Marvel is back with their least anticipated film to date, Ant-Man. Many fans are skeptical, but you needn’t worry, Paul Rudd is a likeable lead and though it’s a minor entry in the canon, Ant-Man has enough going for it to win most folks over. It’s like they threw a Marvel film, a heist film, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, and Joe’s Apartment into a blender and this is the result.
Paul Rudd seems like a super nice guy. Even after seeing the movie, it’s hard to imagine him playing a criminal. He’s the friend that bails you out of jail after a bender, not the guy who does three years in San Quentin on a B&E charge! He makes for a charming criminal/hero as former systems engineer/petty thief, Scott Lang. Upon finishing his sentence, he tries to play it straight and gets a job scooping ice cream. When that doesn’t work out, he teams up with his former cellmate Luis (Michael Peña, hilarious as always) and pulls a caper that leads to a 1910 Carbondale safe with a suit inside that gives Lang the ability to decrease his size and increase his strength. I haven’t read the comics, so I can’t comment on how the film compares, but that’s all I’ll reveal of the plot.
Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, and Evangeline Lilly plays his daughter, Hope van Dyne. Douglas is looking healthy and is a nice addition to the cast. I didn’t care for Lilly, she’s kind of bland–to be fair she didn’t have much to work with. She rocks a bob (haircut) that is eerily similar to Douglas’ wife Catherine Zeta Jones’ bob in Chicago. Rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris isn’t as comfortable on-screen as he is on the mic and Wood Harris (Avon Barksdale from The Wire) is wasted in a small role. Peña shines. Corey Stall is an acceptable, but forgettable villain.
Ant-Man has it’s highs and lows (fittingly). It’s a heist movie with a fun, Saturday-matinee creature feature feel. Regardless of how good the effects are, when you have a teeny tiny man running around fighting things at bullet speed, things will look kind of funny or awkward at times. I think they handled it well for the most part and the tone of the film helps with that. It’s also a nice change of pace after the super epic, pack-it-all-in feel of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Where Ant-Man falters is the script. Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) was originally set to direct. He wrote a script with Joe Cornish and was willing to do re-writes early in the process. Marvel wasn’t happy with the completed script and had parts re-written without Wright’s input. When he saw the changes, Wright left due to differences in their visions of the film. The story is credited to Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, but the screenplay is credited to four writers: Wright, Cornish, Adam Mckay, and Paul Rudd. Too many chefs in the kitchen; the story’s clever, but some of the dialogue is lame. Another thing I didn’t like (and this is the case with many Marvel movies) is the way they do the overly dramatic scenes. The music is super leading and sometimes they pour it on too heavy.
When Wright checked out, Peyton Reed (Yes Man, Bring It On) checked in. Considering the last-minute substitution and the quartet of writers, Ant-Man is better than expected. It could have been a total mess. Would I forever trade in this film for a chance to see Edgar Wright’s version? Absolutely, that’s a gamble I would take. I’m all for seeing the vision of an auteur (especially one as talented as Wright) over a film pieced together by committee. Would the general public do the same thing? Probably not, the crowd at the screening I attended had a blast.
3 out of 5 Nerdskulls
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