Ant-Man Review: Tropes Don’t Get Any Bigger
The latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been released, “Ant-Man,” and you know what? It wasn’t too bad. Like “Guardians of the Galaxy” it is certainly on the lighter side of the MCU.I’ll be honest–taking Paul Rudd seriously as our hero was almost as difficult taking Chris Pratt seriously as a superhero. Despite all that, he pulls it off pretty well. I still saw Paul Rudd and not Scott Lang, but that is more my failing than the movie’s.
I was pretty worried about this movie; Ant-Man hasn’t been a big name in Marvel for a long time, and the movie was plagued with problems. Edgar Wright (“Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz”) the original director and screenwriter left the project with no explanation and Peyton Reed (“Bring it On,” “The Break Up”) was brought on to direct.Joe Cornish (“Tin Tin,” “Attack the Block”) and other writers came in to work on the script. This is a death knell for most films; mid project replacements and so many writers usually mean a lack of focus and then a bad film. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case for “Ant-Man.”
If you’ve seen any of the trailers you’ve already got a good idea of what you are getting yourself into. Scott Lang is a criminal on a road of redemption, with a good chunk of comic book nostalgia in there for the fans that have followed since the beginning. The film has good pacing; at just under two hours you’ll never find yourself wondering when the film will pick up. There aren’t long, drawn out moments of exposition, and the big action sequences don’t last so long that they get boring. In fact the miniaturization, sudden growth, and the ants make for some very unique action sequences.
The story itself is something of an origin of the Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) Ant-Man.(Comic book fans, remember this is the MCU, they do things differently, don’t worry, Hank Pym is here and it is all explained very well in a prologue for those unfamiliar with who exactly Ant-Man is.) Scott Lang is a criminal who has lost everything and is trying to rebuild his life. From this point, he ends up getting recruited to help the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), stop the Ant-Man suit technology from falling into the wrong hands. It is trope-filled and predictable, but still fun. 7/10.
The acting was pretty good, and while I had a difficult time seeing Paul Rudd as anyone but Paul Rudd he did a great job in the role that seemed to have been crafted just for him; hell, they even included his movie wife, Judy Greer, to be his movie wife (another reason I only saw Paul Rudd). Michael Douglas was perfection–he takes his role to another level and while some of the writing was cheesy as hell he played it all with his typical Presidential class. Evangeline Lilly, fresh off her action role as Tauriel in The Hobbit franchise, was in great form as well as Hank Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne, and while her role was limited she continued to kick ass both with her acting and her fighting. Even the villain, played by Corey Stoll, wasn’t too bad (if a little over the top.) 7/10.
Where the movie loses major points is in its inclusivity. While there is more than one than one woman in the movie, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. Hope van Dyne is a fully formed character but she lacks agency and is instead an agent of her father’s will (even if it does line up with her own most of the time). The only visible minorities in the movie are portrayed as criminals–even if they do have hearts of gold, they are still criminals. There is no one in a position of authority that is a woman or PoC, and the movie falls into some of the worst, angst driven tropes to fuel Scott Lang’s motivations. 5/10
Where the movie makes up for all of this is in its general awesomeness. Like all Marvel movies this is, despite all of its flaws, a fun movie. The action sequences are unique and amazing; CGI flows into live action flawlessly and allows for some very unique humor as well. Paul Rudd brings his own personal style to our hero as well, although being one of the screenwriters probably helped. The mix of action, humor, seriousness, and sheer ridiculousness of Ant-Man make it a very exciting and fun movie. 9/10
Averaging the scores we end up with a 7/10 which usually isn’t enough for me to call a movie a must see but Ant-Man is an exception to this rule. I truly enjoyed the movie in spite of all its flaws, it was fun and enjoyable and promises future installments that may make up for some of the shortfalls of the first movie.