ANT-MAN | REVIEW

Movie number 37823917501895 in the Marvel universe releases today at every cinema on the planet. Is the world starting to tire of super-hero movies or is this just me? They are ALL the same. Someone learns powers, gets good with powers, has backstory, evil nemesis rises, must battle, nearly dies, destroys half of a city, prevails, gives hero shot, roll credits, ok then add Marvel post credit random scene for their next bankroll. I actually enjoy them but have my fave, (insert purring to Thor), but am tiring, however word is coming in that ANT-MAN is pretty bloody decent. Kernel Andrew heads on in to judge the latest in the Marvel universe for Salty Popcorn. ANT-MAN is rated M and runs for 115mins. Enjoy Andrew’s review……all the best……JK.

 

ANT-MAN MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
ANT-MAN | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY ANDREW BRUSENTSEV

Is it just me or does it seem that every third movie released these days is part of some shared multiverse of nerdom? Be that from the DC, Marvel or the future Star Wars franchise. It seems we can’t get a movie these days which is not a) based on a comic book b) a reboot c) have with it an accompanying trilogy and at least a decade’s worth of shared universe character launch titles.

Has the tipping point been reached? I’m not sure. To disqualify myself from this statement. I am in two minds. As a massive comic book uber-nerd I am quite happy with all of this focus and attention. But as a movie goer I am starting to think that wheels may have begun to fall off. Especially with Marvel titles releasing from now till the heat death of the Universe. As a comic nerd I enjoyed the AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON but as a cinema goer I was quite underwhelmed. The question I ask myself constantly is do I only enjoy these titles because I adore tales about people that wear underpants on the outside? Who knows?

With ANT-MAN (directed by Peyton Reed) we are beginning to get to some of the less “street” popular characters of the franchise. Their “B” team so to speak. To the comic book fans out there this is not the case, they would know Ant-man as a founding member of the Avengers.

 

ANT-MAN COSTUME IMAGE
ANT-MAN | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | THE COSTUME

 

To the movie: the opening sequence sets up the proceedings nicely. Catching up those only familiar with the Marvel movie universe. Set in 1989 we find Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a key inventor and scientist, working at Shield. He is the original Ant-Man, using his discovery of the Pym particle (which can change the distance between atoms) to shrink himself to ant size and to do battle with evil doers everywhere. Pym, after decades of this fight, has realised that his formula has too many commercial weapon capabilities which he realises that Shield are more than willing to exploit. Pym quits Shield and starts his own company. Whilst working at Pym Tech he has watched his business partner, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) attempt to recreate the particle which he has only heard rumours about. Pym realises that Cross would use it for the reasons he has most feared. Cross on the other hand realises that Pym is hiding something from him. Frustrated and exasperated Cross allies himself with Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to kick Pym out of the company. Pym retires and takes his secrets with him. We move to the present day. Hope in the intervening years has realised that Cross is quite mad and starts to see things from her father’s point of view

This is all back story to the proceedings. The main premise focuses on Scott Lang. We are introduced to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who find on his last day in San Quentin. About to face release to society after a robbing a company who was stealing money from hapless investors. Upon release he just wants to do one thing, be a father to the daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) he left behind and who barely knows him. His ex-wife (a too brief a role for excellent Judy Greer) and her new husband (the always impressive Bobby Cannavale) don’t want Scott to have anything to do with his daughter believing him to be nothing more than a bum and common criminal.

 

ANT-MAN MOVIE IMAGE
ANT-MAN | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | ANT-MAN WITH HIS BACK-UP

 

It is unclear how Pym finds Scott but find him he does. In this cat burglar he has the perfect means of stealing Cross’s research, thus protecting the secret of the Pym particle. This back story and the introduction of Lang becomes a perfect vehicle for what is essentially a heist movie. Supporting this ANT-MAN gives us a carefully constructed series of comic interludes mostly centring around Luis (the hilarious Michael Pena) Lang’s best friend and former cellmate. Added to the mix are Luis’s friends Kurt (T.I). and Dave (David Dastmalchian). These three are equal parts Oceans 11 and Three Stooges. Throughout we have linking nods to other members of the Marvel stable, and an appearance by Falcon (Anthony Mackie), one of the Avengers, who has an entertaining face-off with ANT-MAN.

The super-powered moments centre around the suit itself. It is a fine example of the film’s embrace of the low-key. It’s black and red and a little worn-looking, more motorbike leather than space-age in its styling. It matches perfectly with the overall aesthetic. The interiors and set design tend to hint at the retro not the hi-tech. The sub atomic sequences are not over the top CGI fests rather tend towards the comic and the more surreal. Full credit must go to the Jake Morrison (Visual Effects Supervisor) here. We’re in an era where visual effects have gone from the low key to the completely overblown so much so that people are now blasé towards them. It’s good to see how the effects play out in ANT-MAN.

 

ANT-MAN MOVIE IMAGE
ANT-MAN | SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | ANT-MAN

 

One of my biggest gripes with this movie is the fact that it was initially penned by Edgar Wright and his stamp is all over it. There are many Wrightesque moments which although capably handled by Reed I believe just don’t have the same beats as Wright would have conveyed. Would he have intended Rudd to be as restrained as he is here, dialled down almost to deadpan? Would the comic interludes have been so clearly sign-posted? And would the character development have been different?

Another is the figure of Hope is another curious one. Hope is a scientist and a martial arts practitioner. There are so many under developed strands here and it is a shame that although given a comprehensive backstory she’s an underwritten figure, an awkward fit for the rest of the film.

All in all ANT-MAN is a solid an eye catching comic book adaptation, which is not overblown and over the top with too many characters jostling for screen time ala THE AVENGERS. I for one was pleasantly surprised.

 

3 and a Half Pops

 

 

When asked what is good in life? Kernel Andrew will tell you film, music and beer is all you need. Equal parts Star Wars fanboy, sci-fi nerd, horror head, comic book tragic and Playstation fanatic. You can find him ranting on these things and others on his twitter feed @abrusentsev