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July 23, 2015

Ant-Man (***) PG-13

With the release of Marvel Studios latest comic book adaptation Ant-Man I think it’s safe to say that I’m definitely suffering Marvel burnout. That’s the only possible explanation as to why I wasn’t as crazy about the adventures of the miniscule hero with super strength as I expected to be. You certainly can’t blame the filmmakers for the film’s shortcomings as it’s obvious that everyone is trying. Ant-Man has all the elements in place for a rewarding movie experience, to be sure. The movie is humorous, fairly engaging and has some of the best effects sequences I’ve seen in a Marvel film since last summer’s effort, Guardians of the Galaxy. And yet, I felt a certain sinking feeling of déjà vu hanging over the proceedings that seemed to keep me from enjoying things as I felt I should. The story templates found in these kinds of films are firmly on display in Ant-Man and the film slavishly sticks to them. It gave this casual viewer with only a mild diversion and nothing more. A month from now I probably won’t be able to reiterate one plot point.

Paul Rudd is well cast in the title role and there’s no arguing that. In the film he’s a two-bit thief, Scott Lang. In the film’s opening scenes Lang, recently released from prison, is finding life tough as he attempts to readjust to civilian life and pull off such ordinary endeavors as pay his child support. 

Paul Rudd & Michael Douglas in Ant-Man

His partner in crime, Luis (Michael Pena), convinces Lang to join him on one last heist which will net him the funds necessary to get him back on his financial feet again. What Lang didn’t bargain for was becoming a superhero, which is exactly what happens when he inadvertently steals a suit deliberately left behind for him by scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), said suit being the Ant-Man suit, of course.

Pym, once upon a time, wore this suit but is now too old for such things. Once Lang comes into possession of the suit, Pym gives the former burglar all the ins, outs and the what-have-yous as to how the suit works. Lang also finds himself becoming increasingly attracted to Pym’s daughter (Evangeline Lilly), adding another variable to the equation.

The plot then shifts into the standard thing we’ve seen too many times where Ant-Man must stop an evil competitor from coming up with a similar suit that could lead to catastrophic consequences. This is where the air of familiarity takes over and I found myself ready for the film to reach its conclusion.

The film is credited to four writers, the most notable of which would be director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead), who worked on this film for ten years before exiting the project due to creative differences with Marvel. His handprints are all over the thing. I can’t help but wonder if his version would have changed my opinion drastically. That’s a question that, alas, will never be answered. And it’s a shame.

Trainwreck (**) R

Director Judd Apatow’s first film in nearly three years, Trainwreck, is the least satisfying of all the feature films in which he’s stepped behind the camera and I must admit that this comes as quite a surprise. The idea that Apatow would choose a script written by someone other than himself to direct was quite a revelation in and of itself and seemed to signal a new direction for the comedy heavyweight. Turns out it was a bad choice as lead actress and comic Amy Schumer’s script offers the thinnest plot imaginable being used as an excuse on which to hang the usual gross out gags and throw away lines that are typically seen in an Apatow production. The situations and gags seem like they might be more at home on Apatow’s HBO show Girls than in a feature film. The laughs are scant and the film, as most of Apatow’s product tends to be, is also mercilessly overlong which certainly doesn’t help matters.

Schumer stars in the film as Amy Townsend, a journalist of some sort who can’t seem to commit to any lover or relationship for any length of time.

Amy Schumer & Bill Hader in Trainwreck

You get the idea right off the bat that Schumer is taking the rule of writing what you know to all new levels here as everything has the feel of stories that are only funny if you were there when they transpired. As a comic, Schumer may have the chops but she’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that scriptwriting is not her forte and the film doesn’t do Schumer the justice that she so richly deserves. It’s not that she’s untalented it’s just that she needs better material to work with and should let the professional screenwriters serve her needs in the future.

The plot basically concerns Amy getting a writing assignment in which she must take her hatred of sports and make a case as to why sports are detrimental to society at large. In the midst of her writing assignment she narrows her focus to a doctor who treats sports injuries (Bill Hader). It isn’t long before Amy eventually finds herself falling for the charming doc against her better judgment and in spite of the fact that Amy has been told from her childhood onward by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy is basically an impossible concept. Of course, the film hinges on whether Amy can commit or will continue on in more ill fated romantic escapades.

