Ant-Man – Review

“ANT-MAN”

This is the final film in Marvel’s second phase of movies and the twelfth film in the overall continuity of Cinematic Universe and to be honest, the only thoughts on going in to see this were ‘why has it take so long for an Ant-Man Movie’, especially considering that Ant-Man and Wasp are both founding members of The Avengers in the comic universe so, why so long?? The only point I can really put it down to is the fact that Ant-Man is not as well known a characters as say, Captain America or Ironman. They obviously needed to test out the waters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe before committing to a character that is largely unknown. These characters can been successfully introduced as we saw with last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy and hopefully we will be seeing in the future with several of Marvel’s future films intend to introduce a ton of new characters. I went into this film expecting it to be pretty much of a lulled gap between Avengers Age of Ultron and the up-coming Captain America Civil War. Fortunately, however, this film is anything but.

The plot is that Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) is struggling to gain any work outside of Prison, because of course, ‘no one hires convicts’. He cannot pay any child support towards his daughter Cassie Lang (played by Abby Ryder Fortson), he feels completely unable to provide for anyone, so he breaks into a building believing he is going to steal a large amount of money, but he ends up stealing a suit, which he later discovers, gives him the ability to shrink to Ant size and also allows him to communicate with Ants. The suit belongs to Dr Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) who recruits Scott along with his daughter Hope van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lilly to stop business tycoon Darren Cross (played by Corey Stoll) from distributing his Yellowjacket formula based on Hank Pym’s pin particle solution. In order to achieve this, Scott must become The Ant-Man. If you went into this film planning to see a Super Hero movie, I would actually hold off on that thought. This is a lot more of a Heist Movie. You would be better off to think of it as being Marvel’s attempt to do Ocean 11, fortunately, unlike the flawed Fast and Furious Movies this one does ‘the heist’ a lot better than those films, This film is a prime example of how to do a heist film. You get likeable characters and put them in a scenario where the heist is life or death so you can actually sympathise with the people who are basically committing a crime. It was a bold move on Marvels part to have this be a Heist film and in the hands of a poor writer this wouldn’t have worked, luckily they got skilled writers. The story itself and most of the screenplay is written by Shuan of the Dead’s Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, writer of Attack the Block and the two work well together once again having previously collaborated on the recent Tintin movie along with Doctor Who writer Steven Mofffat, with a few parts of the screenplay being written by Paul Rudd and Adam McKay who is a former Saturday Night Live writer. Edgar Wright was meant to stay on as Director of the film, however, he has taken a back seat to Peyton Reed whose previous credits include Yes Man and The Break-up, basically, films that I didn’t enjoy, but I am definitely enjoying his direction in this film. It really feels like he is coming into his own here and is not bound by the writers, though I do believe he directs the film similar to Edgar Wright. My only complaint with the writing is that it seems like a lot of the writers are trying to impersonate Joss Weedon since the Avengers films are so successful and they feel that writing style is needed to make the Marvel Cinematic Universe tie together. Fortunately Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish are very good at replicating Joss Weedon’s style of writing.

The film has excellent characters and they really play off each other very well. There are three comic relief characters Luis, Kurt and Dave played by Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and T.I., who verge on the border of being annoying, but they fortunately are competent enough characters that they aren’t, so we do end up enjoying them. Hope Van Dyne is a pretty decent character and Evangeline Lilly brings something to the role. I also loved Scott Lang’s estranged family Maggie and Cassie who are absolutely brilliant, even if they aren’t given enough screen time, except for in the climax. In fact from that whole side of the film the only character really given enough time is Paxton (played by Bobby Cannavale) and in any other film he could have been done a lot worse but fortunately, again, his heart is in the right place and we can sympathise with his position. My problem with Avengers Age of Ultron was that it felt like it was trying to publicise Phase 3 too hard too much without telling its own story. This film finds a much better balance. It does time the Marvel Universe pretty well and there are a few lines in the film and a few moments that are there, that pretty much require you to have at least seen Avengers Age of Ultron, however knowledge of the Marvel Universe is not essential to enjoy this film I went to this film with Dr Buchan and our recent work experience employee, Hannah and we all came in from a different perspective. Hannah has seen all of the Marvel Movies and Dr Buchan has only seen 4 of the movies now, whereas I have seen all of them and read comics regularly and we all came out having enjoyed the film, so obviously it has some major universal appeal. The characters are pretty true to the comics and likewise it ties in with the Marvel Universe pretty well, as the fight scene with Falcon in the middle of the film proves as well as the scenes of the New Avengers facility shown at the end of Age of Ultron. The only downside to tying it in to the Marvel Universe is the ending which feels like a re-shot in light of certain films that have been announced this year. By the way, there are 2 post credit scenes, and if you are expecting to see Spiderman there, don’t, he doesn’t appear in the post credit scene and the first doesn’t tie much towards the next Avengers Movie, so skip it and wait for the DVD, it’s basically a small extra. The second on the other hand I didn’t see because I wasn’t aware of it prior to film and found out afterwards but basically it’s a small set up to next years Captain America Civil War and kind of confirms that Ant-Man will be in that film.

