First off, I’d like to open by saying I don’t really care about Ant-Man. Even Ant-Man doesn’t seem to care about Ant-Man (Over the years he also fought crime as Goliath, Giant-Man, and Yellowjacket). The most interesting thing about him to me is that he beats his wife. Besides being a founding Avenger and creating Ultron (In the comics), I’ve never had any reason to keep up with him. The only time he crossed my path would be when something big threatened the universe. Then Hank Pym would be side by side with Reed Richards and the other smarties trying to come up with a solution. He’s almost the Aquaman of Marvel, the red headed step child of the Avengers.
On top of that, this movie has been in development for an absurd amount of time. For several years it’s been the baby of Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz). I really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Although I’ve never read it) so I thought he would be able to pull off a good comic adaptation. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be though. Just as they were finally getting the ball rolling, Marvel Studios and Wright parted ways. Peyton Reed was brought in to direct and Adam McKay was doing a re-write. Reed directed episodes of The Weird Al Show and Upright Citizens Brigade and McKay is Will Ferrell’s writing partner so the intention seemed clear; they wanted it to be funny. We will see.
So with my I preconceived notions and low expectations I sat down to enjoy the film. The film opens in the 80′s. Henry “Hank” Pym (Michael Douglas) has been kicking ass all through the cold war as Ant-Man. Wary of the danger of his own technology though, he has hidden the process which makes his Pym Particles from S.H.I.E.L.D., but someone’s been trying to replicate it. There’s a cool flashback here with Peggy Carter and Howard Stark, then we flash forward to present day. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is getting out of prison.
Unable to find a job thanks to his ex-con status, Lang reluctantly agrees to do a heist so he can get his life on track, get a place, and start paying child support so he can get visitation with his daughter. Pym, also having problems with his estranged daughter, is trying to deal with the fact that his former assistant Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has taken over his company and is on the verge of recreating the process that will shrink humans. In addition, he has created the Yellowjacket battlesuit (Capable of flight and lasers) which will revolutionize warfare. Fearing what will happen, Hope (Evangeline Lilly- The Hobbit) has reluctantly turned to her father for help. After manipulating Lang into stealing his Ant-Man suit for an impromptu try out, Pym assists him in breaking out of jail so he can steal the Yellowjacket suit for them and erase all the data. Will they save the day and be reconciled with their daughters? You’ll have to see to find out (Or keep reading).
“What’s it gonna be?”
Spoilers and Observations
Although this movie is full of holes, I found myself enjoying it. I’m going to point out a few major flaws and then move on to why I liked it. For starters, I could have used more background on Lang, his ex (Judy Greer, basically playing the same character she did in Jurassic World) , and the daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson). At two hours, the movie’s already long, but you could have cut out a few things and gone a bit deeper with this. Also, this is almost the exact plot of the first Iron Man movie (The Mark I, if you will). A guy comes up with new technology he won’t share with the guy who is trying to take over his company so they reverse engineer it and then he has to destroy it. Same movie.
I didn’t really care for the whole, “My cousin knows this guy who knows this guy who knows this other guy who knows this chick” routine they kept doing with Michael Pena. It got old and doesn’t make sense. To be honest, you could have cut his three amigos out of this movie completely. They’re not very funny and do little to move the plot along. I’m not blaming the actors either. Pena is consistently good, David Dastmalchian seemed to really absorb his character, and even T.I. did an OK job. At the end of the day though, I just didn’t like the characters but hey, I bet kids think they’re funny.
“You want me to be in Daft Punk?”
Now we move on to some pretty big problems. Why, exactly, does Pym need Lang to wear the suit? They have a throwaway line about how he physically can’t anymore but never explain why that is. Does it have something to do with the shrinking affecting his brain patterns, as is implied? Is that the seeming cause of his random outbursts? They use these affected brain patterns to explain why Cross becomes a douche and he hasn’t even shrunk down yet! HUGE HOLE. Not only do they never show him shrinking down (Which causes the brain damage) but his suit has a helmet so it should protect him!
Also, how does Cross get into the Yellowjacket suit in the first place? It’s shrunk down, he gets on the helicopter, SHOOTS BULLETS AT A SWARM OF ANTS… HITTING ONE (Possibly in a nod to Wanted? I’m reaching here.), and somehow he’s able to enlarge the suit and get it on in around thirty seconds. I can’t get dressed in thirty seconds NOW, not even into my jammies. Furthermore, how is someone who seems to be donning a shrinking suit for the first time able to go toe to toe with a guy who has had a few weeks of training at it? That was something Iron Man got right. Stane wasn’t used to the suit yet.
