Ant-Man

Another Marvel Comics character comes to life in Ant-Man and has apparently birthed a new movie franchise.

Paul Rudd is a pretty boy actor from rom-coms and buddy movies—not your typical action hero. Rudd plays Scott Lang, just sprung from San Quentin where he did time for burglary.

When he can’t keep a job at Baskin-Robbins because of his felon past, his friend Luis (Michael Pena) guides him to a break-in gig. It turns out to have been a setup, arranged by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). When Pym sees that Scott is crafty enough to have busted into his safe, he drafts Scott to put the technology he developed into play and become Ant-Man.

With a press of one button he becomes ant size, with the press of another, he returns to full size. Ant-Man has a mission: to derail the work being done by Pym’s successor, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Pym developed the tech that made Ant-Man work. Now Cross is working to perfect his version of that tech to deliver a similar shrinking man he calls Yellowjacket, which he promises would allow its owner to control the world.

Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is Pym’s daughter who continues to work with Cross. As the film begins, it’s not exactly clear whose side she’s on, but it soon becomes clear that she’s daddy’s girl. Her sparring with Scott creates some low boil sexual tension.

Ant-Man takes its time getting to the real action while Scott’s family situation is examined. He’s a divorced dad who wants to see his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). His ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her boyfriend Jim (Bobby Cannavale) want him to stay away until he becomes solvent.

When Scott begins training as Ant-Man, the fun begins. He learns to run and leap through keyholes, timing his shrink/expand buttons to allow smooth passage. The film’s climax takes place in and around the lab that produced the technology and at the home where daughter Cassie lives.

Ant-Man is a fun film, thanks to script revisions by Adam McKay and Rudd. Ant-Man is notably lighter, less serious than your typical Marvel film. A highlight is a brief encounter with another character from the Marvel universe. Ant-Man is directed by Peyton Reed.

(FYI, Should a shot or two in Ant-Man trigger a memory of the 1989 film Honey I Shrunk The Kids, take note that Ant-Man first appeared in Marvel comic books in 1962.)

And So It Goes

 

And So It Goes is a nice, sweet, occasionally funny romantic comedy for older people. It stars Michael Douglas, age 69, and Diane Keaton, age 68. Rob Reiner, age 67, is the director. Good to see that some outfits still hire people over 60!

Oren (Douglas) is a real estate salesman who has issues: resentment, anger, selfishness, etc. A decade after his wife’s death, he’s selling his family home in a well-to-do Connecticut community. He has moved into a four-plex next door to a widow, Leah (Keaton). She is a torch song singer who often becomes so emotionally involved in her songs that she often can’t finish her set.

Oren’s ex-addict adult son Kyle (Austin Lysy) saddles Oren with a 10-year-old granddaughter to care for while Kyle goes to jail. When Oren is initially cool to the girl, Leah is warm and welcoming. Young Sarah (Sterling Jerins) even calls Leah “grandma.” Over time Oren’s heart softens and he works to heal the emotional damage in his life. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to share that he falls hard for Leah.

And So It Goes has a decent number of laughs scattered neatly throughout the film, along with a couple of comic characters. Reiner appears as Leah’s accompanist (and would-be suitor) Artie wearing a laughably horrible toupee. Presumably to make the lead characters appear younger by comparison, Oren’s co-worker Claire (84-year-old Francis Sternhagen) is a hoot as a chain-smoking quipster.

And So It Goes is another film with a generic title that gives little clue as to the film’s content. (Other recent films guilty of this same crime include Begin Again and Enough Said.) Are all the good titles taken?

Because older folks do go to movies, it’s good to see a film with mature lead characters in theaters. And So It Goes is not a film that makes a big impact, but it’s likely to make people—especially fans of Douglas and Keaton—happy. And that, as Martha Stewart likes to say, is a good thing.

“Haywire” =Gina WHO???=

In “Haywire,” a star is born. The film’s female lead Gina Carano is unknown to most moviegoers. She has achieved a level of fame as an MMA fighter and an “American Gladiator.” Her good looks, her adequate acting skills and her abilities as a fighter guarantee her a future in movies.

The convoluted plot is almost secondary to the constant action that surrounds the character Mallory Kane, played by Carano. Chase scenes in cars and on foot, kidnappings, shootings and hand-to-hand battles are the movie’s key elements. Director Steven Soderbergh shoots the film stylishly with a number of clever subjective camera angles. Carano/Kane’s fight scenes are the best since the last Jason Bourne movie—realistically staged and intense.

Several well-known male actors play Mallory Kane’s various allies and foes. They are Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and Bill Paxton.

The action kicks off with a violent face-off between Carano and Tatum in a roadside café in upstate New York. The plot unfolds with scenes in Barcelona, Dublin, rural New Mexico and along the Pacific coastline.

A highlight of the film is the cool soundtrack by David Holmes who scored much of the music for Soderbergh’s three “Ocean’s” movies. He provides rhythmic, up tempo music that is just right for this film.

Go for the action. Go for this new female fighter. Go for the strong male cast. Go for the music. Go to unravel the plot.

“Haywire” delivers 93 minutes of solid movie entertainment. Casting an unknown as the female lead was not a haywire decision—the result makes perfect sense to me.