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Previews of upcoming releases and special screenings

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WRITTEN BY NATHAN LERNER
For Digital First Media

Ant-Man

If “Avengers: Age of Ultron” didn’t satiate your appetite for comic book superheroes, here comes “Ant-Man.”

Somewhat confusingly, in the universe of Marvel Comics, the mantle of Ant-Man has been assumed by four different characters. Originally, he was the alter-ego of Dr. Hank Pym, a brilliant biophysicist and security expert. He invented so-called Pym Particles, which allowed him to shrink in size, even as he increased in strength. He and his girlfriend, Janet van Dyne aka the Wasp, became a crime-fighting duo and charter members of the Avengers.

Later, Scott Lang, a petty thief stole the ant-man costume and assumed the identity. His daughter, Cassie, suffered from a cardiac condition.  He had an epiphany and reformed. With the blessing of Hank Pym, Lang became a member of the Avengers.

At subsequent junctures, Eric O’Grady and Chris McCarthy, both low level members of S.H.I.E.L.D., acquire the costume and become crime-fighters.

The cinematic version jettisons both the O’Grady and McCarthy personae and instead concentrates on Lang (Paul Rudd) and Pym (Michael Douglas).

Lang had been a systems engineer at VistaCorp. However, he devolved into a modus vivendi as a small-time crook, breaking into peoples’s homes and stealing the contents. He’s caught, convicted, and sent to San Quentin Prison. Upon release, he’s picked up by his one-time cellmate, Luis (Michael Pena). He tries to convince Lang to join him and his sidekicks (Tip “T.I.” Harris and David Dastmalchian) in various criminal schemes. Will Lang go straight and reconnect with his daughter or will he revert to criminal machinations?

The film has a troubled production history. The original screenplay was co-written by Edgar Wright (director of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Scott Pilgrim Versus the World”), who was scheduled to direct the film. However, he left the project over creative differences with the studio. With his departure, Paul Rudd and Peyton Reed cranked out a revised screenplay. The latter, who had previously helmed “Yes Man” and “Bring It On,” took on directorial duties.

It will be interesting to see whether the diminutive star of “Ant-Man” can rival such Marvel stalwarts as Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and Black Widow.

Opens wide on Thursday, July 16. PG-13 for sci-fi action violence) 117 minutes. Walt Disney Films

Trainwreck

Judd Apatow is best known for writing/directing/producing such contemporary comedies as The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. His films are typically set in southern California. His films feature a decidedly male-centric perspective and are dominated by male characters. Some have castigated Apatow for exhibiting a misogynistic streak and depicting women in a dismissive or disparaging fashion.

So, what happens when Apatow helms a film set in New York City, which is written by and starring a woman? “Trainwreck” will give us a chance to find out. Amy Schumer is the screenwriter and plays the lead character, who resides in Gotham.

In an opening scene, pre-teen sisters, Amy and Kim, listen intently as their ne’er-do-well dad (Colin Quinn) pontificates about the futility of monogamy. Soon to be divorced, he insists that it just isn’t possible.

When they become adults, the two sisters go in different directions. Ignoring her dad’s caveat, Kim (Brie Larson) enters into a blissful marriage. By contrast, Amy (Schumer) becomes a libertine, whose love life is dominated by a litany of one-night stands. She maintains a musclebound beefcake (WWE rassler, John Cena) as a friend with benefits. However, Amy actively eschews the prospect of a sustained, meaningful relationship.

Amy is a writer for a glossy men’s magazine. She is assigned to interview Aaron Conners (“SNL” alumnus, Bill Hader), an up and coming sports medicine doctor. His patients include NBA hoopsters, LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire.

Aaron turns out to be a genuinely nice guy. Will Amy be forced to re-examine her doctrinaire aversion to long-term involvements?

Look for a cameo laden cast, which also includes Chris Evert, Tilda Swinton, Daniel Radcliffe, Marisa Tomei, Tim Meadows, Matthew Broderick, Chris Evert, Marv Albert, and Tony Romo.

 

“Trainwreck” debuted at SXSW Film Festival, where it was enthusiastically received.

Opens wide on Friday, July 17. R (for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use) 125 minutes. Universal Pictures

Nathan Lerner sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at lernerprose@gmail.com.

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