Ant Man: Michael Douglas, Marvel and a Captain America Teaser

Yellow Jacket under threat from Thomas the Tank Engine "Ant Man'

Without even going into the Marvel verse too deeply, Ant Man skirts along the edge of all things Avengers without encroaching on Iron Man territory. Michael Douglas enters into the spirit of superheroes with the gravitas of an elder statesman (with a mean temper) and the film ends with a teaser that has a surprise appearance by Captain America.

This production had a troubled start and lost its first helmsman, Edgar Wright, who may have given the world a much different Ant Man, although Paul Rudd manages to employ a lot of humor in the role.  As Scott Lang, a man with a daughter he is desperate to keep in contact with, Rudd brings that special brand of persona that he does so well.

As  an over intelligent cat burglar determined not to go back to prison, Lang still manages to get in trouble because, as Dr. Hank  Pym (Douglas) puts it, when things get tough Scott turns to crime.  The likable ex con is targeted by Pym to be the next Ant Man, much to Hank’s daughter’s chagrin.

Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) may be a chip of the old block of both Dr. Pym and his deceased wife, but she is too precious to the scientist to risk putting in the suit.  Her job is to get close to baddy Darren Cross, aka Yellowjacket (played brilliantly by Corey Stoll) and she does this well.

The storyline deals with a strict ex (a tiny cameo by personal favorite Judy Greer) and her new fiancee “a**hat” cop Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) who actually turns out to be less of a hat than Scott reckons.  Rudd’s character goes through an arc, a very impressive one, and steps up to “save the day.” 

Along the way, actor Michael Peña manages to almost steal the film from Douglas, Lily, Rudd and Stoll with his comic portrayal of career criminal Luis.  The actor is aided by some brilliant montage and flashback work where Peña voices all the characters in his expository scenes. 

The combination of his topical language choices and phrasing, along with his voice over matching the expressions of the people he voices in the flashbacks, makes the performer the clear winner in terms of captivating the audience.

Of course the film is not about Luis, so his “take over” is fleeting as Rudd manages to imbue his character with an exponential “nice guy” factor that shines through.  Douglas is a fine mix of curmudgeonly despot and loving father who cannot quite show how he really feels.

While the characters all help to bring the film to life, it is the action sequences, most by necessity CG, that carry the movie forward. Some of the effects are most certainly practical, for example the “exploding from underground” when Lang is freaked out by his initial introduction to the ant world, and are mixed with the computer generated FX brilliantly.

Sidenote: Speaking of CG there is that oddly real, but at the same time creepy, looking scene at the start of the film where Michael Douglas is years younger.  Despite leaps and bounds being made in this field, Douglas still looked…weird and a bit disturbing.

There is a great blend of humor with some of the scenes.  The entire toy train sequence is incredibly funny. Peyton Reed, whether influenced by the multi penned screenplay (with Edgar Wright as main scribe) or not, gives us a Thomas the Tank Engine chase and action scene that is just priceless. 

Seen from both Ant Man and Yellowjacket’s tiny view, the sound is enormous and the train with its speeding cars, looks deadly.  From another perspective Thomas’ danger value diminishes to nothing with comic results.

By the end of the film, it looks like Dyne will be joining Ant Man for a bit of crime fighting, or as an addendum to the Avengers and Dr. Pym survives being almost killed. The original Ant Man will act, presumably, as a continuing mentor to Scott Lang.

Marvel continues to bring more superheroes to the screen; big and small, with some being more oblique than others. Jessica Jones  as a sort of Marvel-Noire offering, along with her paramour Nick Cage has been given a second season on Netflix, for example.

With a lot of territory to cover yet in terms of the Avengers and all the peripheral action that entails; Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, et al, there will be enough material to keep Marvel on both television and movie screens for some time. (Not too mention the Agents of SHIELD and good old Peggy Carter.)

Ant Man is entertaining but not wildly funny, just amusing enough that the casting of Paul Rudd was a masterful move. All the cast do a more than capable job and the storyline is entertaining “Baskin-Robbins” don’t play dude.”

