Happy Friday, everybody! Remember earlier this week when I was all, “I have the best Duet pairing EVER comin’ atcha!” Well, here we are! Within just a few weeks of each other, two superhero films hit the big screen like a ton of bricks. Hmm. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. Especially because one of these has not been such a grand financial success, if I’m not mistaken. And, really, that film deserves its lackluster ticket sales…but we’ll get to all that. Let’s dive right in to the Duet!
Synopsis: “Four young outsiders teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- The visual effects. With all of the nifty superpowers, the eerie design for the alternate dimension, and, of course, the look of The Thing (Jamie Bell), the film can’t be faulted for its visuals.
- The young, up-and-coming cast. I appreciate the fact that the film utilizes some of the rising talent in Hollywood. Miles Teller is a solid choice for Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, a character who is probably too smart for his own good. Jamie Bell’s sensitive tough guy interpretation of Ben Grimm/The Thing is fitting. Michael B. Jordan has all the fiery sass you’d expect from Johnny Storm/The Human Torch. I actually didn’t hate Kate Mara for a change as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, so that was good! Haha.
- The drastically different tone. This is not the Fantastic Four of 10 years ago, and that is clear from the get-go. There’s little to no intentional cheesiness, and I liked the fact that they decided to go in such a different direction with it. Not sure how well that paid off, but…ahem. We’ll discuss that below. Haha.
The Low Notes:
- The film doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. Superhero and sci-fi often go hand-in-hand, so I can understand the genre crossover there, but there were times that the film even delved into fairly intense horror, and I was like whaaaaat? It’s a bizarre 10 or so minutes of the film, and it completely pulled me out of it. Plus, there were these bright bursts of silliness and lighthearted humor immediately followed by fairly intense moments that just didn’t work for me…I don’t know. The dark tone stays fairly consistent, but everything else is all over the place.
- You don’t really get to know—or, more importantly, like—the characters. They all do a good enough job with what they’re given, but I still feel like I barely knew who they were or what they were all about by the end of the film. As flawed and cheesy as they were, the Fantastic Four films of a few years back did a much better job of establishing these characters, I think.
- This is one of the most disjointed films I’ve ever seen. I felt like I had ADHD when I was watching it. The story jumps sporadically from sequence to sequence, leaving me to wonder, “Wait, what’s happening? How did we get here? Why did we even have that last scene? Did I miss something?” Especially in the last big fight, which is a mess. I honestly don’t think my words can do the confusion justice. I would say that you just have to see it, but in this case, don’t. Just don’t. Haha.
The Staccato Version: This is easily my biggest disappointment of the year so far, and I hate that because it seemed so promising. I thought this film was going to be a fresh take on one of the most interesting superhero teams out there. However, “fresh” isn’t really the word I’d use here. Bizarre? Yes. Confusing? Uh huh. Disjointed? Definitely. Straight up bad? Unfortunately…yeah. I’ve never been a huge fan of the 2005/2007 Fantastic Four films, but when I looked back on those with a sense of nostalgia after seeing this, I knew there was something wrong. Sadly, this is not the film the Fantastic Four deserve.
My Grade: D
Synopsis: “Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.” –www.imdb.com
The High Notes:
- Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. But, c’mon, we all knew he was going to be great. Haha. He’s a thief with a heart of gold, and he’s all kinds of charming. Lighthearted most of the time, serious when he needs to be. Smart. A surprisingly good fighter. A quick learner. Basically, he’s everything a Marvel hero should be. No qualms here.
- The effects. All the fights and explosions and sci-fi things were well done, per usual, but what I really loved was seeing how the film utilized the shrinking/growing moments so perfectly. It’s a blast to watch, and I can’t wait to see how it’s used in Captain America: Civil War. Also, the shrinking/growing heavily influences…
- The humor. Like most Marvel films, Ant-Man has a liberal streak of humor, but this one is, perhaps, even goofier than your average Marvel film. Fortunately, that’s not a bad thing because it totally works. After all, when you’re dealing with a hero named “Ant-Man,” you really have to embrace the humor of it all and run with it. Especially with Paul Rudd as your leading man.
The Low Notes:
- That trio of sidekicks. Is it just me or were these guys kind of annoying? I didn’t mind Luis (Michael Peña) so much, who seems fairly central to the story, but I didn’t feel like the presence of the other two guys was necessary, particularly Kurt (David Dastmalchian), who has a pretty hokey Russian (or just Eastern European) accent. T.I.’s Dave was okay enough, I guess. Both of these characters just felt a bit forced. Not dealbreakers, but still not necessary.
- The fairly weak plotline involving Pym’s (Michael Douglas) wife. I won’t spoil it for you, but it involves unnecessarily keeping secrets from Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Also, a key part of this plotline is very clearly going to come back later in the film, and it’s blatantly obvious when you see/hear it. I’m not sure how that last bit could be fixed (or if it even should), but a pinch of subtlety might not have hurt.
- Over-the-top villain Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll). This guy is coo coo for Cocoa Puffs right from the get-go, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for any real character development. It’s a shame because I feel like Marvel can really nail their villains when they put some thought into them (see: Loki, Ultron, the Winter Soldier, etc.), but they often slip into these comfortable, generic types that don’t leave any lasting impressions. Sadly, this is Yellowjacket.
The Staccato Version: While not my favorite Marvel movie ever, Ant-Man is still a lot of fun and a very worthy addition to the Marvel canon. It’s funny, the effects are as great as ever, and Paul Rudd makes for a very likable lead. At the very least, it’s enough to wet your whistle until Captain America: Civil War next year. Definitely worth a matinee ticket for Marvel fans.
My Grade: B+