Imagine a soldier the size of an ant. Yes, I got it, I saw it, I loved it.
Yes, it’s still the same old ‘superhero killed villain’ story which you should be familiar with by now. But at the same time, it’s wildly different. But first, be warned that there will be spoilers ahead. If you’re still keen on checking it out, skip through the bolded sections- those serve as some sort of plot summary.
Scott Lang, your not so average ‘neighborhood’ thief (not robber, he doesn’t tolerate violence or threats), gets out of jail, and tries to start a new life, one which is kinda way less intense than his previous ‘job’. First job? Baskin Robbins, in the film’s first product placement. Up till this point, that entire snippet was shown to those who watched Jurassic World previously in IMAX theaters. Moving on, he gets fired, because that’s what happens if you want to be a criminal. Lying won’t help, because Baskin Robbins will always find out. That’s great, because all the remnants of his past life are gone too- well, not literally. I mean, they’re still there, just that the rest of his family has moved on and cut all contacts from him- his dear ex-wife has got a cop as her new guy, and she’s shunning him too, because he isn’t doing something all good dads should be doing- providing child support, that would be one. That’s not all- he doesn’t have an apartment, or a decent paying job. He’s in a state of despair after he gets rejected upon his attempt to visit his daughter, and losing his job. To get over this, he does what an ex-criminal would do when desperate- break into places to steal stuff. And what he gets into is a trap- devised by Hank Pym, who has been awaiting him all these years.
Looks like the distraught Hank needs Scott’s help to break into the company he founded, to steal the Yellowjacket suit which the assistant he chose all those years ago has created. One which can shrink whoever harnesses it. And Hank knows what’s coming isn’t going to be beautiful- it’s going to be a threat, and mankind’s very own destruction. Because professional thieves are amateur superheroes, he goes through a hell of training- one which requires him befriending four species of ants (Bullet Ant, Carpenter Ant, Fire Ant, and Crazy Ant (?) ), breaking into the Avengers facility and in the process getting into a brawl with Falcon (he doesn’t qualify to be an Avenger, he gets beaten up so easily), and learning how to punch. And where else to face off with Yellowjacket AKA Darren Cross but in his daughter’s room, complete with giant ants and Thomas the Train? And of course, being a part-comedy inherently, you can’t get a depressing ending out of nowhere, so how else but to have a ‘happily ever after’ cliche ending, where Scott gets forgiven and pardoned? That’s about all, so how about the review?
First and foremost, this is the smallest film Marvel has ever done, and the budget clearly shows. Everything seems more personal- the stakes especially. Unlike the previous films, where there are omnipresent threats which would have been devastating if left alone, the threat we are presented with here is rather harmless, in comparison. In Ant-Man, all we are given is a potential world-changing threat, yes, where the wrong people might misuse this tech (HYDRA!!), it doesn’t seem to materialize here. Instead, it’s all about a loving dad who’s trying to protect his daughter. After the sheer number of characters we are introduced to in Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s great to see a bit more of a focus here, and character development of sorts. What we have here is Scott Lang, the persistent cops going after him, Hank Pym, Hope Van Dyne, and Luis with his gang of assistants. Seriously, that’s about all the characters here that are of a slight importance (Falcon not inclusive, of course). Everything here screams ‘FAMILY!!!”. For most of the film’s action-less scenes, the film either focuses on Hank and Hope’s relationship, or Scott and his family’s relationship. Even Luis is considered family to Scott, due to their rather close and mutual relationship. And what we are given here is a satisfying amount of character development, one largely absent from Avengers: Age of Ultron. I mean, if we look at Avengers, all we are given is some complicated explanation to what’s going on, or some cheesy one-liners between characters. That’s what you get when you got too many characters in such a short runtime. And that’s where I think Ant-Man succeeds best, one which we have hardly seen since maybe Captain America: The First Avenger. That’s not all the praises I have about this film.
This film blends in comedy really well. One which we are given in spades. I have to say that the trailer has thrown in far too many of these, but they sure do work better in the context of the film. This film never takes itself too seriously, instead conveying a sense of fun and excitement- and that’s for the better, as some of these jokes feel forced. It really tempts you to come along on this ride. Just a point, but I got a feeling that they have removed the self-depreciating sequence of Ant-Man introducing himself to Falcon. And the sequence where he requests for a name change. They sure were funny, and I found their removal rather unnecessary, considering this film is under 2 hours long. Michael Pena indeed brings about some sort of comic relief to his film, and with that he succeeds.
