All original written content is (c) 2015 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Marvel’s smallest superhero gets the big-screen treatment. Ex-con Scott Lang is recruited by Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) and his daughter to stop the Yellowjacket soldier suit from being sold to the highest bidder by its crazy inventor. (NOTE: Since I ain’t no comic-book geek, that idiot Pascale contributed all the comics reference crap you fans seem to lap up. So blame him if it’s wrong!)
Written by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd, from a story by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish. Directed by Peyton Reed.
- With the writers and director being involved with first-class comedies and comedy-adventure flicks like HOT FUZZ!, THE WORLD’S END, ANCHORMAN, TALLADEGA NIGHTS, ATTACK THE BLOCK and so forth, you’d expect some genuine laughs and funny dialog. This doesn’t disappoint.
- Considering the character name and powers (think insect Aquaman), the filmmakers did the right thing and addressed it head-on. It’s not parody or campy like GREEN HORNET and not jokey like GREEN LANTERN. It’s very “Marvel” ish. More like the first IRON MAN.
- Marvel history in-jokes and nods aplenty! “Tales To Astonish,” “The Milgrom Hotel,” “redeem” (as in The Irredeemable Ant-Man series), S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra mentions, an older Peggy Carter/Howard Stark cameo at the beginning, and lots more.
- Guest appearances by two Avengers, one modern and one old school!
- Paul Rudd is actually perfectly cast. He’s funny/sarcastic, but not over-the-top like Robert Downey Jr.’s Stark or cynical like Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Very laid back and more subtle, more reactive to what’s going on. It’s not the Paul Rudd from ANCHORMAN. (Chicks will dig the shirtless scenes.)
- Score another old-school Academy Award-winner in a Marvel flick! Michael Douglas joins the gang as Dr. Henry Pym and does his usual good job. Again, underplayed but still with some of that inner intensity he’s known for.
- Stan Lee’s cameo comes near the end of the film, so don’t miss it—it’s quick and you don’t hear his voice.
- Plenty of family dynamics, drama and emotion. This is a pretty good balance between GUARDIANS nor and Raimi’s SPIDEY. There’s genuine story here, conflict, and the hero-trying-to-get-something-and-facing-obstacles that critics swoon over. But some good action thrown in.
- Some very cool shot visuals and special effects. The “trial-by-tub” scene in the bathtub was awesome. A lot of the size-changing stuff invoked the classic INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN but with fresh approaches and twists. The sub-atomic environments were very cool.
- Loved Michael Péna’s character, and the other two guys in Scott Lang’s “posse.” His daughter, ex-wife and her “asshat” boyfriend were fine too, as was baddie Corey Stoll. And Evangeline Lilly is as hot as she was in THE HOBBIT, even without the pointy ears. Just good casting and writing overall.
- The climactic battle with the baddie, with the Thomas the Tank Engine scenes you see in the trailer (and more, like the “giant ugly dog”), were great! There was a lot of switching from Ant-Man’s close-up POV to a normal-sized viewer’s from a distance, giving plenty of drama-then-comedy back-and-forth. Some viewers may find it jarring but I thought it was entertaining.
- Gotta stay for all the credits. Marvel goes back to the tried-and-true formula of one after the main titles (perfectly setting up an Ant-Man sequel) and the button at the very end setting up next year’s spring event.
- FROM MIKE: Great to see “Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby” get main credit, plus “Thank yous” to David Micheline, John Byrne, Gene Colan, Robert Kirkman and many other writers and artists who contributed to the source material.
- While I loved the fire ants, some of the others were more “obviously” CG, looking almost metallic and robotic in parts. I can’t fault the filmmakers that much, though, as doing them “perfectly” would have required an AVENGERS-sized budget, and an unknown cast. I’ll take the compromise.
- The PC police will probably gripe about how some of the Hispanic and black characters were portrayed, but they’ll find anything to gripe about. No T & A, unfortunately.
- How the dude actually shrank wasn’t really clear. Sometimes it seemed like one button did it, others a combination; and did he need his helmet to shrink or not? I think it’s probably vague on purpose so the writers don’t have to worry about mistakes or anal fanboys.
- The cheap “unfolding kaleidoscope” effect thrown in during the climax was painfully obvious CG/been done before.
- Some parts might feel a bit slow or less action-packed, but that’s mostly due to comparing with the recent AVENGERS and GUARDIANS. This is really a different type of film.
- FROM MIKE: I didn’t see a single panel about this movie at Comic-Con in San Diego; nor one on the FANTASTIC FOUR. Dumb. They should have had a sneak preview there and built good word of mouth. It gives the impression the studio didn’t believe in it. (I can understand that attitude with the “Pandering Four” film, but not this!)
Granted, this will probably play fine on your TV (and the ants will probably look better), but this deserves some big-screen love. The special size-changing world effects are definitely large-format friendly. ANT-MAN is way better than it could have been and better than I expected. If done right (not like IRON MAN), Marvel could easily squeeze a couple more of these without stretching it. The studio really has that magic mix of comedy and action/drama that DC just cannot match. (Especially as evidenced by the Dark Knight vs. Dark Superman preview they showed before this; a big dreary mess of gray and grayer with all the fun and joy sucked out of it.) If the DVD/Bluray has a 10-minute gag reel, I’ll buy this!
P.S.: Want your own Ant-Man ORIGINAL ART? Or any Marvel character? Get a cheap commission of your choice from Pascale. FREE SHIPPING if you mention this review. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, Ant-Man, Giant Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, ants, hornets, spiders, wasps, White Anglo-Saxon Protestants or the band WASP. Bru would like to borrow the costume and make himself small enough to fit into Evangeline Lilly’s panties, then make one part of his anatomy giant-sized. Again and again!