Release Date: 7/17/2015
Dir. Peyton Reed
Cast: Paul Rudd (Scott Lang), Michael Douglas (Hank Pym), Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne), Corey Stoll (Darren Cross), Michael Pena (Luis), TI Harris (Dave), Judy Greer (Maggie), Abby Ryder Fortson (Cassie)
After the major risk that Marvel took last year with Guardians of the Galaxym people ere uncertain about the movie before it’s release. If you followed this blog you knew, I was certain Guardians of the Galaxy was going to work. That sense of confidence wasn’t there with Ant-Man for me. Let’s get this straight, I trust in Marvel. They are in control of their products and while some are better than others, Marvel has managed to keep their movies from being outright bad. So while, I was certain that Ant-Man was going to be their first real risk, I believed that they would manage to put out a watchable movie. I’m glad that I was correct. I really enjoyed Ant-Man a lot more than I thought I would. It said it would give you a comedy heist and that’s exactly what it delivered. Ant-Man is a fun ride. It doesn’t have any deep throughlines like some of the other movies, but it does divy out the fun.
Slight spoilers ahead, beware.
Before I get into the specifics of what I enjoyed and didn’t about this movie, I wanted to take a moment to explain why Ant=Man could have been a disaster. Ant-Man had been in development with Marvel for years, particularly under the helm of Edgar Wright, you know the Cornetto Trilogy and Scott Pilgrim. If you haven’t seen any of those movies, Edgar Wright has an extremely stylized directoral style. It was something that a lot of people were excited for including myself. Then through a series of things that happened, Edgar Wright left the project after it was finally put on the slate, months before filming was to begin. Peyton Reed stepped up to the bat to fill the shows of a much beloved director. it was a tough role and to date the movie I loved most of his repetroire was Bring it On. Could Reed accomplish this big task? Thankfully he did. Props to Peyton Reed to bringing this film to life at the 11th hour. That was no easy job.
Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is the titular Ant-Man however, he is merely adopting the title from Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym. Scott is a burgular with a master’s in electrical engineering degree who was just released from three years of jail after he got caught returning money to the people from a company who immorally took it from them. That wasn’t fleshed out much. We didn’t really need it, but I did wish we got a little bit more about it. The entire plot essentially follows along the line of Hank Pym recruiting Scott to use the Ant-Man suit to perform a heist. It was a very straight forward plot and as a result it worked. There weren’t a bunch of unnecessary complications to getting them to the heist. Also the actual execution of the heist felt a rather standard hesit as they had a game plan that ended up going awry.
One of the elements that I really ended up enjoying the most about the movie was the father and daughter dynamics that we got to see play out on screen. In one instance we had the very sweet relationship between Scott and his daughter Cassie. Scott’s daughter is very young and already sees her father as a hero before he takes up the suit. She’s enamored by him and seems to love his quirks, yet is too young to really recognize that her father hasn’t made the best decisions. That doesn’t matter to her because she loves her dad and Scott wants to do everything he can to be with her. In fact, his motivation to take up the suit is because of this drive to be with his daughter. That is very well executed and felt throughout the film. Scott’s love for his daughter is juxtaposed by Hank’s love for his daughter, Hope. However, in that situation their relationship is far more strained. I won’t get into the reasoning and how it develops and evolves but it does involve the absence of his wife and her mother, Janet Van Dyne. I felt that it was an interesting arc to give Hope who is the epitome of a standoffish character. Watching as Hank is so focused on his goal, but still wants to regain the love of his daughter is heartbreaking. Overall, I think seeing those two father daughter dynamics play out on screen added a necessary emotional element and drive to the film.
The biggest thing I loved about the film was actually the comedy. It was legitimately one of the funniest movies that I’ve seen all year. Time and time again jokes were delivered and few of them fell flat. It had to do with great timing and well set up jokes. I’ll also give major credit to Michael Pena credit because every single time I saw him on screen I ended up laughing. He was joke after joke in such a way that it was hard not to like him. It wasn’t just Pena, but Rudd also had his fair share of jokes. He was easy going and skilled at what he did, which made it easy to see why he was such a well liked person. Scott Lang is just a good guy. There were also a number of visual jokes that worked really well, without them having to delve into slapstick. Honestly, I’d seen Hope punch Scott in the face a million times from the trailers and ads, yet it was still funny in the context of the movie. The humor in Ant-Man is really what solidified this as a good movie. If it had just been the heist element, I would have been let down. The humor elevated the movie largely because it felt organic and that ended up ringing true. It was subtle lines and reactions that felt like something real people would say while also being hilarious that worked for me. Also the humor was very rarely at the expense of someone else.
