Ant-Man

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Release: Friday, July 17, 2015

[Theater]

Written by: Edgar Wright; Joe Cornish; Adam McKay; Paul Rudd

Directed by: Peyton Reed

Well, it’s official. After watching this, stepping on ants for me is a thing of the past. Stepping on ants is murder.

If someone were to ask me what would be the strangest superhero for Marvel Studios to base a movie around, Ant-man would be the last thing I would have suggested. Then again, I’m likely not the best person to ask such a question, as my ignorance when it comes to everything comic book-related borders on embarrassing. Until it was announced last year that they were casting the role of Scott Lang/Ant-man, I had no idea that this was actually a thing.

When Paul Rudd was confirmed, suddenly I became antsy to see it. (Do we need to start tallying all of these awful puns?)

Edgar Wright’s . . . er, sorry, Peyton Reed’s Ant-man, the final film in the MCU’s Phase Two, is ultimately a successful new addition because the star of the film — a high-tech suit designed by former S.H.I.E.L.D. member Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) — represents one of the riskier propositions Marvel has had to sell relative newcomers to the superhero genre in some time. Let’s be honest, for every Marvel geek in attendance there is likely to be at least three who aren’t quite as attuned.

Everyone of course will continue basking in the glory of the Avengers’ camaraderie, pondering the likelihood of another stand-alone Hulk movie, eagerly anticipating the return of Chris Pratt’s Starlord. The popularity contest was won even before Tony Stark came on the scene in 2008. Basing a film around a piece of tech that can shrink a man to the size of an insect, enabling him to gain strength in the process, well   . . . that’s a difficult pitch. Similar to Guardians of the Galaxy, obscurity actually works in Ant-man‘s favor.

Unlike Guardians, Ant-man isn’t quite as dynamic or willing to take risks with its principals. That’s mostly because the main character itself is riskier than Gamora and Groot put together. (His name is Ant-man for Pete’s sake.) Neither film has a particularly inventive story to offer — it’s either save the galaxy or save the world from villains who equal one another in their villainous ineptitude. The former, however, did have spectacular visual effects and a cast of characters that remain vivid today. Conversely, Ant-man isn’t so interested in characters as it is in the environment, taking a magnifying glass to the mundanity that surrounds us in our everyday lives. Bathtubs, briefcases, children’s rooms and playsets become wild, vast expanses that play host to all sorts of adventure and exhilaration.

Déjà vu: Ant-man is an origin story. It operates, somewhat uninspired, as a redemption arc for a con-man wanting to do right by his young daughter. Despite the fact he has an electrical engineering background, Scott Lang has made a life out of cat burglary, robbing people without using violence. As such he has lost privileges with his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and daughter, after having served one too many prison sentences. When “one last robbery” leads Scott to discover a kind of jumpsuit in the heavily-protected cellar of an eccentric old man, he is faced with the opportunity to save more than just his reputation as an absentee dad and husband. Old habits die even harder when they are vital to the plot.

A sinister development within Pym Technologies sees Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), Hank’s former protégé, on the brink of harnessing the same power he had discovered, and has plans on unleashing it upon the world. Reed, whose previous directing credits are a little more than questionable, doesn’t rely on groundbreaking storytelling techniques, epic action setpieces nor particularly memorable performances to effect a highly entertaining, mischievous little outing that completely ignores its once-disastrous potential. Ants are hardly anyone’s favorite creature (sorry if they are yours) but in his film, ants become the good guys. I feel like that’s a feat in and of itself. We even get an education on their various classifications.

So, no. No I’m not stepping on any more ants. Even if this film had potential to become slightly more explosive I personally got a lot out of this exercise, other than realizing Paul Rudd can pretty much do anything he wants. Ants aren’t soulless, they aren’t the harbingers of ruined picnics I once thought them to be. Sure, they might be pests who always seem to find a way into your house but the next time I see a string of soldier ants strutting their stuff from one hole in the wall to the other, it might be best to assume they are reporting for duty.

Recommendation: Ant-man works as a genuinely entertaining (and genuinely harmless) bit of sci-fi action, though it will exist on the fringe in terms of Marvel’s most memorable outings. Its best attributes come in the form of a reliable Paul Rudd and some impressive visual effects which end up doing much of the film’s heavy lifting as the story shifts between points of view. Even if this character has eluded you until now, you should check it out and see what all the ant-icipation was about.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 117 mins.

Quoted: “It’s very rare you get invited back to the same place you robbed from.”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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31 thoughts on “Ant-Man

  1. “Do we need to start tallying all of these awful puns?” – they are way too entertaining!

    Biggest reason I want to see this is Paul Rudd. I love that man!

    • He is impossible not to like, isn’t he?! He’s awesome. The moment I saw him cast in this movie Ant-Man became a must-see for me. I think I might have seen it regardless just cuz the hero itself is just so. . . odd. Hahah

    • Cheers man, thanks a lot. In case you couldn’t tell already, I did enjoy this quite a bit. Then again I was prepared to like it no matter how bad the cliches and predictable the story were going to be. I just like Rudd too much and the rest of the cast was very enjoyable. It was nice to shrink in a movie as opposed to going super-extravagant and taking on the whole planet.

      • Rudd is so effortlessly likeable. I bet much of the film’s success can be attributed to him. Also curious about Corey Stoll, who I think is a very underrated actor, though I hear his role wasn’t the best thing.

