I know nothing of the Ant-Man comic book mythos, nor was I impressed by any of the trailers. So my expectations were only moderate when I went to see the Ant-Man film. I was pretty sure it would be a decent film because Marvel has a way to taking characters that normally wouldn’t stand a chance and making them crowd-pleasers.
And I was right.
Marvel continues its cruise control filmmaking by presenting another above average film that features their trademark blend of humor and adventure. I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable it was considering the plot was very familiar to anyone who’s watched Iron Man, complete with a corporate villain determined to take the company and tech to sinister ends. The major difference is Scott Lang is no arrogant genius like Tony Stark. He is a definite blue collar hero: former felon with employment difficulties who desperately wants a second chance with his cute little daughter. If that means taking a job from an eccentric old genius with a suit that shrinks and allows telepathic communication with ants, so be it.
Paul Rudd does a great job in the titular role, and Evangeline Lily comes fresh off her scene-stealing role in the Hobbit films to steal all the scenes in this film as well. Her character never gets the action or attention she deserves, but they fix that in an after-credits scene that promises much more for her in the future. Michael Douglas brings gravitas as Hank Pym, a character that looms large (ha) in Marvel comics, but is past his hero days in this film. The character of Pym is besmeared with spousal abuse controversy in the comics, so the filmmakers doge the issue entirely by presenting him as retired from costumed adventuring, now an old, reclusive, mournful widower who despite being a genius on Stark levels, has never been mentioned by anyone in the Marvel films until now. Go figure.
There are many cool scenes in the film. Nothing new, but the special effects are decent enough. There is what feels like an obligatory scene that pits Ant-Man against one of the new Avengers characters, which I appreciated because none of the trailers gave it away. At the same time it felt like an obligatory scene tacked on just to put the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it didn’t exactly do anything for the story. Just another reminder from Marvel that their movies are so awesome, I guess.
The movie’s main weakness is the same one that nearly every Marvel film suffers from: a moderately menacing, neatly disposable villain. The Yellowjacket character had a great sinister costume and all, but despite being armed with superior weaponry, he never stood a chance. And you know it all along, so it really takes away any credible threat from the characters. How long Marvel can continue in this manner is anyone’s guess, but the film manages to still amuse despite that downfall.
Bottom line: Ant-Man is a good film that will please anyone who’s enjoyed Marvel’s run of films. Just don’t expect any more than what you’re already used to.
When Bard Constantine isn’t consumed by pop culture, he writes gritty futures and far-flung fantasy. See more at bardwritesbooks.com