Thursday, January 8, 2015

Let's Rip Apart the Ant-Man Trailer!

By now, you should be aware Disney is taking a fairly odd approach to selling us on an Ant-Man movie...a film that is probably more risky than they thought Guardians of the Galaxy was. I mean...his name is Ant-Man after all. He doesn't exactly inspire a theme song. Even the newly released trailer points a finger at that fact. It is this particular quality that I'd like to talk about today. While I'm sure Disney wants all their films to succeed, didn't you get the feeling they have no idea who to sell a movie named "Ant-Man" to?

Flash back to the day when "test footage" of an Ant-Man movie was released to the public in glowing HD. We saw the suit and the powers and a little adventure and overall, we were left with a sense that this character could actually be badass when we get to see someone capable of using this power set to its maximum potential, coupled with a genius brain if that was Hank Pym inside the helmet. 

Hop forward to now, and my geek-rant begins with the sad, all too often repeated phrase "I am underwhelmed". Gone is the WOW of seeing a man use those seemingly limited powers to clobber the baddies, replaced with sentimental claptrap about becoming a hero for a little girl. It doesn't do anything for me. We watch Scott Lang (who is still smart, but not as smart as Pym) in a quick walk down his road to redemption, complete with gunfire, and men in suits, and more gunfire. The finale of the trailer delivers the "money shot" for an Ant-Man movie..being him riding on the back of a flying ant, which might have been more impactful if they hadn't shown it earlier in the trailer...or we hadn't seen this gimmick among the history of "shrunken people" movies in our past. Soooo...he's a super hero who rides an ant. Not exactly the Hulk, is he?


Before you attempt to school me on the history of Ant-Man through comics (which bear no relevance on a movie that is already re-writing that history by making Yellowjacket a bad guy instead of an additional super hero persona), know that I grew up with Marvel Comics so I get it, though I'm still surprised they'd pop for a whole movie about Ant-Man. Hell, Squirrel Girl is 10 times cuter and could have been Marvel's first action-comedy! At any rate, the movie's synopsis may shine a light on some details that will up our anticipation...
The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.” Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Marvel’s “Ant-Man” stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Judy Greer as Maggie, Tip “Ti” Harris as Dave, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Wood Harris as Gale, Jordi Mollà as Castillo and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s “Ant-Man” delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.

OK, so, much like Captain America: Winter Soldier which dabbled at being a political intrigue/spy/action thriller, Ant-Man could very well be a caper movie led by an actor clearly chosen, at least in some small part, for his charisma and comedy chops. That's all fine and good, but where is that in this trailer? Sure, it's meant to be a teaser, as July is a ways off, but shouldn't something like this give you a sense of what's to come? This snippet only succeeds in saying "Hey! Here's Ant-Man! He can get small! WOOO!" ...and not much else. Need more input as underwhelmed.

On top of all that, we should talk about Disney's marketing approach thus far. That released test footage was clearly to re-assure the execs that this movie can work, and that we'd pay to see it work. Mission accomplished. I was jazzed, to say the least. Marvel's first glimpse at their teaser trailer came in the form of a super shrunk down video, suggesting the film and it's creators aren't taking things very least that's what it said to me. When the teaser was released at full size, all that potential comedy was gone, replaced with Paul Rudd, eternally funny guy, looking soulfully at a number of things off in the distance and into his tiny daughter's eyes. Of course my first thought is that Marvel is being very careful to not make this film seem like the first of many Guardians of the Galaxy clones with bad guys doing good and plenty of odd humor throughout, but then why the tiny video premiere? And why the poster premiere featuring the spec-o-Ant-Man??!! It feels to me as if marketing and production are trying to accomplish very different things, which makes me wonder, at the end of the day, what the film makers hope to present.

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