‘Ant-Man’ 2015 Review

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I am a huge Paul Rudd fan, he has not aged a day since clueless and appears to be getting funnier with age. I Love You Man is probably in my top-five favorite films ever and he absolutely steals any scene he is in as a supporting actor (like in the films Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall,  Anchor Man and more). Naturally when he was cast to play a Marvel hero I was extremely excited. And then it was announced that he would be playing Ant-Man… I was less excited about this prospect– but I am such a huge Rudd fan as well as Marvel-movie fan, of course I was going to see it!

I did not know much about Ant-Man, obviously the name alone doesn’t exactly strike fear or awe tojames-gunn-loved-ant-man-its-his-favorite-marvel-movie-since-iron-man-social those who hear it, but if Marvel is willing to spend big bucks to introduce the character it has to be at least decent right? Maybe it will be like Guardians of the Galaxy, a film of obscure characters that blew people away. And on some levels, it was like Guardians but not on others. The film is a great film that has very fun and funny characters and, honestly, endless possibilities for future stories as well.

Synopsis

Hank Pym, in 1989, decides to quit S.H.I.E.L.D. when he finds out that they were secretly attempting to replicate the “Pym Particle”. This technology allows him to shrink to an incredibly small size (and become Ant-Man). Pym believes that his technology, if left in the wrong hands, can be extremely dangerous and decides to keep it locked away forever.

Years later, however, Pym has been forced out of his own company by his protege Darren Cross and his extremely bitter daughter Hope. Hank believes that Cross has evil in his heart and distrusts him. To make matters worse, Cross is close to perfecting his own shrinking suit named the Yellow-Jacket.

Pym believes that he has to stop Cross from finishing the invention and decides to steal the suit and destroy all of Cross’s data. However, Pym can no longer use the suit and the technology takes a toll on the human body and any further use would most likely kill him. So he recruits an ex-convict and thief extraordinaire, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), to take on the mantle of Ant-Man and help save the world.

Thoughts

_1415200498This film, at its core, is a heist film-gone-marvel. Land brings in his own crew and they have to break into Pym laboratories to steal the suit and information before it goes public. That’s it. There is no alien race invading earth or sentient robot to destroy. And honestly, I kind of like it that way. Marvel films often seem too big with far too much at stake and, while that is fine to some degree, it would not have worked with this film. It stayed grounded and that made the film far more relatable to me than most Marvel films. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang is an “every-man” rather than a god.

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I am a bit upset that they killed Cross in this film… at his core, he wasn’t too different from Pym or
Lang but Cross, according to Pym, has a darkness in him that he doesn’t trust which causes Hank to alienate Cross. All this does is make the darkness in Cross more defined and stronger, Cross just wanted to make his father-figure proud and Pym, a man who was filled with admaration for his protege before, coldly rejects him. Pym, in doing so, creates the evil Cross that he feared the whole time. But at the end of the day, villain or not, David is just a son acting out because he thinks his father hates him. I feel bad for Cross and, while he did kill people for the sake of his mission, I don’t think he deserved to die and have zero chance of redemption in life.

I said before that I didn’t know a lot about Ant-Man prior to the film being announced, so I did some research on the character. One of the first places I went to was NerdSync Productions, a youtube channel that excels in all things nerd, to find out more about Ant-Man and what type of hero he was. Here is the video I saw:

(You can find more great NerdSync videos at:  NerdSync Productions)

Scott, in his video, explains that Pym has gotten a bad-wrap in the comic world as being a wife-beater. And, while that may or may not be true, it is clear from the comics and the video that Pym has a bit of a history in making bad decisions. We see in the film that he has alienated both his daughter and his former protegé for his own reasons. He doesn’t want Hope exposed to the suit so he pushed her away, and he doesn’t want Cross anywhere near the Pym particle because he thinks he is evil. His feelings toward Lang aren’t completely altruistic either, sure he does see a bit of himself in Lang (like he did with Cross), but he also sees him as expendable. That’s exactly why he has Lang, instead of Hope, be the Ant-Man… because at the end of the day Landg means nothing to Pym.  Now, obviously these feelings change over the course of the film, but in ONE film we have Pym leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. out of distrust, creating his own villain, all-but disowning his own daughter and handpicking someone to go on, quite possibly, a suicide mission, so maybe Hank is actually the villain in his own story? Food for thought here…

AntMan_LuisThe characters were a bit tough for me in this film and here is why… Michael Pena, T.I. and the others that comprise Lang’s heist-crew are extremely funny in the film. However, they are also walking stereo-types. Pena is the stereotypical Mexican whose father was deported. Being Hispanic, I should hate jokes like this… but Pena and the others deliver their lines so perfectly that I can’t help but laugh. So I sort of want to hate the characters but can’t, so points to them!

