Ant-Man is a fun, yet flawed, smaller scale Mavel film that tries to tell a more intimate story, rather than focusing on the world (or galaxy) ending (again). The film follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a lovable criminal, fresh out of prison for robbery (or as he claims, burglary), who is recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) to be the next Ant-Man (much to his daughter’s dismay), in order to stop this kind of technology from falling into the wrong hands. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who was once Pym’s protégé, is the one who is trying to manufacture this technology and selling it to the highest bidder, and from there we have our movie.
This film excels when it is trying to be funny and self-aware, but the humor does not always work. For instance, a majority of the humor is provided by Michael Peña’s Luis character, a character who seems like a traditional Spanish character who tells these stories that will make you crack up, and the way he delivers his lines will put a smile on your face. Luis is a member of Scott’s crew, along with Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (T.I) and when they were on screen, they provided the humor for the film as well. I just wish that they were on screen more because of the comedy that they provided.
The comedy unfortunately failed when Rudd’s Scott Lang tried to deliver it. Other than a few remarks here or there, it simply fell flat and didn’t feel funny, which brings me to another issue with the film which involved the dramatic aspects of it. To be honest, the film would have significantly improved if they made it a flat out comedy, instead of forcing this drama on us, which felt tossed in just for the sake of it, and inauthentic. Not only that, but when they did force this drama on us, they never let it really breathe, and ruined these more dramatic moments by forcing a lame joke in there.
For instance, after a very heart felt (or at least they tried to make it seem that way) between Hank Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), instead of letting that moment have a second to breath, they had Scott ruin it by saying something stupid and unfunny. This has become a staple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They don’t really understand how to do drama, and they try forcing joke into every situation which ruins the humor and drama of the film. The drama might feel a bit more authentic if they simply let it play out.
The plot itself feels very forced and rushed, where it seems like the film is trying to force Scott in as Ant-Man without giving us a good reason, especially since Hope is a much more qualified individual. The movie goes out of its way to explain why they’re tossing yet another female to the side in favor of the male hero (turns out Hank doesn’t want his adult daughter getting hurt, what a compelling reason), and this reasoning felt like a plot element just to secure Scott as Ant-Man.
Forget about the fact that Hope was one of Darren Cross’ confidants, was on the inside and could have stolen the technology that he was developing without anyone noticing. Forget all of that, because this is an Ant-Man movie, so they had to force an inept Scott down our throats. This is made even more prevalent by the fact that Hope trains Scott for most of the film. They couldn’t have Hope be Ant-(Wo)man but she could train an inept individual to take her place. The film did not explain this plot element well enough for us as the audience to simply accept it. As far as I’m concerned, they should have made a flat out Wasp movie.
Another major weakness of this film was Darren Cross as the villain Yellowjacket. This was another example of Marvel under-developing and under-utilizing their villain. He was simply there to give the hero something to fight. Not only that, but his motivations were barely explained and it was a lazy attempt at giving us a villain at all. Basically, he was jealous and upset that Hank did not share this technology with him, but there was also an imbalance in his brain that drove him crazy, but was never really delved into or touched on. They simply said it and that was that. I understand that I shouldn’t go into a Marvel film expecting a fully realized villain, but what they are giving us has become comical at this point.
Now, I understand that I have harped on a lot of negatives about the film, so let’s get back to some positives, and that would be the action. This is truly the crown jewel of the film, and the way it was captured was a truly immersive experience. The way that they handled the shrinking technology and the viewpoint of Scott from the suit was masterfully handled, and I just wish that the overall film was a better reflection of the care and time they seemed to put into the action sequences. The last battle of the film especially was truly unique, playing on the idea of the end of the world and destroyed cities.
I would be remiss to not mention the drama that occurred behind the scenes, with Edgar Wright leaving eight months before filming started and Marvel having to scramble to replace him, eventually landing on Peyton Reed, and this is really the blessing and curse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Feige’s vision and goal is the reason that the film wasn’t a total disaster, but at the same time it felt like another cog in the universe instead of feeling like something truly unique and special, which is what Edgar Wright may have given us. The action sequences were carried over from the Wright script over to Reed’s film, which might explain why they were the crowning achievement of the film.
Overall, the humor worked for the most part and the action sequences were expertly handled, but the plot itself felt contrived and forced with a mediocre villain and another female character thrown to the side. This film was a fun ride, but ultimately too flawed to be put up on the upper echelon of Marvel Studios’ films.