Ant-Man Movie Review
Better Safe than Sorry
A Film Review of Ant-Man
In Kevin Feige, we trust. This is the message I continue to carry forward throughout the ever expanding MCU and once again true believers, we have another solid building block as we march towards Infinity and beyond. That’s not to say this result was a foregone conclusion. I believe fans had similar concerns for another seemingly left of center Marvel license known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. First of all, this film is about Scott Lang/Hank Pym/Ant-Man and this character(s) is completely off the radar for casual fans of comics and pop culture. Second, the lead is Paul Rudd: goofball comedy veteran actor and not an action star. Third, Adam McKay (goofball comedy writer) worked in tandem with Rudd to create the screenplay. Fourth, there’s Michael Douglass (screen legend) and you simply don’t know what you’re going to get from any actor in the twilight of their career no matter what the project is. Regardless of these or any other potential distraction or deterrent to a quality entertainment experience, you can indeed rest easy. The end result is a composed effort to yield another capable Avenger who has his own style and skill set to contribute to stories moving forward.
However, the effort put into keeping an Avenger film on task and not run off the rails on a crazy laugh train (a la, everything McKay has ever written) was very obvious at several moments during the film. How many more times did I need to be reminded that Scott was a family man? How often did Scott himself have to play the straight man to his own motley crew? How many cute bonding moments with insects needed to be shoehorned in? All of these were conscious plot devices that kept the Ant-Man from the brink of The Other Guys. As it turns out, they were necessary (and far too overt) “evils” to take as little risk as possible with the most obscure Avenger to date. Ant-Man is a hero, he has worthy moral ground to stand on, he has skill and he’s light hearted with a shade of sarcasm. Do any of these traits sound familiar to you? Perhaps it would have been better to allow Rudd to channel full blown Brian Fontana into Scott Lang because at least his obtuse, 70s, narcissism would have been hilarious to see next to Tony Stark in the future to see who wins the “inappropriateness wars.” Instead, the audience must rally behind a safe, bland, vanilla character type with precious little personality of his own to speak of. Individual Avenger adventures are as large as their respective protagonists’ personalities as well as their unique skills. I simply wished Ant-Man’s larval voyage left a larger footprint in the spectacular happenings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A full breakdown of the following Moving Picture Story Rating (MPS) “alpha build” can be found here.
All Avenger films contain some form of combat and Ant- Man features plenty of pugilism and gunplay which are as bland as Scott Lang’s training montage.
Even if the fists and bullets aren’t flying around like ballet choreography, movement within the frame (specifically all of the miniaturization sequences) is really fun to look at; insects and all.
Paul Rudd does an acceptable job while Michael Douglas blew me away with how genuinely interested he showed he was in his role and its place in the MCU. At some point, Ant-Man will have to be “just” Scott Lang without the Hank Pym training wheels.
Evangeline Lilly provides a decent love interest, Corey Stoll plays another 2-dimensional Marvel villain, Michael Pena plays a dumb stereotype and who hired T.I. for this movie?
All films can certainly use emotionally heavy orchestration to make those epic moments on screen ascend to the next level. That wasn’t the case at all in this film.
Hearing a tiny world come alive is just as important as seeing it come alive.
“Moving” = 20/33
Getting a glimpse of the land of Avengers from an entirely different scale presented an excellent collision of “regular” and “tiny,” without too much cheesiness from the likes of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Insects working together with Ant-Man were also well animated.
Explosions? Check. Gunfire? Check. They’re simply nowhere near the scope of any previous Avenger film (Even Iron Man 3)
Not much can be said of all the regular suits in this film, but I was much more impressed by the design of the “Yellowjacket” over the retro feel of the “Ant-Man” suit. Expect a redesign for future films.
Hair & Makeup
I was a bit distracted by Evangeline Lilly’s Jim Carey “bowl cut” wig. Why didn’t they let Kate from Lost simply grow it out? Everyone else was acceptable.
Regular scale settings were about as average as Hollywood can get, but at the subatomic level, “insides” and “outsides” (as assisted by heavy CG) has no meaning. There wasn’t too much interesting to see beyond the walls of abstract green screens.
I was more impressed with the tech look of the research labs (thank you Iron Man films) especially when compared to the antique nature of Pym’s personal domicile.
“Picture” = 22/33
Who doesn’t love a tiny world perspective on things? This happens to be Marvel’s version of it and new angles on an ever saturating genre are always welcome.
Hank Pym can’t be the Ant-Man anymore due to obvious reasons, but I wasn’t sold on Scott’s need to take up this fight himself, despite personal desperation being a clear and present motivator.
I love all the connections made to the MCU, I appreciate the obvious lead-in to Civil War, but I was a bit underwhelmed by the cookie-cutter wrap up for Ant-Man himself.
Conversations in general seem natural enough, but every time Rudd speaks, he seems far too casual for a character that’s in the position he’s in. Douglas delivers more demonstrative lines in a more demonstrative manner. Ugh! I cringe at anything Scott’s crew says.
The very first scene in this film gives the audience exactly what it needs to understand everything about Ant-Man and how he fits into this dynamic universe. No need to be cryptic, yet.
Hank Pym is my kind of scientist. Everyone else was my kind of been there; done that.
Sacrificing and doing whatever it takes for one’s family is a strong theme repeated amongst our heroes throughout this film. Can it be any easier to understand this?
“Story” = 17/34
Overall MPS Rating: 59/100
I was a bit surprised at this score as I enjoyed Ant-Man overall as a fairly entertaining popcorn, action and effects spectacle. In hindsight, I liked this film more for its connections to the growing cinematic universe of Marvel’s superheroes. I liked it less for its disinterest in really committing to standing on its own.