Marvel can officially close the books on Phase Two of its Avengers Initiative now that “The Insect” has come and gone with his installment. Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as the title character, a thief who is recruited by a prominent scientist to steal dangerous technology that could propel the world down a chaotic spiral, using a suit powered by particles capable of reducing his size but augmenting his strength.
Ant-Man may seem clumsy and tad bit sloppy in terms of it’s narrative storytelling but there is no denying that this is perhaps the slickest superhero movie since Iron Man. This had heart, humor, the action was very sturdy, it was visually splendid and I enjoyed Ant-Man from start to finish.
Director Peyton Reed was asked to step in after Edgar Wright walked away from the project due to creative differences with Marvel, but Reed truly held on to the integrity that Wright was working to achieve and kept the foundation of Wright’s vision intact through the screenplay, co-written by Wright, Adam McKay, Joe Cornish and star Paul Rudd.
What I truly enjoyed about Ant-Man: continuity. This movie knows where it stands in the Avengers Universe, post-Age of Ultron yet left enough Easter Eggs for what is to come in Phase Three, even though I felt this was worthy enough to be the primary installment of Phase Three; I also liked the fact that Michael Douglas’ character Hank Pym is given his proper due with this franchise as his character was the original Ant-Man and one of the founding members of the Avengers in the comics, but in this movie he was an integral member of S.H.I.E.L.D. in his early days until he left to keep his tech from falling into the wrong hands.
Rudd’s character Scott Lang, is not only just the hero but he’s a hero you can actually relate to and root for. He just out of prison only to have a rough time trying to get his life together, find a job, reconnect with his daughter, try and avoid a life of crime, I just related to his character somehow because I’m trying to make out here myself and it isn’t easy.
Then you have the characters that I’m not really certain to feel about, in this case the characters of Hope, played by Evangeline Lily, and Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll. Hope is Pym’s daughter who bears resentment towards her father because of the circumstances of her mother’s death and Cross is Pym’s former protege determined to take everything away from his former mentor no matter the cost. Hope has her strong points, but her character seems so vapid and there doesn’t appear to be much to her except her daddy issues and Cross is just a cheap excuse for a bad guy who doesn’t really get interesting until he puts on the Yellowjacket suit.
The rest of the cast including Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Michael Peña, T.I., Martin Donovan, David Dastmalchian, were either characters who were reduced to props with no discernible dimension of their own or characters that I didn’t much care for. Abby Ryder Forston, who played Lang’s daughter, was cute considering the material she was given, but still falls under that category. In fact, I think some of the CGI ants in this movie were more significant and lively than most of the actors in this movie.
Will I say Ant-Man is the best superhero movie released this year? Unfortunately, no. Age of Ultron will not be dethroned yet, but I will say that the savvy that went into the production of this picture was fresh enough to make me see past the blemishes and say that this is one of the most enjoyable films released to date.
When it comes to heist movies, don’t expect anything on a sophisticated scale a la Inception or American Hustle. Ant-Man‘s premise to use an army of ants to steal the Yellowjacket suit before it falls into the wrong hands is a premise that you know that you can’t take seriously but it seems like a stretch in of itself. Maybe because of the film’s genre or the fact that it doesn’t feel as if the stakes aren’t raised high enough; it’s just a touch shallow in the wrong places.
Peyton Reed had to step in after the fallout between Marvel and Edgar Wright, but he gave a solid effort directing this movie; I truly thought the film was paced nicely and he allowed the action to take the spotlight when the action needed to and the same could be said for the humor.
I liked the screenplay, I liked the visual effects, I thought Russell Carpenter’s cinematography and camera effects fit what this movie and what moviegoers were looking for when it comes to a superhero who can change his size, Dan Lebental and Colby Parker Jr.’s editing wasn’t world class but it was convincing for this movie.
There’s a saying:
It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.
-Sidenote: I do not condone animal cruelty in any way, shape or form
Ant-Man may be the Insect of the Avengers Initiative, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in strength. Not overwhelming strength but respectable. After all, he embarrassed a new Avenger in a fight. That’s respectable.