Movie Review with Jeff McCullough: Marvel's Ant-Man

By Jeff McCullough on July 31, 2015 from Movie Review via Connect-Bridgeport.com

If I had to put a bet on any Marvel film to come out a failure, it would’ve been Ant-Man. Directorial conflicts, scripts rewrites, Paul Rudd shirtless; this film had a lot working against it. But rather be squashed beneath Hollywood’s polished Italian loafers, the latest flick from the big M proves to be among its strongest, headlined by some strong performances, memorable characters, and truly breathtaking effects. Held back slightly by a conventional villain, Ant-Man still kicks plenty of butt, rightfully earning its title as this summer’s most pleasant surprise.
 
Scott Lang is just your average American prisoner; supermodel looks, a loving daughter, a trio of joke quipping Latino friends (ok, maybe not quite average.) Unfortunately for his felonious behind, after being released to the streets his criminal background keeps him unable to keep a job even at Baskin Robbins (I'm pretty sure I’ve worked with several felons through-out my various stints in fast food but let’s just ignore that lapse in reality.)
 
Planning one last score, Scott and his amigos break into retired CEO and generally cranky old fart Hank Pym’s mansion, hoping to get enough money to pay off child support. But rather than cash, expired food, newspapers from the early 20’s, or whatever else the elderly hoard up in the house, he finds a miraculous suit, capable of shrinking any who wears it to the size of a molecule. And thus begins his transformation into the Ant-Man.
 
Considering the high caliber cast Marvel’s been able to attract to it’s past projects, it’s with no small praise that I say Michael Douglas delivers one of the finest performances in an MCU film to date. Hank Pym is kind of a jerk, certainly jaded if nothing else, but it’s Douglass that makes him a likable jerk. The perfect bounce of wise mentor and old curmudgeon, it’s a fine portrayal of an iconic character.
 
Paul Rudd does a fine if unremarkable job as our action hero, as does Evangiline Lilly as his love interest Hope. More interesting are Scott’s friends, particularly the gangs unofficial spokesperson Luis. An optimistic go-getter, he brings hilarious life into all his scenes. In Luis’s own words, his mother might have died, and his father might have been deported, but at least he got the van!
 
However, while the characters are strong if there is one problem with their journey, it’s the speed at which the whole thing takes off. Scott goes from hopeless basket case to full grown superhero in the course of one 80’s style montage. And while the teaching power of montage has long been abused and overused by an abundance of media, it’s a bit disappointing to see it pop up in a movie that had been doing a fairly good job staying original (as original as the 12th movie in a film series can be anyway.)
 
That being said, the fighting and action are just flat out incredible. Proving CGI doesn’t always have to suck, the visuals are gorgeous, particularly the way Scott interacts with his environment. The ability to shrink and grow at will gives you more power than you’d at first think, with Ant-Man flipping over gun barrels, jumping through keyholes, and generally being an awesome Rambo version of Tom Thumb.
 
Even the ants, as silly sounding as they might be, prove to be one of Scotts strongest allies. Using a special headband, he can command them as a use of mobility and combat. And if you don’t think an ant can mess you up, the bullet ant has a sting that’s been compared to getting shot point blank with a 22 caliber handgun. Try standing up after that.
               
Alas, as if to offset its strong hero’s, Ant-Man has a pretty mediocre villain. Darren Cross isn’t horribly written per-se, but his cruel nature couldn’t have been more obvious had a swastika been spray painted on his bald head. The maker of the Wasp suit, essentially Ant-Man armor with lasers instead of ants (everything’s better with lasers), Cross is about as subtle as Doctor Evil. There’s even a scene where he takes a poor, defenses baby lamb, baaaa-ing adorably the entire time, and blasts it to oblivion. Yes, I know animal tests are necessary in trials, but couldn’t he have used something less cute and fluffy?
    
And there’s also the fact he’s selling a superweapon to Hydra, a known terrorist cell probably most famous for coming close to wiping out a third of the Earth’s population less than a year earlier. Seriously, how are these guys still around, much less with the ability and funds to purchase a super weapon?
   
But even with an average (at best) antagonist, Ant-Man stands out as a hilarious, original (for Marvel anyway) and excellent entry into the MCU’S canon. Marvel just seems to have a knack for turning their stupidest superhero’s into their best movies. But until we get that Arm-Fall-Off-Lad feature everyone’s been dreaming of, Ant-Man is more than sufficient.



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