Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ant-Man Review

Ant-Man, Marvel and Disney's latest effort to introduce audiences to yet another new and relatively unknown hero.
Of all the Marvel films of late, Ant-Man is the one that had the highest chance of failing. After fan favorite director, Edgar Wright, left the project over "creative differences" after working on the film for nearly seven years, Marvel had to scramble to find another director to replace Wright. So, does Ant-Man turn out to the failure that some predicted? Or is Marvel still the unstoppable force that we all expect them to be? Let's find out!

Directed by: Peyton Reed
Genre: Heist, Superhero, Comic Book, Sci-Fi, Action
Release Date: July 17, 2015
Running Time: 117 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Original concept for a superhero flick, Inventive action sequences, Stellar shrinking special effects, Paul Rudd is a likable lead, Michael Douglas is excellent, Surprisingly emotional moments, Divorced family dynamic adds emotional investment, Entertaining throughout, Fun cameos and references, Inventive heist sequences, Genuinely funny,

The Bad: A few awkward dialogue sequences, Occasional overly goofy moments, Weak and forgettable villain

Plot Summary: Ant-Man's story plays out like a classic heist film with the protagonist, Scott Lang, being hired by Hank Pym, creator of the Ant-Man suit and shrinking ability, to steal technology from Pym's protégé, Darren Cross, before it can be used for nefarious purposes.

Plot: 8.5/10- Ant-Man's heist premise makes it different than previous superhero flicks, and it revives a genre that has been essentially dormant for years, so it not only feels fresh for a superhero film, it feels fresh in general! While the film is an origin story, it is one of the best superhero origins since Iron Man. The reason for Scott becoming Ant-Man ties into the central plot more organically than other origins. Despite the inventive setup, the final act does fall into a more typical superhero formula with a weak and forgettable villain. 

Even though Edgar Wright left the project, his witty script and dialogue is still present, although it comes off as unnecessarily goofy at times, although that depends on the viewer’s taste. There are a few minor gaps in logic, like someone saying they have "days not months" to prepare for the job and yet the montage feels more like a couple of weeks have passed. Otherwise, the plot is fast and fun!

Characterization: 9.0/10- As expected, Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, is a likable hero with a unique backstory for a superhero. He is a former burglar, who has just gotten out of prison, and a divorcee, which is a new concept for a superhero flick. This central idea of Scott’s motivations is for his daughter's sake adds another layer of emotional investment to the film's conflicts. Scott acts like a real person that made a few mistakes in his life, but he owns his mistakes and has paid for his previous crimes. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, is another main character, and his role is surprisingly well developed. He plays somewhat of a mentor to Scott, and yet he is different from the typical trope. The character is so well executed; one scene about something between and his daughter almost had me tear up a bit. Pym's daughter, Hope van Dyne, receives enough screen time to development the father/daughter drama between her and Hank, which mirrors Scott's character arc.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast is a little weaker. The central antagonist, who is obvious from the trailers, although I will not name him, is one of Marvel's weakest to date. His motivations are logical, yet he is thinly defined as a character, and ultimately does a few villainy things because he’s crazy. Thankfully, the real antagonist is the heist itself. As for the other supporting cast, Scott's fellow thieves add humor to the film, although some might find them annoying. There is a clever Avengers' cameo, and it is as cool as you might imagine.

Direction: 9.4/10- Despite minimal experience outside of forgettable comedies, Peyton Reed actually does a fine job as director. The strongest aspect is the use of the shrinking special effects during the heist and action sequences, and it creates excellent moments of comedy. Ant-Man's power is one of the most unique and interesting to watch of any superhero in recent years, and his powers are exceptionally well realized.

While I am not sure how much, if any, is directed by Edgar Wright, Peyton manages to capture elements of his style during the early parts of the film. However, if you are familiar with Wright's work, you can tell that Peyton’s attempt to copy it is not as successful as Wright’s actual work. My guess is that Peyton's direction of the actors is the cause for the occasional awkward delivery of Wright’s distinct dialogue, and as a whole, his direction feels a tad too safe during the non-action sequences.

Acting: 8.8/10- Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are excellent as the leads with Rudd's comedic acting playing off of Douglas' years of experience to great effect. Evangeline Lilly, as Hope, is solid in the role, and Michael Peña positively hilarious, as he manages to ride the fine line between annoying and humorous. Corey Stoll is decent in his role, but his material is the weakest of the cast. Lastly, Abby Ryder Fortson as Scott's 6 year old daughter, Cassie, makes the character so likable and sweet, which is difficult for child actors to pull off.

Special effects: 9.9/10- Even though not everything looks perfect, the shrinking effects are extraordinary! The film takes us to places where we have never been before with high quality effects that sell the small scale action set pieces brilliantly. My only small issue is that some parts are noticeably CGI at times, but that is a very minor complaint.

Soundtrack: 8.3/10- Christophe Beck's score is reminiscent of recent Marvel films with an upbeat tone and classic orchestral cues. The use of licensed music and quirky beats adds to the fun feel of the film as well.

Humor: 9.1/10- After Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man is Marvel’s funniest film to date. Not all the humor hits the mark with some of it feeling a little too kid friendly, but the use of Ant-Man's powers creates many laugh-out-loud worthy gags, along with Peña’s great gags.

Entertainment Value: 10/10- From beginning to end, finally seeing the Ant-Man character fully realized is absurdly fun to watch! Throw in the great heist action, geeky references, and likable characters, and you have one of the most entertaining movies of the year.

Overall: 9.0/10- With entertaining thrills and a solid emotional core, Ant-Man takes the superhero genre is a new direction with its heist caper concept, dazzling special effects, and inventive action sequences, which makes up for the lackluster villain and occasional tonal missteps.

Closing comments: Ant-Man might not be on the same level as some of Marvel's recent films like the Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, but it is certainly on par with their other origin films with its different take on the superhero genre, even if it is overly simplistic at times. On a general note, despite my complaints about the goofy moments, it really was not that much of an issue for me as it may sound in my review.

Recommended for: Everyone, Marvel fans, Heist fans, Action fans, Sci-Fi fans,

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  1. I really enjoyed this film, the perfect antidote to the bloated Avengers 2. Rudd and Douglas were ace and the fight on Thomas was a riot! Nice review!

  2. Great review! :) Glad to hear it was a good movie (I do hope they bring Wasp back). I'll definitely have to check it out when it comes out on DVD.

  3. Awesome review James I think we agree on this movie %100, and I'm glad you liked it that much too! This really seemed like an old-fashioned classic sci-fi action flick to me, and it's nice to know that Marvel still can and is expanding their horizons. I just loved how different and original the humor was, and it had a great heart. And it was so awesome how in the fight scenes it looked like a ton of damage was being done because it was shrunken, but then when they zoom out again it's actually humorously little. Michael Pena totally killed it too, didn't he? He said in an interview that he based that character off someone he actually knew. :P And Paul Rudd was just perfect. I'm so glad he's on Cap's side in Civil War. :D


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