26 July 2015

Was It Right To Get Rid Of Wright?

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I understand that most people actually have a life and so for those who don't know, I'll explain the situation. Basically, Ant-Man sounds like a really, really shit title for both a super-hero and a film. If you're unaware of the character's history then you'd be forgiven for imagining that he's the name of a cheap knock-off Spider-Man toy that some grotty fucker's trying to flog down the market. Even Marvel Studio's weren't that arsed about making his movie a priority until they were convinced of its potential by Geek King, writer/director Edgar Wright. For most movie nerds that name could be attached to a script called, “Sifting Through Gary Busey's Actual Shit” and we'd still be excited. As a result, the appeal to most people wasn't so much in the idea of seeing a super-hero who can shrink down to the size of a genital wart but rather in simply seeing Wrights mad-cap, kinetic, directorial style applied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sadly however, and after working on the film with co-writer Joe Cornish for over a decade, Wright abruptly left a few weeks before filming was due to begin. At this point we're still not entirely sure of the circumstances in which Marvel and Wright were forced to part ways, with both sides currently only explaining the event with the dreaded 'C-word'... Creative differences!*

With weeks to go before production began, Marvel needed somebody with the balls and/or stupidity to agree to step into the huge boots that had just been vacated and so in looking for a yes man, they found Peyton Reed, the director of Yes Man. Forgive the cynicism but if anybody can replace the genre-bending, visual genius of Edgar Wright, I'm not sure if it's definitely going to be a man whose most famous film is an unfiltered dollop of intolerable dog shite. The problem now of course would be that no matter how good Reed's version of Ant-Man might be, there was the risk that it'd always be remembered as the film Wright should have done. Kind of like seeing a woman growing old with that fat guy she married after her true love died rescuing orphans from a fire at the kitten factory. Things weren't helped when Avengers director Joss Whedon later described Wright and Cornish's script as, “the best script that Marvel had ever had”. Like that scene in Under The Skin where the guy tries to shag Scarlett Johansson and discovers her fanny to be as closed as a broken cat-flap, the whole situation was incredibly frustrating. I know most of you are normal and don't care about shit like this but I feel it's worth mentioning just to put my response to the movie in an appropriate context. I hate to assume the arrogance of somebody who thinks that people care about his opinions.. but seems as you're about two paragraphs into my blog... Fuck it, Ant-Man was fucking brilliant. 

Essentially the film could be called Honey I Shrunk The Super-Hero with Michael Douglas creating a way to decrease a person's size whilst having them maintain their non-tiny strength. For reasons that the film will explain, this ability gets into the hands of some bald twat which Douglas intends to rectify by having Paul Rudd steal some shit back. That's basically it really. Personally I'd just have had Rudd explode the villain by shrinking down, climbing up the guys anus and then re-growing.. but each to their own. There's also stuff in here about fathers justifying the love from their daughters.. or I suppose to an extent it's about how Douglas's character insists on acting as a role-model to those around him despite a slightly shoddy history at it. He's got a missing wife, an estranged daughter, and a disillusioned prodigy, which makes him about as good at mentoring people as Louise Woodwood is at not killing babies. However all of that is essentially padding to give the film a little depth, with the bulk of Ant-Man's story being a heist movie in which a tiny Paul Rudd attempts some sort of break-in with the help of an army of disposable insects. If you can imagine re-casting Oceans Eleven with about a million ants, then you're not too far off the tone of this film. Sure, the ants might not be as famous as Clooney and Pitt, but at the very least none of them attempt an accent as bad as whatever shit Don Cheadle was vomiting out of his vocal chords in that movie!  

And in fact, it's the believability of the ants and general shrinking effects that is one of the main joys of this movie. Oh- did I mention that Rudd and Douglas can control the ants via some sort of psychic connection? No? Oh, well they can. I know it sounds crazy but after hearing Douglas justify his own real life throat cancer as being a result of him constantly chomping down on a slice of fanny sandwich then I'll pretty much accept any old shite that he comes out with so long as it makes me laugh.** But yeah, the ants are all incredibly realistic looking with the effects of this movie seeming to be more photorealistic than the miserable world that I see when opening my eyes every morning. I don't just mean in terms of how it makes small things look big or Paul Rudd look small either, but even in its de-aging of certain characters during various flashbacks. I think Empire Magazine put it best when they suggested that the de-aging of Michael Douglas in this makes the de-aging of Arnie in Terminator Genisys look like the de-aging of Arnie in Terminator Salvation. In fact, it was so good that having completely bought Douglas as a younger man, I actually wondered how they'd made him look so old when he shuffled back on screen later on. Turns out that the wrinkles were less a computer effect and more simply the result of having been shot out of Kirk Douglas' one-eyed viking about seventy years ago. 

Visuals aside however, it has to be said that the other aspect of this film that works so well is simply its lightness of tone and joyous sense of fun. Not only is our buddy Rudd really ruddy good but this is also less of a dud than most of that crud that he's done with Mr bloody Judd... Apatow. Sorry, got caught in an early 90's rap there. Due to having an actual script, Ant-Man is a hell of a lot funnier than shonk like Knocked Up and probably also about nine days shorter. It's also due to this jazzy, whimsical vibe that we're able to buy into the ridiculousness of the concept so easily. Like last year's Guardians Of The Galaxy, this might be one of the lesser hyped and slightly weirder Marvel movies but it manages to become one of its better ones by mixing an absurd idea with a knowing sense of humour. It also seems to slightly solve two of the biggest problems that have plagued most of this studio's films, such as the issue of a bland villain and a predictable third act revolving around an aerial battle. It still has a boring villain in the form of Darren Cross, although he does seem to have slightly more charisma than Ronin The Accuser who I only remember for looking like Darth Maul after an asphyxi-wank gone wrong. However Cross just seems less important to the story due to the focus on a heist, and so I don't really care about him. He's not so much a villain as he is simply another obstacle in the way of Rudd obtaining his MacGuffin which is where the fun of the movie can be found. You could essentially replace Cross with a door to a safe if you'd wanted, but then we'd miss out on the concluding battle above Thomas The Tank engine... which is still an obvious third act battle but is undeniably more interesting than the giant spaceships of every other Marvel film. 

Speaking of Thomas The Tank Engine, this is clearly a remnant of the Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish script due to how fucking weird, random, and hilarious its inclusion is. As I mentioned, the risk of Ant-Man was that it's original helmer would linger like the ghost at the feast, shitting all over the table and reminding you of their presence, however I have to say that despite all of the pre-viewing skepticism that we geeks might have had, it really doesn't matter. Maybe it's shitty for Wright, or maybe we would have had a better film had he been left in charge, however we don't know that for sure and either way, we still have a really funny and entertaining film regardless. I'm sure there are lots of movies that were originally going to be made by different people before somebody else took charge and that simply haven't received as high a profile as this. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of the Ewoks in Return Of The Jedi and I know that David Cronenberg was originally given the chance to direct that movie, but that doesn't mean that I can't enjoy the actual film knowing that there might be another version of it in an alternate reality in which the furry little fuckers get their heads exploded Scanners-style. Maybe Edgar Wright's Ant-Man would have been better.. maybe it wouldn't.. but Peyton Reed's Ant-Man was so good that like Mickey Rourke's plastic surgeon, I simply don't care anymore. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time!  

* I know that's two words but you know, it was just a joke you pedantic cunt. 

** In case you're not English then “fanny” means vagina*** and not arse.****

*** I know you'll argue but it's our language so fuck you, fanny! 

****Arse is English for ass or bum. That big thing you wrongly call a fanny.

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