Monday, April 04, 2016
Based on the Marvel comic series by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Ant-Man is the story of a recently-convicted thief who is given a chance to find redemption when he meets a scientist, who had created a shrinking technology many years ago, who wants his help to stop his former protégé from creating something similar to what he made in the hopes of global domination. Directed by Peyton Reed and screenplay by Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd, and Edgar Wright from a story by Cornish and Wright, the film is an origin story of sorts where this thief is given a chance to do good and fulfill the legacy of the man who was once donned the suit known as Ant-Man. Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Wood Harris, Martin Donovan, Michael Pena, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Damian Dastmalchian, and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym/the original Ant-Man. Ant-Man is an exhilarating and whimsical film from Peyton Reed.
The film is a simple origin story of sorts of a man who shrinks to the size of an ant where he fights off bad guys and can go back to normal size whenever he can. Yet, it’s so much more as it is about redemption not just for the man who created the suit and myth but also the one who would don the suit and stop the creator’s former protégé from creating one of his own for his own gain. Plus, it’s also the story of what happens when something so brilliant as its creator realizes what could wrong as he also bears the weight of responsibility over what happened as it relates to the loss of his own wife. The film’s screenplay which was largely written by Adam McKay, with Rudd writing much of the comic dialogue, doesn’t just explore two men wanting to do things right but also cope with the responsibilities of themselves.
For Dr. Hank Pym, he was the man that found the formula to shrink himself into the size of an ant and succeeded to the point that he would become Ant-Man and would create a suit for his wife as Wasp. Yet, a mission that involved the two led to Wasp’s death where Pym felt deeply responsible as he had become somewhat estranged with his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) who works for Pym’s protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Adding to the chaos for Pym is the fact that he refused to share his knowledge of what he created to anyone including his friends in S.H.I.E.L.D. where he realizes that Cross’ work on Pym’s formula is getting closer as he becomes uneasy about not in what could go wrong. It’s also in what happens if it goes into the wrong hands and used in ways that could make the world even worse where Van Dyne is aware of her father’s worries where she also works as a spy for her father. Upon meeting this recently-released thief in Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Pym realizes that there is a way he could fix the mistakes in his life.
The Lang character is also very interesting as he is just this brilliant thief that has just been released from prison as he also has a young daughter that he wants to be there for. Unfortunately, his criminal record prevents from finding work as well as be able to see and support his daughter while his ex-wife is about to marry a cop who doesn’t like Lang. When Lang meets Dr. Pym and Van Dyne, he isn’t sure about donning the suit which he stole early in the story while being unaware of its powers. Yet, he realizes that his skills as a thief and breaking into some of the most highly secure places can benefit where he would also bring in a group of criminals to help him and Dr. Pym in getting the suit that Cross has created. While the script does have a lot of exposition and a narrative structure that is expected from the world of superhero origins. It does have a lot of humor but also some big dramatic stakes as it relates to what Cross is up to and the people he plans on making money with that includes one of Pym’s former colleagues from S.H.I.E.L.D.
Peyton Reed’s direction is quite straightforward in terms of what is expected from a superhero origin story yet manages to find ways to bring in a sense of style into the story. Shot largely on location in San Francisco with some shots set in Atlanta, the film does maintain something that is more homegrown as it plays into Lang’s attempt to set his life back on course while Dr. Pym is forced to sit in the sidelines as his business has grown into something bigger than he realized under Cross’ leadership. Reed’s usage of wide and medium shots do play into some of the big moments in the film while using the latter for some of the intimate moments where Van Dyne would reluctantly train Lang in becoming Ant-Man in combat fighting. The meshing of genres do work where it’s not just in the action and suspense but also in the humor.
Much of the humor doesn’t just involve some of the action sequences and Lang’s banters towards situations and those he would meet. It’s also in the supporting characters such as Lang’s former cellmate Luis (Michael Pena) who would provide some of the funniest moments that involve people he know and what he heard in these dizzying sequences that are ridiculous but fun. Reed would also create an air of suspense that is part of a homage to heist films as it relates to the climax that would involve Lang and Cross where it is elaborate but also thrilling. Even as Reed maintains the idea of what is stake but also uncover some huge revelations about a world that Lang would encounter. Overall, Reed creates an engaging and fun film about a man who shrinks to the size of an ant to save the world.
