Friday 17 July 2015

Review: Ant-Man (first-pass)

World of Blackout Film Review

Ant-Man (3D) Poster

Ant-Man (2D / first-pass)
Cert: 12A / 117 mins / Dir. Peyton Reed / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

And here we are! It seems like a bloody age since I first saw the trailer for Ant-Man and thought 'yep, I'm on for that!', and the day has finally arrived, albeit with less of a fanfare than we've become accustomed to for films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Using the names and general premises of the established characters but moving the pieces around the board enough to feel fresh (as is the modus operandi of the MCU), Ant-Man sees ageing physicist and inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) recruit the wayward Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to protect his Pym Particle formula; the scientific process by which a human can be shrunk to the size of an ant whilst retaining their strength and momentum. Locked out of his own corporation, Pym needs to utilise his own secret technology to prevent it being developed anew and sold to Hydra by the crooked CEO, Darren Cross (Corey Still). Short version: Lang goes all small, Cross goes all small, they fight, and Pym is caught in the middle looking concerned. And it's very good.

Funny and exciting in equal measure, Ant-Man is genuinely deserving of a place in Marvel's Avengers timeline, although the most disconcerting thing about the film is the knowledge that it wasn't always meant to be. While it always feels like Marvel, some of the references to existing characters and organisations feel a little shoehorned in, as if they've been added for no other reason than to reinforce the connection. That said, there are a few familiar faces dropping in (including Iron Man 2's John Slattery as Stark Snr, no less), and a bold verbal setup for everyone's favourite web-slinger. I honestly think this is a better film for being inside the existing timeline.

Importantly, director Peyton Reed knows how to have fun with his cast, and it certainly stands in contrast to the earnestly po-faced Winter Soldier, especially when Hydra is mentioned on-screen. The script doesn't quite make full use of Paul Rudd's comic ability*1, but doesn't quite give him enough actual acting to do either, preferring to hand the gags to Michael Peña's Luis and his gang of small-time criminal misfits. Their gags and pratfalls work in context but as a result, Lang's humorous lines end up coming off like an inconsistent Star Lord. It's not a deal-breaker, but less is less this time around.

Michael Douglas is great value for money but feels a little under-used, as does Evangeline Lilly, yet the whole thing works as a whole and makes a great standalone movie. Just, a great standalone movie which talks about other movies quite a lot.

But hey, these are just my opening thoughts. Like all the MCU entries, there's a bit too much to take in on a first viewing, and like its predecessors, I'll be watching Ant-Man again pretty damned soon.

Spoilery-question, highlight-to-read: So if people/objects are shrunk by moving their molecules closer together, then they retain their original mass and density. But this means Hank Pym's pocket-sized keyring would weigh the same as a full-size tank, surely? It was still a nice moment, though. *shrugs*
The business-end:

• Is there a Wilhelm Scream? No.
• Is there a Stan Lee cameo? Yes.
• Is there a mid-credits scene? Yes.
• Is there a post-credits scene? Yes.

The post-credits scene is potentially more significant than the the mid-credits one, so have patience ;)

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you're into Marvel, it certainly is.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
If you're not hyped enough to see it at the earliest opportunity, a rental should suffice.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
In all fairness, not really.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does, indeed.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Not too much.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Y'know, I didn't hear one.
More attention will be paid next time

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
As well as a stonking-great visual reference to General Dodonna's Death Star assault plans, Ant-Man features a the dulcet tones of Mr. Tom Kenny (as the ugly-rabbit), who lent his voice to the Star Wars Angry Birds cinematic trailer. I've told you before, it's licensed: it counts.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Which is especially odd as Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish's original screenplay was reworked by Adam 'Anchorman' McKay and Paul Rudd himself.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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