The latest in the Every-Film-Is-Now-A-Superhero-One franchise, Ant-Man is a short film that follows ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) – armed with a super-suit which allows him the ability to decrease his size rapidly. I guess you could call him a little con-descending!
When the technology that allows Lang to ‘get low’ falls into the wrong hands – he must embrace the hero within and, with the help of his mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), save the world with one last heist.
Based within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the final film of ‘Phase Two’, Ant-Man is uniquely a ‘smaller’ film. No pun intended for the first time ever. The extravagant, massive battle scenes we’ve become so accustomed to are swapped for contained fisticuffs between Lang and, say, one or two lackeys. It’s a welcomed change, and it suits the nature of Ant-Man. The few action/heist sequences within the film are great – executed and shot with a finesse that both utilizes and showcases Lang’s abilities in a brilliant way. It’s just that the rest of the film is really fucking boring.
The script feels schizophrenic. Fragments of Edgar Wright’s original screenplay seem to shine through what is otherwise an hour of exposition and set-up. The occasional and well-meaning joke or flash of Paul Rudd’s smile as he jeers and cracks asides to barely any effect. It’s a shame because Lang’s real character comes to light when he dons the suit – compulsively apologising as he defends himself, the polite mini-hero is just doing what he thinks is right. The notion of the reformed criminal fighting on the right side of the law perfectly reflected via other Ex-Con Luis (Michael Peña) asking Scott “we’re the good guys, right?” The reluctant tiny hero is a great shift from the bravado of Iron Man or the unnecessary inclusion of Hawkeye in anything.
The low-stakes action lends itself to several great set-pieces that are nice to appreciate but even still the heavy-handed comedy rears its ugly head and you have to grapple between wanting to love the films attempts at scaling back – and hating the elbow-in-side attempts at being the ‘funny one’. I’d also argue this is possibly the first Marvel film to really utilize 3D in a rewarding way (I’ll concede Guardians of the Galaxy looked great in 3D but that was more to do with the colour-grading than the 3D itself).
But the laboured first two thirds of the film aren’t the only issues. Can we talk about Evangeline Lilly’s wig? Why, in the Marvel film most grounded in humanity, did they decide to make Evangeline Lilly’s hair the most artificial thing since Black Widow’s romance with the Hulk?
The supporting cast is fine. Pym’s old protégé played by Corey Stoll, Darren Cross (is he furious? Nah he’s just cross) is trying to recreate the Pym particle. Bobby Cannavale stars as Bobby Cannavale and Judy Greer is there for a whole thirteen seconds. Thanks for showing up, Judy Greer! Meanwhile Abby Ryder Fortson who plays Cassie, Scott’s daughter, steals absolutely every scene she’s in. Honestly the only time the writing really works is when it’s in the hands of a child.
At the end of the day, you have to hand it to Ant-Man. Because he’s already reaching.
Some people may criticize me for not loving this film, they may think I will crumble to the pressure and claim that the perks outweigh the flaws. Well I’m sorry but I can’t-man.
Thanks for staying after the credits of this review! Here’s a special look at my remake of the film:
My version of Ant-Man would just be me at a Christmas meal with my new boyfriend, Scott Lang. Scott’s conservative brother looks across the table – laden with turkeys and roasted corns and more puddings than you could shake a pudding divining rod at – with confused contempt. His chubby only son; Grimble Funder-Lang wheezes a diabetic death-rattle before screeching “which of you is the uncle and which is the ant-man?” Exeunt.