Cinematographer Russell Carpenter does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it is largely straightforward with some stylish lights for scenes set at night as well as well as the way some of the film‘s action sequences are lit. Editors Dan Lebental and Colby Parker Jr. do nice work with the editing as it is quite straightforward with some stylish flair in some of the montages and in some of the action scenes without deviating into intense fast-cutting editing styles. Production designers Shepherd Frankel and Marcus Rowland, with set decorator Leslie A. Pope and supervising art directors Nigel Churcher and David Lazan, do amazing work with the look of Cross‘ lab as well as the home of Dr. Pym and the apartment where Lang lives with other former convicts. Costume designer Sammy Sheldon does fantastic work with the look of the Ant-Man suit as well as the Yellow Jacket suit that Cross is designing while much of the clothes are very casual.
Visual effects supervisors Jon Capleton, Dinesh K. Bishnoi, Jake Morrison, Greg Steele, Dan Sudick, and Alex Wuttke do brilliant work with the visual effects from the look of the ants as well as the way Ant-Man would shrink and reverse at times along with a very surreal sequence set during the film‘s climax. Sound designers David Farmer, David C. Hughes, and Shannon Mills, with co-sound editor David Laurie, do superb work with the sound in the way some of the sound effects are mixed along with some of the natural moments in some of the locations and how Lang hears them when he‘s shrunk. The film’s music by Christophe Beck is terrific for its bombastic orchestral score that plays into the sense of adventure and comedy along with some of the dramatic moments while music supervisors Alejandro de la Llosa and Dave Jordan create a fun soundtrack that features music from Camilo Azuquita, Roy Ayers, the Commodores, HLM, and the Cure.
The casting by Sarah Finn is incredible as it features appearances from Hayley Atwell and John Slattery as S.H.I.E.L.D. co-founders Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, respectively, who deal with Pym’s departure knowing they’ve screwed things up while Anthony Mackie makes a fun appearance as Sam Wilson/Falcon who has a big encounter with Lang in a key scene. Other notable small roles include comedian Garrett Morris as a man in a car Lang meets, Gregg Turkington as a Baskin-Robbins manager who reluctantly fires Lang, Abby Ryder Fortson as Lang’s daughter Cassie, Judy Greer as Lang’s ex-wife Maggie who is reluctant to let Lang back into their daughter’s life, Wood Harris as a police detective named Gale, Tip “T.I.” Harris and David Dastmalchian as a couple of Luis’ friends who help Lang and Pym out for the film’s climax, and Martin Donovan in a superb performance as former S.H.I.E.L.D. executive Mitchell Carson whom Cross wants to make a deal with.
Bobby Cannavale is terrific as Maggie’s new boyfriend Paxton who is also a police detective that isn’t very trustful towards Lang as he later tries to find him after Lang escaped from jail. Michael Pena is great as Luis as a former criminal who has a lot of connections as he tries to help Lang out while later being part of a scheme to help Lang and Pym stop Cross as he is also the most hilarious character in the film. Corey Stoll is excellent as Darren Cross as Pym’s former protégé who created a formula similar to what Dr. Pym has created as he plans to make it into something bigger as it’s a role filled with some dark, comical humor and a sense of bravado. Evangeline Lilly is amazing as Hope Van Dyne as Dr. Pym’s estranged daughter who works for Cross as a spy for her father as she also deals with the fact that her father is hiding some things from her as it relates to her mother.
Michael Douglas is phenomenal as Dr. Hank Pym as the creator of a shrinking formula that he would use to be the original Ant-Man as he copes with the dangers of what happens when his formula is into the wrong hands while he deals with his own regrets as it’s a role filled with a lot of weight as well as some humor. Finally, there’s Paul Rudd in a marvelous performance as Scott Lang as a notorious thief who is trying to start over and do right for his daughter only to be forced back into crime where he meets Dr. Pym and get his chance at redemption where Rudd definitely exudes the idea of being a hero while also providing some funny banter along the way to make Lang more engaging as a person as it’s one of his finest roles to date.
Ant-Man is a remarkable film from Peyton Reed that features amazing performances from Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, and Michael Pena. Not only is it a fun action-adventure film but also a compelling one as it relates to the themes of redemption and wanting to do the right thing in a world that is often very complicated. Even as it is told in an entertaining fashion without deviating too much from the story. In the end, Ant-Man is an excellent film from Peyton Reed.
Peyton Reed Films: (The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes (1995 film)) - (The Love Bug (1997 film)) - (Bring It On) - (Down with Love) - (The Break-Up) - (Yes Man)
Marvel Phase One Films: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Marvel Phase Two Films: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel Phase Three Films: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - (Spider-Man: Homecoming) - (Thor: Ragnarok) - (The Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1) - (The Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 2)
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