeling dark, cliched, or unoriginal. Scott's problems as a dad separated from his daughter could have been painfully obvious and cliched, but they don't go there. The daughter still loves him; the mom isn't rabidly opposed to him as a dad but she recognizes he needs to straighten his life out before he can be a father to his daughter. The mom is dating a cop which makes for some awkwardness all around, especially when he arrests him while returning the suit. The humor works well and fits the story naturally. Some moments border on the overly melodramatic but are scaled back with a little humor. The script writers included Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead fame) and Joe Cornish (of Attack the Block fame), so the overall quality is great.

Marvel has done a great job making genre movies out of their superhero movies. Captain America: The First Avenger was a period film/World War II film. Iron-Man was a classic redemption story. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a 1970s-style political thriller. Ant-Man gives us a comedy heist film with superheroes. I hope they keep up the good tradition.

This is great popcorn fun and well worth seeing on the big screen since the hero gets so tiny. We saw this in 2D and usually I notice a scene or two that look specifically designed to be seen in 3D but I didn't notice any in this film. So don't bother seeing it in 3D.

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