Extracts from the Disney attractions are dreadful but personality wins the day in this light duty superhero tale.
Director Peyton Reed’s “Ant-Man” benefits from a skillful combination of action, scientific education and personality. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney (the twelfth of the Marvel series) it is a sci-fi action film that has a fun innocence combining comic book hero elements with Disney educational values. The result is murderous intent that boils down to organized insects doing the right thing.
At the other end of the spectrum is “Jurassic World,” another big screen IMAX 3-D visual lollapalooza with plenty of special effects including extensive gunplay and lots of explicit violence. “Ant-Man” borrows the exaggerated, fantastic look at nature, deletes the gun violence and substitutes a funny bunch of petty crooks that end up saving the world by accident.
Paul Rudd plays recent ex-con genius safe-cracker Scott Lang who becomes Ant-Man after donning a suit designed by fellow genius Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Pym tricks Lang into becoming the super-hero with the help of Pym’s beautiful genius daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Hope wants to don the suit and save the world, but Pym does not want to risk her life, after his own wife died being a superhero.
Bad guy Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) takes over Pym’s company, finagles a trillion dollar sale to nefarious international thugs who will subjugate everybody and emerges as Yellowjacket for the final fight with Ant-Man over the fate of the world.
A safe and sane set-up with no more risk than the original “Fantasia,” there is almost no blood-shed (OK, a person and a lamb are reduced to jelly) and everybody knows who will win in the end. After all, we are still here, right? The special effects are fun, but do not add a lot more than the Disney “It’s a Small World” attraction. Kids who have been there and done that may be more bored with the film than adults who have not.
Michael Peña plays Luis, Lang’s goofy henchman, who supports the hip street smart end of the dialogue as Rudd does the George Clooney, “Who me, superhero?” lines. This is a critical element as these cute, sanitized, personalities must take up the slack left by the over-used special effects. All of the characters exude grossly exaggerated personas that come through loud and clear to even five year olds. In Lang’s broken family, his ex-wife and her new husband are card-board cut-outs of the people who populate children’s lives.
In the end, the only real persons are the super heroes, good and bad. Life is a continuous fight of good against bad in the simplest terms. Ant education is at the forefront as we are told about the architectural marvels of red ants and the stings of the most painful ants in the world, the bullet ants. Cover your child’s ears when the dialogue turns to sub-atomic shrinking into the quantum realm—-such claptrap could hurt their educations.
Great soundtrack by Christophe Beck (Emmy Award winner for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) that breaks through a lot of mediocre stereotypes. Imaginative voice-overs against a back-drop of synchronized actors takes you into the dialogue balloons of the pages of Marvel, no matter how long it has been.
Check it out in IMAX 3-D. Rate: