Posted July 8, 2015 by editor in Film Reviews
 
 

Ant-Man Review


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Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) after a falling out with SHIELD operatives in the late 80s decides to recoil his Pym Technology away through fear of it landing in the wrong hands.

In present day – recently released ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds living a legitimate life hard in order to make the sort of money that will give him access to his young daughter. He succumbs to his “criminal” best buddies whims and agrees to rob the safe of a rich guy. Of course all doesn’t go to plan as Lang discovers that the rich guy is Pym, and that Pym planned this all along in order to obtain Lang’s services as a master thief. Now he wants Lang to steal something for him, and to do so he needs to take control of Pym’s “Ant-Man” suit and technology.

This of course is the thing that allows a person to shrink to “Ant-Size” and also be able to talk to said insects and maneuver them to their will.

Paul Rudd plays Paul Rudd and like any Paul Rudd movie – he’s likeable and smug, but only funny about half the time. The film doesn’t have any big groaners but there are plenty of “meh” jokes and moments.

This film is very akin to Thor 2 through the fact that it has an underdeveloped villain, relies heavily on sporadic humour and even brings in the bizarre.  A few comedic highlights: One involving table tennis racket and another involving a personal playlist are great. A couple of the big laughs are perhaps lost thanks to the trailer though (Thomas the Tank Engine toppling over just isn’t always that funny after repeat viewing.

It’s all in the name of fun and laughs, but is resolutely dumb and nonsensical when thought of as existing in the same universe as Captain America: The Winter Solider. The link for which is Sam Wilson in a “comedic” action cameo.

The supporting players do what they can – Michael Pena as a mother mouth thief (worryingly introduced to spritely Latino music) who will annoy you with his half the time as he just won’t shut up, but then win you over in certain moments (again, Thor 2 had such a character).

So it’s all starting to look a bit like MARVEL script by committee and formula – which might explain Edgar Wright’s departure and the inclusion of “Non Visionary” director Peyton Reed. Sorry Peyton, you are no Edgar Wright and the proof is in your work here as well as elsewhere.

Michael Douglas is a solid addition to the Marvel universe as Hank Pym though and plays the role relatively straight. There is a future there for his character in either the comedic but also more serious nature should Marvel decide to utilize the character further in the future. Thinking about Pym in a lab with Bruce Banner and Tony Stark tingles the mind. His introduction sequence at the beginning set in the late 1980’s is astounding for literally capturing the late 80’s Michael Douglas – Even some of the words and gestures emoted from him you’d swear were lifted right from his films from that era.

It’s a good start that quickly gives way to a very sluggish and lazy middle section of the film where we have to establish all characters and slowly start to reveal their nature and perhaps hidden pasts.  Pym again has the most interesting of all the back stories involving his wife and his Daughter (a not very well utilized Evangeline Lilly). Had the film been about him then there might have been a stronger more worthy hero to pine for in this film. Instead Scott Lang is a buffoon, a bum and an idiot who mocks the screen with each second he is on it – not to mention a real slap to the face of the Avengers. Sadly there will be crowd members out there that will lap this sort of tom-foolery up and will get excited about him joining the team in future. Sadly if it is played this way he’s be more of a detriment to the films than he will a plus.

The thought of Paul Rudd out in the field with Cap and Thor only grates the nerves to think of his comedic capacity as part of the team. Sadly like most of Rudd’s humour – it all looks very predictable and chuckle-free. Comedy aside this character as now written is a much larger threat to any dramatic stakes of future movies.

The third act thankfully picks up the pace (but is none the wiser for it. But at least it moves along at a hurried pace as our heroes face off against their foe (Corey Stoll really hamming it up beyond even Asgardian measure).  This is also where you get some of the biggest laughs – thanks largely to editorial decisions that make fun of the whole miniaturization but see from real world perspective. A joke they are sure to drive into the ground in sequels to come.

Overall Ant-man is not the bastard child disaster people feared, but it is in no way near Marvel’s upper tier of movies either. And the threat of Ant-man as Character (fun though he can be) is a potential threat to how serious you take the Avengers in future movies.

Hiring Rudd as the character isn’t a problem, but hiring him to re-write the screenplay was and should be avoided as much as possible in future.

This then is perhaps Marvel’s most kid friendly movie, but it reeks of over simplicity in a time when we are looking for depth in the MCU franchise. What with the disappointment of Age of Ultron this is perhaps a bit of an OFF YEAR for Marvel.

3 Stars

 

 

Steven Hurst


editor