HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Na na na na na na na na na ANT-MAN!!! Ok, wrong super hero, but still just as fun. Marvel has become a household name once more, and this time it’s not because of their comic books. A company that (in the film industry) was ready to fold its doors and call it quits has been able to resurrect itself like a phoenix and create one of the most successful companies. Their films rake in millions if not BILLIONS of dollars every year and the world building techniques they’ve employed are revolutionary. Some of the movies are good, but not great, however the vast majority of their comic book films have gained mass market appeal in ways that only “Star Wars” has a chance of taking from them.
“Ant-Man” has a rather troubled production, as Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim”) was originally slated to direct the film, but partway through the filming process there were rumblings of conflicts between Marvel brass and the quirky director. Sure enough, Edgar got the boot and they decided to bring in Peyton Reed in to rework the movie. Usually that’s a sign of something REALLY bad going on with the movie (think the new “Fantastic 4” abomination), but the end result was actually a LOT better than I expected.
For those of you who don’t know the origins of “Ant-Man” I was a little surprised when they decided to cast Paul Rudd for the role of the first Avenger (yes, Hank was actually the original glue that brought the Avengers together back in the day) as he seemed to not fit the role very well. I was reticent, but I decided to give him a chance. I was even MORE surprised to find out that he was playing Scott Lang, who actually was another version of Ant-Man after Hank Pym (who’s actually played by Michael Douglas). So Marvel has once again twisted the origins of the characters just a tad to fit the film world. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they did a nice little homage to Hank Pym as the original Ant-Man and even worked that into the story quite cleverly, so I’ll forgive the little fudging done to make it fit a more modern time.
Scott Lang (Rudd) is an electrical engineer that has just finished a prison term for robbing his boss (all for a good cause of course) and is now out in the real world. He has a beautiful daughter Cassie (Abbie Fortson) and an ex-wife (Judy Greer) who’s moved on and is actually engaged to a cop named Paxton (Bobby Cannavale). Life’s a bit rough for an Ex-con, and soon Scott finds himself drug back into a life of crime thanks to his doofus roommate Luis (played masterfully by Michael Pena). Breaking into this rich guy’s house he finds out that his actions may have been a bit more orchestrated than he though. Instead of finding jewels and riches he finds a really weird looking motorcycle suit and helmet, which become his consolation prize. Well, getting home and trying on the suit he suddenly finds out that it has the ability to shrink him to the size of an ant. Ending up in jail for his efforts, Scott is confronted by the owner of the suit, who just so happens to be Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), creator of the Pym particle which allows the suit to do its miraculous size transformations.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=60530[/img]Hank had organized the entire theft from the beginning in order to recruite Scott for a very special mission. It seems that Hank had hidden the suit and the Pym particle for years due to its volatility, but his former student, and president of his own corporation, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has dredged up his old research and begun replication of the original work. Being that he’s so close to completion, Hank wants Scott to master the ability of the Ant-Man suit and steal his life work back, before Darren can realize the potential of the technology and use it to create an army of soldiers like the world has never seen. Paired up with Hank’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Scott has to become the hero that his daughter already thinks he is, and hopefully defeat Darren Cross’s worst invention yet. The Yellow jacket.
“Ant-Man” is easily the most intimate of the Marvel movies. It knows that it’s a smaller (yes, pun and wink wink intended) base than heroes like Iron Man or Captain America, but after the success of “Guardian’s the Galaxy” I was willing to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt. The movie never takes itself too seriously and lets Paul Rudd play both a wryly comedic hero as well as being a lot more restrained than he usually is. The action can sometimes feel a bit light weight due to the heroes LITERALLY being the size of ants. I mean, it’s hard to get fully excited when two little bug like creatures are duking it out on top of a children’s toy train. BBBBBBBUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT, that’s part of the fun, as Marvel does more than an adequate job of poking fun at the ridiculousness of the concept as well.
