Ant-Man Review

If you analyze the building blocks of Ant-Man’s theatrical debut one at a time, everything is exactly where it should be. Paul Rudd is a charismatic, likable hero as Scott Lang. Michael Douglas steals each scene he’s in as the plot-lynchpin of the adventure, Hank Pym. The story is personable, with character moments and motivations that reinforce the importance of the mission. There is a unique world on display for audiences, and Scott Lang, to discover.

Ant-Man shrinkingBut when you view the final construction, Ant-Man is a solid ‘good, not great’ film that will have you wondering why you don’t love it more.

What You’ll Enjoy

Shrinking to the size of an ant, sounds like a silly ability, with little practical applications; but the film displays the nuance, diversity and utility of changing density through amazing visual effects and stunning point of view movement. The same room takes on a completely different feel, tone and visual fidelity as Scott transforms from human size to tiny. Additionally, the combat sequences manage to capture the choreography of size changing instantously extremely well through fluid pov adaptations. Lang doesn’t benefit from staying in small size always, but must change back and forth constantly.

The science behind Pym-particles and their ability to manipulate matter is explained just enough for the film. Pym walks Lang through the practical application, potential pitfalls and justifies the rules of this universe. It obviously has real-world logic flaws, but it retains the groundwork established from beginning to end without any last minute deus ex machina to be convenient for the plot.

Most of the cast do a great job with the roles provided. Rudd is the leading man, able to deliver off-hand jokes with ease as well as be the most likable goofball around while making the audience believe in his struggle to be a better man. Douglas captures an air of superiority and attention befitting Pym, with hints at some of his inner demons. Michael Pena is amusing as one of many sidekicks and never breaks character despite the ridiculous situations.

Ant-Man SliderThe breakaway actors coming out of Ant-Man, are the ants. The audience is dropped into Zoology 101 as Pym describes the function, personality and quirks of the different species of ants used by the Ant-Man and throughout the film they remain true to themselves and their character motivations. The ants are supporters, builders, fighters and the most pivotal weapon in Lang’s arsenal. Watching hundreds of ants moving in coordination to accomplish the mission offer some of the most visually spectacular moments of the film. These are no longer ants – they are soldiers with a purpose.

What Might Frustrate You

The characters are spot-on and offer enough of the archetype you’d expect (mentor, thief with a heart of gold, power-hungry scientists, jaded child, jealous step-dad) with a mixture of unique personality. Unfortunately, the relationships aren’t provided the same care. The only reason the audience knows Pym sees himself in Lang is because we are told. Almost every relationship, is highlight through dialogue as opposed to action. For example, when Luis picks Lang up from prison and helps him on his feet it is mentioned they are old-friends who were part of the same gang to explain their connection. I like to believe the audience is smart enough to know a person waiting for a prisoner release is on good terms with the former convict.

Yellow JacketTwo characters not allowed to develop through action are Evangeline Lilly’s Hope and the villain Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll. They exist to generate conflict and resolution for our heroes, emotional and physical obstacles to overcome. Which is a shame because they each have interesting connections to Pym and roles within this story which are never allowed a chance to shine. This is Lang’s origin story, after all, and side characters are treated more like plot pieces instead of developed personalities.

No spoilers, but for a film with scientists, tech geniuses and people trying to oneup each other all the time – there are lots of stupid decisions made.

Final Verdict

I want to love Ant-Man (maybe I’ve fallen to the Marvel brainwashing) but I don’t. It is a solidly good movie with great scenes but odd pacing, character choices and distracting MCU connections which drag it down. The choice to start with the second Ant-Man instead of the first is off putting and puts into question touchpoints established throughout the Marvel franchise.

Ant-Man remains entertaining throughout the narrative and introduces a charming Scott Lang to the world. As an origin story the film is passable, as a heist movie it’s decent and as a super hero entry it’s alright. Ant-man remains middle of the road due to overused physical jokes, a muddled second-act and rushed conflict in the finale.

The Marvel Comparison

Ant-Man is easily better than Thor, Thor: Dark World and Iron Man 2. Despite having Paul Rudd as lead, it isn’t as funny as Guardians of the Galaxy or Avengers…or Avengers Age of Ultron. It is visually spectacular, like the first time Robert Downey Jr. donned the Iron Man suit, but doesn’t have the wow-punch of going first. I would say this is a middle-tier MCU film along the likes of Captain America: The First Avenger and Iron Man 3.


Level Up, Friends!