Ant-Man - Review

http://invisiblekidreviews.blogspot.de/2015/07/ant-man-review.html


After a very troublesome development, the Ant-Man movie finally got made and released to theaters.
Being a more unorthodox superhero with his trademark superpower to shrink in size and communicate with ants, Ant-Man was right from the get-go a more difficult superhero movie to pull off.
After several directors (including Edgar Wright) dropped out of the project, director Peyton Reed took on the small hero to give him his big screen presence.
Still, the difficult production of the movie as well as directing trouble didn't go unnoticed with comic book fans, making Ant-Man a movie with just as many positive as well as negative expecations surrounding it.
Starring Paul Rudd in the titular role as well as Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, did director Peyton Reed manage to make Ant-Man stand out as one of the best and "bigger" Marvel movies in the MCU despite the odds?...

 



The plot:
Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Source: IMDb




Different from Marvel movies that mostly deal with plotlines and stories including devastating global consequences and stakes like alien invasions etc., Ant-Man sort of defies this trend by focussing and taking place on a fittingly smaller scale. Nevertheless it is actually quite astonishing what director Peyton Reed made out of a superhero whose only power it is to shrink to smaller size and communicate with ants. Being actually more of a heist movie in superhero coating, Ant-Man is a somewhat refreshing addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that does its own standalone thing while still serving nicely placed references and connections to the other bigger Marvel flicks. Additionally boasted by great performances, Ant-Man is a better than expected but still pretty much straight-foward and resultingly an a bit forgettable experience.

Despite the troublesome development, it's all good.

As already said, Ant-Man takes place on a much much more smaller scale than other Marvel movies like Iron Man or The Avengers. Ant-Man is is therefore much more focussed on a smaller group of characters and a more condensed storyline, which makes it somewhat a bit more comparable to the first Thor movie.
At the same time this also means that despite still being a superhero movie at its core, Ant-Man fares quite differently: instead of loads of scenes involving explosions and action, you get a story that spends more time on developing its characters and on building up the final act of the movie involving a big heist.
And even though the movie starts off a bit slow and a bit too predictable, Ant-Man is a movie that progressively gets better as it goes on. Particularly as soon as main protagonist Scott Lang meets up with Hank Pym, the pace of the film really picks up and backstory elements and action unravel pretty quickly and dynamically.
On top of all that, Ant-Man does a great job of subtely but efficiently working with references to the other bigger Marvel films. Without overdoing it, Ant-Man resultingly finds its spot in the MCU even though it doesn't necessarily affect the MCU and its future events too much - at least not yet.

It's fittingly enough more of a heist movie than a full-on action fest.

What originally put question marks all over filmgoers' heads when they first heard of an Ant-Man movie being made is most probably the question: "How is Marvel going to make a movie about a superhero who can shrink in size exciting?". Well, believe it or not, Marvel Studios and director Peyton Reed actually did a pretty impressive job of doing so. While of course Ant-Man's main superpower still remains to be able to just shrink in size with the help of the Ant-Man suit, it's particularly the situations that Ant-Man/Scott Lang gets put in that in many instances make good use of the shrinking ability. It's very likely that many viewers will get immediate flashbacks of other shrinking movies through those scenes like most notably "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" when Scott is almost getting killed by huge rats or a giant vacuum cleaner.
What substantially further extends his variety of powers though, is Ant-Man's ability to actually communicate with various types of ants that help him on his mission. These little helpers are a great addition not only to Ant-Man but the movie as a whole. Though this power is not as well scientifically explained as most of the other aspects in the movie, the ants in the movie do great in making Ant-Man come off as a hero whose capability is in a way depending on this partnership between him and these little helpers. Aside from actually giving Ant-Man's name meaning, the ants give way to show off lots of creative ways in how Ant-Man manages to break into highly secured areas and get out of various dangerous situations.
Nevertheless, one still would've wished that especially the big final heist and break-in would've been a bit more extravagant, longer and more creative given the numerous possibilities. 

With a little help from my friends.

Paul Rudd, who at first seemed like a very odd choice to play Ant-Man, actually does surprisingly well as the character of Scott Land. His performance differentiates a lot from his regular territory in the fields of harsh comedy alongside other actors like Seth Rogen or Will Ferrell. With that said, Paul Rudd does a solid to great job in showing off a Scott Lang character who is both charismatic as well as comedic at the same time. While the comedy is well and subtlely placed (and far not as in-your-face as the trailers make it seem), his character arc of a Robin-Hood-type anti-hero character is nothing too new to right home about. Yet still, he is a very likable lead who does his job very well. Among the primarily cocky and muscular superhero badasses, it's also kind of refreshing to see a superhero whose powers show more in terms of cleverness instead of muscle power and brute force.
Sure enough, you will see every turn of Scott Lang's character development come from miles away, yet still Paul Rudd manages to deliver emotional as well as comedic scenes in a way that don't make it all seem too forced and actually quite credible.

