Ant-Man

Ant-Man photo starrating-3stars.jpgIt’s getting hard to summon up the enthusiasm for these superhero movies. There’s just so many of them. Oh and why must each one start with a convoluted origin story? Over the last 10 years we’ve seen as many as 11 comic book adaptations come out in a single year. That was 2011. Since then the sheer number of offerings has declined so perhaps we’re in a bubble that’s about to burst. That’s a shame because a few have ranked among my favorites in a given year. Guardians of the Galaxy is an example that transcends the genre. Unfortunately that’s an exception. For every Avengers there’s an Avengers: Age of Ultron. Which leads me to the latest offering. Ant-Man isn’t terrible but it is far from required viewing.

Even though former systems engineer Scott Lang has been released from prison, he’s a good guy at heart. His crime? Breaking into a shady corporation and transferring money back to workers who deserved it. So he’s like a modern day Robin Hood. Now that he’s a free man, he’s determined to help support his young daughter. She’s an adorable little moppet that gets ample screen time to be cute. Continuing the family angle there also former S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his adult daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). They have some unresolved issues to work out too.

How about some more great actors cast as random people?  Michael Pena is conspicuous as a member of Scott’s heist team. Pena emphasizes his ethnicity by speaking with an exaggerated Mexican accent. His sidekick character will either be amusing or cringeworthy depending on your tolerance for ethnic stereotypes. My audience giggled. I was quiet. But this is Scott Lang’s story. Apparently stealing things is his sole hope of earning a living. First Scott steals a suit that shrinks him down to microscopic size. Then he uses the technology to steal more things. Yup. Ant-Man is a heist film.

The best moments involve humor. Yet the giggles are pitched at very young viewers, the humor marked by a jejune mentality. “Whoa! I can’t believe things that are usually small now look big!” is that what the audience is supposed to think.  Personally I couldn’t stop thinking this feels like a made for TV movie for the Disney channel. With a few judicious edits for language, this PG-13 could easily be PG. The script has a favorably lighthearted attitude at least. “Isn’t the idea of a tiny masked vigilante kind of stupid?” it winks at us. Part of you laughs with the filmmakers because sometimes they’re in on the joke, and part of you snickers at them because sometimes they aren’t. The action is really generic. No conflict is ever too complicated that it can’t be resolved with another fistfight. There’s several. Each one is uniquely staged I suppose. Call it Honey I Shrunk the Superhero!  But if that’s the only novelty that this picture can offer (and it is) then that’s hardly innovation. Ant-Man is a boilerplate superhero production. It reinforces the (unfair) accusation that, if you’ve seen one costumed crime fighter film, you’ve seen them all.

07-16-15

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27 Responses to “Ant-Man”

  1. You say almost PG like that’s a bad thing. That is exactly what I liked about this movie. It’s a superhero movie. Kids should be able to see it. Contrast this with the ultra-violent Batman movies of the last decade. I’m sorry that Ant-Man didn’t stab a guy through the eye with a pencil, like the Joker did in the Dark Knight, and instead blew up Thomas the train, complete with moving eyes. My kids freaking loved that, and therefore I loved that.

    Your complaint about “almost PG” is part of what is wrong with this world. I don’t wrap my kids in bubble wrap by any means. But, that doesn’t mean that I want to have to explain away the ultra-violence in other super hero movies. Pixar makes good movies. That said, I’m kind of tired of animated movies being the only type movie that I can take my kids to.

    • Look closer. I was saying just the opposite. I lamented the fact that it WASN’T PG. They inserted some choice words just so they could get a PG-13 rating.

      “With a few judicious edits for language, this PG-13 could easily be PG. The script has a favorably lighthearted attitude…”

      I mentioned the humor was jejune but that has to do with making the script more intelligent – not more violent.

