Ant-Man is a thrill ride through the world of science fiction physics. The characters are complex, charismatic people, whose relationships ebb and flow – convincing players in an otherworldly premise suspending our concept of reality, Once we buy in, well-placed humorous references poke fun at the day-to-day environment we take for granted.

There was almost more drama in the making of this movie than in the movie itself. I’ll focus on that history. As for the movie, just go see it. I would never have guessed that getting this film completed was a ten-year ordeal involving numerous rewrites and “musical chairs” changes of directors and cast. The wonder is that Ant-Man ever got made in the first place, unbelievable that it’s one of the best Marvel films ever.

The superb quality of Ant-Man is due to the perseverance of those involved in the production, a project begun in September 2005. In April 2006, Director Edgar Wright, a huge fan of Ant-Man comics, started work on the screenplay (one of the best of this year) with Joe Cornish. They finished a first draft in March 2008. Work was started on a second draft that June. Rewrites resumed in 2010. A completed script emerged in 2011…more rewrites in 2013. By then, Wright was close to starting the shoot. He had his cast and crew. Then…Disney bought Marvel, and Wright left due to “creative differences”.

Filming finally started in August 2014, with new director Peyton Reed. Normally I would think this would be a “too many cooks” situation by now, that the screenplay would be disjointed and stale from too many rewrites. Yet, amazingly, this film is tight, no more is said than needs to be voiced, information is imparted visually that plays vital roles in later scenes.

With the changeover of directors, ten weeks were chopped off editing / special effects time. Yet special effects teams worked intensely, using the very science of physics that is central to the story’s theme to shoot the backgrounds for shrunken Ant-Man’s point-of-view. They used macro-photography (digital mattes of enlarged environments) and motion-capture. Close-up shots and long shots with wide-angle lenses give Ant-Man’s giant surroundings a believable look, even including huge dust-mites. De-aging VFX is amazingly effective in the opening scene. Keep your eyes open for hidden details that pay homage to historic comics and film history.

Paul Rudd exudes an innocence that is unexpected in a superhero. Wright cast him because of his natural charisma, to balance his character’s criminal background. Rudd worked with a gymnast to master Ant-Man’s movements and purchased a large ant farm to study the creatures. Bobby Cannavale is great as the step-dad. Cannavale noted that although this was a big budget shoot, it felt like an independent film atmosphere. Indeed, that environment makes Ant-Man great in the end. Originally the film would have been darker, closer to the comic book story. Exuberance, humor and joy uncharacteristic for a comic book blockbuster permeate this story. See Ant-Man more than once and discover more details each time.

Rated PG 13.117 Minutes

Kathryn Whitney Boole was drawn into the entertainment industry as a kid and never left. It has been the backdrop for many awesome adventures with crazy creative people. She now works as a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kwboole@gmail.com

For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com.

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