Saturday, January 10, 2015

Editorial: Thoughts on the Ant-Man Trailer

We’ve just reached a couple important milestones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only has Marvel addressed the lack of female protagonists by bringing us an entire series based on Agent Peggy Carter, but holy crap Ant-Man. As one of the relatively few fans of Ant-Man, I was waiting for this movie since 2008. After all, they just had to give him a solo movie before The Avengers, right?

No.

But he had to show up in The Avengers, right?

No.

But Joss Whedon put his partner Wasp in the script, right?

Yeah, but then he took her out.

But Edgar Wright finally got the wheels rolling on this movie after years of work, right?

Yeah. Then he left the project.

And yet, against all the odds, they just released a trailer for the movie they apparently filmed while the paparazzi was trying to sneak onto the sets for Avengers 2. Thanks, Guardians of the Galaxy for making Marvel realize that their obscure properties could make a metric buttload of money, too.

Now let’s talk about this trailer.

The movie that somehow got made.
First of all, a quick-and-dirty trailer breakdown. #antmantrailer

What? I always #trailerbreakdown break out into #trailerreview random #marvel hashtags when I'm trying to get more views I mean, examine movie trailers. #untrue

Quick, Tauriel, distract them from my blatant lies with your presence!
A guy (Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd) gets arrested. An apparently-retired guy (Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas) wants to recruit him to become the next Ant-Man. Pym apparently works out of a homespun lab while the bald villain (Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll) has a more high-tech layout. Pym has a grown up Evangeline Lilly for a daughter, while Lang has a little girl. We get some cool shots of various things, including a prison break, flying ants, and a pretty cool Ant-Man test run. In a neat touch, Ant-Man leaves brief after images as he shrinks, just like the comics.

It's the little things that make me smile. (I swear, no pun intended.)
It’s a fairly standard super hero teaser. Time to ramble on about it. Now, as always, these are simply my own thoughts. Feel free to disagree.

DISCLAIMER: I am extrapolating and guessing based on material from the trailer. Take some of this with a grain of salt.

First of all, we get our first solid look at what the costume looks like in action. (Aside from the FX test and all the released images.) I’m… not a fan. I could rant forever, so I’ll keep it to two simple points.
  1. Too much black, not enough red. What is this, an X-Men movie?
  2. I don’t like that I can’t see the lower half of his face. (Though this is probably to address the nerdy question of how a shrunken man breathes regularly-sized air molecules.)
Second, we see enough images to interest casual movie-goers and make fans squeal, standard procedure there. The plot seems like it will follow a similar plot to the comics’ “Guy steals Ant-Man suit from Pym, becomes a hero, fights Darren Cross” origin for Scott Lang. I’ve covered an adaptation of this plot once already, if you’re not familiar with it. #selfpromotion

Third, I’m not a huge fan of the tone. The whole trailer has those now-standard WHOOOOOOOOOOMs that every trailer since Inception has had.

It's a movie about a guy who rides ants. I like the character, but c'mon. It's far from "epic."
Henry Pym’s dramatic monologue over the whole thing seems a bit pretentious. I mean, get a load of this.

Hank Pym: "Scott, I've been watching you for a while now. You're different. Now don't let anyone tell you that you have nothing to offer. Second chances don't come around all that often. I suggest you take a really close look at it. This is your chance to earn that look in your daughter's eyes. To become the hero that she already thinks you are. It's not about saving our world. It's about saving theirs. Scott. I need you to be the Ant-Man."

Just replace “Scott” with “Terry” and “Ant-Man” with “Batman,” take out the daughter stuff, and the speech fits much better for a Batman Beyond film, doesn’t it?

I like the intent, I like the themes, but it's the deadpan dramatic delivery that kind of irks me. Even the trailer itself doesn’t seem to buy the seriousness of the whole thing. Scott Lang’s response?

Scott: “Huh.”

The story of Ant-Man, any Ant-Man, has always been a small story. No pun intended. They’ve always been personal stories. And I think that, at the very least, this trailer hits some of the correct beats drawing some parallels between Pym and Lang in respect to their respective daughters.

Scott Lang in one picture. I'll give the trailer that much credit.
But like I said, the whole thing is filled with “epic” bass and punctuated with some Star Lord-ish one-liners from Paul Rudd.

"Is it too late to change the joke used at the end of the trailer?"
But you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge a film by the trailer. This trailer is most likely being “creative” with the scenes from the movie in order to get us pumped like 95% of modern trailers do. Hopefully, that’s the reason for what I feel is an unsuccessful mixture of seriousness and humor. I mean, the last time I saw a relatively obscure comic book property tell the story of someone trying to grow up and be responsible while spouting one-liners while failing to strike a balance between “epic” and “funny” was… uh-oh.

Not a good sign.
Time will tell how things go, however. In only a few months, Ant-Man will be released and this trailer review will be outdated like the fruit juice I drank last Christmas.

Seriously, that stuff expired in May.
See you around.

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