Wednesday, July 29, 2015     Volume: 29, Issue: 52
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New Times / Film

This weeks review
AMY
HEARST CASTLE: BUILDING THE DREAM
IRIS
JURASSIC WORLD
ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
MINIONS
MR. HOLMES
PAPER TOWNS
PIXELS
SOUTHPAW
THE GALLOWS
THE VATICAN TAPES
TRAINWRECK
WILD TALES (RELATOS SALVAJES)

'Ant-Man' is good for a few laughs

ANT-MAN

PHOTO BY MARVEL STUDIOS

ANT-MAN


Where is it playing?: Downtown Centre, Park, Galaxy, Stadium 10

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $6.50 (Anna)

What's it worth?: $7.50 (Glen)

User Rating: 7.50 (1 Votes)

Glen: This new installment of the Marvel universe seems to want to flip the shtick on Iron Man. Instead of a brash, irreverent, rich genius with an awesome suit, we have a brash, irreverent, poor non-genius with an awesome suit on loan. Scott Lang is an ex-con with a deadpan sense of humor who just wants to go straight and get his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) back in his life. When he loses his crappy job at Baskin Robbins after his boss discovers he’s a felon, he finally agrees to join his ex-cellmate Luis (Michael Peña) and two other bumbling crooks—Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (T.I.)—in a heist of a safe in “some rich dude’s house.” Little does Scott know, it’s all part of his recruitment as Ant-Man. The most enjoyable element of the film is the comedy generated by Rudd’s spot-on comic timing and Peña’s affable dummy routine, but that’s sandwiched amid the tension between Pym and his former protégé-turned-nemesis Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stall), Pym and his estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), and between Scott and his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new cop boyfriend Paxton (Bobby Cannavale). Plus there’s the potential love interested between Scott and Hope. Whew! If that sounds like a mess of entanglements, it is, and the weight of all that tension is almost too much for the comedic elements to counter, but luckily Rudd—like the superhero he portrays—manages to salvage what might have merely been an overwrought mess with cool stunts.

Anna: Paul Rudd really is the redeeming force behind Ant-Man, providing the much needed comedic element to the film. While the first two acts of the film felt a bit sluggish, the action and scale of the final third give it the vigor it needs to rank alongside its Avenger counterparts. With nods to Iron Man and The Falcon, Ant-Man nestles himself into the Marvel lineup easily. I enjoyed Scott’s underdog character and the irony that he and his band of crooks find themselves in the role of “good guys” this time around. The film reaches at deeper tones as we learn more about the relationship between Hope and Pym, but didn’t quite get where it needed to go to get the audience invested in it. The small-scale action and adventure was fun, and watching full-sized men battling with Scott’s miniaturized version was entertaining. Darren Cross provides an OK villain, but he mostly seemed to be concerned with why Pym hadn’t shared his technology with him long ago, with a bit of teen-like angst thrown in. Once he discovers the piece of the puzzle he was missing, he’s hell-bent on recreating the technology himself, not without causing plenty of destruction along the way. There’s a lot going on in this movie, some of it fun and entertaining, some of it only helps to muddy up the already busy storyline.

Glen: These superhero films require humor to counterbalance the plodding plot machinations that seem inherent in the good vs. evil world of comic books, which is why Scott and his band of crooks being billed as “good guys” makes the film a bit more fun. If you look at the history of Marvel comic book films, it’s pretty spotty. For every X-Men: First Class you’ve got a half-dozen like Daredevil, Ghost Rider, Electra, etc. As I walked out of the theater, I thought, “This was fun, but I don’t have the feeling I did as I exited Guardians of the Galaxy,” which essentially was, “I want to see that again!” Ultimately, Ant-Man will go down as a decent Marvel movie. It’s not as good as Captain America: The First Avenger, but it’s way better than Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Anna: When a superhero flick starts taking itself too seriously, the battle is already lost. The whole point of these films is to have fun, watch some awesome stunts, and cheer as the good guys win yet again. We get to do all that in Ant-Man, but is it a particularly great superhero movie? No. It does its best to entertain and engage the audience but never tries to reach too far beyond the typical Marvel movie. If you’ve got kids who are fans of the superhero genre, Ant-Man is a lot less painful to get through than, say, one of the Transformer movies, and you may actually enjoy yourself. There are a few curse words here and there, but otherwise this movie is pretty tame on gore as well as sex; a kiss between Scott and Hope is as racy as it gets. Rudd is a funny guy, and he serves up some good laughs while still kicking ass and leading his ant army on a mission to save the world. While it isn’t particularly memorable, Ant-Man is worth a trip to the matinee, especially if you dig the Marvel brand and its other films.

Split Screen is written by Staff Writer Glen Starkey and his wife, Anna. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.