Seeing all the reviews for the new Marvel superhero movie AntMan really made me think I’ve seen a different movie. It’s not bad. It’s funny and the FXs are nicely done. And it reasonably well fits into the MCU. But, a five star movie this is not.
For the uninitiated, this is going to be a departure from the usual faire... and as departures go, it’s pretty decent. Scott Lang is a convicted thief who is recruited by the aged Hank Pym to don the AntMan suit and help him steal the YellowJacket suit from the villain Darren Cross. This lower-key, not end of the world spin is a good step in a nice direction.
For the initiated, this is going to be a little of a stretch. Hank Pym isn’t the abusive, almost homicidal wife beater, but for much of the movie, you don’t know that. Jan Pym, Wasp from the comicbook Avengers, is dead and their daughter, Hope (played by the almost completely useless Evangaline Lilly), knows that Hank lied about her death... but just doesn’t know how. So, Hank being in some way responsible for the death is played for most of the movie’s run time, allowing the more initiated to suspect that he’s far darker than he seems. There are moments, outbursts, which also play into the presumption nicely.
One can see, both during and more clearly in hindsight, that this was a troubled production. The result, while good, is still kinda weak. It’s too clean. Everyone has their place and their moment and the plot builds piece by piece, with no real flair or delivery. I remember thinking during the (occasionally funny) montage that there’s not a lot of character here. It’s paint-by-numbers.
(My eye was also drawn to the Kendo poster behind Scott, in the scene in which he was tinkering with the belt and we got the subatomic info-dump. I couldn’t help think; what does that have to do with anything else in this movie?)
Rudd was very much the star of the show, but he also carried it through. One suspects that Edgar Wright’s writing might also had an influence, but without seeing the different drafts of the script one can’t tell. The newer drafts could have been Wright-lite, for example, watering down, adjusting or taking their lead from his early work.
The real highpoint, however, was the finale. The movie really lights up in the last act. The Heist+ worked very well, allowing each of the characters (most of which really didn’t need to be there) a moment to shine. Some of the FX did feel like they were put in just for the 3D, but until the movie industry realizes that 3D is just a fad, shit like this is just going to happen.
As for the rest, the romantic subplot was forced, the daughter angle was overplayed, and there was moments which didn’t make much sense. For instance, Hope claimed that Cross was going all crazy ‘cause of the suit, but the only time we see him put on the suit is in the finale.
I mentioned at the top that the movie fit into the MCU mostly. There was a nice-enough flashback to 1989 when the Triskelion was being built... years before Colson would introduce the Strategic Homeland... blah-de-blah... to Tony Stark... so, there’s that dose of revisionism. Which is fine, okay, I’ll buy it; they didn’t know the MCU would be as big as it was... but they could have, maybe, employed better writers who are more skilled at working with the existing universe rather than Lysenko’ing it.
There’s also the moment when Scott tries to infiltrate Avenger’s HQ and has a tussel with Falcon or Avenger-lite as I like to call him. Later, when Scott proclaims that he fought an Avenger and survived my reaction was... yeah, but it was just Falcon...
A good enough popcorn movie. Better than most movies that have come out this year (Ex Machina still currently the worst, but it’s not without competition).