Ant-Man (2015) Movie Review
Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd
Directed by Edgar Wright, no, Adam McKay--sorry, Peyton Reed.
Written by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay and Paul Rudd(!?!) and my neighbor Chuck- It took this many writers to make this movie just like every Marvel movie ever made
Running Time: 117 minutes that you know you’re going to stay through the end credits just to see some f*cking credit cookie for the next Marvel Movie
Another Marvel movie where nothing of any real consequence happens. Then again, you knew that was going to be the case since you’ve been forking over your cash since May 2008 knowing that if you want vanilla, the Marvel empire will give you vanilla and you’re just going to take the shot to your face and lap it up as it dribbles down your chin. Swallow.
And you should, because for 2 hours, you’re going to forget about your cares and the second you leave the theater you’re going to forget pretty much everything you’ve seen and then wonder when was the last time Robert Downey Jr. DIDN’T play Iron Man (like you’d actually see an RDJ movie w/out the words Iron Man in the title…unless it’s Sherlock Holmes- let’s hear it for range)…
As you’ve seen by the ubiquitous trailers, Ant-Man is the latest model to roll off the Disney, er, Marvel assembly line, and it‘s one of the most fun, primarily because it makes it a point not to take itself too seriously, knowing that its inherent premise is pretty stupid. It’s the most organically funny in that it doesn’t feel like the 4 credited writers took turns writing pithy one-liners for Chris Hemsworth or Chris Evans or Chris Pratt or Chris L. Jackson or Chris Johansson.
The only way you’d actually be aware that Ant-Man is part of the Marvel Universe is because the movie constantly reminds you with references to the 29 previous movies.
The movie’s plot really isn’t anything to write home about. In fact it’s pretty standard, but it’s the charm in which Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly carry everything off that make Ant-Man one of the few of the recent Marvel (are we in Phase 4 or 7? I forgot to care) movies in which you kinda-sorta invested in what happens to the characters.
The movie opens in 1989. Taylor Swift has just been born and back then killing black teens was a felony. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is leaving SHIELD because they want to weaponize his newest discovery: The Pym Particle which pseudo-science-y gobbledygook aside, is what makes Ant-Man’s suit small. Much to the chagrin of Howard Stark (John Slattery) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell, in unconvincing old age makeup).
The movie opens again in present day. Taylor Swift is on her 1989 tour and you can kill a black teen whenever you feel like it if you’re a white cop.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is getting out of prison after doing time for burglary.
He gets picked up from prison by his ex-cellmate (Michael Pena) and lives in an apartment with other minority sidekicks (rapper TI (?) and some other guy with a thick Russian accent).
Mexican guy and black guy want to offer him a thieving job that’s easy money.
Scott says no. He’s out of the burglary game and wants to go straight.
2 seconds of screentime later you realize Scott can’t keep a job because he’s an ex-con, as shown by a small sequence paid for by Baskin Robbins.
After the movie, stop off at Baskin Robbins and get yourself some ice cream. Tell them Marvel sent you.
Did we mention that Scott has a daughter Cassie that he loves very much? He wants to prove to her that he’s not a bad guy despite serving time in prison for what anybody in the audience would deem a pretty noble crime. But he just doesn’t have any money to pay for child support.
In desperation, Scott decides to steal, but for the best of reasons.
Meanwhile, Hank Pym has gotten older and he and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly, she of the most pointless of the many pointless Hobbit subplots) are estranged.
Wait a second. Hope and Hank are estranged. Scott and Cassie are estranged. I wonder if throughout the movie both these transparent Daddy-Daughter issue subplots will be addressed with all the emotional heft as an episode of Glee.
Case in point: Hope calls her father “Hank”. Which means she’ll be screaming “DADDY” in the 3rd act to show that in fact, she really does love her father. I don’t know, I’m just guessing.
Hank is witnessing his generically evil former protégé Darren (Corey Stoll) develop a version of the Pym particle that will make his suit (called The Yellowjacket) turn soldiers super small. Hank warns Darren not to do it. Darren laughs maniacally. Hank leaves, hoping against hope that Darren does not crack the intricacies of the Pym Particle.
Meanwhile, Taylor Swift has just shot a black teen, and everyone is cool with it as she wrote a letter to Apple saying why it’s perfectly okay for Tay to just kill people whenever she feels like it.
Back to Scott.
He breaks into a fancy house. Blows the safe. There’s nothing of any value in it…except a suit. It’s the Ant-Man suit, as you know from all the trailers.
But why is it kept in a safe? And was it meant for Scott? As if…
All the answers to facetiously suspenseful questions are all yes, because this is a Marvel movie, all the good guys will win handily without any meaningful casualties and the nondescript bad guys will die to make room for the next nondescript bad guy in Ant-Man 2 while people who should die (useless Hawkeye, a little less useless Black Widow) will take up space and screentime.
What works with Ant-Man
- After getting sloppy thirds, director Peyton Reed make Ant-Man the breeziest 2 hours in the Marvel canon, as he doesn’t have to deal with as much of the excess baggage as the previous Marvel movies. It’s the one Marvel movie that joyfully doesn’t feel like one…most of the time. You just knew the director of Bring It On could pull off a comic-book movie. Spirit fingers indeed.
- The 1 time in 500 that 3D actually benefits a movie instead of feeling like a cheap and obvious cash grab (looking at you, every movie made in the past 6 years not named Avatar). The shrinking and ant-heavy sequences leave the audience giddy instead of dizzy.
- Michael Pena’s “Flashbacks” are better told stories than some of the movies we’ve seen this year (looking at you, Terminator Genysis, and Stupider Ascending)
- Judy Greer makes every film she’s in better. It looks like she has about 2 more lines in this than she did in Jurassic World, and that’s good enough for the world
What Doesn’t Work With Ant-Man
- One thing that David Ayer correctly pointed out is that DC has a much better stable of villains than Marvel, and Ant-Man does nothing but cement that fact. All Corey Stoll does is play a less charismatic version of Jeff Bridges in the first Iron Man. In fact, Stoll’s hairpiece in The Strain is more terrifying and leaves more of an impression.
- Marvel fatigue
Ant-Man is the one time you welcome shrinkage.