The main thing to discuss is Michael Douglas as Dr Hank Pym and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. They are both written excellently, these really feel like their comic counterparts. Hank Pym is both the smartest yet dumbest man in the room and Scott Lang is the ultimate under-dog who is often put in to situations where he is completely out of his depth, but they are done in ways that people who have never heard of these characters can identify with and attach themselves to without disapointing comic fans . Marvel once again, gets a brilliant balance here. These characters, once again, are fun and witty and I really enjoyed seeing them on screen. In fact I would like to see them again in future films especially considering that there is no planned sequel for Ant-Man at this point in time. There is hopefully a plan to bring Ant-Man into the Avengers, but apart from a slight hint in the post credit scene I am not seeing any of that yet. The only downside, I really felt to the plot is the Villain. No offence to Corey Stoll who is doing a good job in his role, but Yellowjacket was really a poor choice of a villain. He wasn’t a villain in the comics, he’s just another one of Hank Pym’s identities after he stops being Ant-Man. For the purposes of this film I actually read all of Scott Lang’s first appearances as Ant-Man in the Marvel Comic Universe, as well as the first 5 issues his current series and his character was much more tied to the villain Taskmaster who would sort of accidentally run into half the time that Taskmaster was trying to take down another villain like Spiderman or the Avengers and I could have seen Corey Stoll play that role very well. Yellowjacket’s character was a good choice in terms of keeping out the shrinking and growth effects in the film and granted Darren Cross was the name of the superhuman businessman that Scott Lang fights in his first apperence but this just feels like a missed opportunity. Plus he comes across as just not that compelling a villain. Hopefully Taskmaster will appear in future films. He is not a bad villain per say, but compared to other Marvel villains I think he will be cast to the wayside and probably be forgotten. Hydra turns up eventually in this movie somehow, I’m pretty sure he has been killed off about 3 times in the Marvel Universe by now, but well! Once again Marvel develops a plot that is both entertaining for the comic fans and for the general audience, this will hook in people and it’s biggest benefit is that it is not trying too hard to publicise future movies, but does tie into the Marvel Universe pretty well, which is what all the movies should be doing.

I don’t need to tell Marvel fans to go and see this film for the plot because they probably already have by the time this publication comes, but the plot was excellent and that’s not to mention the amazing amount of humour that was in the film. It got a lot of people laughing, though I do think some of the jokes are inherently based on the Marvel Universe and you would have had to have seen previous films to get some of the jokes and the references.

Performance wise this is an excellent cast. I really liked Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, he is excellent at playing the under-dog superhero that he is in the comics. I must be honest, I was slightly concerned about Paul Rudd playing Ant-Man upon his initial casting, however he brings a certain edge to the role and I am looking forward to seeing him in the future, especially knowing that he will be appearing in Captain America Civil War. Michael Douglas, similarly as Hank Pym is excellent in this role, he plays an excellent man determined to not let his creation be the destruction of the world and while I was slightly disappointed that Hank Pym is not the main focus of the first Ant-Man movie they at least give him enough time and material to work, he is not reduced to a simple side character. Likewise Evangeline Lilly is absolutely excellent as Hope Van Dyne managing to play an excellent Femme Fatale character that I really enjoyed. Corey Stoll may not be playing a brilliant villain, but he is actually very good in his role. I think he would make a good villain, despite the fact that I am used to him playing the good guy having watched a lot of him in Law and Order LA. Bobby Cannavalle as Paxton is excellent, despite the fact that he is not given too much to do, when he is on the screen, he is really good. I think between this and Danny Collins, he is starting to become an actor that I am looking forward to seeing in more films. (He was in Law and Order once and Michael Douglas too, are you sure this isn’t a Law and Order reunion). Judy Greer, who also isn’t given enough to do, when she is on screen she is pretty good, but I think she should have been given more lines. Real credit has to go to Abby Ryder Forston as Cassie Lang. When I first saw the film, I thought she was slightly too young to be playing Cassie, however, she really brings an excellent performance and I would like to see more of her, especially considering child actors don’t normally deliver amazing performances. The only major performances to talk about are the comic relief characters, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and T.I., as Luis, Kurt and Dave, they are very good in their roles actually and really deliver both the comic relief side and the serious side when the actually heist is going ahead and I wouldn’t mind seeing them in future movies. The only downside is I don’t think they will work outside an Ant-Man sequel, and considering that Marvel has planned all their films right through to 2020 I don’t think they will turn up again, which is unfortunate because they are genuinely great when they are on screen. There are other short cast characters like John Slattery as Howard Stark and Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter but they are not on screen long enough to make much of a difference. Likewise a massive missed opportunity is Martin Donovan as Mitchell Carson, he is great when he is on screen, but he is hardly in there enough to make much of a difference. You have a really great actor here and you don’t use him enough!! Other than that though, this cast is excellent. As usual it’s to be expected from Marvel movies. They were just excellent and delivered their roles necessary to make an excellent film.

