VOD Movie Review: “Ant Man” (2015Dec08)


Tuesday, December 08, 2015                                           5:06 PM

Ant Man is a strange choice for a superpower—to get very tiny hardly seems like an advantage aside from crawling through key holes to get into locked rooms. But Ant Man’s power is that he retains his inertial mass—Dr. Pym, played by Michael Douglas, explains it as ‘making the space between atoms smaller’ which makes tiny Ant Man capable of punching with all the force of his full-sized self—but it is, of course, all nonsense.

Like Superman’s power of flight, which has no connection to any notion of propulsive force, Ant Man’s inertia is very convenient in its manifestation. It doesn’t make Ant Man leave behind man-sized-deep footprints or make him weigh as much—but it works when he’s punching the bad guys. But one doesn’t watch superhero movies for the logical train of physics—that just spoils the fun.

AntMan

Insouciance was a favorite feature with the old-school superheroes—but it has lost cool points here in the twenty-first century. Paul Rudd, thankfully, has managed an updated, Portlandia-ish style of insouciance that is fun to watch. And the supporting cast of bumbling petty crooks tilts the movie towards farce, but not too much. As with all the Marvel movies, there was a business-like hand at the directorial helm—so the movie didn’t push any envelopes, other than casting Rudd in the first place. And there was the obligatory tie-in sequence that only die-hards get to see after all the credits have rolled.

The tie-in got me to thinking—when they’re done, these Marvel movies are going to be a ‘Sistine Chapel’ of movies—a panoply of stories, each with their own features, but each a part of a whole—I can imagine 24-hour viewings of chronologically ordered Marvel movies—just an immersive group-journey into the mind of Marvel. Only the Star Wars series and the Tolkien movie series can match it for single-themed sequential run-time. Actually, the Tolkien movies top out at six and the Star Wars, while (I assume) unfinished, is only at episode seven—while the Marvel movies—well, let’s see: there’s the Iron Mans (are there three or four?—I can’t remember.) there’s the Hulk movie (take your pick) two Captain Americas, two Thors—they’ve already exceeded both franchises and they’re just getting started over there, it seems to me. Comic books have been selling for decades—why should they ever stop making movies of them?

DC Comics, you say? Sorry—yes, there are plenty of movies of DC heroes, but they’re not themed—they’re not centrally coordinated by a far-sighted team that treats them as a single brand, as Marvel does. Don’t ask me why. Then again, if we look at the younger graphic novel scene—there are far more movies based on Dark Horse comics and the like than even Marvel can match, so it’s not as if they’ve cornered any market but their own—still, they’ve done a better job than DC. And I appreciate the glimmer of grandeur they give their whole enterprise (not an easy thing for me to say, since I’ve always preferred DC, as far as comic books go) by tying together all their movies, giving it the resonance of a cinematic tapestry. It counterbalances the simplicity of the stories themselves because let’s face it superhero movies have a pretty narrow scope for story-telling, by the time you’ve gotten past the origin story, the intro of the villain, and all the frippery of human-interest plot-points.

Ant Man is a case in point—the storyline is packed with exposition and development—there’s hardly time for the big action sequence at the end. Paul Rudd and buddies (played by Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian, and T.I.) add all the humor they can fit into the script—but the rest of the cast are straight-faced enough to more than balance it out. It’s hard to say whether a longer movie might have allowed some more breathing room into this story—or whether that would have destroyed that balance. I enjoyed it—but you can’t go by me—I have the critical faculties of a ten-year-old. All I can say is, they promise a sequel and I’m looking forward to it.

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