Once again, Marvel decided to make a movie about a relatively unknown (at least for non-comic books fans) hero. While comic fans probably rejoiced at finally seeing one of Avengers’ founding member on the big screen, a lot still knows nothing about him. Given that Marvel could now slap it’s name to anything and make people watch it, the only question now is whether or not this teeny tiny hero could be another success story like Guardians of the Galaxy.
Burdened by his ex-con status after pulling a Robin Hood stint against Vista Corp, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is having a hard time getting back on his own two feet. Forget paying child support, he can hardly find a job simply because he is an ex-con.
That is, until a certain Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) enlist him – against his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily)’s better judgement – to do what he does best: breaking into a place and steal shits.
One of the thing that I instantly like about Ant-Man is the fact that this basically is a heist movie. Take out the whole “shrinking suit”out of the equation, and you have the plot of a good old heist movie. Which seriously is a welcomed change from Marvel’s typical world-at-stake premise. We have, for once, a hero that does not bring destruction upon the city he lives in. Compared to Age of Ultron, the minimum amount of ear-blasting explosions and fancy fights are seriously jarring. Hell, Ant-Man probably snagged the title of Marvel movie with smallest number of casualties! And it works just fine with me, because it’s about damn time we actually see this more subdued part of Marvel Cinematic Universe. If anything, Ant-Man is a nice addition and expansion pack of MCU, a reminder that there is a side of this universe that does not necessarily involves princes, aliens, super soldier, billionaires, and all the she-bang. In the bigger sense, it provides a fresh standpoint and will add more spin for the upcoming Civil War. Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd’s screenplay was filled to the brim with MCU references that you could hardly miss. The S.H.I.E.L.D’s involvement, Avengers HQ and Falcon’s appearance, Spider-Man reference, and even a familiar big bad
Story-wise, though, it isn’t that spectacular. The story is very Marvel-esque and even have the same “evil counterpart” formula as Iron Man and Hulk from Marvel Phase One, only with arguably far less destruction. It also was dragged on at certain moments and the long prep lead to the heist itself missing it’s momentum. Which kind of dampened the fun, and is such a shame because Ant-Man could have been bigger if only the duration is shortened. The length is partly contributed to all the emotional constipation, especially from Hank and Hope, who finally reconcile their differences and make peace through this mission. Thing is, I wasn’t sold because their bond was just barely there. It got to the point where I was actually grateful that Scott ruined the moment because it was a tad too awkward for my taste. Even Scott Lang’s own family fiasco felt like filler. And I’m starting to see this as Marvel’s one big flaw. They could make good fun movie, their titular heroes are mostly interesting characters and engaging
(sans Thor, but that’s personal preference), but they merely scraping by when it comes to forging emotional bond around and in between their characters.
But hey, at least their heroes are quirky, atypical, and intriguing
unlike DC’s, a series of traits that Scott Lang seems to also adorned. Paul Rudd is golden as this awkwardly charming but undeniably snarky good guy. He’s just weirdly adorable, something like a cross-over between Tony Stark and Peter Quill with more self-awareness and far less gusto. Hank Pym though, is an ass. Which is not surprising considering he mostly is exasperating in comic books (or at least those that I’ve read), but he still is a serious ass and not a charming one like, say, Howard Stark in Agent Carter. Evengeline Lily wasn’t eye catching either, but I guess that’s because Hope does have one cold and distant character, which is subject to change. I still like how damn smart and feisty she is, though, another trademark of Marvel’s characters. On the other hand, Corey Stoll was seriously unconvincing as Daren Cross. I know it is not fair to hold every Marvel villain to Hiddleston’s Loki, but at least Ultron was menacing enough. Yellowjacket was just mad – and not in the flattering way. He could have been if only he managed to deliver the whole “betrayed protege” thing, but he didn’t. Thankfully, Ant-Man was saved by Michael Pena because Luis is such an adorably funny breathe of fresh air. His babbling never failed to got me laughing, and his awkwardness left me breathless. David Dastmalchian and T.I as Kurt and Dave completed the fun token trio, especially when they’re up against Bobby Cannavale as Paxton. Also, Anthony Mackie and Hayley Atwell’s cameo as Falcon and Peggy Carter was gold. It’s also quite nice to see John Slattery again as Howard, even if I wish it was Dominic Cooper.
In a way, Ant-Man is a nice peek to the other side of Marvel Universe, where the fate of the world is not at stake per se. Sure, world peace may be in jeopardy if the technology fell into the
familiar wrong hand, but it’s not an immediate threat about human extinction or nation-wide chaos. With all the right jokes, Ant-Man is a seriously fun heist movie, even if it missed the momentum for final confrontation by a tiny bit. It didn’t make up for the emotional constipation, and even as a summer movie, it’s not exceptional. But as a part of a bigger Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man fit in effortlessly as an interesting intro for the upcoming Civil War with all those cameos, tie-ins, and that to-die-for post credit scenes. Also, the fact that old Stark warehouse is now the Avengers HQ cemented just how huge Tony’s part is in funding the Avengers and their operations. Which will seriously not bode well if you’re not on his side when the Civil War take place.
Director: Peyton Reed. Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, &Paul Rudd. Released on: 16 July 2015. Casts: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena.