Lazy Movie Review: Ant-Man

Ant-Man

Premise:  Paul Rudd as a superhero?!  Say whaaaaaaaaaaaat…?!  He plays Scott Lang, an ex-con who went to prison for hacking money back to investors who got screwed over by his company.  He gets recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and his daughter Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly [Kate from Lost]) to steal back the technology Pym tried to hide from his business partner because it’s too powerful and will destroy the world, kind of.  The explosions are apt.

Pros:

-Michael Peña won the movie for me, which might be a little sad considering I was desperately craving the comic relief character, but he’s legitimately funny in this.  When does Michael Peña *not* do awesome, though?

-The action scenes, when they come around, are pretty good.  Particularly the ones at the end.  You can kinda tell some of the stuff is based on what Edgar Wright was planning on doing with the action.  The shrinking/growing back-and-forth action is very cool.

-I liked the overall concept/approach of the movie, because it eliminated the need for a straight up origin story just by using a couple of scenes of Hank Pym exposition.  Like, I get it, he’s a scientist, he invented the “Pym Particle”, he can shrink when he wears the suit, now he’s old and doesn’t want to do it anymore.  What more do you need on that front?  It was fine.

-The heist itself was really fun.  It’s probably not that hard to make a goofy heist scene fun though, right?  [looks at Tower Heist DVD] [slowly pushes it in garbage] [haha, just kidding, I don’t own Tower Heist on DVD]

-The Baskin Robbins jokes were pretty funny.  When Ant-Man wanted to be a good comedy, it landed the jokes pretty well.

-The make-up/special effects that made Michael Douglas look 30 years younger in the first scene were incredible.

Cons:

-It almost completely lacked any kind of emotional payoff.  I never really felt anything heartfelt for any of the characters, even when they were really trying to make me do so.  I wish the movie could carry 50x the emotional weight of a regular superhero movie.  See what I did there?  That’s an ant joke.  [clears throat uncomfortably]

-The first two-thirds of the movie are, I don’t know, kinda bland?  It’s still entertaining, but it’s not really anything to write home about.  But don’t get me wrong, the final act is fantastic.  I wish the whole movie was like the last 40 minutes, but it’s not.  Or conversely, I wish this was a 95 minute movie instead of a 125 minute movie.

-They ruined one of the best action sequences in the film (the toy train stuff) in pretty much every trailer and commercial.  That joke would have killed if it was a surprise.  Instead, it got a “Heh heh heehhh” from most of the audience.  Also, by showing it in the marketing, it made the movie even more predictable, because as the climax progressed, it was very obvious to realize “Oh, the bad guy is going to go to Lang’s daughter’s house before this is over.”  The movie overall was fairly predictable.

-Also the bad guy (played by Corey Stoll, who I like on The Strain), didn’t really have clear motivations as to why he turned completely evil.  I get that he resented Pym for pushing him away, but there was barely any indication as to why he went full super-villain.  They kind of mention that the particle technology alters people’s brain waves.  And when I say “kind of mention”, I mean kind of mention.  It seemed like a cheap, brushed over answer.  But anyway, they basically lifted the exact same bald, evil, ex-business partner, weapons manufacturer villain concept from the first Iron Man movie.  Like, EXACT same.

-Forget the shrinking tech, the villain’s failed shrink ray that reduces any living tissue to a one square inch glob of puss is ALSO a pretty great weapon!

-Was it just me, or did Paul Rudd seem like he kinda didn’t want to be in this movie?

-There were probably five minutes of ant training montages too many.  I GET IT.  I guess if you’re really into ants, this is an incredible experience for you.  Congratulations.  I don’t like ants.  Like, in real life.  I hate ants.  I’ll make sure to delete this post later when they become our eventual overlords.

-The theater audience was probably 1/4th spazzy, running-all-over-the-place children.  Seriously, just sit down and stop moving.  I was in an aisle seat, and at least 10 kids full-on sprinted up and down the stairs right next to me over the course of the film, stomping their feet as loudly as possible.  IT’S LIKE THIS SUPERHERO MOVIE WAS MADE FOR CHILDREN OR SOMETHING?!

-The first Avengers tie-in dialogue in the movie was a pretty good joke, but then they took it next-level with the unnecessary synergy by having one of the Avengers show up in a (admittedly fun) throwaway scene.  For like 45 minutes there, you could almost imagine this movie was trying to do its own thing.  But nope, it needs all the #TIE-IN MATERIALS it can get.  Because, remember, you’re not just watching a Marvel movie, you’re watching the twelfth part of a fifty-nine part saga.  I think I would have been cool with Ant-Man just existing solely in this film, cutting out the Avengers stuff, and having it be more concise overall.  Just a really tight, fun heist movie with a superhero.  And then we never hear from him again.  But that’s just not how it’s ever going to be.

Guardians of the Galaxy may be the only Marvel movie that (kinda) just works on its own.  I’m sure GOTG 2 will have a few forced Dr. Strange and Miss Marvel tie-ins, because it’s going to be less its own franchise than it is part of a cinematic brand.  Man, I got really bitter with this bullet point.  Maybe it’s because I really want to like all these superhero movies, but they are just becoming more “yeah, it was decent, I guess”, than “Wow!  That was incredible!”.  I barely even remember Age of Ultron at this point.  That’s sad.  They’re not making bad movies, but (other than GOTG) they aren’t making stuff I’m really craving anymore.

Final Thoughts:  Even though I clearly said more cons than pros, I still didn’t think this was a bad movie.  It’s just, like, a fun concept almost drowning in its own flaws.  I’d watch it again, but I’m not really excited about it in any way.  I’m not sure how memorable it’s going to be in the long run, either.  I’d recommend Ant-Man, but I wouldn’t tell you to drop everything you’re doing and rush out to see Ant-Man.  It can probably wait for Redbox/HBO/Netflix.  I think if Marvel wants to keep things exciting in the future, they need to bring on the guys like Edgar Wright, and then KEEP them, and let them do whatever they want.  Scaring them away with their corporate branding notes is probably just going to create more average-ish movies like this.  Which I doubt bothers them, because they make their money no matter what.  Which makes me wonder why they don’t just let the directors have crazy freedom, if they know they’ll get their money anyway?  Making a weird Marvel movie is probably the least financially risky situation to make a weird movie in.

7.5 out of 10

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