Cardio is crucial
Speaking of Lang’s training, I don’t understand his powers. How is he super strong as an ant? I kind of followed their explanation about how although he shrinks his mass stays the same, but if that’s how this works then won’t he NOT be super strong when he presumably becomes Giant-Man in a later movie? And moving on to the really nit-picky, how does Paxton keep Lang out of jail at the end? They could have just had Pym drop the charges and gotten him out in the first place, but Lang ESCAPED FROM JAIL and somehow Paxton just gets it swept under the rug. Oh, and the second I saw the tank key ring I knew they were going to make it big and all they did with it was drive it through a wall. Lame.
The only real problem that came close to ruining the movie for me though was that the tone was off just a tick. I’m not sure if it’s because Rudd and McKay came in and changed Wright and Cornish’s script or what. It reminded me of the second Hulk movie. Were the bad parts because of the studio or Ed Norton? As an actor, Paul Rudd (When he’s not doing comedies) is vanilla ice cream.It’s edible, but you wish there was a little more too it. He can hit that upper echelon of acting too. I’ve seen him do it.
Ice cream. See what I did there?
I just needed one of two more moments with a little gravitas. This guy has his daughter at laserpoint and he doesn’t really look scared for her life. Just a little bit more would have made a big difference. There’s a really emotional scene between Hope and Hank and Lang just ruins it with a bad joke. They took possibly the best scene in the movie and just stepped on it for the sake of being funny. It’s a shame that Joss Whedon isn’t doing the next Avengers flick because I think he could have had a lot of fun with this character.
Enough complaining though, on to the compliments. Conversely, by virtue of being Paul Rudd, the character is immediately likable and you find yourself pulling for him even before he gives you a reason to. I enjoyed that, although he’s a thief, they made him a Robin Hood type. Rudd’s happy-go-lucky performance is an interesting dichotomy with the super seriousness of Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly.
“What do you mean dinner’s not ready?”
Hank seems to try and maintain rigid control lest the world see his dark side and Hope seems to try and maintain rigid control so the world won’t realize she’s human. Pym is almost like Bruce Banner in that sense, but rather have Scott poke at him like the way Tony Stark does they have him focus on Hope, which was a nice touch.
Speaking of nice touches, I really liked the way they made this fit into the MCU. Having Ant-Man be an old school S.H.I.E.L.D. badass was very clever and the footage of him on missions instantly gave him credibility as a physical threat. I liked how his distrust of Howard Stark gave him trepidation when Scott suggested they call in the Avengers. Good tie in. An even better tie in was having Scott break into the new Avengers headquarters and fight Falcon. Marvel just keeps nailing this. I must say though, although I was as happy as Spider-Ham in shit when they reference that the wall crawler does exist, I don’t think the post-credits scene was as Earth shattering as all the hype led us to believe.
Yes, Spider-Ham is a real thing.
Although I doubt we’ll ever see the domestic violence story line, I enjoyed how they worked Hank’s temper into the script. One of the only aspects I’ve ever found interesting about Hank is his dark side so I’m glad to see they’ve opened up the possibility of exploring it further down the road. And speaking of The Wasp, I’m glad to see Evangeline Lilly will seemingly be taking on the mantle. It’ll be nice to have another strong female character kicking ass alongside Black Widow and Agent Carter. And based off comments by Kevin Feige about Ant-Man setting up some of the “mind-bending, reality-altering landscapes” we can expect in Doctor Strange, I wouldn’t be surprised if the post-credits scene in that movie reveals Doc Strange recovering the original Wasp from the quantum realm. That would give you a lot to play with moving forward.
Speaking of the quantum realm, that was some fancy 3D. Loved most of the effects in this movie. They did such a good job making Michael Douglas look younger for the flash back scene that I spent the rest of the movie thinking they had added make up to make him appear older in the rest. The fight scene in the brief case, although a bit hard to follow at times, was fantastic. They really pulled off the scenes where he was shrinking and enlarging to fight people. I liked the way they used all the different kinds of ants to pull off the heist (Even though it was yet another heist movie where, in the end, the heist was unnecessary).
Did I mention the suit looks pretty pimp?
To wrap up, although a lot of the jokes fell flat I still thought a lot of it was funny. The acting is good and at times great. The story is solid and tied in well and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes in the future. They took a character that I was meh about and made me invest in him. Although there were a lot of holes in this ant hill, in the end it was able to carry several times it’s body’s weight. Phase 2 may have started off shaky, but they pulled it back together. When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man didn’t ruin the picnic. I give it a B- and a big thumbs up
T-Bagz was also once attacked by a yellowjacket