Moving on to special effects. The action scenes are excellent. This film is very CGI heavy, however the CGI is integrated very well and really benefits things like the shrinking effects and some of the fight scenes. This is one film that is visually excellent to watch and that’s largely down to the films excellent cinematography. The fight scenes are really good, particularly the later scenes with Ant-Man fighting Yellowjacket and the fight between Ant-Man and Falcon, which was my favourite part of the entire movie, though I do worry that Marvel is getting a bit obsessed with their Hero’s fighting each other! Seriously, stop getting your Heroes to fight each other!! Fight the villain, that’s what we pay to see!! If you want heroes to fight eachover save it for online spin off shows like Screwattack’s Death Battle or Bat In The Sun’s Super Power Beatdown (and seriously chacke out both shows on youtube they’re absolutely fantastic). Then of course you get the excellent Ant effects. They are integrated very well. The film knows how to use the Ant communication powers without making them just simple maguffins that will solve the situation. It’s very clever how they come up with several reasons for the ants to be there. The shrinking effects are actually done brilliantly, I really enjoyed them and they come up with several ways to do some really interesting and innovative stuff with them, like bullets hitting a polystyrene model which normally would just look like simple gunshot, actually turning into almost virtual explosions at that height level and we all really amazed what the effects were doing in the film. There are some excellent visual effects at the end of the film which I won’t mention for fear of spoiling the plot, but they are also absolutely brilliant. I can definitely recommend this film just for it’s visual effects alone. Despite my ranting the other week we did all see the film in 3D and it was actually kind of good for a change. The 3D really gives a sense of height and depth especially for the shrinking effects and the Ant Hill scenes also kind of add to the fight scenes. It’s not as good as Guardians of the Galaxy’s 3D or the original Avengers, but I would still recommend seeing the film in 3D. However, if you are watching it in 2D only a few effect won’t entirely work. The majority of the film suits the 3D format but without is being compromised for people seeing it in 2D.

Are there any negatives to Ant-Man? Yes a couple. It is kind of obvious that they are impersonating Joss Weedon. I think this film may disappoint a few people who go into this film expecting it to be much more like the Avengers or Captain America, but if you go into it just expecting a good movie you will definitely have a good time.

Ant-Man is fantastic, I really liked it. I’m not sure that I enjoyed it more or less than Avengers Age of Ultron at this stage, I will probably have to re-watch both films to make up my mind, but I would recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed the Marvel films so far. If you enjoyed films like Oceans 11 I would also recommend it on that basis. It’s not entirely perfect, but it is pretty damm good and I think that is largely down to Edgar Allen and Joe Cornish’s excellent screenplay. The action scenes are great and the 3D is pretty good for a change and the characters were really propped up by excellent performances. Peyton Reed has finally directed a film that I actually really enjoyed. Don’t expect it to be a traditional Superhero movie because it only really gets into that in the last 20 – 30 minutes of the film, but I would really urge people that this film is worth checking out. I saw this film with 2 people who had completely different perspectives and we all came out with the same conclusion, that we really, really liked it.

So what were your thoughts on Ant-Man? Did you enjoy it, or did I get it completely wrong? Please leave a comment or answer my question for this week which is:

“What is your favourite Heist Movie”?

I look forward to getting some answers on that one!

Remember, if you want to leave your own content, go to our ‘how to submit’ section. If you feel like you want to follow more about our film society go to my Twitter page and my Facebook page, which will give updates as to how the film society is going.

Unfortunately I will be taking a weeks break to attend the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany, so there will be no film review next week, however, come back on 7 August where I will be giving my rather belated review of Pixar’s latest film “Inside Out”, which looks like it’s going to be a good one. Accept my apologies now if it turns out to be a bad one!!

Thanks for reading my review I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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One comment on “Ant-Man – Review
  1. Dream says:

    My favourite heist movie? It’s gotta be the original “Italian Job” I think.

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