Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Movie Review: Antman

Title: Antman
Author: Marvel
Release Date: 2015
Genre: adventure, action, superheroes, science fiction, family, fathers, romance
My Rating: ****
Brother's Rating: **** */2 (4.5)
Official Rating: PG-13 (for sci-fi action violence)
Age Group: 14+ (that's probably over cautious, but there's one line that makes me uneasy)

Scott isn't a robber, he's a burglar. He doesn't like violence, and honestly, the only time he stole was for the greater good. Rich people were ripping off their clients, so he hacked the system and got the money back.
Then he went to jail, leaving his daughter and a woman he loved behind.
But now he's out, and he's determined to stay on track and be a good guy. Unfortunately, life is hard for people who spent time in jail, and he finds himself doing just one last job with some buddies for money, desperate to see his little girl again but unable to do so without money.
Then he steals something he isn't too sure he wants. Then he returns it and goes back to jail. Then he is rescued from jail by the man he stole from.
And told there is a mission he needs to complete, to "be the hero his daughter already knows he is." He's got to break into a super secure facility and steal a tiny little suit that can shrink the wearer to the size of an ant. After all, we can't have bad guys getting their hands on that suit.
And to do that, he's got to team up with a strange old man, an apparently cold young woman, and a whole awful lot of ants.
And he has to shrink down to the size of an ant and lead the attack. No problem. Right?

Word of Warning
  •  The beginning scene is a fist fight between men in jail. One is much bigger than the other, but no serious injuries are received. There are several other fist fights throughout the movie, all resulting in something similar (unfairly matched opponents, no serious injuries).
  • A man mentions that "those were the first boobs I touched." (this is the line that makes me bump up the age recommendation)
  • A woman died by shrinking into eternity forever.
  • A character is caught in a bug zapper.
  • Women in tight clothes and low shirts and short skirts. This is usually in scenes when on character is story telling (twice, that I recall) because the other times they are wearing business clothes. Also one kiss, more implied than seen.
  • People get knocked out, kicked around, etc. Typical superhero violence, but nothing graphic or even that serious. However, a few people are shot (again, not graphic).
  • A building blows up.
  • A woman and her fiance are living together with her little daughter (who has a different father).
  • A man calls another an "a**hat". S*** is used a few times, as well as d***, a**, and b****. God's name is used in vane about three times.
  • An ant gets supersized. So does a toy Thomas the Train engine, which promptly tears a whole in the roof.
  • A man is shrunken unsuccessfully and turns into a blob of gooey organic matter. The same happens with a really cute lamb.
  • Scenes are shown where a super tiny man punches bigger men with serious power, knocking them out (or possibly killing them. this is unclear, as it is an old recorded war scene).
  • A man is shrunken piece by piece until he explodes or disappears (it's unclear which).
Something to note: unlike most Marvel movies, the body count and destruction of cities is kept pretty low.

My Thoughts
Bear with me for a moment as an apparently-nonapplicable story becomes applicable.
Over the summers, I teach writing classes to local students. In "Fiction 2" this summer we delved deep into all sorts of devices, techniques, and ways to form a story. One lesson spent much time on how to deal with plot holes in a story. Plot holes can never completely be avoided, my premise was, and we can never meet fully a reader's expectation of narrative fidelity (taken from Walter Fischer's Narrative Paradigm Theory of Communication). The trick, then, is to do what we can so the reader believes us anyway. Engaging style, fast story, something just a tad too complex for the reader to completely follow, engaging character, and others. Or, you can own it.

Well this film has an awful lot of plot holes. The plot itself is honestly ridiculous, when you really think about it.
And the writers owned it. It was like they said, "Yeah, we know we got a crazy story for you that doesn't make any sense, but we're going to own it and still be totally awesome." They knew the plot was weird and fell apart almost right away. They were probably painfully aware that this worked much better as a comic (I assume, as I am sadly unfamiliar with the Marvel comic universe, other than what the screen tells me).

Well they succeeded fantastically. I had that idiotic "teacher/English nerd who is super stunned and impressed" grin on on my face the whole time.
I watched it twice. I'd watch it again, and probably laugh just as hard.

It wasn't all laughter. There were moments of heroics. Moments of great fathers learning to be great. Moments of reconciliation between characters who had no reason to be reconciled save for a little girl. There was seriousness.

But there was also an awful lot of craziness. And the writers owned it--brilliantly.

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