  2. Can’t argue with the boilerplate argument; the action sequences were pretty standard and Corey Stoll, as great an actor as he is, couldn’t do anything with his villain. As a . . . erm, full-sized human he had one or two moments where he was genuinely threatening but once he became the Yellow Jacket I struggled to not hide my face behind my hands. It was a bit sad.

    That said, I really enjoyed this. I think that’s mostly a credit to how much I like Paul Rudd, though. Great work Mark

    • Paul Rudd is likable as always. He was good at playing a nice guy but he lacked his comedic edge. I missed that.

      • I thought he had a couple of lines here and there but you’re right, this story didn’t really allow him to break out. Weird, given that Adam McKay has a writing credit. (I think)

    • GaryGreg828 Says:

      Oh no, Corey Stall becomes The Yellow Jacket? You totally spoiled it for me! 🙂

      Wow, “The Yellow Jacket”? That doesn’t sound corny at all! lol.

      “Look out behind you, Ant Man – it’s The Yellow Jacket!!!”

  3. This is the first thing I’ve seen Paul Rudd in and very much enjoyed his performance, thought Ant-Man was a lot of fun.

  4. Yous should do review of Southpaw, Mark

  5. This was pretty good. It was very simple. It was like the little brother to The Avengers. I wanted more of Paul Rudd’s personality. But overall, I had a good time. 3 1/2 stars.

    • We’ve had spiders and bats serve as the inspiration for superheroes. I suppose ants aren’t such a crazy idea. Still, it just wasn’t quite as captivating.

  6. I’m starting to experience super hero fatigue, but I had more fun with Ant-Man than you did. Pena’s character didn’t strike me as an ethnic stereotype. I mean the guy likes wine and art, so I don’t think that’s super stereotypical. He just brings a motormouthed goofiness to the role that makes him fun to watch. Some of the heist elements in the plot are ultimately more convoluted than they need to be and the action largely follows a predictable template, however I think the movie is finely acted. Douglas adds a necessary gravitas with his back story, Stoll is fantastic as the evil genius with daddy issues, and Rudd is the right mix of charming and sincere. The humor is more than just a chance to trot out the comedy of seeing small things become large. It’s amusing to see Lang learn to control his powers by strategically changing size at just the right time.

  7. GaryGreg828 Says:

    “My audience giggled. I was quiet.” LOL. One of your best lines in a review yet! I pictured you sitting in a theater and being the only one not laughing. I would be, too. I hate recycled jokes, especially racial/stereotypical ones.

    I wasn’t planning on seeing this one unless there was an eruption of positive reviews; this review confirms my assumptions. If you’re getting tired of super-hero movies, you know I am going bonkers. I am so tired of them; mostly b/c they all feel just the same!

    I am willing to give Dawn of Justice a try – and probably Captain America 3, as well. But that’s about it. That Suicide Squad junk looks horrendous and Leto’s Joker seems terrible; that dialogue is cringeworthy.

  8. I liked the action, it was fairly unique, and the humor wasn’t too bad. But yes, this is dull from a story standpoint, I think in part because who the hell is Ant-Man?

    Even before the Cap. America films, Hulk, Thor, etc., I’d wager that many in the viewing public were familiar with these heroes and their general characters. GotG was unfamiliar to a lot of people, but it also had big-time stars and/or up-and coming big-time stars to sort of remedy against that.

    Honestly, I liked this more than I thought I would but it still is kinda meh.

  9. A Tale of Two Dans Says:

    Ant-Man was unique. I can understand your point of view on “convoluted origin stories” but this movie was something special. That scene with Michael Pena’s voice over?! It’s literally my favourite Marvel movie ever now. Maybe some people get tired of so many comic book movies and so lose their love of these movies. But I’d give Ant-Man another chance. You might be surprised how much you like it when your reviewing cap is not on.

    • I’m rather demanding of comic book movies and yet The Dark Knight Rises and Guardians of the Galaxy both managed to make my Top 10s for their respective years. So there’s hope.

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