This is a 5 star film version of Marvel’s Ant Man.  While it would have been brilliant to see Wright’s version of this world, Peyton Reed brings an entertaining feature to the masses and it is to his credit that after watching this film, one immediately wants to watch it again.

Final Verdict:

Marvel-ous.

Fury: Brad Pitt and ‘Platoon’ in World War Two With Tanks

Fury: Brad Pitt and ‘Platoon’ in World War Two With Tanks

Columbia Pictures with their version of World War Two in Fury has Brad Pitt with a Platoon type tank unit that argues, fights, and has a love/hate relationship with each member; alternatively bullying and connecting with one another. Written and directed by David Ayers (Sabotage, Street Kings) the film is set in April 1945 and follows the tank crew of the Fury as they advance deep into Nazi Germany. The premise of the movie deals with the fact that the German tanks were far superior to the Allies’ machinery.

Tower Heist…Ocean’s Five?

As I am a huge Ben Stiller fan I was really looking forward to his latest effort, Tower Heist. I will say up front I liked the film. I could have loved it, but the ending let it down a bit. Stiller who is the son of the comedy duo Stiller and Meara has never failed to deliver in the comedy field. Must be something in his genes.
Now unlike  Tropic Thunder and Zoolander, Stiller is not at the helm of this film. I can’t help but feel that if he had written and directed Tower Heist it would have been great instead of just good.One of the things that let this film down was the way the studios marketed it. The teasers and trailers that hyped the film made it seen like an outright comedy. This was not the case.
Cover of "Tropic Thunder (Unrated Directo...
Cover via Amazon
The film was a “genre bender” as my daughter likes to put it. It fell more into the range of a funny Action/Caper film.  It was not an outright comedy.  I know this because when I watch a comedy, I usually have to watch it at least twice.  Because if it is a good comedy I have laughed so much while watching it I have missed huge chunks of dialogue. I did not have that problem with Tower Heist.

English: Ben Stiller at the 2010 Toronto Inter...

The cast list is impressive. Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Tea Leoni, and Judd Hirsh. It seems like ensemble films are all the rage at the moment. All the actors acquitted themselves wonderfully with their respective performances. Ms Leoni in particular showed a flair for comedy that was surprising.

English: Eddie Murphy at Tribeca Film Festival...

The plot revolves around an exclusive apartment building that appears to be a thinly veiled version of Trump Tower. The folks who live in this building are near the top of the Forbes list. Stiller plays Josh Kovacs the manager of the apartment building. Casey Affleck plays Kovacs’s brother-in-law Charlie the bumbling concierge. Matthew Broderick is the hapless Mr Fitzhugh who has lost everything and is being evicted from his apartment.

English: Alan Alda (born January 28, 1936) is ...

Alan Alda portrays shyster Arthur Shaw  with his usual sense of style. Shaw is a financial investment  whiz who has a close relationship with Kovacs. Kovacs asks Shaw to invest the apartment buildings staff retirement fund for them with the hopes of improving their pensions. Enter Tea Leoni as Special Agent Claire Denham who arrests Shaw for fraud. It seems that Shaw is only a whiz at taking people’s money and investing it into his own pocket. Kovacs then decides that the money must be in Shaw’s apartment and that he needs to get it back.

Kovacs then coerces his brother-in-law, Mr Fitzhugh, new employee Enrique Dev’Reaux (played by Michael Peña) and his criminal neighbour and one-time school mate Eddie Murphy into entering Shaw’s apartment and retrieving the stolen pension fund.

The film is clever and it did make me laugh in all the right places. The misguided marketing campaign used by the studios though did not do the film any favours. As I mentioned before this is not an outright comedy film. It was an Action/Caper  film with a lot of laughs in it. It was a definite winner and a film I enjoyed watching.

So if you watch the film think  ’Ocean’s Five’  and you will most likely not be disappointed.