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Ant-Man Review

Kalem Lalonde's picture
Ever since Edgar Wright dropped out of his superhero dream project “Ant-Man” the movie has struggled to fill fans with excitement and optimism. Some couldn’t get over Wright’s departure and some wouldn’t accept Peyton Reed as his replacement. There was certainly fear leading up to this movie’s release as a lot of people were asking themselves, “Will this be Marvel’s first flop?” The answer is no, absolutely not. Ant-Man trumps the mixed expectations with Marvel’s best solo origin story since “Iron Man”.

Coming off of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, Marvel understood that giving fans another movie where the stakes are oblivion would not have worked. Marvel understood that it was time tune it back and make the stakes more personal than global. Ant-Man’s smaller scale shines as it transcends the Marvel formula and ground itself with the core of the story being family. That’s what is at stake in “Ant-Man”. Whether it’s a mentor’s relationship with his protégé (son he never had) or a father’s relationship with his daughter, Ant-Man always relates back to family.

There’s a certain relatability that comes with these themes that feels new and fresh for Marvel. Scott Lang doesn’t want to be a hero because he went through a traumatic experience. He just wants to be a good father. That is his central motivation and it is easier to identify with than most other superheroes. Which is something that can be said about the film itself. It may be a zany, unorthodox and all-around weird movie but when deconstructed it’s a simple story about a man redeeming himself for his family. That was what made Ant-Man better than I had expected.

Past the heartfelt core of the narrative is an extremely fun and wacky film. It’s hard to sell the idea of a man who turns small as his superpower, and director Peyton Reed made sure his film understood that. This is not a movie that could’ve taken itself seriously and thankfully the uneven tone of the trailers isn’t the direction they take with “Ant-Man”. This is a hilarious movie that knows exactly how to have fun without getting in the way of its emotional centres. Scenes where characters pour their hearts out are saved from becoming melodramatic by excellent jokes that lighten the mood. That’s an example of what Ant-Man does so well throughout its run-time. It’s enjoyable, funny, and doesn’t lose that for a single second.

Which is common for most Marvel films, but Ant-Man is able to distinguish itself perfectly from the bunch. Ant-Man is not an action film like most Marvel films are. It is a heist film that only turns to action for its final act. In the case of Age of Ultron, some felt that less could have been more and I think Ant-Man shows us why. The frequency of the action gives us more reason to be excited for whenever Ant-Man has to throw down and every time he does, it is beautiful. And while they may be the best-looking sequences of the film, the most thrilling are by far the heists.

What’s awesome about making Ant-Man a heist film is that it’s speaks true to the character while mixing the heist and superhero genres perfectly. First and foremost, Scott Lang is a professional thief. Watching him find ways to break into a house is interesting and entertaining. Secondly, Ant-Man’s powers to shrink and control ants is able to make the heists different. Of course you have the fake security guards but watching Scott go down a tiny river in an ant-raft isn’t something you would see in any other heist film. It’s a clever blending of genres and I cannot picture an Ant-Man movie without a heist.

However, none of these great elements would matter if the characters we are following fell flat. Scott Lang, the hero himself, as previously stated is only fighting for his family. He’s an extremely human character and having a thief be a hero has always been compelling to me. Paul Rudd is excellently cast in this role, bringing the emotional moments to life well and nailing every comedic beat. Michael Douglas is expectedly awesome as Hank Pym, a grumpy and retired old man that has trouble connecting with the people around him. Douglas’ Pym may be aloof but he’s cool enough to be extremely likeable due to Douglas’ charisma. Evangeline Lily proves that she has grown as an actress with her role as Hope Van Dyme, she also is a distant character, and while she may not be pleasant to have in every scene, you can understand why she would act the way she does.

Each character is very strong on their own (except for Hope who is good in her own right but not comparable to the Ant-Men) but what works best is the chemistry between them all. Pym and his daughter have a broken relationship and had to join forces to stop Pym’s old protégé, Daren Cross. The chemistry between these two actors works as they portray a believably broken bond. Scott and Hank work well together and develop a mentor/mentee relationship. Which injects jealousy into Hank’s daughter who wants to be the one to wear the Ant-Man suit. Scott watches their broken relationship and wishes it’ll never end up like that with his daughter. The dynamics are all about parents and children and they build to the core of the movie well while also being very entertaining to watch.

One dynamic that could’ve worked and is unfortunately underdeveloped is between Hank Pym and his former protégé, the film’s villain, Daren Cross. There were great moments with Corey Stoll’s Daren Cross that hinted at a deeper conflict and were constantly cut short. His relationship with Hank was a great idea that never quite came to fruition. Stoll is a great actor and does what he can with this role but he never becomes the villain you were hoping for. There are confusions with his motivation and he ends up feeling a little one-note. Lackluster villains have become a part of Marvel’s brand and while Daren Cross may be above average for them, he doesn’t become a positive for the movie.

To those who were expecting this to be Marvel’s first flop, I’m glad to say that you were wrong. Ant-Man is a thoroughly enjoyable movie that distinguishes itself from other Marvel films by lowering the stakes and adding a new genre. This is a heist film about family and nothing goes beyond that. There isn’t a gigantic asteroid that could end the human race, or a madman with an infinity stone threatening to destroy a planet. There is the love and the life of our hero’s daughter at stake. That is deeply personal and that is how Ant-Man thrives. 

-Kalem Lalonde

Score: 9/10

Comments

RobertJCross's picture
I just got home from seeing it. i enjoyed it a lot. It was better than Iron Man 3 and Thor 2.  I could easily see Lang being a household name after a few more movies.
Kalem Lalonde's picture
I liked it more than both of those too, probably. I'm thinking it's in my top 3 standalone Marvel films (not counting Guardians in that) with Iron Man and Winter Soldier!
I really enjoyed the film.  It seems like it was horribly mismarketed, though.  The trailer did the final product no justice.  I was apprehensive about the selection of Peyton Reed to replace Edgar Wright.  He did a manageable job, but his results were somewhat bland.  He has little to no experience dealing with the "action/adventure" film perspective, so it's quite forgiveable.  I'd be interested in seeing a sequel without the drama of this film's pre-production phase.
Kalem Lalonde's picture
I loved what Reed did with this film and was honestly quite impressed! I remember seeing Ant-Man has found its new director and his last movie was Yes Man and thinking oh god, please no. But I thought the action was action and well shot. Makes me disapointed he didn't get his shot a F4 back in the day.