Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ant-Man: Marvel exults in it's tiniest superhero outing

So yesterday I watched the latest Marvel outing, Ant-Man. Going in with minimal expectations, I came out a really happy camper - a shrewdly done light comic thriller with all the trappings of a do-good movie. I sense that Marvel is trying real hard to get out of that dark grim shadow thrown by the Age of Ultron and is coming out with little bright gimlets like the Guardians ( a comic caper and a goof-ball of a movie that was such a great overall package!) and now this.



Ant-Man on the surface, is a heist-movie featuring the smallest of Marvel Super-heroes, this time a down-on-his-luck thief with a masters in Electrical Engineering called Scott Lang. Scott ( Paul Rudd, the brightest spot of sunshine in this movie!) is just out of prison after a righteous crime, out of a job having been fired from Baskin Robbins ( This scene in the beginning sets the tone for the movie. It never takes itself seriously. A boy who walks into Baskin Robbins, asks for a burger with mayo and cheese, then settles for something hot and nice!) and trying hard to 'be the father to her daughter that she already thinks he is'.  Someways in the same boat as the reclusive genius scientist Hank Pym ( Michael Douglas back on screen after ages - looking good for a change!) who has a strained relationship with his daughter Hope ( Evangeline Lilly) and has been outvoted from his own research firm. His firm is now run by his one-time protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) a more driven and ruthless version of himself - looking to crack his own pet science project in 'reducing the space between atoms' and thus creating the perfect fighting machine - a prototype he calls the Yellow Jacket and plans to sell the product to the highest bidders.

The movie follows predictable patterns in terms of a plot-line: Scott being recruited by Hank for a test mission then being trained hard to fit into the perfect burglar role - infiltrating the high-security lab premises and then ending up in a cataclysmic finale that features many an explosion, an adorable toy-train and the most 'funny' looking dog that is in reality an ant 'blown' up out of proportion.



While portrayed as a heist movie with generous dollops of kitsch and wit, it is at heart about a father connecting to his daughter. Nicely done without going over the top on the hysterics or the bombs and eschewing the Marvel storyline of the ever expanding universe in pursuit of infinity stones and power. The best thing about the movie is the low-brow humor - Paul Rudd deftly nails it, the most unlikely candidate for a superhero who knows it and uses his goofy charm to slide past tough situations. The fight between Falcon and the Ant-Man was really Paul in his elements - being apologetic to one of his dream heroes while simultaneously bashing him up to complete his mission. Ant-Man takes unapologetic potshots at its big budget cousin movies from Marvel, including the Avengers - a scene where Scott is informed of his mission and he lamely counters, "I think our first move should be calling in The Avengers."

The other thing that really stood out for me is the wild imagination come alive on screen through CGI. The world as seen through the eyes of an Ant-Man - the scene where Scott first experiences the powers of the suit he is wearing is such a cracker - Diminished to the size of an ant, he escapes the bubbling waters of a bathtub, falls down the cracks onto a dance floor, is spun around on top of a disc and then drops into the sewers only to be chased by a mad rat. Pure Genius. The ants in the movie who form the tactical support for the Ant-man are another beautifully portrayed aspect. Be it ants sending jolts of electricity to fry the circuits of a huge data bank or climbing over each other to form that perfect bridge or carrying Scott away in air, it all brings an aura of awe to the movie.

Michael Pena playing Scott's criminal buddy on the heist mission is definitely another star to watch out for. His comic timing is impeccable and in this role as Luis, the fast talking highly excitable conman, he delivers the goods in spades. Corey Stoll as the villain megamind chomps at the bit, froths in anger and angst - generally playing the equal to Scott's Ant-Man by donning the Yellow Jacket.

Overall, a fun little comic caper with the right amount of exciting thrill rides and the right stakes to fight and cheer for, The Ant-Man continues Marvel's golden run at the box-office - celebrating their uncanny ability to read an audience's needs. Just the kind of break that we needed from the franchise as I think we're getting a little tired of bulked up gods and men in funny suits beating up aliens or evil megalomaniac robots - playing off the fragile nature of a pint-size hero against the super prowess of a superhero in suit, a movie that never takes itself seriously and subverts the big hitting action into a series of laughable gags. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Raji said...

Good one...agree that it can be recommended