This summer has not been the best for movies to be frank. There were some highlights, like Mad Max: Fury Road and Age of Ultron, but overall it has been a dud. Going into Ant-Man, my expectations were about the same as they were for Guardians of the Galaxy: low. Although my hopes were higher because of the success of Guardians, I did not see this movie being good. The trailers highlighted some cheesy moments that made it seem like it would be impossible to do an Ant-Man movie right. Along with the director change and questions surrounding Paul Rudd being a superhero, this movie was not too high on my list. However, once that first scene dropped, I suspected that this movie would be a good film. It honestly surprised me in the same way Guardians did last year (there will be numerous parallels made to Guardians of the Galaxy). It was funny, action packed, and a solid Marvel film. There were some moments that lulled or were simply bad, but it succeeded far beyond my (and most people’s) expectations.
This first half of the movie is where the few problems occur. There are moments in the first half that are cringe worthy, specifically Michael Peña’s character. Granted that Peña’s character is gold once the action of the movie begins, but in the beginning he comes off as annoying rather than comic relief. My best friend was beside me during the movie and she would give me a stare almost every time Peña talked at first. His first line was funny, but after that until the halfway point (about there) was bad humor honestly. Another bad thing in the movie was the heavy-handed “dead mom” story between Hank Pym and his daughter. An emotional scene was slapped in the middle of this movie that did not time right with the story. It felt forced on the audience to feel for the strain that was left after the death of Pym’s wife. The flip side to that bad moment was that it was ended with a comedic moment, which fit the tone of the movie completely. Those two things were the only bad things about the movie honestly in my opinion. Maybe there were slow moments every once in a while, but that is the only other thing that I can remember that was bad about the movie.
Marvel has special casting talent that turns B-list actors into great leading men, sometimes in a genre that they normally do not perform. Paul Rudd is another example of this. To be honest, my low excitement for Ant-Man only dropped when I heard that the comedy actor Paul Rudd would play the title role. Although it worked with Chris Pratt, I was skeptical since the source material was less then recognizable. Plus I have never thought much of many Paul Rudd movies. With that being said, that man killed it as Ant-Man. He fit the Marvel superhero mold perfectly and gave one of the best performances in an origin story. Rudd delivered his lines with appropriate timing, tone, and finesse that simply made his performance great. Was it the perfect acting performance? No, but it was very good, especially for a man with the title “Ant-Man.” He not only gave a great performance, but he had great chemistry with the rest of the cast which made the story that more believable, especially with Michael Douglas. Douglas also gives a great performance playing the former Ant-Man, Hank Pym. Rudd and Douglas worked very well with each and it is demonstrated in the final product. The two seemed to flow perfectly whenever they had to interact during scenes. It is refreshing to see these two men perform well together since the movie depended almost entirely on them.
Marvel is known for adding quality comedy into their movies (Warner Brothers please take note of this before continuing down the dark path that you have set up). This movie is about on par with Guardians for the comedy. The jokes are delivered quickly and have enough punch to make you laugh but not too much where you miss the action. There are a few jokes that are intended to cause the audience to laugh, but those are timely placed. Casting actors who are mainstays in the world of comedy could have been a risky path to pursue, however, the studio fully utilized it to create a minor comedy out of the movie. To say that I was not expecting them to do that would be a lie; it was almost a guarantee walking into the theater that this movie was going to try to make you laugh. The surprise came when the humor was better quality than the cheesy punch lines that they placed in the trailer. A lot of the jokes that were concocted in the trailer by scene merging were funny when seen in their actual scene.
What could have killed this movie would be if they took it too seriously. If they tried to sell you hard that Paul Rudd was this over-the-top awesome superhero who can talk to ants and shrink, then the movie would have abysmal to watch. There are movies where the writers, director, and producers think their plot, characters, or idea is the greatest thing since sliced bread and they will let you know it through the movie. This movie does not do that at all. It is very self-aware. The writers must have realized that the overall concept of Ant-Man might be taken as silly. Part of the comedy was the cast (and writers) poking fun at the premise of this superhero. While it pokes fun at the character, it sells the audience into believing that this man is awesome when the action picks up. How one might ask? Well the answer is elementary (sorry, could not resist), the audience views the characters poking fun at this idea of Ant-Man, then when the actions starts and those same characters are reacting to him like he is awesome, the audience begins to think he is awesome. It is almost like hypnotizing someone honestly, but it is ingenious. As well as mocking Ant-Man, the movie dedicates itself to mocking the Avengers. With a couple of snide comments by Pym and Ant-Man’s fight with a certain Avenger, Ant-Man takes a bold jab at the successful team up franchise (at least the characters within those said movies).
Although I enjoy the majority of the Marvel movies, there has been one major problem with almost every single movie they have made. That problem is the men who are supposed to pose a threat to the title hero(es). Marvel has dropped the ball when it has come to creating these great villains to face the heroes. Other than Loki (and even with him it is questionable), Marvel villains are one dimensional, flat characters who always die. Some of the villains that are presented could have been done better, especially with the talent that is performing his respective villain. Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull is a prime example of this. Weaving is a tremendous talent in Hollywood and it felt as if the writers of Captain America: the First Avenger forgot what to do with him. That villain is an iconic villain as well, but it all felt muddled up and flat to create room for the origin of Captain America. Ant-Man might be the first movie that develops a good villain that has some dimension, granted that dimension is added in backstory rather than through the actor playing him. Yellow Jacket was the most developed villain since Loki, with quality backstory being provided by Pym and Cross. Unlike other disposable Marvel villains, this character brought life to the role. He not only seemed like a formidable villain, but he also had that development into the madness that caused him to be evil. In the end he turned out like every other Marvel villain: dead in one movie.
Now is the part of the review where I list my thoughts during the movie as they came to me (as best as I remember them):
• I swear that the Marvel logo animation is growing longer per movie I watch.
• Why must they make Michael Peña annoying? He was so good in Fury.
• An ant with a camera; perhaps brilliant but partially stupid.
• I honestly hope this movie does not waste time to make me question whether or not Rudd will become Ant-Man.
• This soundtrack took the same approach as Guardians of the Galaxy.
• Hey look Anthony Mackie!.... And of course he is the one who gets that role in this movie. Out of all the people to choose, Falcon has to be made a fool.
• Dramatically involve buddies into risky mission to save mankind.
• This movie is trying too hard to set up the Scott Lang/Hope van Dyke relationship.
• Hail Hyrda!
• Whip out the tank, because awesomeness!
• Did I leave the theater and walk into Inception? Maybe that bookshelf will appear from Interstellar. Or maybe I did drugs without knowing it because this scene is trippy.
• “Surprise,” said no one after the reveal in the mid-credit scene.
• Before waiting until the end of the credit, let me google this movie to ensure that I am not staying for something as simple as “The Avengers will return.”
If I were to rank the stand alone Marvel movies, Ant-Man would most likely rank tied for third with Guardians behind Iron Man and Winter Soldier. There might be people who read this and think there is no way Ant-Man can be close to Guardians, which is understandable. However, I cannot lie, this movie draws even with Guardians. For me, I went in expecting the same thing from the two and was pleasantly surprised walking out of the theater. Ant-Man broke the mini lull I was experiencing in terms of movies.