Ant-Man (7/10)

Ant-Man

Heroes Don't Get Any Bigger

Overview

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Metadata
Title Ant-Man
Director Peyton Reed
Director of Photography Russell Carpenter
Producer Kevin Feige
Runtime 1 h 55 min
Certification PG-13
Release Date 17 July 2015
Tagline Heroes Don't Get Any Bigger
IMDb Id tt0478970
Trailer

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has steadily expanded up over the last decade, introducing Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in 2008, Thor and Captain America in 2011, and bringing them all together for the first time in The Avengers in 2012, also introducing other Avengers who don’t ‘deserve’ their own movie, like Black Widow and Hawkeye. Of this first wave of Avengers, I by far enjoyed Captain America the most – probably a combination of having the most of a real storyline, and the least of completely over-the-top superhero-ness and fantasy as compared to other Avengers.

And then we also got Iron Man 2 and 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, Avengers 2; and again Captain America 2 is in my opinion still the best of this second wave, and in particular the ensemble piece Avengers 2 (Age of Ultron) was just so over the top that it started to get me worried for the franchise. Avengers on their own are more interesting when combined with a decent storyline, than throwing them all together in a frenzied CGI fest.

But there isn’t much of a story left in Iron Man on his own. There is a bit more to go in Thor as he essentially has a whole other universe to link to and create storylines in. And Captain America still has some life left in him. But looking for new blood to add to the Marvel and Avengers universe, they found a true underdog: Ant-Man.

Compared to the Avengers, Ant-Man doesn’t stand a chance as real super-hero of course, and the movie plays this angle well. It is positioned mostly as a comedy but still touches upon links with the Avengers’ universe.

Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man – but now too old and worn to don the miniature superhero suit himself, he sets out to find a suitable replacement. Who knew that could be Paul Rudd (as Scott Lang), who shows that he can do more than just being the cutesy boyfriend in yet another middle of the road rom-com. Evangelina Lily plays Hope, Hank’s daughter, a decent stint as a strong female lead without resorting to making her an over-the-top feminist nor alternatively to having her stroll around in skimpy clothing. The ‘villain’ is Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll of House of Cards fame. This is the only weak link in the acting and I put villain between quotation marks, as whilst his role may be that of the villain, he doesn’t quite manage to put any real menacing weight on the screen.

The cinematography of the action scenes is somewhat disappointing I must admit. They didn’t quite land how to shoot in particular the miniature scenes it seems; sometimes it is shot from Ant-Man’s perspective, but more often with wide-angle lenses moving fast from one viewpoint to another around the action , which doesn’t quite make you feel part of the action itself – you often still feel as a full-sized observer looking at miniatures, rather than feeling part of the miniature’s experience in a world of giants. Also, the way they shot Ant-Man and his adversary Yellowjacket fighting one another and interacting with the ‘weapons’ they fight each other with does not  make the action seem very harrowing and real – it stays a bit too comic-book like in particular when the miniature Ant-Man needs to take on full-size adversaries.

But don’t let that put you off – the movie is just an entertaining ride. Plenty of story (maybe even more than it needs…) and plenty of comedic elements that work quite well. Michael Peña is excellent as Luis, Scott Lang’s criminal side-kick from his life before Ant-Man.

I am not sure how much more life there is in Ant-Man – but seeing that this is mainly just an origin’s story, there will be at least one more story to follow (Ant-Man and the Wasp, annouced for 2018). Hopefully that will have a better villain and a better approach to filming the miniature action scenes to make it even better. Until then, we’ll see Ant-Man make an appearance in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

A somewhat generous 7/10 as a welcome, if small, counter-balancing addition to the over-the-top Avengers universe.

Ant-Man (7/10)
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