Movie Review: Ant-Man

ant-man movie posterI’m sure when many folks heard that Marvel was planning on making a movie about Ant-Man, many scratched their head either asking “who?” or “what the hell?!”. For those who don’t know about the classic character, Ant-Man is one that goes back to the early years of Marvel dating back to 1962, including being one of the founding members of the Avengers.

While many have donned the identity, Ant-Man the film focuses on two key players, Hank Pym as played by Michael Douglas and Scott Lang played by Paul Rudd. The story at its most basic core is a heist film mixed in with a redemption story. Pym hires Lang to steal a super suit in order to save the world. Lang is an ex-con looking to do the right thing and see his daughter again. Mixed in there is the ability to shrink, lots of references to other Marvel superhero films, humor, and a lot of heart.

The film is a much more dialed back experience compared to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and especially the Avengers. Most of the film really centers around and focuses on just three people, Lang, Pym and Hope Van Dyne (Pym’s daughter played by Evangeline Lilly). In that there’s some mixed results, and that’s how I’d describe the movie as a whole very mixed. Rudd plays his usual likeable self, though I never quite was won over as him as an ex-con or technology genius. His is the same role he’s done time and time again in numerous movies. Likeable, and solid comedic timing as expected. Douglas is his older gruff self, and brings a bit of gravitas to the film. Lilly is about as I expected, she’s never been an actress I’ve particularly liked, and here she’s rather bland. I’ve tried to think who else I’d have cast and come up short. I will say, she’s at least age appropriate opposite Rudd.

The movie overall is mixed for me. It doesn’t quite know if it wants to be a heist film, a comedy, or an action film. There’s montages that could have been great comedy (any else notice how many changes of clothes folks went through in 3 days?) and fall a little short. There’s also some fantastic humor strewn about. It also follows the familiar Marvel origin film. Hero is introduced and shown to be flawed. Hero trains and finds out what it is to be a hero. Hero battles bad guy at the end. After credit scene(s). It’s that battle where the movie really stands out from the rest.

Before getting to the good, the bad is the film riffs a bit too much on what has come before. Corey Stoll‘s Darren Cross feels like Jeff Bridge’s Obadiah Stane in Iron Man, even down to the bald head and corporation that’s actually going to do bad. The plot follows the same narrative structure as previous films. The special fx at times felt a little retro and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. And now for the good.

I find the boss battle endings of Marvel’s movies have been generally lacking, but the opposite is here. The final battle is actually rather inspire, taking advantage of the diminutive size of the antagonists and resulting in some fantastic humor and scenes due to that. It also allowed for things I really haven’t seen on-screen, ever. That had me beyond entertained and still found myself laughing at moments that have been spoiled in the movie’s ads and trailers. Here we see inspiration that much of the movie lacked.

The real standout of the film is Michael Peña‘s Luis. Peña in the past has balanced both comedic and serious roles and here his comedic ability shines with a motor mouth character that can’t quite get to the point. His is the glee I was hoping to experience myself, and did at times, just not enough. It’s also hopefully a role that puts his talent in front of more individuals (when you see him you’ll be like “I know him from xyz film/television show,” he’s that type of actor). He’s a very talented actor and I thought stole every scene he was in, even when it’s just serving waffles.

The after credit scenes are interesting and I totally agree “about damn time.” The second of the two scenes will make a lot more sense when Captain America: Civil War hits theaters, and felt a bit choppy with its intro.

The film is entertaining, and it’s nice to see Marvel do a film on a smaller scale. This one though at times comes off like it’s unsure of exactly what it wants to be, not shocking considering it has six writing credits directly involved with the film. It also makes me wonder what Edgar Wright’s original vision was before he left the project. It’s a fun movie though, and very enjoyable, it’s also a slight stumble for the Marvel movie juggernaut.

Overall rating: 7.5