Corey Stoll does a great job as Darren Cross/Yellow Jacket, exuding a twisted evil that fits into the Marvel villain base, and for once the villain is understandable in his motives. One of the worst qualities of Marvel super hero films is that the villain is usually VERY underutilized and under developed. He just IS a villain. Here you can see just why Darren Cross got so twisted up inside and becomes the main opponent here. He’s not give the MOST backstory every known, but it’s definitely a step up for Marvel. Evangeline Lilly does a good job, but really they’re setting her up for future work in other Marvel movies (as you can tell by the end credits scene of the movie) and Paul Rudd FAR exceeded my meager expectations before going into the film. I thought he’d be a bit too slapstick, but he worked out surprisingly well. That being said, Michael Pena as Luis was the real star of the film. His role as the comedic relief was nothing short of brilliant and had the audience I was with theatrically just dying with laughter at every line. His over the top narration throughout the film is one of the funniest bits of the whole movie and he just owned the role and made it his own.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=60538[/img]Marvel has always done a great job with Super hero films on Blu-ray and “Ant-Man” is no different. It’s a sparkling jewel in their crown easily a reference film. Shot 100% digitally it looks magnificent with razor sharp clarity and exceptional detail. Both long shots and up close shots look amazing, with every fiber of clothing, every line on Michael Douglas’ face and every shiny color replicated perfectly. Colors are rich and vibrant, with strong reds and yellows and deeeeeep inky blacks. I didn’t detect any signs of black crush or banding anywhere in the film, and digital manipulation seems to be nonexistent. Compression artifacts are nowhere to be seen as well and I just have to say that Marvel once again is above reproach in the encoding department. Surprisingly this is one of the few Marvel films that was shot in 1.85:1 instead of scope, but the larger visual size allows for the more intimate movie as well as the tiny size of the Ant-Man to be so much more in your face and larger than life (if that's even possible). Good job guys!
3D is one of those viewings that I have to really watch, as there can be some weird artifacts introduced in the home video release compared to the 2D version. Thankfully Marvel has always done a good to great job with their 3D films, and “Ant-Man” is an amazing looking 3D experience. Depth is out of this world and the layering effects in the tub when Scott first realizes the suit’s powers are worth the price of admission alone. There are a few pop out effects, but mostly they are contained and don’t look blatant or awkward when watching the film in 2D. I didn’t notice any signs of crosstalk or ghosting at all, and my display is rather sensitive to those little anomalies so I have to give a solid two thumbs up for the 3D.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=60546[/img]I was slightly nervous about the Audio track for “Ant-Man” as the last “Avengers” movie was good but not that GREAT compared to many others. The anemic sounding LFE and tiny higher notes were frustrating for an audiophile and I REALLY wanted “Ant-Man” to sound good. Thankfully my fears weren’t realized as the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track is simply superb. There is a vibrancy and power rippling throughout the whole track, but one that doesn’t overly dominate the film. Vocals are crisp and clean, clear of any distortion and balanced well with the effects of the film. When the action kicks up the LFE pounds hard and deep. The scene where Ant #247 comes to Scott’s rescue really cranks up the power as his wings make the subs really work for their supper. The laser blasts of Yellow Jacket hum with energy and the surrounds are active at all times. The little sounds of the ants crawling along the floor shift from one side of the room to the other and sound eerily accurate. So accurate that I thought my cat was on the floor behind me, but it was only the sound track.
• Making of an Ant-Sized Heist: A How-To Guide
• Let's Go to the Macroverse
• WHIH NewsFront
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Audio Commentary
• Sneak Peeks
“Ant-Man” is another home run for Marvel, and I’m honestly wondering if their bank vaults are starting to look like Scrooge McDuck’s. After all the money these superhero films have earned I wouldn’t be surprised if the Disney/Marvel Studio heads were swimming in it! “Ant-Man” is a bit lesser than some of the greats like “Iron Man” and the “Captain America” films, but it is not by a whole lot. The character was hard to bring to screen properly, and their execution was much better than anticipated, leaving me highly anticipating the sequel as well as his inclusion in “Captain America: Civil War”. Audio and video are up to Marvel’s high standards and while the extras aren’t extravagant, they are more than adequate for a new release. Highly recommended.
Recap and Final ScoreMovie: :4stars:
HTS Overall Score:89
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Written by: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 117 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 8th 2015
Buy Ant-Man 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Ant-Man 2D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Highly Recommended.
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