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Movie Review: “Ant Man”

Heroes come in all sizes in Ant Man. Image from businessinsider.com

Heroes come in all sizes in Ant Man.
Image from businessinsider.com

Over the past several years Marvel has become a powerhouse in the movie industry with their series of critically and financially successful films and shared universe. During its second phase story arch Marvel has gone to newer and greater heights that seemed to accumulate with the fantastic Age of Ultron. However, Marvel ends its second phase on a very small note with Ant Man.

The story for Ant Man is inventive and charming while at the same time feeling as if it has borrowed heavily from other Marvel films. The story centers on Scott Lang, an ex-con struggling to find work while being a good father and role model to his young daughter. After a long heist ends with him acquiring a suit he finds himself in the employment of Hank Pym, former industry mogul, who wants Scott to use the powers of his suit to steal Pym’s creation from his psychotic successor. It doesn’t take long to see the parallels between this and Iron Man: a humorous hero who needs a powerful suit to bring down a crazed CEO who intends to use the same technology to bring about war and profits. The second act of the film even follows the Iron Man formula by having a long, continuous montage of Scott learning how to use his suit. Despite this Ant Man still manages to use its unique hero and lore to make a creative and overall fun story. The powers and risks of the suit are explained in full and the film uses those powers to its advantage making for some truly interesting possibilities and adventures with the Ant Man character. The story manages to perfectly integrate its humor with the story, having numerous and effective comedic moments that hit each note exactly. Even the typical second act training sequence is made entertaining by this well made humor for any faults anyone could find with Ant Man all would have to agree that at least it kept us laughing. Ant Man’s story also utilizes the technique of genre bending. Like last years The Winter Soldier, Ant Man isn’t simply a funny super hero film. Instead it incorporates the genre of the heist film into its story and for the most part that’s what it is. It all boils down to a well thought out heist before it goes into the grand hero vs. villain finale. Overall despite feeling like ideas have been borrowed from Iron Man, Ant Man’s story is still creative and funny while also cleverly adding other genres into the mix.

The characters for Ant Man are likeable.

Scott Lang is a truly likeable hero. He’s funny and charismatic while being completely sympathetic. His back story reveals that his “crime” was returning money to thousands of people that was cheated out of them by an already wealthy organization. Despite this noble effort he still is branded as criminal and has a hard time finding work while being judged cruelly by society. Had the film gone further with this it could have had a great moment of social commentary, showing the difficulties ex-cons have going straight and having to resort to crime again since they cannot find good work. Because of this back story, along with his kind hearted and humorous nature, Scott is a great addition to the library of characters in the Marvel universe.

Hank Pym is a fine mentor character, being both caring and creative. However, the character has his fair share of foolish moments and it’s in these moments that plot holes form in the story. When Scott states an obvious answer to their problem Pym’s reaction is to be completely stubborn for no good reason.

Hope van Dyne, Pym’s daughter, is an interesting character. She’s initially antagonistic towards Scott and for good reason so for a while she creates fine conflict in the story. Over the course of the film she develops very well into trusting Scott more and mending the gap between herself and her father.

Luis is Scott’s criminal friend who serves as the film’s comic relief character, if that’s even possible.  Despite his status Luis is still a very likeable character because of his humor, his loyalty and friendship to Scott as well as the fact that he’s important to the story. In the third act he’s truly needed in helping Scott and does so perfectly. He’s the prime example of how to have a great supporting character being useful to the film rather than being thrown aside in favor of someone else.

Our antagonist for Ant Man is Darren Cross. Another parallel to Iron Man, Cross is similar to Obadiah Stane in so many ways such as motive and aspects of his personality. But where Stane was intelligent and intimidating Cross is simply a weenie, a weak man who spends a majority of the film on the verge of tears. He could have been a truly fantastic villain, having had a former mentor/student relationship with Pym which if done correctly would have made him sympathetic. As is, though, he is a rather weak villain.

Acting for Ant Man is well done.

I am surprised more than anyone on how well Paul Rudd was in the role of Scott Lang. Personally I am not fond of Paul Rudd’s brand of humor especially after the abysmal This is 40. However, Rudd manages to surprise in a multitude of ways in his role by being continuously funny, charming and in moments that are more somber and serious he manages to do perfectly well.

Michael Douglas gives a fine performance as Hank Pym. He fills the role of mentor very well and has great chemistry alongside Rudd and Evangeline Lilly.

Evangeline Lilly is very good as Hope van Dyne. Her antagonistic nature during the first two acts is well done and is a great juxtaposition to Rudd’s funny and outgoing performance.

Michael Pena is a complete show stealer as Luis. Pena proves once again what a fantastic and versatile actor he is as he’s energetic, eccentric and hilarious throughout the film. He’s joined by David Dastmalchain and Tip T.I. Harris and the three make for a wonderful comedic trio.

Corey Stoll’s performance feels wasted on Cross. Stoll tries his best to give a menacing performance all while doing well in the moments where his character could have been sympathetic. Unfortunately his hard work and performance still can’t hide the fact that he plays a particularly weak villain and character.

The action scenes for Ant Man are truly inventive and spectacular. The action involves Scott going between his two sizes, fighting as a man and using his strength in his small form to crush his opponents. This switching tactic makes for fun, funny and varied action scenes that have plenty to them. One truly great fight is between Scott and the surprise appearance of Falcon. The switching aspect makes the fight brutal and entertaining and the spectacular fight choreography makes for some exciting moments. But of course the best action doesn’t come until the end when Scott battles Cross. The miniature fights are hilarious and entertaining as the film cuts between a visceral and destructive fight between the two and cutting back to our perspective to show how humorously tiny it all seems.

Lastly the costumes and effects for Ant Man are well done. The Ant Man costume is simplistic yet has a practicality and creativeness to it. The effects overall are pretty good. While the film relies heavily on CG it still is fine CG and looks it’s absolute best when Scott is small, making this small world seem large and monstrous.

Final Thoughts: Ant Man isn’t the strongest of Marvel’s films but even so in the end it is a fun and hilarious film. The story, though borrowing from Iron Man, still has tons of creativity to it that it could wonderfully build off of as well as mixing in both the heist genre and humor perfectly into the story. The characters are mostly likeable, having a great and sympathetic hero and a good supporting cast of character. The acting is fine and funny from most and the actions set pieces are inventive and thoroughly entertaining. In the end Ant Man is a fun little film and an enjoyable way to spend a summer afternoon.

Verdict: 4/5

About the Author

Good day to you, my name is Jonathan Gonzalez. For years I’ve loved movies and have been reviewing them for years, ever since I first saw Roger Ebert on Ebert and Roeper during my freshman year of high school for the first time. I am a graduate of Mercy College with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and I have Asperger’s Syndrome, something I am truly proud of.

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