Ant Man, the latest movie to roll off Marvel Studios’ seemingly never-ending conveyor belt, is the love child of Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Okay, now to defend ourselves.
Like Iron Man 3, Ant Man has the difficult job of being the first Marvel movie to follow an Avengers movie. Iron Man 3 had to follow the original movie and Ant Man is trailing behind the Age of Ultron. While Iron Man 3 did have a tougher time, being the sequel to two different films (Iron man 2 and Avengers), Ant Man has it slightly easier being the first entry in its franchise.
You can bet your arc reactor that the mentions of Iron Man and the Avengers feature in this movie. While you may become irritated by the constant mentions, it’s a great pay-off – Ant Man arrives with the sense that it’s an episode set in a universe that’s already established with a deep mythos.
Ant Man also borrows the plot template from a lot of first entries in superhero franchises. The plot follows the predictable path from hero origin, to training montage, to big final battle. We’ve seen this sort of thing before – even if we have to admit Ant Man manages to keep things feeling fresh throughout.
The original Ant Man is Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas), but we won’t get to see him kicking tiny butts in this movie, because he spends most of it quarterbacking the action as an elderly gentleman. For reasons we won’t spoil, a convicted criminal played by Paul Rudd has to take up the suit and go about shrinking. The first scene of Rudd’s character is of him in a prison, which isn’t where we’d usually find our superhero protagonist.
Speaking of heroes and prisons, we did mention Guardians of the Galaxy. Aside from the similarities of criminals becoming heroes, Ant Man tries it damnedest to be funny and playful. And you know what? It succeeds.
Besides great visual gags involving strange scale, there are some laugh-out-loud moments this movie. A particular stand out is Rudd’s entourage of criminal friends. From the start you’d believe they’d be a tacked on trio of idiots to provide some humour, but they actually play a big part in the plot and are damn entertaining too. Every time we saw Michael Peña’s character we knew that scene would be funny.
With the comparisons over, how does this stand on its own? Unfortunately, Ant Man is another one of those “turn your brain off or be annoyed” stories. Not factoring in the pseudo science that makes up most superhero movies (which is particularly annoying in this, because it focuses on it so heavily), the amount of times we sighed because of a ridiculous convenience or plot “twist” was too damn high. The plot is strung together so tenuously that any plan the characters make falls into place by sheer luck, or rather poor screenwriting.
These problems also extend to the characters, who seem to make decisions based on someone flipping a switch instead of, ya know, actual human motivation.
Everyone who gets any appreciable screen time is either so dumb they shouldn’t be allowed to operate a hamburger, or so inept that you just don’t want to root for them. The only character who gets a pass is the young child, because have you ever seen a kid try to eat a hamburger?
The last annoyance is the inconstant rules of the movie. We’re clearly told about the how and why the physics of shrinking and enlarging works… only for the movie to turn around and disobey every last one one of them. Again, you’ll have to ignore this.
Aside from the humour and charm, Ant Man’s greatest asset is the fun to be had with the visual aspects of this particular superhero. Seeing Ant Man ride a flying ant into battle, fighting the force of a vacuum cleaner, and shrinking down to atomic level is great. The 3D of the movie is actually justified, and you can see it safe in the knowledge that blurring and ghosting wont ruin the experience.
The score is forgettable but that’s not a problem, and the settings are serviceable. Nothing special to see or hear there.
So, judgement time, should you see Ant Man? Well, if you’re a fan of Marvel this review is probably moot and you’re going to see it regardless, but we can safely say that it’s a fun movie and it is more than worth your time and money. Don’t expect much in the way of logic and you’ll be fine.
Oh, and there are two post credit scenes. Do with that information what you must.
Verdict A mound of terrible conveniences and contrivances that is thankfully saved by its charm and interesting fight scenes 70%