Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ant-Man



I always seem to start these reviews with a brief history of my expectations for the film in question. I'm not going to break from tradition here, and yes, this was another movie on my most anticipated list for 2015. Admittedly, I was more excited for Ant-Man when it was an Edgar Wright project (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), particularly given the lack of recognition I had for the main character. However, given Marvel's golden reputation lately, I had a feeling this would still end up being a really fun movie. The casting sure didn't let me down, with names like Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd in the starring roles, even if the director that was eventually signed didn't excite me all that much. Regardless of the production woes this film seemed to have, I still hoped that Ant-Man could pull off something unique and entertaining that would be a much-needed change of pace after the massive throw-down that was Avengers: Age of Ultron.



Scott Lang is an intelligent, talented engineer, who may have gotten caught stealing millions of dollars from a major corporation. Though the crime was done to return ill-gotten funds back to innocent people, Scott's capture resulted in a brief stint in prison. Upon his release he is left with no job prospects, and therefore no way of paying the child support for his six year-old daughter, insisted upon by his ex-wife as a prerequisite to him obtaining visitation rights. Frustrated, and with no other option in sight, he reluctantly agrees to another job utilizing his burgling abilities... not knowing that the job was a set-up from a mysterious man named Hank Pym, who has been watching Scott for quite some time. Hank has a unique proposition for Scott, which could allow him to see his daughter again without risking further incarceration. Of course, the job comes with its own set of challenges. In order to stop the distribution of an extremely dangerous technology, Scott must become the Ant-Man.

I must say, after the monumental stakes of previous Marvel entries, it's kind of nice to go into a movie that isn't a plot to destroy the world. This story is pretty self-contained, and with the light-hearted approach taken with this character, Ant-Man proved to be a refreshing change of pace for the MCU. Yes, there are ties to the larger Avengers universe, but it doesn't feel as bloated as previous entries in its attempts to make everything fit into one film. Indeed, this story is a pretty simple one. Scott wants to get a decent-paying job so he can see his daughter again. Even if that conflict seems a little thin, the little girl is adorable and authentic enough to engender our sympathies for the main character. Not only that, but the antagonist in this film is pretty slimy, doing some brutal stuff for a Marvel villain. Plus, the character design of the Yellowjacket is really cool, which definitely helps.

The one thing I was expecting this film to deliver was comedy, and it did so in spades. This is easily one of the funniest Marvel films to date, but it's a different style of comedy than the snarky irreverence of Guardians of the Galaxy or the charming arrogance of Iron Man. Scott is a bit unsure of himself, even suggesting that instead of trying to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task on his own they "call the Avengers." He's a relatable hero, and played pretty much pitch perfect by Paul Rudd. Having said that, I think the most impressive performance in this entire movie was Michael Douglas, whose magnetic presence provides an extra dose of credibility to this C-list superhero. Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man, and therefore carries a history that made many comic book fans frustrated by the fact that this story is focused on Scott Lang instead. However, Douglas is so good in this role and is featured so heavily that I can't imagine even the most ardent fanboys could possibly complain about the story structure.

Overall, this is a very entertaining movie, and one that I think will benefit from repeat viewings. Sure, there are some plot points that don't make a lot of sense, or character arcs that aren't quite fulfilled, but the strengths of this movie far exceed its weaknesses. I'm definitely going to see it again in theaters, and can't wait to see how Ant-Man meshes with the other Marvel heroes in next year's Captain America: Civil War. WARNING: Stay through the end credits of this film if you don't want to miss out on one of the best after-credits scenes Marvel has ever done! It's well worth the wait. This may be a bit generous, but I'm giving Ant-Man a pretty solid three and a half stars. Go check it out!

ANT-MAN is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence



**What did you think of Ant-Man. Was it too small of a story, or did you appreciate the more personal story? Let me know in the comments, and don't forget to like my Facebook page!**