Saturday, July 18, 2015

In Theatres: Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel's 2nd film of the summer illustrates just how the company's movie division cherry-picks events in comics history, and retro-fits them to fit their cinematic universe. It's not perfect, but then, neither is science.

"Ant-Man" begins with a flashback to 1989, and Dr. Henry Pym (Michael Douglas) tendering his resignation upon learning that SHIELD intended to use his technology, seemingly without his consent. Look quick, and you'll find Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) in a brief cameo. Fast forward to the present day, and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is being released from prison for his latest escapade. However, when he shows up at the home of his ex-wife and daughter for the latter's birthday, he finds resistance in the form of his ex's fiancee, a cop. He gets a job under an assumed name, only to lose it when his employers learn the truth. Things are going south when his former crew convince him to take on one more job. Talkative Luis (Michael Pena) takes more time than necessary to explain to Scott what the job entails. Sounds like the WWE could use him.

That job takes Scott into Pym's home, where he finds the Ant-Man suit, complete with cybernetic helmet, which for the movie, covers the eyeholes with the same kind of fabric found in the costume. Frightened, Scott returns the suit, only to be arrested and sent back to jail. Pym contacts him and arranges for Scott to escape.

It all leads to Scott, as an agent of Pym as the new Ant-Man, taking on Pym's former protege, Darren Cross, a real sleazebag who is selling the tech, along with a Yellowjacket suit, to Hydra. The x-factor here is Pym's estranged daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly, ex-Lost), who works for Cross, but is secretly helping her dad ensure that Cross doesn't sell the tech.

Digression time: Ant-Man debuted in the books before Spider-Man and was a founding member of the Avengers. Hope was introduced in Tom DeFalco's MC2 line of alternate-universe books several years later, but as a villain, which led me to think that maybe she'd be a double agent in the opposite direction. Here, she's a stand-in for her mother, Janet, who, as the Wasp, wearing a similar costume to that of Ant-Man, disappeared into a sub-atomic universe, and is presumed dead. Translated, that sets up a sequel.

The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) makes an appearance as Scott ends up at Avengers HQ, apparently going in the wrong direction on his mission. Yes, that does help set things up down the line.


Tom Cruise introduces a behind-the-scenes bit for "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation", opening in 2 weeks. Apparently, he's desperate for this to be a hit.

"Fantastic Four" (opens in 3 weeks) has its final trailer. Ok, so there's some hope that this could actually work, though I'm still not sold on Josh Trank(quilizer)'s skewed vision, adapted from the Ultimate line version of the FF.

"Everest" (fall): Based on a true story about the fabled climb up Mount Everest, but seems to be exaggerated just enough for the sake of drama.

"Superman/Batman: Dawn of Justice" (2016): Henry Cavill returns as Superman opposite Ben Affleck as Batman. Right now, Supergirl, featured on First Look, looks a little better, but there's still time. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Casting mistake. Apparently, they haven't figured out how to properly portray Luthor on the big screen since Gene Hackman.

"Goosebumps: The Movie" (October): Jack Black as R. L. Stine. Yes, the kids' horror series is being played for laughs.

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (December): Yeah, Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest are back. Deal with it.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay", part 2 (November): Whatever.

And, here's a trailer for "Ant-Man":

I think I can see why Edgar Wright, who still got some credit, left the project. However, the final product came out just fine.

Rating: B.

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