For my reviews of the other films from the MCU, click the following links:
- IRON MAN 3 (2013)
- THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)
- GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
- AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)
Click the following links for:
- Phase 1
- Phase 3
If the title alone doesn’t explain everything, I have already reviewed this movie once before.
(Link here: ANT-MAN )
Thing is, upon re-reading my own review of the film, I made some staggering comments. “As bad as Ang Lee’s HULK (2003)”? Shit, dude, I remember not liking it as much as the critics did, but I don’t remember hating it that much. Well, in lieu of its direct sequel coming out, I decided to re-watch this movie to see how it holds up now, versus three years ago. I think I owe it to myself to give it a fresh, new chance.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Paul Rudd (CIVIL WAR , SAUSAGE PARTY , and the upcoming IDEAL HOME  and ANT-MAN AND THE WASP ), Michael Douglas (HAYWIRE , and upcoming films ANIMAL WORLD  and ANT-MAN AND THE WASP), Evangeline Lilly (THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG , THE HURT LOCKER , and upcoming films ANT-MAN AND THE WASP and AVENGERS: ENDGAME ), and Corey Stoll (THE SEAGULL , GOLD , CAFÉ SOCIETY , BLACK MASS , and upcoming films FIRST MAN  and DRIVEN ).
In support, we have Bobby Cannavale (FERDINAND , I, TONYA , DADDY’S HOME , and upcoming films GOING PLACES  and MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN ), Judy Greer (15:17 TO PARIS , WILSON , JURASSIC WORLD , and upcoming films ANT-MAN AND THE WASP and WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? ), Abby Ryder Fortson (FOREVER MY GIRL , and the upcoming ANT-MAN AND THE WASP), Michael Peña (A WRINKLE IN TIME , LEGO NINJAGO , COLLATERAL BEAUTY , VACATION , and upcoming films ANT-MAN AND THE WASP and EXTINCTION ), and David Destmalchian (BLADE RUNNER 2049 , THE BELKO EXPERIMENT , THE DARK KNIGHT , and upcoming films ANT-MAN AND THE WASP and BIRD BOX ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Peyton Reed, known for the upcoming ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. Penning the screenplay, making a grand total of four writers, we have Edgar Wright (BABY DRIVER , and the upcoming SHADOWS ), Joe Cornish (the upcoming THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING ), Adam McKay (THE BIG SHORT , and the upcoming BACKSEAT ), and Paul Rudd (the upcoming ANT-MAN AND THE WASP). Composing the score is Christophe Beck, known for GRINGO (2018), AMERICAN MADE (2017), TROLLS (2016), THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2015), PITCH PERFECT (2012), and upcoming films ANT-MAN AND THE WASP and HOLMES & WATSON ). The cinematographer is Russell Carpenter, known for XXX 3 (2017), and the upcoming AVATAR 2 (2020). Finally, the co-editors are Dan Lebental (SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING , and the upcoming ANT-MAN AND THE WASP) and Colby Parker Jr. (PATRIOTS DAY , DEEPWATER HORIZON , and the upcoming MILE 22 )
This is my honest, more current, opinion of: ANT-MAN
In 1989, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) was confronted about his revolutionary, and possibly dangerous, Pym Particle, a formula that allowed anything to shrink to exponentially small sizes. S.H.I.E.L.D. wanted to use the Particle for good use, but Hank refused and resigned, burying the formula away. In the present day, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has just been released from prison after robbing a high tech company. He wants to be a part of his young daughter’s life, named Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), but neither his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer), nor her police officer boyfriend Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) want him to be. Despite trying to go straight and be honest, his long time friend Luis (Michael Peña) gives him a job: rob the estate of Hank Pym and steal the supposed valuables of a highly fortified safe. Though successful, all Scott finds is an odd looking suit, which grants him the ability to shrink the size of an insect. Before long, he’s recruited by the impressed Hank to infiltrate his former company and steal another shrinking suit made by his former apprentice Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has been obsessed with copying the Pym Particle and sell the technology to the highest bidder.
While I maintain that I don’t like this movie nearly as much as the critics seemed to at the time, I do acknowledge that the movie is much better than I gave it credit for.
The movie starts off in its prelude decently. A young-ass Douglas kicking the crap out of an ageless Donovan, delivering quite an intense performance, actually. It’s also a ton of fun that this movie inserts Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (John Slattery) into this scene. A much appreciated set of cameos. Through Hank’s reactions, we know that his creation is too much power and would rather not let anyone have control of it. Also, kind of an interesting concept, someone quitting S.H.I.E.L.D.
However, after this scene is where the primary problem with the movie comes in. I also maintain that this movie is not that funny. The opening prison fight… is a weird “farewell” ritual? Um… didn’t see that coming? And then there’s the Baskin Robbins joke. It was funny when the line went, “I’m going straight and I’m out of crime” which immediately leads to “Welcome to Baskin Robbins.” That was really funny. But then the joke is ruined by trying too hard when Scott’s guest is the dumbest of dumb-shits that the Earth has ever produced by having him say that he wants a burger, or “anything hot and fresh.” Do you have any idea how unfunny this joke is, writers? First of all, the kid can do that fun thing with his eyes and, you know, look around and see that this place has no “hot and fresh” food. Also, this kid… he’s had years of experience. In a world of McDonalds, Taco Bell, Arbys, Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and Jack in the Box, how in horse-piss does a millennial such as he NOT know that a Baskin Robbins DOES NOT serve “hot a fresh” items?! “It’s just a joke,” is not an excuse, especially when it comes to the MCU. Even the weakest of Marvel films had well-thought-out comedy. INCREDIBLE HULK (2008), DARK WORLD (2013), maybe not the best of the MCU, but when they had jokes, they were effective.