        • Yeah my big gripe with Ant-man was it didn’t give Stoll much of a chance to really shine as a villain. He had his moments but he was clearly trying to break through the weak script. Still, it’s not a deal-breaker. 🙂

          Hope you enjoy it dude.

  2. “Ant-icipation” ha ha! Class pun. Nice to see the film isn’t Rudd-erless (ahem). Strong work Tom; if I wasn’t feeling sick as a dog I’d be watching this tonight!

    • Oh! Boom!! Mark with a zinger!!! 😉 I went back and forth in the editing phase between cutting those puns or keeping them in, obviously I couldn’t help myself in the end. Hope you get to feeling better man, and when you do go out and be pretty entertained by this amusing/bizarre superhero flick. It’s got more pluses than minuses, in my book.

  3. Great work Tom. I really liked that this strapped itself in – nice change of pace from Avengers’ crash, bang, wallop content. Some moments felt a little overused but I always felt engaged in the performers and their antics (plus, it’s tough to escape formalities in origin tales. That’s also an excellent poster!

    • Isn’t that poster genius? I remember awhile ago The Cinematic Katzenjammer bringing it to my attention, it’s a great piece of marketing. It was between this or one of those with the actors interacting with Lang as an ant-sized human, similar to what you went with. They’re all great!

      This was about as enjoyable as I was hoping it was going to be. I’m currently oscillating back and forth between being really tired of superhero films and feeling excited about the prospect of new ones, but I think mostly that ‘superhero fatigue’ is starting to set in. This was a bit of a refresher. Too bad there wasn’t a better role for Corey Stoll, though.

      • Er, rather, I wish the villain he portrayed was better written. I think Stoll makes for a suitable villain, but he didn’t have a whole lot to do here, I didn’t think.

      • I’ve got the Evangeline Lilly shoulder-flick one as my phone wallpaper, it’s so inventive! I know the feeling. I’m not at that stage yet because I’ve immensely enjoyed the last four or five Marvel flicks. We definitely need to some freshness though, which Ant-Man was/is as you say. Good point – I hardly even mentioned him in my review!

  4. Man I am having a hard time getting excited for this one. Hope to see it tomorrow but for some reason it hasn’t connected with me. The generally positive reviews have helped though. Good stuff Tom!

    • I wasn’t sure what to think heading into this. All I knew was that I am a pretty blind devotee to Paul Rudd, I knew it was an obscure Marvel property, and it wasn’t going to be the Avengers (or Captain America). I was initially concerned over the fact that Edgar Wright had bailed, but the final product we’re given is lighthearted enough. Give it a rent sometime man. You might enjoy it. 🙂

  5. Ahahaha!! I love your first paragraph, I was just thinking that yesterday as I was walking, making sure I didn’t step on an ant! 😀 I was surprised how much I enjoyed this too, Tom, though I’m a bit superhero-ed out now. Glad it was more of a heist flick and it was pretty hilarious!

    • Yeah I’m getting p-r-e-t-t-y burned out on the superhero genre. (I’m on my phone right now and actually horribly misspelled ‘superhero’ just then and yet my phone recognized what I was trying to say and filled it in for me, I guess that’s where we are now.)

      Ant-Man is refreshing stuff. It’s a more quiet, unassuming little heist film built around a core of very likable people. I can’t wait to see how this ties in to the grander scheme. (I say I’m tired of the genre but it’s going to still take a lot to make me not want to go see future Marvel films haha)

  6. I love how you called it “harmless”. Talk about damning with faint praise! I will admit It’s good for kids. Oops there’s another one….ha ha.

    • Well, I’d like to think this is more a case of praise with faint damning. 😉 When I refer to this film as harmless I think I’m mostly talking about its absurd fascination with the ant population. Those insects haven’t been given this sort of treatment since ‘A Bug’s Life’/’Ants.’ So I think it’s only appropriate to call this superhero installment relatively harmless. Hehe

  7. Good stuff Tom. I’m going to try and give this a whirl this week at some point, but if not then the week after. Sounds like fun, although I’m dipping in enthusiasm for superhero films at the moment due to the fuss surrounding recent trailers!

    • Yeah the amount of superhero films out there in the ether is really getting overwhelming. I liked this film, it was a refreshingly more modest outing. Paul Rudd is also always a good time. Im going to look forward to reading what you have to say about it man. Thanks for stopping by as always. 🙂

      • No worries mate. I caved and saw Ant Man yesterday. Rudd’s a likeable guy. I’ll try and get a review up tomorrow.

  8. Nice review, Tom! I have no idea when this comes out here but I’ll be going to Inside Out first as that FINALLY comes out here on Friday. But I’ll check this out soon because of my love for Paul Rudd. Sounds harmless enough. 🙂

    • *ant-sized high-five!* 😀

      By all means, rush to go see ‘Inside Out,’ that thing is amazing! I trust you won’t come back from it with a controversial opinion, though. Hah!! It seriously is crazy how I have yet to come across a review that’s not even negative, but slightly less than gushingly positive. At this point I’d fully understand if that movie doesn’t quite live up to certain expectations, but I have a feeling it still just might. 🙂

      As for this, hopefully you Brits will get it soon. It’s a lot of fun, esp when you are a fan of Paul Rudd.

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