Ant-Man Movie Review – Small Steps, Big Impact
Marvel Studios has done it again, and their formula for superhero films is strong in this one. Ant-Man is a fun and charming heist adventure filled with great character moments and plenty of goodies for the hardcore Marvel fan. Unfortunately, Marvel’s magic movie formula is also part of what hurts it. Wow, I’m surprised I made it this far without dropping a bad pun or two–pat on the back. Now let’s get into what’s important: What’s the deal with this Ant-Man movie?
Potential Spoilers Ahead! You’ve been warned.
Ant-Man follows the surprisingly talented burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he rises to the challenge of “saving the world.” With some encouragement and help from Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Scott will learn the skills needed to take down Pym’s protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), and be the hero his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), deserves. Doesn’t seem like a very unique plot, but Ant-Man ventures into areas other Marvel Studios films haven’t explored yet. And does a great job giving the film its own identity even with the in-your-face ties to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The greatest success of this film is Marvel Studios making the Ant-Man powers cool and amazing to experience. I felt that childlike desire of wanting those abilities, so Marvel must have done something right and had a ton of fun playing with possibilities. The special effects are pretty fantastic but that feeling of something being just a little off visually popped up every so often. Even with that said, the “honey, I shrunk the hero” moments are fun as hell and the visual risks pay off. I was taken to places I don’t think about visiting and action scenarios I wouldn’t have thought of. Either way, suspension of disbelief achieved. But special effects and shrunken super-powered antics can’t carry the film all alone. The casting is great even with some of the characters being a bit hokey or should I say more like caricatures.
Yeah, Paul Rudd is Paul Rudd on the big screen, but he is such a likable guy. He owns the role, and I have difficulty imagining someone else a Scott Lang. Also, Scott’s motley crew of criminal associates have a fun dynamic with Luis (Michael Pena) providing some of the finest comedic moments in the movie. Michael Douglas nails it with his portrayal of a very hotheaded Hank Pym. Every time he lashed out I was fairly surprised. It think there was a moment Evangeline Lilly was genuinely caught by one of his outbursts. Speaking of Evangeline, I can’t wait to see more of her in the MCU. She’s a tough cookie. Then there is sweet Abby Ryder Fortson, such an adorable little actor. It’s the first child in the MCU I genuinely like, and where the child aspect failed in Iron Man 3, there is just enough time spent with the character to feel organic–not overdone. Though, it was easy to forget Scott is a father and the audience is reminded quite a few times. I guess this leaves me with the glaring issue with Marvel Studios films.
The Marvel movie formula is strong and that includes the flaws. The villain is terribly one dimensional, but easy to hate for the right reason I’ll give them that. The stakes presented are a threat but do not actually seem life-threatening to the main cast or frankly the populous. It’s just inherent that everything will be ok. Except for the villain who is apparently destroyed just like many others in the MCU. But I’ve been through this so many times I’ve accepted their methods.
So, what helped sealed the deal for my Ant-Man love? It was the level of nods and guest appearances that scream this is part of the MCU. As many of you know Falcon (Anthony Mackie) makes a guest appearance–a TV spot spoiled it for me–but there are more, at least three. And the Falcon’s “guest appearance” is a full blown role, which surprised me and in the best way. We even get a mention of Ant-Man’s first comic book appearance, nicely done. We are also teased with the other worldly/dimensional leap that will come in phase three and even more Avengers possibilities. I get really hyped about the future films.
Ant-Man was a long time in the making and many thought this project would be doomed without Edgar Wright in the director’s chair. The first teaser released set up that final nail for the coffin, being met with lackluster response from fans. It was especially difficult to shine with everyone focused on the grandiose spectacle that is Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, that negative-nancy feeling of this being a bad Marvel Studios film is squashed, and most likely won’t be seeing another Marvel Studios stinker for quite a while. Ant-Man is a great, entertaining addition to the MCU and Director Peyton Reed did a great job showing off what Ant-Man can offer. There isn’t one strong enough reason to pass on Ant-Man. Go enjoy it for yourself!