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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Comedy > Heist > Ant-Man (2015/Marvel Studios/Disney Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D)

Ant-Man (2015/Marvel Studios/Disney Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray 2D)

3D Picture: B+ 2D Picture: B Sound: B Extras: B Film: B-

In the Superhero genre, some characters are more in a comedy zone than others, especially when their powers are not what you get from most of the big names in the genre from The Shadow, to Batman, to Spider-Man and the worlds they conjure. In Peyton Reed's Ant-Man (2015), you have a character who can shrink to mere millimeters in size, increases in super strength and the like incidental, so it literally adds a whole new world and dimension to the narrative. Take Reed, add this character and then make it from a screenplay that started with Edgar Wright (who almost directed) and Joe Cornish with their own comic and otherworldly sensibilities and you get a blockbuster that is trying something very different not just from the genre, but blockbuster moviemaking in general.

The underrated Paul Rudd is perfectly cast in what becomes the title character, but we first meet him as simply Scott Lang, a down on his luck divorced guy with a young daughter, whose ex-wife (Judy Greer) is dating a cop (the always great Bobby Carnivale) who does not like Scott and a lack of employment is stopping Scott from making the child support payments he badly wants to make to take care of his daughter and se able to see her like any real father (or real man) would. However, having just been released from jail for the reason he got his divorce, he's excellent at heists and thieving, it is hard for him to get such legitimate work.

However, a good-if-sometimes 'unconventional friend' Luis (a fun turn by the very talented Michael Pena of American Hustle and The Lincoln Lawyer) has heard about a sure thing, something a reluctant Scott (after just losing his new job) takes on. However, it is not what he expects and suddenly, he finds a strange outfit that he thinks it for bikers (ha, ha!) yet turns out to be much better and much more.

Enter an unbelievably amazing performance by Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, a scientific genius whose behind the suit and Scott suddenly finding himself in jail. Of course, the imprisonment last very briefly and the story really kicks in. Dr. Pym has done what he could to stop his innovations from getting into the wrong hands, even if it meant not letting S.H.I.E.L.D. use it or worse, but his one-time ward Darren Cross (another fine performance by Corey Stoll, with a perfect balance of energy, joy and villainy) has hijacked his ideas enough to create a deadlier suit for angrier, morally irresponsible, high-profit means (in echoes of Verhoeven's original Robocop), both with the power to shrink.

So why the mixed response and box office that was solid, but not massive? Because it was (and all the makers clearly knew this) a curve ball in the Marvel Universe that is not totally separate from main superheroes as Guardians Of The Galaxy was and is, Ant-Man becomes much like counterparts like Shazam!, Plastic Man (both from defunct comic companies, but with uniquely healthy senses of humor) and even his DC Comics counterpart The Atom in being so different that an almost separate world emerges for their adventures in conjunction with, but not totally part of the superhero world because the characters and their circumstances are so different.

Thus, the look of the film never changes much, yet the narrative offers three subdivisions of approach: the normal street world (emphasized by Scott's fun, loyal trio of friends), the superhero world (informed by references to The Avengers, the Stark Family, et al) and a third world of sub-atomic science fiction new to the Marvel cinematic world in the shadow of the sci-fi classics like Dr. Cyclops, The Incredible Shrinking Man and its imitators. That is plenty to juggle for anyone, even a talented director like Reed whose had his share of overrated work (Bring It On, ironically his biggest hit until this film) and very underrated work (Down With Love, strongly deserving of rediscovery), so he knows his way around drama, genre and comedy. It is comedy that is used to bridge these worlds, but it can be awkward and too much, which is why the film got the reactions it got.

At its best, including all Michael Douglas scenes, the film has a fresh new side of Marvel to show off, even when in the same world and the overall cast is easily one of the year's best. Yet, some moments are a problem (a brief child-in-jeopardy part is one that should have been shortened or cut) and this comes mostly in the form of too much comedy shifting the narrative away from action, but odder since we get Reed (outright humor) and Wright's (sardonic humor) comic senses that do not always cohere, much like the previous cohering issues already noted, though the actual script and storytelling is in itself coherent. Thus, we have a few bumps in the road, but since this works far more often than not (much like SPECTRE, which was reintegrating the villainous organization in the broadest commercial way possible, going for broke in the process to the point suspending disbelief becomes semi-problematic), it is still a very successful, watchable film.

In the case of Ant-Man, it is actually better in 3D (much like the first Amazing Spider-Man) and should be seen that way and that way first, if possible. When we look back at this one in a few years, what does work will just become more and more apparent. Ant-Man is, much like his character, an underdog winner, even with few bruises in the process.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D - Full Resolution digital High Definition image is the preferred way to enjoy the film because the 3D does a better job of bringing the microworld sequences to life. Color holds up well and the 3D covers over flatness (however intended at times) and minor detail flaws in the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital 2D High Definition image transfer of the film as lensed by the very talented, capable Director of Photography Russell Carpenter, A.S.C. (Monster-In-Law, Charlie's Angels, Cameron's Titanic, True Lies), who delivers very smooth visuals for which all the special visual effects fit seamlessly into. This is among his best work to date and a solid HD shoot (mostly with Arri Alexa cameras) overall like I've rarely seen to date.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is a very impressive, impactful mixdown from the theatrical Dolby Atmos 11.1 mix that starts off as standard) a good, solid, consistent soundfield) then starts building layers of sound and more sound until it gets really dynamic, engaged and busy in the latter half of the film. The music composed by Christophe Beck (a Reed alumni known for his many comical film works) follows with one of the more interesting scores of his career, helping bring the film's many elements together as much as possible.

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds three featurettes in Making Of An Ant-Sized Heist: A How-To Guide, Let's Go To The Macroverse & WHIH News Front, plus we get Deleted & Extended Scenes that have much more of Douglas and a terrific feature-length audio commentary track by Peyton Reed And Paul Rudd.

You can also check out these clips on the film now, including a behind the scenes look at the specialized filming and digital visual effects used to create the incredibly small world of Ant Man...


...and Ant Man: Looping in the Avengers featuring Ant Man's first encounter with one of The Avengers...


- Nicholas Sheffo


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