My final high point on this movie is actually a mixed feeling. Corey Stoll plays Darren Cross aka Yellow Jacket with a vigor that I haven’t seen in a while. Watching how deranged Darren was and the little ticks that he had was thrilling. I felt legitimately scared by Darren. There was something terrifying about him and it was driven by a hatred for Pym. He felt bitter and jilted and it felt earned. This was a guy who had been taken on by his idol only to be dumped. Rather than feel dejected he funneled that into seek out to learn Hank’s secrets. The air of danger that surrounded his character was great and I thought that he was one of the better villains that we’ve seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The problem was that he felt underused. He seemed to be a issue that the characters needed to stop his progress, but not stop him. Cross himself was an obstacle in their plan rather than the real issue. The result was that he simply didn’t get as much drive as I’d hoped especially after seeing how threatening to be. It ended up feeling like they had a great villain on their hands with an actor who portrayed it wonderfully, and they just didn’t know what to do with him. So they gave him his eerie ticks and a solid motivation and then just simply made them fight. And only once. It was a shame, but I did enjoy Stoll as Darren.
I almost forgot that there was one particular sequence in the film that filled me with so much joy. This involved Scott already in the Ant-Man suit performing a small heist before they could execute the big heist. It also was a major encounter between Ant-Man and Falcon in such a way that brought me such excitement. It was the kind of moment that brought the same joy I had when we got to see some of the avengers face off for the first time in the the first Avengers movie. It was a smaller scale moment of that and I really enjoyed it. I won’t say more than that but it also led to a great running joke in the film.
So far, I’ve only really spoke of the positive and breifly mentioned negatives in relationship to those positives. To tell the truth, I don’t have many more negatives to bring up. There were times in the film that some jokes fell flat. There were times were the editing just felt a little off like it lingered too long or was missing a joke. A number of characters didn’t really have time for much evolution. They are what they are and if you don’t like them, there’s no major change in them to bring you around. The movie didn’t have an deeper commentary on society like Winter Soldier was. It wasn’t a thrilling redemption story. It just was fun and that lack of depth can be disappointing for some people. It was just an enjoyable movie.
I ended up really loving Ant-Man. It’s rare that I laugh that much at a movie. It’s rare for me, so I enjoyed that. Yes, there could have been more depth. Yes, it could have had a deeper meaning. However, Ant-Man accomplished what it set out to do and it should not be penalized for that. It was a good fun movie and it’s definitely one that I would recommend people to go watch. If you need a laugh or would like to see a new character brought to life, you won’t be disappointed if you keep in mind that this is a comedy heist and nothing more.
What did you think of the movie?
Below I speak of the after credits scenes that appear in Ant-Man if you have not seen the movie, I would suggest you watch it unless you don’t care about spoilers. I’m not holding back.,
After Credits Scene
This first after credits scene informed us that the characters we were with are far from done with their journey. Hank Pym brings Hope in on the family secrets further. Heck, he shows her the prototype of her mother Wasp suit and offers it to her. It’s clear that we’ll likely see more of Hope as she takes up her mother’s mantle. While her father may have been hesitant of losing his daughter as well, he seems to have pushed past that. Hope is skilled and wants to help and now she’s going to have the tools to do so. Personally, I’m all for having some more female heroes on the roster. Janet certainly would add an interesting dynamic to the team as it’s clear that she’s probably the most highly educated of the bunch we currently have. That said, she does kind of fall into the same personality type even if they all do have unique motivations.
After After Credits Scene
Major spoilers. I’ve warned you previously, but seriously, this is heavily spoiler filled so turn away if you have not seen it and do not want to know what happens as it heavily effects the greater Marvel Universe.
The final after credits scene showed Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson in a warehouse with a very battered and exhausted Bucky Barnes. That’s right, after the hint we got that Cap was going on a mission to find his long time best friend, it seems they have found him. However, from the little bit of dialogue that we got we learned that they can’t trust going to certain people with this development. They can’t get helm from Tony, but Sam seems to have the hook up. “I know a guy.” We all know what guy he’s referring to. This seems to affirm what we already knew that Scott Lang will be making an appearance in Civil War. Also that Scott may have a slightly larger role than a brief cameo.