Film

'Ant-Man' director Peyton Reed draws on classic heist flicks for inspiration

by James Luxford

Special To The Japan Times

Any Marvel Studios release is big news in the film world, and while “Ant-Man” is no exception to that rule, it isn’t your average superhero movie. Opting for more comedy than other “Avengers” movies before it, the film has become a hit internationally, thanks in part to the effort of director Peyton Reed.

His film centers on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a burglar recruited by mysterious inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). who becomes Ant-Man, an incredible shrinking superhero who can help Pym right the wrongs of his past.

“I think it’s one of the more intimate Marvel movies,” Reed says. “It’s deliberately a smaller movie — pun intended, I suppose!”

Reed emphasizes the importance of Scott and Hank’s relationships with their daughters in the story, stressing the family dynamic as the reason the intimacy comes across so strongly.

“During the course of the movie they try to pull off a heist,” Reed says. “It’s a heist movie, but in order to succeed Hank Pym really has to make things right with his daughter.”

The 51-year-old director, whose film credits include hits such as “Bring It On” and Jim Carrey’s “Yes Man,” has brought a different focus to the comic book movie genre by combining comedy with the quick pacing of a heist movie. As well as the original comics, Reed says he sought inspiration from many different sources.

“I looked at a lot of different heist movies,” he says. “I looked at both versions of “Ocean’s 11” — the George Clooney version and the Frank Sinatra version. I looked at “The Thomas Crown Affair,” I looked at a lot of 1960s and ’70s heist movies just to get a feel for the rhythm of those movies, and also it inspired us to add to our movie, and to make it fun, because at its core it’s a comedy.”

The director of any big-budget blockbuster will likely experience some hardship, but few could have had as much on their plate as Reed, who was brought in to direct just weeks before the start of shooting — replacing outgoing director Edgar Wright.

“So much of Edgar’s film is in what you see on the screen,” he says of his predecessor. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”

The film has been a huge hit overseas so far, and talks of sequels are inevitable, but for Reed one of the biggest rewards was working with Douglas (“It was a dream,” he says). One particular treasured memory was a scene where the actor is made to appear 30 years younger via the magic of computer effects.

“There was a company that was tasked with recreating Michael Douglas in 1989, which is very tricky because it’s not like he’s an unknown actor … everyone knows what he looked like in 1989.

“Watching Michael watching himself when that younger image came on was amazing, he was like ‘Oh, unbelievable!’ I think he wanted to buy the company!”

“Ant-Man” opens in cinemas nationwide on Sept. 19. For more information, visit www.marvel.com/antman. The Japan Times has five “Ant-Man” polo shirts to give away. The deadline for entries is Sept. 17. For more information, visit jtimes.jp/film.