Jul 21, 2015

Ant-Man Review

Like nearly everyone else on the internet, when I heard there was going to be an Ant-Man movie I scratched my head in confusion. When it was revealed it was going to be directed by Edgar Wright, I was ecstatic. Then Wright left the project, and was replaced with a director who's biggest claim to fame was Bring It On, a mostly forgettable movie about cheerleaders. So this movie was a roller coaster from the get go, and the final film plays out like one as well. Spoilers to follow.

I am so glad that Marvel decided to be smart and go with Scott Lang as the main character, and not Hank Pym. Hank Pym is such a tainted character, that he hadn't really done anything good in the comics for quite some time. His role as a mentor in this film works incredibly well, and gets rid of the two biggest stigma's from his backstory: the creation of Ultron and beating his wife. Instead we get Michael Douglas as a scientist-turned-spy that left SHIELD for the glamorous private sector life.

The main theme throughout the movie is fatherhood, and it shows in spades, with Hank Pym refusing to put his daughter Hope in danger, and Scott Lang trying to reconnect with his daughter after a stint in prison. Hope shows herself to be vastly more capable with the skills required to steal a new suit of armor developed by Hank's previous protege, but her father constantly denies her her aspirations. Later on it is explained that the powers that he created for his late wife also ended up in him losing her forever, and thus he feels responsible for it. It really brings out the strength of Hank Pym from the comics, connection to family, without relying on a robot with daddy issues.

On the other hand Scott Lang is mainly trying to get back on his feet throughout the movie, and is recruited by Hank Pym because of his Robin Hood sensibilities. He tries his best to get back into the life of his daughter and good graces of his ex-wife. Also: Yay first on screen appearance of a Young Avenger!! Paul Rudd does his best with the material given, but I really wish there was more time for him to dive into his improv sensibilities. It isn't that Scott isn't funny, it is just the film doesn't let the funny moments breath.

The biggest surprise is the huge scope of the film. This movie is at it's most fun when there is something happening with scale, be it a Thomas the tank engine busting through a house, or a couple of ants adding sugar to a coffee. About midway through the film my mind was blown though, when Hank Pym introduced the concept of the 'quantum realm', or as comic fans know it, the micro verse. The film version of course behaves drastically differently from the comic counterpart, so don't expect any centaurs in half plate. To travel to the quantum realm a user takes the Pym Particles past their intended use, and they go sub-atomic, but without a regulator can get stuck in limbo forever.

This famously happened to Janet Van Dyne in Secret Wars, only to be brought back at the conclusion of Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers arc. I would put money on this happening in the cinematic universe too, so we will have two Wasps on screen, Hope and Janet! And because of how movies work, I bet they will be similar in age too ("Because you don't age in the quantum realm" or some crap like that).

Ant-Man was solid fun and a great entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however the formula Marvel has made loads of money with is starting to show its flaws. The bad guy is very one note and forgettable, with crappy motivation. The soundtrack/scoring doesn't elevate the film like the original Iron Man. The macro photography was a very cool way to shoot the scale, and the ants definitely stole the show, but even with all of that it still feels very formulaic with just a pinch of fun.