Over the weekend I saw Ant-Man, a film I was looking forward to for a multitude of reasons: I like Paul Rudd; I like Ant-Man as a character; the trailers looked quite good and the Marvel logo was attached to it, which tends to be a good sign that the film will at least be above average. However, after seeing the film I came out more than a little underwhelmed. Which is the topic of this article today.
*SPOILER WARNING FOR ANT-MAN*
Ok, so let's dive in to what holds Ant-Man back from being a truly good movie:
1) A lack of commitment
What kind of movie is Ant-Man? That's a surprisingly difficult question to answer actually. It's synopsis would imply that it's a kind of heist film, but it's about as much a heist movie as Rocky is a boxing film; sure it features a heist, but that isn't what it's actually about. The actual heist is set-up in the space of roughly ten minutes of training montages and asking some characters that they know what their jobs are. There isn't any originality to the break-in either, loading bars counting down to the laser grid shutting down, infiltrating as a security guard, nothing you haven't seen before. Then to top it all, the whole pay-off to the heist is simply blowing up the facility.
So is it a comedy? Well no, there aren't enough jokes to classify it under that banner, and the three main characters all stay fairly serious, with Paul Rudd's Scott Lang occasionally cracking a joke, but scarcely and not near regularly enough to be a comedic character. An action movie? Again, not enough of it. The fight between Scott and Falcon halfway through the film is the standout sequence and nothing from that point on comes close. The reason for this is that the Falcon is a character we know and who has been developed, not to mention his cool skill-set which contrasts with Ant-Man's humorously and makes it an interesting fight. However, the climactic fight is punctuated with jokes at the wrong times and is simply against a guy in a substitute Ant-Man costume who managed to slap some lasers on. So it's going for that action-comedy feel, but misses, thanks to badly placed jokes and mostly interesting action as well as a simple lack of action.
2) The villain
You know, I'm pretty sure someone must have cursed Marvel studios to never put an interesting villain on screen. Sure Loki is fun and I'm willing to accept that as more than sufficient, but no-one else has been in any way memorable. In fact, Darren Cross may well be my least favourite villain of the lot, because there was a level of potential to his character. He's established as a sort of surrogate son to Hank Pym, but whom he had to push away. So it would make sense for the film to create a parallel between Scott and Darren as sort of sons to Hank, but it doesn't. In fact, the only time they ever meet is at the end, for a fight that would have been anti-climactic if there had been any sort of building towards said climax. But you what really riles me about Darren Cross? No, it isn't that he's a carbon copy of Obadiah Stane from the first Iron Man. It's how much screen time he gets. Yet despite being shown such an uncommon courtesy for a Marvel villain, all he does with his time is remind you of his backstory, he doesn't develop or go anywhere as a character. There's a plot thread about Hank trying to redeem him, but I never feel like I want him to be redeemed when he's murdering lambs for his science, which he sells to Hydra.
3) The story
While what Ant-Man has to offer in terms of story beats is refreshingly different from its predecessors in this universe. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop it having a real "been-there-done" that feel to it. Scott Lang is split up from his old girlfriend/wife/whatever but still loves his daughter and she thinks he's a hero. However, his old girlfriend/wife/whatever couldn't deal with his Robin Hood antics and instead left him for a cop who acts like an asshole towards him. So he takes up the Ant-Man mantle in order to gain redemption and earn his daughter's adoration. The one thing that I'll give it is that the new asshole boyfriend is resolved well, with the movie actually showing him in a good light at the end once he and Scott stop dick measuring. But besides from that, it's all very copy paste. You've definitely seen this before if your age is in double digits. Then there's the relationship between Hank and his daughter Hope. She resents how overprotective he is and how he wasn't there for her when her mother "died". It's vaguely interesting, if not all that original either, but it at least looks to be going in an interesting direction. Which makes it quite bizarre when they just make up towards the end of the second act. Nothing builds to a head, Scott just talks to Hope for a minute and then she forgives him, with Scott ruining the moment. Sure he admits it in the film, but he still bloody ruined the moment.
4) Why isn't the film about Hope?
The movie goes out of its way to establish that Hope van Dyne is a much better candidate for the Ant-Man suit than Scott. She is fully trained in combat, has mastered the art of controlling Ants and has infiltrated the facility they need to pull the heist off on. Hank says he won't let her go into the field because he's scared of losing her the way he lost her mother/his wife. But then at the end of the film he introduces her to her own suit and lets her become a superheroine anyway, to which she replies "About damn time." No, it's a whole movie late. She's an interesting character and the movie could have been a lot better if it focused on her as a hero and never really involved Scott Lang. It would have allowed the film to focus on her relationship with her father and allowed for a kind of film we maybe haven't seen so much of before.
So that's why Ant-Man was disappointing to me. If you enjoyed the film then please do let me know why in the comments, I'm open to debate. Also please do check out my YouTube channel Eneition if you can. Cheers guys and enjoy your life.