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Superman vs Batman vs Zombie Vampires, Plus “Ant-Man!”

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Superman vs Batman vs Zombie Vampires, Plus “Ant-Man!”

SUPERMAN vs BATMAN (vs ZOMBIE VAMPIRES)

ANT-MAN: THE MOVIE

This was the first Marvel movie I was worried about. I think the biggest thing working against the movie the whole time were the trailers. I don’t think they gave you a good enough idea of what the movie was about. It looked like another father figure/superhero thing. While there are obvious elements of that in the movie, it’s not what the whole movie is about. It’s a heist movie, which only became apparent once all the reviews were coming in. “Ant-Man” is a heist movie with a comedic bent and a touch of stylization.

I liked it a lot.

As heist movies go, it follows the pattern. Heist films fall in two camps: You know all the details and everything goes wrong, or you don’t know the details and everything that appears to go wrong is really part of the plan. Go watch a few of David Mamet’s movies for examples. This one fits into the former department, which I prefer, to be honest. Movies where crazy stuff happens that was meant to be usually ask me to accept too much. Watching characters in heightened peril react and jet off in new directions at a moment’s notice adds drama.

The movie does have its shares of cliches and simplistic storytelling, though. Scott Lang’s relationship to his child is one of those things you throw into a movie as a shortcut for motivation. It’s not original; it’s not something the audience will think about; it’s a throw-away line to get the character moving in some direction. It does, however, lead to the awesome set piece at the end of the movie with the train set. I saw that in the trailer and thought it bordered on the silly. In the context of the movie, I bought it and enjoyed it.

The special effects are great, particularly the bits of shrinking and growing. I saw the movie in 3D and think they did a great job with that, whether it was converted or filmed that way. I don’t know.

The movie felt like a comic book on the screen to me in many ways. You had your small set pieces, such as with the vault in the basement. You had your character observing a ridiculous wall filled with TVs. You had fight scenes that could only have been done in comics up until about 15 years ago when CGI technology finally caught up. You had generational sagas, the promise of a mantle being passed down, etc. etc. This is a superhero with the power of an ant who can talk to the ants and utilize the ants and do ant things. His equal and opposite is similarly empowered, and the whole thing becomes a battle of both power and creative decision making. In the end, the good guy wins. Hurray!

To me, these all felt like elements from a comic book that just happened to make it to the silver screen.

And, perhaps best of all, it wasn’t the company wide crossover comic or the big 50th issue of a comic. This is like the first six issues of a new comic, working hard to establish a new character and send him off on an adventure to help the world a little, help find himself, and to leave just enough stuff hanging to suggest what the next story might be about.

The movie is just fun. It’s easier to follow than “Guardians of the Galaxy,” though I still think that one is a better movie, albeit with a much more convoluted plot. “Ant-Man” is more summer popcorn material, more straightforward, and a little more obvious. It doesn’t have quite the extreme highs and lows that maybe it needed, but it’s still enjoyable.

Sometimes, that’s all I need from a movie. And in an era when Marvel movies seem to be getting ever bigger and more crowded (“Captain America: Civil War” is sounding more like “Avengers 3”), cutting things back to a more simple model like “Ant-Man” is a welcomed relief.

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