'Ant-Man' [Blu-ray 3D+Blu-ray+Digital HD]
(Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, et al / Blu-ray 3D+Blu-ray+Digital HD / PG-13 / 2015 / Walt Disney)
Overview: The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces the newest member of the Avengers: Marvel's Ant-Man. Armed with the amazing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang joins forces with his new mentor Dr. Hank Pym to protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from ruthless villains!
Blu-ray Verdict: Well, I have to admit, I knew nothing of this lil' guy before watching the film, and as much as "superhero" movies are not my usual go-to for an evenings entertainment, 'Ant-Man' was definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, highly entertaining, and very well thought out. And wow, what yet another great ensemble player for The Avengers to have on their side when going into battle!
OK, so just who is this Ant-Man and what is his story? Well, he is a man who can shrink to the size of an insect. Yes, that's right. And he communicates with ants and acts as their leader. After showcasing various colored aliens, a talking raccoon and a lovable tree (later a plant), viewers who were sceptic will be pleasantly surprised as Marvel delivers yet again, though not on a same scale.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) vows to go clean and stop breaking into places and stealing s**t. That doesn't work out and he is forced to resort to burglary (not robbery, mind you) which brings him in contact with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a famous but reclusive scientist and his estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) who want Scott to save the world and stop his former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) – by breaking into a highly secure research facility and stealing s**t.
That's the crux of the story – a heist movie with a comic book twist, where the hero saves the world. Nothing new about that, right? But it's so much more than that. The story is about the relationship between a father and his daughter, as showcased by the strained relationship between Hank and Hope, who hates him for his withdrawn nature and for lying about her mother's death; and Scott and his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), who thinks the world of him. It is also about redemption, as Scott desperately seeks to change his ways to be with his daughter, but gets caught in the same cycle of self-sabotage and Hank who wishes to reconnect with his daughter while trying to save the world.
The film also deals with legacy as Hank wants Scott to become the next Ant-Man and avoid his mistakes. Aside from being emotional, the film also is genuinely funny, with Paul Rudd and Michael Pena as his sidekick Luis stealing the spotlight with their comedy skills. Paul lights up the screen with his goofy nice guy portrayal (he is known for his comic roles), and Michael Pena charms you with his funny recollections and accent. Michael Douglas on the other hand plays his role as a grumpy old man and provides a few laughs. Corey Stoll is a tremendous actor, and brings everything he's got to Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, but as has been the case in some of the previous Marvel movies, the villain is ultimately somewhat lackluster and wants for dimension and development (Loki is still the best Marvel villain, for my money).
His motivations, though clear, are ineffective, often occasionally verge on silly. Having said that, Cross actually serves to "sell" us on the idea of a tiny soldier. He sweeps us up with his unabashed enthusiasm for the idea and becomes another tool to coax the audience into embracing the notion of a hero the size of an insect. As for his alter ego, Yellowjacket is the catalyst for some inspired fight sequences. In fact, the action is one of the Ant-Man's greatest assets. It's innovative, often side-split-tingly funny in one moment and strung with tension the next, and is entirely motivated by story and character.
The fight between Ant-Man and Falcon at the new Avengers headquarters is funny and exciting. For my money, this is where the 3D "effect' truly comes to the fore, as some of the punches tend to miss, and "land" directly just past your (the viewers) heads instead! Oh, and when Thomas the Tank Engine and the giant ant both make their "escapes," well, watch out, as they're headed right for ya! The film has also has heist sequences but they aren't as nail-biting like the Ocean's series. Oh, and the final fight with the aforementioned Thomas the Tank Engine is outrageous enough to just (just) work! Enough said.
The film has tons of Avengers references such as when Dr. Hank Pym mocks the Iron Man suit technology and states that they are too busy because they are dropping cities from the sky (reference to Avengers 2). There is also a Spider-Man reference in the end of the movie (yay!) confirming that the wall crawler will be making an appearance in Captain America: Civil War (2016). More references are hidden throughout the movie and are fun to think about. The film is however not without its flaws. Some scenes will feel clichéd, like the training montage and the final heist sequence falls flat despite being fast-paced. And the other members of Scott's thieving group aren't well developed and are stereotyped as the hacker and the getaway driver.
Despite its flaws (because no film can be flaw-proof ... can it?), Marvel delivers another strong standalone film with 'Ant-Man'. As is typically the case with the studio's offerings, 'Ant-Man' works as a showcase to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also delivers a straightforward, fast paced entertainer. The film doesn't require much pre-existing knowledge about the previous movies on the viewer's part. Stylistically one does feel Edgar Wright's (the director is famous for his "Cornetto trilogy") original concept, but the movie belongs to Peyton Reed. The affection these creators have felt for the characters is felt by the audience too. And that is what makes this movie very special. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Making Of An Ant-Sized Heist: A How-To Guide - Set your watch and count down the action in this fast-paced behind-the-scenes look at how to pull off a heist movie, including Scott Lang's hilarious heist, family, Ant-Man's costume, plus amazing stunts and effects.
Let's Go To The Macroverse - Shrink down to size in this fascinating look at creating the world from Ant-Man's perspective, from macro photography through the subatomic.
WHIH News Front - A hard-hitting collection of content, including a glimpse at the future of Pym Technologies with Darren Cross, anchor Christine Everhart's interview with soon-to-be-released prisoner Scott Lang on his notorious VistaCorp heist, and more.
Deleted & Extended Scenes
Audio Commentary By Peyton Reed and Paul Rudd