As a high school student, I took an honors humanities class that introduced me to the work of Joseph Campbell and his philosophy about the relationship between society and modern day mythology. I learned in depth of the concept and importance of mythology and heroes are to us as a culture. Although our studies centered on more dated myths such as Oedipus Rex and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, our teacher would frequently remind us, that in our time in history, myths and heroes were found in comic books and movies. Campbell’s teachings have stayed with me over the years as a major influence in my life.
So now with the cinematic golden age of Marvel and DC Comics, I am being thoroughly schooled in comic book mythology. I admittedly was only hip into the world of X-Men comics and the Hulk, so for me this renaissance of comic books on the silver screen has been an amazing journey of discovery. It is interesting to me that many of the stories are surprisingly dark, cautionary tales of the perils of societal shifts in power. It never occurred to me how socially relevant Captain America would be, or how The Dark Knight would challenge my views of the state of human civilization. What a thrill to see super heroes struggle with very heavy, real-world problems!
It’s everything that Joseph Campbell argued, and yet……..sometimes it gets too intense. I come bouncing into a theater for a wild ride, wanting nothing more than to see The Hulk get HULKY, and I end up being thrown into a profound quagmire of emotions. I leave questioning life, society, and the role I play in the world. This is admittedly a great thing about movies, but I’d love to just watch something funny, action-packed, and jovial in tone that isn’t a complete flop.
Enter Ant-Man, the newest comic book manifestation to hit theaters from Marvel lore. In a word, this movie is fun, fun, FUN!!! Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in a comic book movie while still gasping in amazement at the action sequences. In addition, the movie takes on a very refreshingly light-hearted approach without losing commitment to the Marvel world or the emotional gravitas of each character. Sure, Ant-Man and company have to stop a villainous entrepreneur from the potential of developing devastating weaponry, but it’s a preventative mission. Millions of lives aren’t currently at risk like in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the villain isn’t crazy powerful or hell-bent on demolishing planet earth in the next five minutes. This kind of lightens the load for the audience and reduces the tension in the story, letting you enjoy the humor.
The key to such a successfully comedic action flick, is in the writing. It’s brilliantly crafted, dense with relevant one-liners, inside jokes, referential humor, and homages to previous Marvel storylines. The movies doesn’t skip a beat in comedic timing, and never once did I get the urge to roll my eyes over an awkwardly injected pun. When I read the credits and saw that Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd, Adam McKay, and Joe Cornish were responsible for the screenplay, it all made sense. Seriously, these guys need to do more super hero movies, STAT!!!
In addition to a snappy script, the movie has some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen. I was gifted a ticket by the great Harry Knowles in The Bob Bullock IMAX theater, the largest IMAX screen in Texas, recently refurbished for digital projection. I was lucky to nab a seat in the center area and the film was offered in 3-D. WOAH!!!! IMAX can be hit or miss for me, and I am not very well educated on the technology of filming special effects, but the work here is seamless.
In the opening scenes, they use digital manipulation to show Michael Douglas as a young Hank Pym, and my eyes couldn’t detect any discrepancy between real and altered featured. The action sequences move from live action to CGI with lightening quick transitions and a smooth esthetic that keeps you connected with every move. The composition choices are perfect, and throughout the intense dynamic sequences, I never lost track of what was happening. I’m not sure who storyboarded this movie, or designed the actual blocking, as I understand that there was a change in directors partially through the project, but whoever composed the action, they are wonderfully gifted! And don’t even get me started on the ants! I wasn’t sure how I would feel about an army of ants as allies in kicking-ass. Now I’m a believer and I’d love a tiny army of my own to face the evils of the world. They are just so cool!
The actors in this film are seasoned experts. We get to see artists who have cut their teeth and offer us solid performances. It’s refreshing to see more Evangeline Lilly in movies and she plays Hope Van Dyne wonderfully. Rudd’s Scott Lang delivers as the rough-around-the-corners good guy with a criminal skill set. His motivation is simple; he just wants to be a good father and provide in some way for his adorable daughter. Douglas looks great throughout the whole movie, and I kind of wonder if they spiffed him up with CGI, or if he recently had some excellent work done. Seriously, he looks fantastic. Michael Pena comes in with a hilarious supporting role as Luis, Lang’s former “cellie,” and part of a rag-tag side-kick threesome, accompanied by David Dastmalchian, and T.I.
Wonderfully surprising in many ways, and a thumping good ride, through and through, I highly recommend you escape the heat this summer by ducking into a 3-D theatre and experiencing Ant-Man for yourself. Between giggles, you’ll enjoy an exhilarating adventure, I promise.
Thank you to all the writers, and to the final director, Peyton Reed, for a fabulous movie. I’ll definitely find myself in a theater again for this one.
Thanks for reading,
Diva Del Mar