Ant-Man is going to be huge, despite being in Ant-Man

BY Jason Hojnacki | July 17, 2015

It’s been beaten to death but Ant-Man is without question Marvel’s biggest risk and ballsiest move to date. If you looked at Guardians of the Galaxy last summer and thought, wow, that's a gamble, I’m guessing you looked at Ant-Man and said “this could be the first big Marvel failure”. I was that guy and I am here to report that Ant-Man isn’t nearly the disaster it could have been.

If you had followed this movie the last couple of years you would know that it started out as an Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) joint before turning into a Peyton Reed (Yes, Man) picture. Based on that last sentence you can probably figure out my first issue with the film, the direction just isn’t up to par with what we expect out of our Marvel movies. The movie starts with an oddly paced flashback that sets the tone for the rest of the film. Jokes fall flat, action scenes seem like they are missing some of the flair seen in previous Marvel movies, the main villain is one dimensional, boring and pivotal scenes are for the most part, lacking that something special.

On the flip side, Ant-Man is a great character that was able to show immense promise, despite being stuck in an average movie. Paul Rudd doesn't really get to shine like one would expect, but the potential is there and by the end of the movie you can see where a skilled director could take him. The rest of the cast works really well. From Michael Douglas nailing Hank Pym to Evangelline Lilly lighting up the screen, despite an odd haircut(I know it matches the comics but it is still odd) to Michael Pena and his gang of misfits that include rap king T.I. and David Dastmalchian stealing every scene they were in. Outside of the bland performance by Corey Stall as Yellow Jacket, this cast was really well put together.

On the visual side, seeing the world from an ants perspective is and always will be awesome. Not since Honey I Shrunk the Kids has a movie captured the magic of what our world must look like from down there. Part of what makes this work is that the CG during these scenes has a style that perfectly captures the scope and paranoia that one might feel when seeing normal life in such a crazy way.

It was that little things gone big idea that made me think that this was a movie that would benefit from 3-D. As I walked out of the theater, I felt like I paid a premium to see the movie while wearing glasses that did nothing but mute the colors. Most of the time I couldn’t tell if something was popping out of the screen because of the 3-D effect or if it was just the way they were cooked up. That doesn’t really matter though because for the most part, the special effects were top notch.

This is an odd movie that I recommend only if you want to get an idea of what this franchise could become, not what it currently is. Ant-Man will only get bigger from here, that is now perfectly clear.

Michael Douglas warming up his Pym Particles.

WE THINK...

The movie wasn't that great

Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way, this movie isn’t that great. The first 40 minutes or so are so awful I found myself wondering if it could recover. Thankfully it does, but only because the cast puts the terrible villain and bland story on their back and carries this thing over the final hour.

So, what isn’t “great” about this movie. First off, Peyton Reed and Adam McCay somehow found a way to make Paul Rudd totally unlikeable for most of this movie. I get that he is a criminal and that inherently makes him bad, but there is just this odd mean streak hidden in the jokes and editing that made me question what the hell was going on. For me this started with the first time you see Scott Lang and lasted up until Michael Pena’s character asked him if they were the good guys. Up until that point, you really didn’t have a reason to root for these guys. This is odd because their backstory was supposed to be an endearing rob from the rich, give to the poor tale, but it came off as just a bunch of guys breaking into rich peoples houses.

It's this lack of diving into the details that truly holds this movie back. Outside of being a burglar Scott Lang is a father that wants to reconnect with the daughter he missed growing up while in prison. This is another plot point that never really develops in a meaningful way despite much of the story hinging on in it.

While we are on things that didn't work, let’s talk jokes for a second. Everyone’s fear about seeing 20 trailers for a movie is that all of the good lines are blown. While most of the good lines in this movie were shown in trailers, there are a few moments here and there that I hadn’t seen before that made me laugh. Unfortunately, I felt, and the energy in the theater backed me up, that most of the jokes fell flat. There were a few particularly out of place jokes told by Paul Rudd’s character that just flat out felt out of place and again, made the character seem like a dick when other parts of the movie were trying to make you believe he was a good guy.

The final big miss to me was Corey Stoll as yellowjacket. Corey Stoll is a pretty solid actor that was saddled with a one dimensional, bland character that wasn’t the least bit intimidating and did not get the screen time needed to develop. The relationship between him and the other characters in the movie also never felt organic, which made me care less and less about him or his goal as the movie went on. Almost every scene he was in felt like it was rushed and ill-fitting of the one before it. In the end this is a character none of us will remember or care about by the time the next movie rolls around.

But there were parts of this movie that were great

While I don’t feel the movie on the whole was up to the high Marvel standards, Rudd’s band of merry men led by Michael Pena and backed by T.I and David Dastmalchian killed it every time they were on screen. I really can’t say enough about how much this movie needed the performance Michael Pena put in. The man crushed every joke, lit up every scene and as I mentioned earlier, in a really simple, well delivered line, turned my feelings about Ant-Man around.

Speaking of Ant-Man, Paul Rudd is going to be a great addition to the Marvel Universe, unfortunately, unlike Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man, it didn’t happen with the first movie. We know what Paul Rudd is capable of and for whatever reason, this movie didn't allow him to hit those highs. There are a few scenes here and there where you get glimpses of the potential of character but they come too late to save the movie. That's ok though because those glimpses made a lasting impression on me and I can't wait to see what Paul Rudd does with this character moving forward.


The ant tech is amazing

While the story and overall look of the movie was lacking, the visual effects were completely on point. The world looks incredibly large and and believable when keyed in on Ant-Man. Ordinary household objects become beacons of death in all the ways you wish they would. The only complaint I have with seeing the world from ant-man perspective was there just wasn't enough of it.

I would also be remiss if I didn't mention the legion of ants that also appear throughout the film. The way the ants move around and interact with the world is great. There were some odd animation issues with Ant-Man as he interacted with the ants, but that's just me being picky as for the most part, the ants looked awesome and were used in really creative and fun ways.

Set the table for dinner

Like every Marvel movie before it, Ant-Man does its best to tie into and set up for future Marvel movies. I'm not going to ruin anything but I will say that I am really happy with where Ant-Man is heading.

TALKBACK
3/5

"Ant-Man is a mixed bag from beginning to end. I found myself loving parts of this movie and absolutely hating others, which has never happened to me on a Marvel movie before."

RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2015 | WATCHED IN: Theater | FORMAT: 3-D | RUNNING TIME: 1:57

OTHER POINTS
|Story - 3/5
|Special Effects - 4/5
|Ant-Man - 5/5
|Villain- 2/5
|The Cast - 5/5
FINAL THOUGHTS
| While Ant-Man isn't a great movie, it did have fun moments.
| Michael Pena, his crew and the CG ants steal the show!
| Paul Rudd wasn't as Paul Rudd-ish as I would have liked.
| The visual effects were spot on, the 3-D not so much.
| In the right hands the future of Ant-Man seems really promising.