Action Movie Fanatix Review: Ant-Man

Action Movie Fanatix review banner for Ant-ManHeroes Don’t Get Any Bigger

Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, T.I., Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Anthony Mackie

Director: Peyton Reed

2015 | 117 Minutes | PG-13

“My days of breaking into places and stealing shit are over! What do you need me to do?” – Scott Lang
“I want you to break into a place and steal some shit.” – Hank Pym

With Ant-Man being and one of the original comic book Avengers, many people (read: comic nerds) were disappointed that he wasn’t included in the original movie incarnation of the super hero team. Now, after two Avengers movies and at the tail end of Marvel’s 2nd phase of their Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man has finally arrived.

In 1989, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) left S.H.I.E.L.D. fearing they would use his Pym Particles in a dangerous way. 26 years later, Pym’s former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), has figured out the Pym Particle formula and has created his own shrinking suit, hoping to sell it to the highest bidder. Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) recruit recently reformed burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to help them steal Cross’ suit before it can cause world wide destruction.

Ant-Man manages to introduce a new genre, the heist film, to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The result is a solid heist film, but one that feels very much a Marvel movie. I love my comic book movies Marvel but I had hopes that they might give us a little more of a twist on their standard formula given the obscurity this character brings to the table. They could have really taken a chance and gone outside the box a bit more.

Ant-Man shower

Normally I wouldn’t go into details like this so as to not spoil anything for people who have yet to see the movie but the big reveal was already shown on the trailer. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is in the movie during a scene where Ant-Man attempts to break into the new Avengers facility. The scene feels a bit tacked on, like the studio decided later that they wanted to connect Ant-Man to the Avengers and dropped their cheapest Avenger into the script. Again, it’s not so much that it’s a bad scene, just that it felt forced.

The movie does pull on some heart strings but never enough to bring a ton of emotional attachment to any of the characters. Hank Pym is shown to be a bit of a jerk, as he should be. He isn’t the physically abusive a-hole from the comics but he and Hope have a strained relationship to say the least. On the other hand we have Scott Lang who is trying to avoid that kind of relationship with his young daughter. Rudd, Douglas and Lilly fill their roles well. It all works and gives the characters some depth but it’s still a Marvel comic book movie. There’s only so much character development that we need before we start getting antsy (pun intended) for a little action.

As a general rule of thumb, heist movies take a little more time building to the action than the average action movie. Usually that down time is filled with intricate planning so that when we see the mission unfold on screen, we already know what to expect and know when the plan starts to fall apart. This is another area where Ant-Man could have done a bit better job. Bring the viewer into the planning of the mission so that we aren’t left on the sidelines waiting for the explosions to start.

Yellowjacket train tracksWhen Ant-Man does have action, which, to be fair, is a fair amount, it plays out on a grand scale… at least when viewed from an ant’s perspective. The hand to hand combat plays out in a really unique way, with Ant-Man bouncing from micro to normal scale as the maneuver requires. The finale is shown in the trailers, so again I’m not ruining anything that wasn’t already ruined for you. It is a pretty impressive final showdown between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket on and around a Thomas the Tank Engine playset. It’s the type of battle that could only happen with Ant-Man.

I feel like I am being a little harsh on a movie that I generally enjoyed but there were just a few things that stood out to me but never enough to ruin the overall experience. I hope that if/when we ever get an Ant-Man 2, these minor quibbles can be improved upon. Until then, I look forward to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 3!

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