Ant Man

July 17, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily
Directed by: Peyton Reed (“Bring It On”)
Written by:  Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead”) & Joe Cornish (“Attack the Block”) and Adam McKay (“Anchorman”) & Paul Rudd (debut)

“Ant-Man” will likely remain the biggest “what if?” in the lifetime of the Marvel cinematic universe (unless they actually produce a movie based on the alternate-reality comic book series “What If?”) due to one big giant reason: the departure of original director and screenwriter Edgar Wright. The fanboy-favorite “Scott Pilgrim” filmmaker famously left the film last year—after nearly a decade of development—due to creative differences. With a cast in place and a release date looming, Marvel quickly brought in director Peyton Reed and punched up the script with contributions from star Paul Rudd and “Anchorman” writer/director Adam McKay—all clear signs this movie would be leaning further toward comedy than any Marvel movie released so far. And yeah, the movie is fun and funny at times, but the lumpiness of the rewrites, clashes of tone, and the general tamping down of Rudd’s easy charisma rob the film of what could have been an energetic “Guardians of the Galaxy”-style offbeat excitement.

The movie opens with good-hearted criminal Scott Lang (Rudd) being released from prison. Lang was locked up for stealing money back from scamming corporations, but a criminal record is a criminal record, and he can’t land a job outside of Baskin Robbins. When he loses that job thanks to his background, Lang’s loveable criminal friend Luis (Michael Peña) offers him an easy score: break into a safe at some old hermit’s house and steal the loot inside. Lang agrees, but all he finds in the vault is some strange body suit and helmet, which he steals anyway. Out of curiosity, Scott puts the suit on and presses a mysterious button that instantly shrinks him down to the size of an insect. The suit he stole belongs to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man, and he needs Scott’s help to stop a madman from using the shrinking technology for nefarious purposes.

“Ant-Man” feels like a smaller Marvel movie, likely by design. It’s a welcome respite from the end of the world scenario that the Avengers, et al, typically deal with, but the light-hearted, goofy adventure side of the film is undone by the dour, cliché-ridden parallel father/daughter redemption stories and some leaps of logic in the plot, like why does Lang steal the suit at all, other than to move the plot forward? Rudd’s natural likeability is neutered in the movie, his quick sarcasm and mischievous grin smushed under the weight of having to prove he’s a good guy to not just his daughter, but his ex-wife (Judy Greer, in another thankless role) and his wife’s new cop husband (Bobby Cannavale, apparently one of the two cops in San Francisco). The futile question gets asked, of course, because it must be asked: what would an Edgar Wright “Ant-Man” have looked like? Many fanboys will be wondering about this for many a Comic Con to come.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

May 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Michael Douglas
Directed by: Mark Waters (“The Spiderwick Chronicles”)
Written by: Jon Lucas (“Four Christmases”) and Scott Moore (“Four Christmases”)

What do you get when you cross a classic holiday story like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with a nauseating romantic comedy? With Matthew McConaughey playing a character as cynical as any rendition of Ebenezer Scrooge over the last 150 years, “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” can’t find enough enchanting moments and depth to make it worth any kind of homage to the late literary icon.

In “Ghosts,” McConaughey is Connor Mead, an arrogant bachelor photographer who knows a lot about sex and little about women although he’s bedded his fair share of them in his life. An unbeliever of love and monogamy, Connor drags himself to his little brother’s wedding where he is reunited with his childhood crush Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner) whose heart Connor had broken years before.

Connor’s past, however, soon catches up to him when his deceased Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), the man that raised him and taught him everything about dating and dumping women, tells him that he will be visited by three ghosts who will take him on a journey through the relationships of his past, present, and future.

It’s an interesting idea done way better (and without ghosts) in “High Fidelity” when John Cusack revisiting his old flames to find out why he is still single after so many years. In “Ghosts,” McConaughey doesn’t really change throughout these life-altering moments. Even when he meet his final ghost, the Ghost of Girlfriends Future, an incredibly attractive blond spirit, Connor still tries to make a move on her even though he just relived half of his life and saw the mistakes he had made. Isn’t the point supposed to be that he learns to be a better all-around person?

Still, the transformation from sleazebag to gentleman is miraculously completed with a little shove by screenwriting partners Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who scripted the unfunny “Four Christmases” at the end of last year. Here, McConaughey’s cinematic reputation precedes itself. It’s the kind of movie he was born to star in, which, in the last eight or so years, hasn’t been a real positive statement to make.