The character of Hope, to be perfectly honest, I disliked quite a bit. She is supposed to be this Evangeline-Lily-as-Hope-Van-Dyne-in-Ant-Manbad ass character who kicks ass and has all the attitude in the world, but she comes off on-screen as nothing more than a spoiled brat who is angry at her father. While this character-type might be relatable to some, it certainly did not hit well for me. I found her rather annoying throughout the film and found her character to not really be necessary to the film except to show how crappy a father Pym is and to give Lang a love interest, cause why not? And honestly she could have been a cool character if she wasn’t pandering to her father for attention the whole film and actually kicking some butt.
The effects were really cool in this film and I love how they gave the itty-bitty ants pretty cool personalities (I’m still crying over ANT-ony…). The final boss-battle was made extremely fun by how epic and  small things were. Like how dramatic a toy train looks coming at you when you are shrunk down– but how comical and mundane ii looks at full-size. I just wanted to see more of these elements in the film rather than them developing Hope’s dislike of her father– a lot of time was wasted on things like this throughout the film.

I also really wanted them to explore the whole sub-atomic world-aspect of the film more… they really did not touch on it as much as they could have. They also made it a little too easy for Lang to escape the “unescapable” world. Oh, AND, does that mean Pym’s wife is alive? They never really go back to that… maybe she is bored in the sub-atomic world somewhere waiting for Pym to save her.

Overall, the film was a good film but it is tough fitting it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you can see the writers tried extremely hard to plug it into the film (having him fight Falcon among other things). The comedy hits pretty well in this film and most of the characters are likable and I like that the film stays grounded from a plot standpoint. However, I think they misstep a bit in regards to killing off the main villain and in how much time they spend with Hope and other elements of the film that didn’t add too much to the overall story.

Rating

Plot (out of 20)
Ant-Man_(film)_34 like that they kept this film grounded as a heist film with super-elements. They didn’t try to do too much and it pays off in the final cut of the film. I think they made a mistake in killing the main villain of the film and spent a bit too much time on non-Ant-Man related things but overall the plot was solid and well done. (15/20)

Characters(out of 20)

4498436-smp-ant-man_0Cross was very sympathetic and I would loved to have seen more of him in this film. But even the little you do see of him pays off well. He is a kid who has been jaded by his father-figure, a man he only ever wanted to be proud of him. Lang and his relationship with his daughter was perfectly done in this film and his character becomes someone you can easily root for because of this dynamic also. Even many of the side characters were fun (Pena) and, while I didn’t like Hope’s character, it certainly did not ruin the film for me. (15/20)

Acting (out of 20)

ant-man-castPena, in every scene that he is in, steals the show. He was a great and surprising addition to this film even if his character is a walking stereotype. Rudd pulled off the robin-hood-thief turned hero extremely well. But if I had to give props to one actor in this film it would be Corey Stoll. His character could have easily bordered on cheesy or ridiculous but he turned in an extremely likable and believable performance. (20/20)

 

Storytelling (out of 30)

Ant-Man-duoHere are a few things I would have like to see more of in the film: I would have liked to see more of David Cross and his Pym apprenticeship. I would have liked to see less of Michael Douglas’s back story and more of Lang’s and how he ended up in prison (which probably could have been a good film all on its own). And I would have liked to see more of Hope as a bad ass and less of her being a spoiled-angry daughter. Ultimately, it is these missing or incomplete elements that stop me from giving the film full marks, but lets hope they cover some of these in sequels/prequels right? (20/30)

Ad-Campaign (out of 10)

The trailers were underwhelming for this film except for the brief glimpses of the boss battle where you see the two mini-powered actors fighting atop of a toy train. However, I thoroughly respected and loved that they displayed mini ant-sized Ant-Man billboards to promote this film and this did successfully create a lot of buzz for the film.(8/10)

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