I hardly slept, it was so hot. I had two fans on me, too, one of them big. I finished listening to the pretty good 2005 Doctor Who audio play Scaredy Cat while numbly pulling myself through breakfast. Maybe it's my heat and sleep deprivation addled brain talking but I liked the two, seemingly unrelated stories of a colony experiencing an epidemic and millions of years later a group of scientists experimenting on a murderer. The two only tied together by a mysterious apparition of a laughing girl. And the Doctor, of course, and his companions. Charley barely seems to be in this one and C'rizz's own past as a murderer is brought up kind of awkwardly but otherwise this was a good audio.
In an effort to escape the heat which was even thick in the air in La Jolla I went to see a movie, Ant-Man, more because it happened to be playing in ten minutes from when I got there than because I had a burning desire to see it, though I didn't not want to see it. The film itself has that non-committal quality. It's okay, it's not great, it's not terrible. Dear gods, Disney has got to loosen up. This movie was in a fever grip of formula. Even the little hints of Edgar Wright's contributions felt like part of the Marvel movie treadmill--each film has been authorised a certain percentage of genuine personal creative investment, no more and no less. With each film it feels like Disney wants to take more of those scary variables out of the process, drifting further and further from the miraculously unrestricted flow of the first Iron Man film.
You may have heard Edgar Wright, director of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's film collaborations, was the original director of Ant-Man but that he left production due to creative differences with the studio. His name is still listed as Executive Producer and his name is still on the screenplay. Oddly, the director Disney brought in, the undistinguished Peyton Reed, didn't seem to have a credit that I noticed. Usually the credits go "A So and So Film . . . Directed by So and So," both at the beginning and end. Reed's name felt minimised--I didn't see it at all, I'm assuming I missed it because the directer must have been credited, right? It was inconspicuous, in any case.
Ant-Man's (Paul Rudd) goofy thieving friends are the most Wright-ish aspect of the film, the nerdy trio of guys like the bickering gangs in Wright's Pegg and Frost collaborations with Rudd's Scott Lang/Ant-Man being the straight man Pegg plays in Shaun of the Dead. Who knows what radical idea Wright had that Disney so objected to but there's plenty of Marvel Cinematic universe stuff injected--I rather liked the cameo by Peggy Carter at the beginning, her show, Agent Carter, by the way, is so ridiculously better than S.H.I.E.L.D.
The scene also features the most talked about effect of the film, the apparent breaking of the laws of time and space to give us a young Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. And I must say it is flawless--it looks like they cloned Michael Douglas. It's amazing. I can only imagine what'll happen once this technology gets cheaper and easier. Maybe Sean Connery will come out of retirement to play a young James Bond? Harrison Ford as 1930s Indiana Jones? Max von Sydow reprising his role as the knight in Seventh Seal for a prequel set during the crusade where he builds C-3PO in Jerusalem? Probably not. But the limits may well be only the scope of the profit motive.
Anyway, Ant-Man felt like an average episode of an average television show, elevated a little by Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas. There was also an amusing use of "Plainsong" by The Cure. This was during one of the action sequences, many of which were pretty well conceived, drawing nicely on Scott's skills as a cat burglar. The movie could very easily have focused on this stuff and left his issues with his little girl, and the paralleled issues Pym has with his daughter played by Evangeline Lilly, out completely. It's all written very badly, with idiot plot style revelations, like where Pym finally reveals to his daughter the real cause of her mother's death which, once he's revealed it, doesn't seem to have been concealed from her for any apparent reason aside from giving her a superficial motive for years of resentment to create cheap tension. And these moments are broken up by beats of comic relief that come as regularly as clockwork.
But the worst thing about the movie is the editing, particularly during the emotional moments. There are so many visual continuity distortions it feels like watching a trailer. One person will be wearing glasses and--cut, cut--the glasses are gone. Or one person will be making a tearful confession and--cut to actor obviously reacting to a different take, then back to actor whose tears are completely gone and who is now smirking. It's like seeing human bodies possessed by emoji.