- Movie Rating -

Ant-Man (2015)

| July 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Based on the number of ants present in this movie, I suppose we can thank our lucky stars he wasn’t called Roach-Man.

Within the vast population of Marvel characters, Ant-Man is one of the goofiest of superheroes, and seemingly the narrowest in terms of functionality. The challenge in the new Ant-Man movie is to effectively explain to the uneducated, non-comic book reading audience what a man shrinking down to the size of an insect is good for. Fortunately, the movie is very good at explaining itself. You don’t believe one minute of it, and the logic has holes in it that you could throw The Hulk through, but it makes for an entertaining movie that doesn’t drive you away with distracting logistical question marks.

Ant-Man is an entertaining movie that feels like a small anti-chamber off to the side of the vast Marvel Cinematic Universe. It feels like a break from the bigger more serious-minded team ups, focusing on a character that many of us don’t really know. Yet, it doesn’t feel like a forced entry. True, you didn’t hear anyone saying “Gee, I hope they make an Ant-Man movie,” but the movie works because of some bold creativity and a script that mercifully doesn’t take itself too seriously or drown itself in sad-clown drama. Plus, if you need to be sold on this character, it helps that you have a sharp-witted guy like Paul Rudd doing the selling.

The story opens in 1989 as we see a young Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, de-aged by CG) walking into a meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D. execs with a red liquid in a vial that could change the world (brightly colored stuff in vials always will). The substance is The Pym Particle, S.H.I.E.L.D. wants it, Pym disagrees, the meeting does not go well.

The story then shoots forward 26 years where we meet a good-hearted convict named Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who is about to be released from The Friendliest Prison on Earth where he has served a stretch for burglary. He’s a crook, but he wants to go straight to have more time for his little girl. But the world won’t let him forget that he’s a criminal, least of all Baskin Robbins which briefly gives him a job and is mentioned so many times in five minutes that it almost deserves a screen credit.

Needing money for child support, Scott accepts an offer to break into the vault of a rich old man only to discover that vault only contains a red leather suit and helmet. The suit and the vault, of course belong to Hank Pym. The suit has been designed by Pym to allow the wearer to not only shrink down to one-tenth his normal size, but also to allow him amazing strength. This means we get the ridiculous sight of a man the size of a bug thrashing and beating up men who are 50 times his own size.

As silly as this sounds, director Peyton Reed and his screenwriters do a good job of setting up how the Ant-Man suit works and what its advantages are. We spend a welcomed amount of time watching Scott learn how to use the suit and how to talk to ants (yes, talk to ants). Scott has control over the ants because Pym is resourceful enough to have figured out how to make them obey his commands. This actually makes a lot more sense when you’re watching it.  Let’s put it this way, this movie handles computer-generated ants way better than Crystal Skull did.

Scott learns that he was recruited to be the Ant-Man to stop an evil former devotee of Pym’s who wants to turn Pym’s particle into a weapon. His name is Darren Cross and he’s plays with slippery effectiveness by Corey Stoll. The minute we see Cross, he practically oozes evil, from his bald head to his toothy grin. This guy turns enemies into goop and uses lambs for research. His a.k.a. is The Yellow Jacket, a terrifying looking suit that looks like it fell out of Spawn.

The best parts of Ant-Man are the action scenes. I’ve complained as recently as last week with Minions that I was tired of the smash and bash city battles that take up the third act of a lot of movies these days. This one takes its action scenes to clever new places. Using ingenuity that ebbs somewhere between The Incredible Shrinking Woman and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, the action scenes move within a micro-world that is harmless when you’re normal height but terrifying when you’re the size of an ant. Ant man is threatened by rats, a record player, a bathtub, a vacuum cleaner, a toy train set, a shag carpet, and a room full of dancing feet. The special effects here are really creative, not just at recycling explosions but creating a world for Ant-Man to play in.

The movie is a lot of fun. It’s funny and its dramatic but it doesn’t become too goofy nor too broody. Yet, it’s not one of the MCU’s major achievements. Last year I put Guardians of the Galaxy on my ten best list just for sheer cleverness. Both Guardians and Ant-Man are gambles for Marvel and Disney because they aren’t properties that most of the general population are familiar with. They aren’t brand names with a built-in audience.

Of the two, I prefer Guardians because of its way-out kookiness. Ant-Man is a little more conventional, plot-wise. It’s a good, fun movie that ties in nicely with the rest of the MCU, though you can’t help but get a little baffled by the fact that such a simple story employs at least four or five different subplots. It’s a little jarring, especially when the movie tries to tie them all together – some for story reason, and others to get Ant-Man into the next Avengers movie. It’s a lot to juggle. Yet, I was entertained. Ant-Man wasn’t a character that was crying out for his own movie, but the filmmakers have done a good job with a silly concept. It’s not as much fun as Guardians nor as dramatic as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but it flows at its own speed and with its own sense of humor. It’s not perfect, but you’ll enjoy it.


About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2015) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Recent