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Movie Review: Ant Man
No Spoilers Here!
I plan on talking about this film in more detail at a later date, as well as how it's leading up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Stage 3, similar to how I discussed how AoU did the same.
My Initial Impression
It's a Marvel film, and it's done well. Despite the worries that a shrinking hero who can communicate with ants, played by the comedic Paul Rudd, would be a flop, Ant Man does its job well. Better yet, unlike the previous film of Avengers: Age of Ultron, this Marvel film is not overly laden with Easter eggs and foreshadowing of future films, bringing back an origin film that helped Phase 1 so much.
Still, that's not to say it's not without its problems. Maybe we've been jaded by the high stakes that Marvel has been visiting? Human genocide, Hydra infiltrating SHIELD, Infinity Stones, and so forth. Stealing the suit of a retired superhero we haven't seen to fight another villain who turns tiny is small beans in comparison. Also, while the film tries to be humorous almost 100% of the time, it falls flat every so often and it kinda feels that way.
Hank Pym was the original Ant Man and becomes disillusioned with his work and quits his business and his formula that allowed him to shrink. His assistant, oblivious to the 'Pym Particle,' becomes angry with his mentor and works the company to re-create the same formula to create supersoldiers. To deal with this, Hank Pym enlists the help of his resentful daughter Hope and recently released from prison whistle-blower Scott Lang.
During the film we get a more unique look at a superhero and notably a father's relation to their daughter. We also get to see another Avenger, a small look at Hydra's going-ons, and some past work of SHIELD and the original Ant Man.
Scott Lang is played by the fairly versatile (but largely comedic) Paul Rudd. Rudd plays the part of absent yet loving father well and is far more human than the other superheroes we've seen in Marvel. Only because he's an exceptional thief does he ever get selected to become Ant Man (that and a dilemma similar to Hank Pym himself). His performance doesn't stand out as revolutionary or anything, and while solid, it's a shame his uniqueness as a superhero in't played out more. Perhaps in Captain America: Civil War that contrast will be starker.
Micheal Douglass plays Hank Pym well, though they create him to be an imperfect individual (seen while he's a father, husband, scientist, and superhero) his issues seem solved by the end of the film. In my opinion, it's a shame when compared to his role in the comics (probably one of the least liked Avengers due to his creations always fighting back at the superhero team and the time he backhanded his wife), that they don't make him a little villainous. That is my own personal opinion at least simply due to his track record (and the fact that in the comics, Ultron is based on Pym's darker side where he holds literally everything else in contempt).
Evangeline Lily plays a made-to-be-stiff Hope Van Dyne (the offspring of Hank and Janet), Corey Stoll plays a lackluster, slightly crazy villain called Darren Cross, and Anthony Mackie reprises his role as Falcon (there's also a small cameo of Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter too). There's also a trio of thieves that Scott works with that actually includes the artist T.I., though it's debatable if they're actually funny or not.
The film is fast paced and things go quickly, so little inconsistencies with characters (or lack of development) just breezes by without you really noticing. It's not that the film is bad, but it gets to the point rather quickly.
What does it add to the MCU?
We get a character intro, something that both the Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver desperately needed in order to have an emotional connection to the audience. Scott Lang is fleshed out with a wife, her new boyfriend, a trio of thieves, Pym and his daughter (who becomes a love interest off screen apparently since I didn't feel they led up to a relationship much at all), and most importantly, Scott Lang's little girl. Abby Ryder Fortson is the best part of this film and I hope they consecutively use her again and again.
Otherwise, we get Hank Pym's lack of approval towards the Avengers and especially Stark, Scott Lang's purpose (his daughter) seeing her dad as a hero and desire for him not to be caught, a possible Wasp in the future, and a very clear reference to Spiderman (but we already knew about that, right?).
After Age of Ultron, I feel like I got a bit of fresh air. Sure, there were references in this film but I felt that they were more organic. What do I mean by that? Back to the last Avengers film for example:
- Organic- Rogers and Stark arguing about control, leads to Civil War
- Inorganic- Thor getting half naked in a natural hot tub and sees random shots in order to somehow have the clarity to help Vision wake up to solve the issue against Ultron, leads to Deus Ex Machina and Thor: Ragnorak
There was SHIELD and Hydra mentions, but that's because these factions are huge in the MCU. We see Falcon guarding an Avengers base, and that makes sense. We hear about Spiderman because someone is searching for other superheroes. This information and references flows easily through the film, allowing it to stand on its own and breathe without pulling along the intro to another film.
It does have some language though light, and there's a bit of violence as well. There's absolutely no sexual innuendos although one character talks about the instance he touched boobs for the first time. There is one or two scenes of organic things being shrunk unsuccessfully, turning into fleshy snot but that's literally the worst bit you'll find in this film.
In another time, Ant Man might have been revolutionary. It's a solid film that's a little more genre based than it is a fantastic cinematic piece. If you don't like superhero flicks or heist films, you might just skip this one. Honestly, not seeing this might not break your understanding of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), just as long as you understand the characters of Scott Lang and Hank Pym.
But this film is not bad by any means. Despite the critics making fun of the idea of a shrinking man standing alongside someone like Thor or the Hulk, this movie does well. Its comedy swings all the time, and while I found myself laughing at some of it, the rest was either straight-faced or I'd grin. This movie could be improved, but at the same time it could be far worse. It's no Guardian of the Galaxy or Winter Soldier, but it's not at the bottom of the pile either.
- An origin story set in the MCU
- Superhero/thief who shrinks but kinda keeps his density (science is loose) and communicates with ants
- Tries to be funny throughout, actually funny approximately 50% of the time
- Do not watch if you have a fear of ants
Do you plan on seeing this film?
Check out some of my other reviews of summer films in 2015.