And with that, I think that Marvel has succeeded in tackling yet another genre. Just like how Captain America: Winter Soldier pulled off the role of being a political thriller. And Guardians of the Galaxy hit the jackpot being a part comedy, part space opera. Over here, we are given their first foray into the heist genre, one which Marvel pulls off with ease, further proving that regardless of genres, superheroes can blend in to any of them. Here’s one thing you should pick up, DC. Oh, and the folks over at Fox too, with their X-Men/Fantastic Four flicks. And that’s another reason why Ant-Man here is far more superior than Avengers: Age of Ultron. From the get-go, things just feel different as a whole. Apart from that genre hopping difference, just a small thing, but another reason this film stands out would be its use of perspectives. By taking advantage of the source material, and the shrinking context, Peyton Reed has done a fabulous job in showing the contrasts, which works best in the climax. Throughout the Yellowjacket VS Ant-Man scene, the shots constantly switched between normal zoom and miniature zoom. You kind of know what I mean. Lets just say that this builds upon the comedic element of the film- by building humor upon showing just how little impact this fight is causing on the real world. Well, its not just this scene, though- its used throughout the film, though occasionally at best.
The cast was fantastic. Michael Pena was a stand-out performance for his performance as Luis, being the main comedic relief of this whole film. Well, he performs that duty alongside Paul Rudd’s Scott character, who did pretty well too. Evangeline Lilly brings about a sense of badass-ness into her role, while Michael Douglas was relatively okay. However, Corey Stoll, playing Darren Cross, the film’s main antagonist, doesn’t feel as much as his role implies. Instead, he feels more like an obstacle, an uninteresting one which can be dumped aside. Nope, his acting is horrible, its pretty decent, but it doesn’t feel like this film would be any different without him. Once again, Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has yet to redeem itself over a proper, good villain, apart from Loki, one which is interesting to follow and to be attached to. Don’t look here, you won’t find one.
Marvel fans can expect a lot here in relations to the Marvel universe, with plenty of easter eggs scattered throughout to spot. Reference to Spiderman, Wasp, two post-credit scenes, and more come along with this package. Even a fantastic Falcon extended cameo did help firmly establish this film in the Marvel universe (if you didn’t wait till the post-credits), and several Avengers references. And who can ever forget the great Stan Lee?
Despite much anger over Edgar Wright’s sudden resignation from his role of director, I felt that Peyton Reed didn’t do a bad job. Instead, he pulled this off under lots of pressure, and under those circumstances, did really well. Its a shame, though, that it doesn’t feel like a product of Edgar Wright- his presence here is negligible, and in some cases, unfelt.
If you bothered reading this despite my warning of it being spoiler-filled, here’s a bit of advice- stay all the way through the end. There are two scenes right after the credits roll- one after the mid-credits, one after the post-credits. You are not gonna want to miss any of them, trust me.
Well, for those popcorn crowd who just want to figure out whether the visuals are there this time round, lets say that with Ant-Man’s shrinking abilities, things to look a whole lot different than any other film. I mean, it would obviously be different seeing an explosion as an ant. For those wondering ‘hey, what does those ants in my living room see?’, yeah, you get plenty of answers here. For those wondering ‘hey, what happens when someone tries to kill an ant?’ even more answers here. Whatever it is, though, despite being different, don’t expect things to be as massive in scale as compared to previous set pieces- collapse of Slovakia, for one. Don’t go in expecting massive destruction, and that sort of thing which Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay love. Instead, its more like ‘what happens when an ant goes crazy, and is able to shoot and go rogue and be a mass murderer’. That’s what its like, subsumed into a rather generous and harmless PG-13 rating. Oh, and if you wanna see how much Hollywood has evolved in recent years, being able to create a CGI-version of young Michael Douglas, you get that here too. Oh, and its a million or gazillion times better than what you get in Terminator: Genisys. First things first, they had no model to follow. And that magic is simply amazing.
To end off, lets just say that this film reignited my love for Marvel, especially after the let-down of sorts which is Avengers: Age of Ultron. Of course, this is going to be a good example of how to keep building superhero films without retreading through too much of the same ground- by keeping things different. As I already stated before in this article, superhero movies have to reinvent themselves to keep going strong, especially after the ‘plague’ we are currently going through. Regardless, this is a fantastic piece of work, one which stands okay as a standalone film, one which doesn’t bother building too much threads to relate it to the major universe, and thankfully not going overboard, one which is both fun and hilarious at times, one which treads new ground. Okay, it’s a bit slow, but its been a long time since I’ve watched an ‘original’ origin film from Marvel. And here, they deliver (maybe a bit of biasness, because of this point). In conclusion- if you wanna get entertained, you’re gonna get just that. Don’t expect a high-quality, thought-provoking film. It’s just some popcorn summer fun.
Oh, and one last thing. 3D simply isn’t worth it here. No, don’t think ‘hey, seeing ants in 3D is gonna be amazing’. Nope, that ain’t happening, and its not going to be that great either. And if you’re the guy who gets nauseous easily, some scenes here might give you some motion sickness in 3D. Just saying.
Character Development: 12/15
VFX/Costume Design/Production Design: 3.5/5
Preliminary Score: 50.5/70 (72.1%)
Revised Score: 54.54/70 (77.9%)
(Note: Revised score is calculated based on personal biasness. Not to confuse you, so here’s some explanation- I will be adding or deducting up to 10% of the given preliminary score based on how much I personally enjoyed the movie. You understand)