However, I do want to go back on my original statement about Rudd’s acting. He’s actually perfectly serviceable. Sure, I can’t say that it’s his funniest role, but given that this movie does have a more dramatic edge to it than Rudd’s usual body of work, he does a great job. I see a man who wants to go straight for his daughter, but the stresses of his ex not giving him a chance, bullied out of Cassie’s own birthday party by the new boyfriend, I can see why his constitution was pretty low when faced with that all in likely less than an hour, if not a whole day. However, I will say that I don’t think Scott has much of an arch. I mean… what does he learn? He’s still breaking in somewhere and steals some shit, but… for the right reasons? That’s likely always been his motivations for stealing, at least since Cassie came into the picture. But because the reasons are a little more earth-shattering, he’s a fully evolved character? I say, I don’t buy it. Don’t get me wrong, Rudd works wonders and does a well and brings a great likability to Scott, but as a character from the beginning of the movie to the end, there isn’t much progress in his character.
The best characters in the movie are thankfully the supporting heroes, specifically Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank. Thanks to LOST, Lilly is going to be a treasured sight in any movie that I see. I’m sorely disappointed in myself for not talking about her in my original review, as Lilly just might be the best actor in the movie. She has the best character, being a woman who has always blamed her father for the death of her mother, and hating him for seeing through the lies her father tells her about the circumstances of her death. After all, it was her swing-vote that outed her father out of his own company. It took the revelation of Cross’ own insanity and his intentions with the Pym Particle that ultimately drove her to realize her own mistakes. But just because she’s owning up to them and helping her father put an end to Cross’ plans, that doesn’t make things okay between her and Hank. Their relationship is still fragile and nowhere near okay. It takes Scott’s interference to push her into giving her father the time of day to explain the truth and to mend bridges. On top of her justified fluctuating emotions, Hope is also a damned bad-ass, even more so than the actual titular hero, making it kind of a bummer that she doesn’t do more fighting. Yeah, she trains Scott and maybe throws a few punches during the climax, but… well, let’s just say I’m expecting a lot more of her in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP.
My only real complaint about the relationship between Hope and Hank is how Hank’s motivations for hiding the truth was nothing more than the age-old cliché of “I was trying to protect you.” Really? The more I hear this excuse, the more I hate it, the more angry I get. Hope clearly knows that Hank was the first Ant-Man when he was younger. She clearly knew that her mother was Wasp. So why is it so hard to tell a story that wasn’t even his fault. The only circumstance I can possibly think of where a man would hide the truth of the mother’s death is if he was directly involved, like he literally killed her. But… no, Wasp made her choices during a crisis the would have ended lives, sacrificed hers, she died a damned hero. If I were Hope, I would have been even more upset at Hank, but Hope is a much more forgiving person than I am and she does seem to have a remorseful pride in knowing the truth. Even in the worst of the more dramatic scenes of the movie Lilly made it tolerable because she’s a mother @#$%ing boss. WHY IS SHE NOT MORE FAMOUS?!?! SCREW YOU TOO, HOLLYWOOD!!! On a side note, SCREW YOU, AVENGERS 4 FOR NOT INTENDING TO MAKE HER A BIG PART IN THAT SEQUEL!!! No seriously, that’s what Lilly confirmed. She’s going to be in the movie for, like, a few minutes or a few scenes. Total bullshit, if you ask me.
Now lets talk about Cross. While this was the role that put Stoll on the map, and I have certainly enjoyed his work since, I can’t say that this was a great role. Cross is basically a more over the top version of Obediah Stane from IRON MAN. Mad with power, wants to take over the company that the hero owns, wants to create his own super suit, used to be close with the hero, these similarities only further fueled my comparisons to this being just another IRON MAN. At least with Stane, you didn’t entirely see him becoming a bad guy from a mile away. Cross was full-on a bad guy from the moment he walks in and is as obviously fake as they come. Maybe someone can argue that Stoll knew he wasn’t going to be able to hide how obviously evil he was, so he just ran with it and didn’t want to bullshit, but still… and I suppose there is some fun to be had with just how intensely evil Stoll plays it, but I still can’t get the whole Cross-Stane comparisons out of my head, which seriously hampers my enjoyment of both Stoll’s performance and the character in general.
However, what I will admit that this movie improves on over IRON MAN is the climax. It is certainly more visually appealing and creative. In IRON MAN, what is it really? Two super suits flying around, throwing each other into shit, and even more flying around, resulting in a clichéd pillar of light into the sky. Um… gee, haven’t seen that a million times before. In this movie, though, we get an entire fight scene in a brief case, the heroes jumping off of giant cell phones, lasers slicing through pilots, funny visuals of Yellowjacket getting whacked with a ping pong paddle and a humorous buzz wizzing by with a tiny electrical shock when he hits the bug zapper. The Thomas the Tank engine stuff, enlarging an ant… as well as the tank engine, it’s all a load of visual fun.
Oh, and I maintain that Fortson is a million flavors of adorable. Honestly, I want to see more of her in the sequel. Although… maybe not as a little damsel in distress. She shouldn’t be relegated to being this franchise’s Mary Jane. She deserves better. Hell, Kirsten Dunst deserved better. But I digress.
Overall, this movie is a lot more fun than I gave it credit for. The acting is solid, especially from Lilly and Douglas, and the action scenes are visually interesting and fun. The weakness of the film is, weirdly enough, the comedy, which is what the MCU has always done so well. It not all bad, of course, but when it’s bad, it’s painful, and I’ve not experienced that in an MCU movie at all. Also, it’s still too similar to IRON MAN, which was a more enjoyable film as a whole with more interesting protagonist. But as a new recommendation, I say that it’s… solid. When it’s good, it’s great, when it’s not, it’s really not.
My honest, and more current, rating for ANT-MAN: a strong 3/5