I hope the new DC movies are taking notes on this one. Marvel’s “Ant-Man” just worked its way up to one of my favorite Marvel movies of all time. Granted, it’s no “Avengers” or “Iron Man,” but as far as origins stories go, this one is one of the best. There had been a lot of talk about an “Ant-Man” movie years ago, but luckily this character escaped from whatever horrors the early 2000’s had in mind for him. Before I go on too far, I want to say that this movie is definitely not perfect. There are a few flaws, but nothing that ruins the movie. The stuff this movie gets right, it gets really right. Most of the bad can be glanced over by looking at the good.
The movie’s plot is a bit jumbled, but I think it’s still pretty easy to follow if you pay attention. A recently released prisoner name Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd, wants to gain visitation rights to see his daughter, who lives with his ex-wife and her boyfriend, the latter who happens to be a police officer. However, Lang finds himself having trouble keeping a steady job due to his history as an ex-con, and eventually agrees to take on a robbery job. After breaking into an old house which is rumored to contain a large sum of cash, he pulls a number of MacGyver like stunts to get into the safe. However, once inside, all he finds a bizarre looking suit and helmet. Disappointed, he grabs the suit anyways and returns to his apartment. Meanwhile, an inventor and board member of Pym Technologies named Darren Cross is developing a shrinking technology that he plans to market as the ultimate weapon. The technology he plans on selling: The “Yellow-Jacket” suit. It’s basically a much cooler looking Ant-Man suit that can fly. However, he is shot down by potential buyers, causing him to turn to other customers. Rudd, meanwhile, tries on the Ant-Man suit for the first time, and accidentally shrinks himself down. Of course, after returning to regular size, he decides he wants that suit as far away from him as possible. He tries to return to the house he stole it from, but this time is caught by the police, one of which happening to be his ex-wife’s boyfriend. As he waits in jail, a mysterious man claiming to be his lawyer calls him in to talk to him. The man tells him his name is Hank Pym, and he needs him to work for him as the “Ant-Man,” or to go to jail. Lang returns to his cell to find the Ant-Man suit is there. He tries it on, shrinks down, and escapes. He wakes up in Hank Pym’s house, surrounded by ants. Hope Pym, Hank’s daughter, tells Scott that he is needed to help stop Darren Cross from giving the new suit to the wrong people, thus launching a funny, creative, and visually stunning movie that’s covered in classic Marvel fun.
There’s a lot of things that this movie has going for it. Primarily, the lead performance given by Paul Rudd. Rudd is pretty much everything that we could have hoped for. Nearly every joke in this movie that he makes is fantastic. There are several times when I found myself, as well as the rest of the theater, in stitches. But he’s not just playing the funny guy, though. He has to cover the part of the super-hero, the dad, the student, and even the criminal. And somehow everything that he does is perfectly believable. It’s hard to describe such a good performance without spoiling too much, you just have to see it for yourself. The movie also focuses on father-daughter relationships, juxtaposing Hank and Hope’s to that of Scott and his daughter’s. Not surprisingly, Hank gives Scott the virtual guidebook of what not to do. There are quite a few genuine moments, but before things to too sentimental there’s always some action or crass joke to keep with the spirit of the movie. Another good thing has to be the comic relief. This movie is funny. Remember how I said in the “Jurassic World” review that why even place pointless comic relief characters if their jokes are going to be recycled and lame? Well this time the comic relief actually has a purpose. They aren’t just goofy side characters, they help move the plot. And, not only that, they are actually really funny. I know, good comic relief in a Marvel movie? That’s unheard of! That’s the thing, nowadays. Marvel movies usually do comedy better than most comedies. They’re able to laugh at themselves, a concept which a lot of other movies fail to grasp. For example, you’ve already forgotten about “Horrible Bosses 2,” by now, haven’t you. If so, it’s probably because it’s an unfunny, crass, and childish movie. Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Iron Man, though? That one has already gone down in the books as one of the funniest and most charming performances of all time. Marvel knows comedy, and “Ant-Man” is no exception. I know that most comic side characters are typically unbearable, but for once these guys are done right. Their performances are memorable. I still laugh it some of those jokes just thinking about them. It’s difficult to review a comedy, good or bad, because there’s only so many times you can say “that’s not funny” or “that was funny.” My advice to you: go see this movie. Find out for yourself. The movie does have quite a few other positive elements, but these are the big three. The humor, the drama, and the characters are all spot-on.
There are a few things about this movie that did bug me a bit. For starters, I thought there might have been a little too much technical talk for my tastes. I understand that they had to at least try to explain the reasoning behind the Ant-Man suit, but they may have spent a little too much time discussing a clearly made-up science. That’s pretty nit-picky though, because it really doesn’t take away from the film’s overall quality. However, there were still a couple of other problems, such as the fact that this movie was trying to be a heist movie. I know that most Marvel movies aren’t just superhero movies. For example, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” has many elements of an espionage film. “The Dark Knight” is a thrilling crime saga, almost more so than a superhero movie. “Ant-Man” wanted to be a heist movie. There is a heist, but it’s not really all that interesting. It doesn’t feel big or epic like the writers intended. It’s more fun just to see Ant-Man beat up thugs 200 times his size. There’s nothing technically wrong with the heist, it’s just not what it’s built up to be.
These problems really don’t take away from the overall feel of the movie, but there is one that I feel definitely needs to be addressed. Darren Cross. AKA “The Yellow Jacket.” He’s just a really cheesy, uninteresting, goofy, villain. I don’t like this guy. I’ve seen Marvel do great villains. 2 words: Wilson Fisk. I don’t mean 2003 Wilson Fisk. I mean Netflix Wilson Fisk. After seeing that guy, I know Marvel can do villains. So there really is no excuse for this dummy. I understand that they don’t have 13 hours of television to develop Cross, but they can do better than this. I’m not expecting another Fisk, but I do want someone other than this generic stock villain. You’ve seen this guy 150 times. He’s a lot like Obadiah from “Iron Man.” In fact, that’s almost exactly who he is, just a lot more goofy. In fact, let’s compare the two.
Obadiah: Inventor determined to out-do his partner and/or his partner’s protegé. Clearly has no morals. Works with known terrorist groups. Plans to develop a super-weapon that can be worn as battle-armor. Said weapon can fly, shoot lasers, and give the wearer super-strength, yet is somehow outdone by an inferior version of the same suit. Proceeds to die in fiery explosion.
Darren Cross: Inventor determined to out-do his partner and/or his partner’s protegé. Clearly has no morals. Works with known terrorist groups (Hydra). Plans to develop a super-weapon that can be worn as battle-armor. Said weapon can fly, shoot lasers, and give the wearer super-strength, yet is somehow out done by an inferior version of the same suit. Proceeds to die by shrinking to subatomic levels.
If that doesn’t prove that Marvel just recycled an already uninteresting villain, I don’t know what does. But, luckily for us, the movie doesn’t focus on the villain that much. The real focus is on the leads, where it should be. They give the best performances and provide the best scenes. I guess that’s why they’re the leads.
So that’s what I thought of Marvel’s “Ant-Man.” Really good, if a little technical and the villain is a joke, and I definitely recommend that you guys go see this one for yourself. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see ya next time.