(Boxoffice opening weekend update below)
Like “Guardians of the Galaxy” last year, Marvel has once again produced an enormously clever and comedic superhero movie in “Ant-Man” that will appeal to far more film-goers than the core fanboy of movies like “The Avengers,” “Captain America” and “Thor.”
Paul Rudd is perfectly cast as his usual smerky/snarky, yet self-deprecating, charming and adorable self, but his Scott Lang character adds some martial arts and street fisticuff skills to those other personality traits. Along, of course, with an ability to shrink to ant-size, thanks to the lab creations of scientist Dr. Hank Pym, played equally perfectly appealingly by Michael Douglas.
Filmmakers and TV producers have been creating adventure, laughs and scares by cinematically reducing humans to the size of insects for decades in movies such as “The Incredible Shrinking Man” (and later “Woman”), “Land of the Giants,” “Fantastic Voyage” (and comedic remake “Innerspace”), and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,” but with the exception of the “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” 3D attraction at Disney theme parks, the visualization of an ant-size human has never been as effective as it is on the scale of a giant IMAX screen that also employs the depth and impact of 3D.
Update 7/19/15: “Ant Man” continued Marvel’s streak of openings at #1 with $58 million domestically alone, and another $56.4 million in China, and a total global total of $114.4 mil.
It also continued another streak of six recent films that each generated more than 40% of their take from 3D — “Jurassic World” (48% 3D); “Mad Max Fury Road” (41% 3D); “San Andreas” (44% 3D); “Terminator Genisys” (47% 3D); “Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron” (42% 3D), and now 42% of “Ant Man’s” domestic take from all 3D formats combined, according to RealD.
Four of the top five films this weekend were 3D titles and “Ant Man’s” #1 position marks the ninth time in the last 12 weeks that a 3D title has been #1.
Tiny Scott Lang (Rudd) must navigate everything from a jungle of giant carpet fibers to water in ordinary pipes as if they are each the equivalent of a colossal natural disaster. And then there is the commanding of a literal army of ants that can create instant bridges or fly him in to battle. Perhaps the most fun is the climactic confrontation on a runaway train that is no more than a toy Thomas the Tank Engine set-up in a child’s bedroom. At one point someone accidentally steps on a cell phone button that starts the playing the audio download of The Cure’s “Disintegration.” Director Petyon Reed brilliantly juxtaposes the action from the perspective of the life-and-death struggle of the tiny combatants on the moving train while intermittently generating laughs by frequently pulling back the camera so the audience can see how silly the whole thing looks from anyone else in the room.
Further appealing to a wider audience is the banter and romantic interplay between Lang and Dr. Pym’s feisty and martial arts-trained daughter Hope Van Dyne, played very well by Evangeline Lilly (“Lost”).
The IMAX and the 3D make all of this more personal and impactful, but it’s the witty and imaginative story and directing that make “Ant-Man” yet another must-see film of what is already the best year ever for blockbuster movies in general and IMAX and 3D specifically, and there are still many more to come.
— By Scott Hettrick