Friday, July 17, 2015



Ant-Man official site Although San Francisco is as cool as its usual summer time, the heated competition on the big screen is raging on. The theaters are jammed with loud superheroes and monstrous animals just like every summer. Some of the superheroes are based on the mass production from Marvel Comics whose stories are almost impossible for someone to keep track of. Marvel's fans don't seem to mind as long as the special effects and the giant action figures satisfy their fantasy. Typically the bar is set quite low when it comes to storytelling and character building in a Marvel's movie. That mindset makes watching the latest "Ant-Man" (USA 2015 | 117 min.) a pleasant experience because not only does the film deliver an exhilarating visual in 3D, but also it tells an engaging story that's mostly coherent. It also adds one more title to a long list of recent films that are set in San Francisco.

Back in 1989, commissioned by the military, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) develops a solution which can shrink human into the size of an ant. But he leaves the project in protest of the potential abuse of the technology. However, Hank's former student Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has not stopped working on it in his highly secured facility called Pym. By present day, working with Hank's daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Darren is about to reach his success in creating his own shrinking suit—Yellowjacket.

In order to prevent the dire consequences from Darren's success, Hank needs somebody to wear the Ant-Man suit he invents and leads an army of ants to defeat Darren. The one he picks to get inside the Ant-Man suit is Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who is just released from prison for burglary.

Although Paul is an ex-con, he seems to be the nicest guy you can meet. He loves his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) who lives with his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her fiancé Paxton (Bobby Cannavale). Scott wants to be part of Cassie's life and keeps up his image as a hero in Cassie's eyes. But the reality goes against him. Soon after he is picked up by his smooth talking brother Luis (Michael Peña) and passes the Golden Gate Bridge, he is back to his old profession. However, his new break-in gig doesn't keep him in jail. Instead, it leads him to a much more meaningful path to redemption.

Ant-Man Official Site

It's a pleasant surprise that the director Peyton Reed devotes a great deal in storytelling and he doesn't bank all the money on spectacular explosions and fancy high-tech outfits. But viewing a Marvel's production, you are surely to see plenty of dazzling special effects that aims to impress. Actually, when the character shrinks into tiny size, the point of view from Ant-Man's perspective into our world is both mesmerizing and refreshing. The water in a bathtub or a pipe becomes a vast ocean, and a rat looks like a dinosaur. The humorous tone of the Ant-Man character also doesn't fail to delight us in addition to the charming performance by Paul Rudd.

But despite its noticeable achievements, the story cannot sustain the scrutiny by a reasonable mind. The parent-child plot for both Hank's family and Scott's family is superficial and unconvincing. It's absurd for a cheerful Scott to take on the challenge of wearing the magical suit into battle while Hank worries specially about its danger and refuses to let his daughter assume that role. If Scott's motivation is to be in his daughter Cassie's life, shouldn't he avoid taking that risk? It's also disappointing that although the story is set in San Francisco, the film shows little about the city's beauty while unfolding its story.

Let's hope when Ant-Man's sequels come, you still can figure out what's going on.

"Ant-Man," a Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures release, opens on Friday, July 17, 2015.

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