Genre: Action, Sci-Fi
Director: Peyton Reed
based on the comic book written by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Music: Christophe Beck
Cinematography: Russell Carpenter
Abby Ryder Fortson
A 3D cinema-going of Marvel’s latest offering ANT-MAN, which has always been in the pickle during its journey to the big screen, originally it had been a brainchild of Edgar Wright for years, then he dropped out in the relatively late development due to creative disagreement, and Peyton Reed takes over the director chair. While Wright has a diehard fan-base and a distinct visual style (although his geeky smartness sometimes can go overboard, like SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD 2010), Reed can no more than be extolled as a slick journeyman in cranking up comedies like YES MAN (2008), THE BREAK-UP (2006), DOWN WITH LOVE (2003) and BRING IT ON (2000), so fans should automatically lower their expectation quotient.
However, the final product transpires to be pretty diverting and humorous (certainly this should thanks to Wright’s original script, which is kept in the movie to some degree), it can expediently reach the upper tier of Marvel’s cinematic universe. Deadpan comedian Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a nimble-fingered thief with principles, a divorced middle-age father who always want to prove himself as a hero to his daughter, is selected to be the (second) Ant-man by Dr. Hank Pam (Douglas), who designs a special suit years ago, which can make the wearer shrink to the size of an ant, and indeed he is the first Ant-man. Together with the assistance of Hank’s daughter Hope van Dyne (Lilly), Scott needs to learn how to mind-control his own ant army and gets acquaint with his new superpower, since the villain Darren Cross (Stoll), once Dr. Hank’s protégé, who later ousted Hank from the company he established, also has managed to design a Yellowjacket suit can do the same, and decides to sell to the evil HYDRA organization, Scott must stop him.
One plugging of the film is of course the size of Ant-man, indeed, the visual tactic is vastly refreshing when Ant-man shrinks to the size of an ant and the concurrent magnifying of our familiar world into giant environment, it situates us for the first time, observes the world from an insect’s point-of-view, especially in the tub scene, when Scott experiences his transformation for the first time; also critically, what Ant-man has to deal with is not all the blasting and leveling bombardment which THE AVENGERS and other superhero franchises have bitten off more than we can chew, the scale of demolition is being crackly utilized, markedly in the big combat scene, it never get out of the bedroom of Scott’s daughter Cassie (Fortson), which can at least appease the picture’s second-rate arrangement of a super-villain and his rashly concocted ulterior motive, as well as the frustrating standard family fare after Scott shrinks to subatomic size and then cornily returns to the macroscopic world with her daughter as the emotional anchor.
The innovative visual gag aside, one promising winning part is its cast, Rudd has his natural charisma as an ordinary good-looking guy, laid-back and a real hoot, he and Chris Pratt are two new additions in the Marvel universe, and their comedic affinity does dissipate the fatigue of more straight-faced action hero’s self-seriousness. Douglas emanates a sympathetic father-daughter bond with Lilly, which coherently corresponds with Scott and Cassie’s rapport, and is fairly at ease in his mentor image. But, the real scene-stealer is Peña as Luis, Scott’s best buddy, his two tip-montage parts are scintillatingly hilarious, and Peña is such a gifted actor in comedic timing, and he can even upgrade not-so-funny lines to be a total riot, really impressive and surprisingly excellent!
One thing for sure, the pattern of the first chapter of a superhero-is-born is always the same platitude, how he acquires the unique power, how to adopt to his superpower and his new identity, and finally how to finish off a villain, but, ANT-MAN provides a fresh angle/scale to widen our imagination, the knowing references to join the Avengers is his next move, and reckoning the prospect, ANT-MAN can be a staple of the ensemble and function far more critical than a comic relief, let’s wait and see.