Trainwreck works best during its final act wherein the adult Amy’s relationship with her aging and physically compromised father gets its own subplot, adding some emotional depth that’s missing from the film’s first section. Truth be told, Trainwreck could have used some of the more serious stuff that litters the film’s final section. Unfortunately, it’s too many gross out gags and not enough of them that actually work.

Both films are playing everywhere in this area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at




Amy • Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys

Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Ted 2

Inside Out & Dope

Love and Mercy & Jurassic World

Insidious Chapter 3

San Andreas & Aloha

Poltergeist &

Mad Max: Fury Road

Hot Pursuit

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Ex Machina

While We’re Young & Unfriended

The Longest Ride

Fast & Furious 7

It Follows




Focus & The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Fifty Shades Of Grey

Jupiter Ascending

Still Alice

The Imitation Game A Most Violent Year

American Sniper Inherent Vice

Selma & Taken 3


Big Eyes • The Interview

Night At The Museum The Secret of the Tomb • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Top Five • Wild • Annie


Whiplash & The Theory Of Everything

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 • Horrible Bosses 2

Dumb And Dumber To

Birdman & Interstellar




The Judge

Annabelle & Gone Girl

The Equalizer & Happy 75th, GWTW!

The Drop • A Walk Among & The Tombstones

No Good Deed

The Identical

As Above, So Below & November Man

If I Stay & Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

The Giver • Code Black & The Expendables 3

Boyhood • Into The Storm & Magic In The Moonlight

Get On Up & Guardians Of The Galaxy


Begin Again & The Purge: Anarchy

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

Chef & Tammy

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Jersey Boys

22 Jump Street & How To Train Your Dragon 2

The Fault Is In Our Stars & Edge Of Tomorrow

A Million Ways To Die In The West

X-Men: Days Of Future Past Maleficent

Godzilla • Summer Preview

Neighbors • Godzilla

The Amazing Spiderman 2 & Belle

The Other Woman & Brick Mansions

A Haunted House 2 & Heaven Is For Real

Oculus & Rio 2

Captain America: The Winter Soldier



The Grand Budapest Hotel & Veronica Mars

300: Rise of the Empire

Non-Stop & Son Of God

Three Days To Kill

Robocop & The Past • About Last Night

The Monuments Men

Labor Day

I, Frankenstein

Inside Llewyn Davis & Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lone Survivor & August: Osage County

Her • Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Saving Mr. Banks, American Hustle, Anchorman 2

The Hobbit: The Desolation & Of Smaug • Nebraska

Dallas Buyers Club & Oldboy & Out Of The Furnace

Philomena & The Book Thief

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Delivery Man

About Time & All Is Lost

Thor: The Dark World & 12 Years A Slave

Ender’s Game & Last Vegas

Bad Grandpa &The Counselor

Carrie & The Fifth Estate

Captain Phillips, Enough Said & Machete Kills

Gravity & Runner Runner

Metallica: Through The Never , Rush & Don Jon

Prisoners & Rush

Insidious: Chapter 2 • The Family & The Spectacular Now



The World’s End You’re Next

Lee Daniels’ The Butler • Jobs • Blue Jasmine

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters & Elysium

2 Guns

Blue Jasmine • The Wolverine & Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station • The Conjuring & The Way Way Back

Pacific Rim & Grown Ups 2

The Lone Ranger & Despicable Me 2

The Heat & White House Down

Monsters University, World War Z, Before Midnight & The East

Man of Steel & This Is The End

The Internship & The Purge

After Earth, Now You See Me & Frances Ha

The Hangover Part III Before Midnight

Star Trek: Into Darkness & Fast and Furious 6

The Great Gatsby & Frances Ha

Iron Man & Peeples

Pain and Gain & Mud

Oblivion & Lords of Salem

42 and Scary Movie 5

Evil Dead & Jurassic Park 3-D

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Tyler Perry’s Temptation

Spring Breakers Admission

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone • The Call

Oz: The Great And Powerful West Of Memphis

Jack the Giant Slayer The Last Exorcism, Part II

Dark Skies & Snitch

A Good Day to Die Hard & Safe Haven

Side Effects & Identity Thief

Bullet To The Head Warm Bodies




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