From the very first trailer, I always knew Ant-Man had a chance at being great, but on the other side, I knew it had a long and rough production history where Edgar Wright left the project right in the middle. The effects of this could be seen, at least by me, as it seemed the script had been rewritten one too many times. The story was unbalanced to me, and all the elements were there, but weren't in the right places. I know this is a very vague argument, but I'll try to explain it, and keep in mind that I still enjoyed Ant-Man very much. But I'll get to the positives later.
Maybe the problems I found were errors in editing, as it seemed like many important emotional scenes were cut into a montage and shortened to make way for the action. The connection and sort of rivalry between Hope and her father, Hank Pym, was never totally explained and I think more time devoted to their struggles would've given an opportunity to show us what exactly had happened to make her despise Hank in the way she did. I also wanted to see their anger for each other reach a higher point, possibly further towards the end to create some emotional tension to go with the rest. I guess I just really wanted to see more exploration of what Hank and Hope had between them, and maybe more hints to Mr. Pym's violent and bipolar tendencies that could've been the cause of his daughter's disliking towards him.
Now, let's move to the main character, with whom I had fewer issues. Paul Rudd was a very good choice in casting for Scott Lang. He has all the charm and wit that worked so well. You could tell he wanted to change his ways, and make himself a better person, as many movie protagonists do. He ran out of options, of course, and had to go back to crime. The few problems with his character were the same as the ones I talked about in that last paragraph. The editing and writing left behind some potentially great emotional points. I really wanted them to express his desire to live up to the expectations his daughter had of him, it could've made for some really powerful scenes.
Now for the final character I'd like to analyze. The villain, Darren Cross A.K.A. yellowjacket. I always thought there was a problem with Marvel villains. something around 60% of them fit into a category of tech geniuses that worked closely with the protagonist or the protagonist's mentor, but aren't as good as them. They then go crazy and try to develop a piece of technology to match the one the protagonist made, like a knockoff, but it's not good enough in the end and the hero wins. Characters that fit in this ~60% include Obidiah Stane/Iron Monger from Iron Man, Ivan Vanko/Whiplash and Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2, Aldrich Killian from Iron Man 3 (the Mandarin would've been a much better villain), Red Skull from Captain America: The First Avenger, and with a stretch you could also include Emil Blonsky/Abomination from The Incredible Hulk. Now, Darren Cross has his place right up there on the list. It's not just the cliche elements that make this antagonist boring, it's also that he's terribly underdeveloped. Right off the bat, I said to myself "oh he's obviously evil". He has no special motivation that's ever explained clearly to the audience. Nothing he does or says ever helped imply and true struggle that might cause him to be just about the biggest jerk alive. This didn't ruin the conflict for me though, since it seems like so many other villains in blockbusters are like this, so I guess I've built up a tolerance for bad writing in this sense.
Alright. Now I can start to tell you what I did love about Ant-Man, starting with the tone. It was set up so well for a movie about a guy who can shrink and talk to ants. It was funny, but also serious when it needed to be. There was a fun, lively atmosphere surrounding the whole thing that made it so it was never too stressful but there was still a level of suspense. It never did what The Avengers: Age of Ultron did, where there were so many jokes being cracked both in and out of battle that all the suspense was just whisked away. I knew there were stakes, I could sense them, but I could also enjoy myself while watching it.
The action was also done incredibly well. The set-ups for the fight scenes were so perfectly done, it created some absolutely spectacular battles. That was what I wanted most out of Ant-Man. I wanted the spirit of the character in the comics to come to life. Even though Hank Pym was always my favorite Ant-Man to read, it was nice to be introduced to Scott Lang, who I barely knew. The special effects made way for some brilliant, over-the-top scenes.
In the end, I really enjoyed Ant-Man for what it had. I wish more thought had been put in to maintaining the script and keeping it even. More substance to balance out the style. So much was right with this film, and a lot was wrong, but I can forgive just because I've been waiting for this little guy to come on screen for a long time.....