Ant-Man

"You tried to hide your suit from me, now it's gonna blow up in your face, and destroy everyone you care about."

For a long time now, ever since Edgar Wright famously left the project over creative differences with Marvel Studios, Ant-Man has been a film that many were expecting to fail and fail spectacularly.

Well, Ant-Man is by no means a massive failure, nor would I say it's a great success. It is simply what it is; a fun, entertaining superhero movie with the same flaws that plague most Marvel movies. Ant-Man has the feel of a Phase One film, in the sense that it is a well told origin story -- something Marvel can do exceptionally well even for their lesser known characters -- that is strong on character, humour, heart, and thanks to its heist structure, has a lean plot that doesn't outstay its welcome. The film's two-hour runtime whizzes by.

Perhaps one reason there is so much negativity directed towards the film is the name itself. Many can't seem to get past the name Ant-Man, because a movie about an insect-based superhero is clearly a ridiculous idea that no one would ever pay to see *cough* Spider-Man *cough*. Many have bemoaned that shrinking isn't as cool a superpower as flight. Which is true, it isn't. But, as this film goes to great lengths to show, it is far from a useless power. Also, the shrinking capabilities of the hero and villain lead to some great action sequences, like a fight in a suitcase while an iPhone knocks out 'Disintegration' by The Cure and a climatic showdown on a little girl's Thomas the Tank Engine toy set.

While he's not going to win an abs-off with the Chrises any time soon, Paul Rudd is a likeable enough lead as Scott Lang -- a thief with a heart of gold who just want to be a good father to his daughter -- but the film's strongest emotional arc belongs to Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly as estranged father and daughter Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne. But it is Michael Peña who almost walks away with the entire film as Scott's prison buddy Luis. I say almost because he is given a run for his money by Abby Ryder Fortson as Scott's daughter Cassie. She is just so adorable.

As enjoyable as Ant-Man is, it is still handicapped by some of Marvel Studio's recurring issues. Despite Corey Stoll's best efforts, Darren Cross is another underwhelming, underwritten villain who is there simply so there is someone for the hero to fight at the end. This is also the latest Marvel film to fail the Bechdel test. Hope, Cassie and her mother are the only female characters with prominent speaking roles, and the only time two of them speak to each other (which is once) it is to talk about a man. Come on, Marvel, you need to get your act together on this one. Yes, you have some fantastic female characters, but it would be nice if there was more than just one per movie.


Notes and Quotes

--The FX that make Michael Douglas look 25 years younger at the start of the film are exceptional. We've come a long way since the horrors of X-Men: The Last Stand.

--There are many references to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they don't overwhelm the film or throw off its momentum like they did in Age of Ultron... although, one mid-film clash with an Avenger does feel a little tacked on.

Scott: "My days of breaking into places and stealing shit are over! What do you need me to do?"
Hank: "I want you to break into a place and steal some shit."

Scott: "Wait, I didn't steal anything! I was returning something I stole!"

Three out of four albums by The Cure.
--
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

12 comments:

J.D. Balthazar said...

I couldn't agree more Mark, this was a good movie but not a great one. It makes me wonder what Edger Wright's version was like. Still it was fun, and it might have felt more substancial as a phase one film.

Kathy said...

I had fun. Paul Rudd is from Kansas City, and I argue to friends who were like "eh" that we should always support our fellow Kansas Citian. And I went in, not expecting anything but a fun popcorn movie and to laugh, not think. And that's what I got.

I do think Guardians of the Galaxy is better, and my absolute favorite Marvel movie is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But, I had a good time and I think Marvel continues to shine.

Kat

Josie Kafka said...

I agree: this was fun. I watched it when I needed some fun, and it got the job done. That's enough for me!

It was weird to see the ghost of Edgar Wright hanging over the film, though. Some of the flashcuts when Michael Pena was narrating were like Edgar Wright Lite.

Billie Doux said...

It was definitely fun. Evangeline Lilly with perfect hair! Michael Douglas thirty years younger! I don't like ants, though, and there were way too many of them in this movie. And lamb disintegration! Geez!

Excellent review, Mark. You're right that Luis and Cassie practically stole the movie. :)

Josie Kafka said...

That one lamb who survived--does anyone know what happened to her? I kept thinking about whether or not they'd embiggened her again, or if she was just living a miniature life.

Billie Doux said...

I'm going to pretend that they made her big again and she's living happily on a farm somewhere with my childhood dog, Lady.

Josie Kafka said...

My childhood dog was also named Lady. I wonder if they live on the same farm? That must have gotten confusing.

My Lady was white-ish with black spots. Spanielish.

Billie Doux said...

My Lady was a golden brown cocker spaniel, just like Lady in Lady and the Tramp. I think that's the source of my distrust of all things Disney.

Josie Kafka said...

And I'm pretty sure that movie is why I find bad boys so appealing on screen.

Billie Doux said...

Come to think of it, the guy I nearly married three times was very Tramp-like. Not in looks, but in a rascal-ly way.

Josie Kafka said...

Not in looks, but in a rascal-ly way.

So he didn't walk on four legs?

Billie Doux said...

Well, he did drive a truck.