Paul Rudd turns out to be actually a pretty good choice to play Ant-Man.

On the other side we got our antagonist: Yellowjacket aka Darren Cross played by Corey Stoll.
Even though Corey Stoll is a pretty capable actor, which he most notably showed in the popular TV-series House of Cards, Corey is sadly enough not given that much to work with in Ant-Man. With the focus being mainly put on Scott Lang, Hank Pym and his daughter, Yellowjacket is a villain who obviously plays second fiddle to the great climactic heist in the movie.
Resultingly, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket doesn't have that much of a character arc to show in Ant-Man. Much in the form of a throwaway-villain, Darren Cross is a very obvious comic book villain who comes off as very stereotypical and cheeesy throughout the entire movie. Cross rarely transcends anything from the realm of absolute predictability and is as forgettable and boring of a villain is it gets. It's the kind of villain that you can immediately spot as soon as he enters the screen.
But well, even given the clichee nature of him, at least Yellowjacket makes for a servicable enough villain for Ant-Man to have some entertatining final fight scenes with.

Sadly, Yellowjacket is as stereotypical and boring of a super-villain as it gets.

Yet, hands down the best actor and character in the entire movie is Michael Douglas as Hank Pym.
While it might have seemed a bit odd to have cast an A-list and serious actor like Michael Douglas in a Marvel movie, Douglas actually gives it his all in his performance as Hank Pym. From the wise mentor to the emotionally broken father who witnessed the sacrificial death of his wife, Hank Pym slowly manages to come out as the most "complex" and actually most interesting character of the entire movie. You really buy the fact that he was the original Ant-Man who now instead poses as the teacher of Scott Lang (the new Ant-Man). It all creates a very nice dynamic in the entire movie in which it is very well introduced that Ant-Man is not about "one man who succeeds in his mission" but rather "one man who manages to succeed through the help of his team" - in a Mission: Impossible kind of way.
After stinkers like the horrible movie "Last Vegas", Ant-Man is actually the best performance of Michael Douglas in recent memory.

Other notable side-characters are Evangeline Lilly as Hank Pym's daughter Hope van Dyne, who serves as a nice yet quite expendable addition to the team. But overall she comes off a bit pale and is sort of only in the movie to serve as a plot device for emotional scenes to make greater impact and to serve as a potential love interest for Scott. 
  
Michael Douglas nails it as Hank Pym.

Actionwise, Ant-Man is decidedly more low-key than other Marvel movies. While there indeed are some nicely done action scenes to witness, the movie is for the most part a heist movie lifted with some comedic elements. With that said, there indeed is the possibility for hardcore superhero action fans that they will come out sort of disappointed by Ant-Man. Yet, Ant-Man's smaller scale action absolutely fits the character.
Ant-Man is therefore described the best like a superhero version of a light Mission: Impossible movie, whose main big action scene only appears towards the very final act of the movie. And even then, the action is kept quite minimal and light compared to the more devastating other Marvel flicks.
The visual effects are also nice but nothing to write home about. Shrinking effects are pulled off convincingly and nice but won't necessarily really wow anybody (even though the ants obeying Ant-Man's commands are pretty cool to watch).

Don't worry. You will also get your occasional bursts of action scenes.

Ultimately, Ant-Man is not really the best that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer, but is still a quite enjoyable entry and introduction to a more unconventional superhero. Mostly thanks to a very good presentation and some great performances by Paul Rudd and especially Michael Douglas, Ant-Man is surprisingly better than a movie about a shrinking superhero seemingly has any right to be.
Taking place on a fittingly much smaller scale than other Marvel movies, Ant-Man turns out to be actually more of a superhero heist movie than a conventional full-on action fest. While nothing too special in terms of heist- or superhero action movies, Ant-Man does a competent job of mixing both elements together to make for an overall fun time.
And even though Yellowjacket comes off as a throwaway-villain and most of the movie's story beats seem a bit too predictable to make the movie truely memorable, Ant-Man is overall still good entertainment. It's not necessarily a movie you immediately want to run to the theater to watch, yet given the fact how extensive the MCU has gotten up to this point and resultingly how much knowledge of previous movies it requires, it's nice to see a superhero movie for once that introduces a weirder kind of hero in a movie that manages to stand on its own (while also serving subtle links to its bigger Marvel counterpart movies).



Final Verdict: 6 out of 10

 

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