Movies set in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe (MCU) are for me an acquired taste. I found the first Iron Man a bit of an odd duck when I first saw it. I have since come to appreciate most of the main characters of the MCU. Tony Stark’s banter with Pepper Potts, Thor’s with Jane Foster, Captain Rogers v. everybody else and of course Coulson and company. I was not looking forward to Ant-Man. I never heard of the comic or the character and just like Guardians of the Galaxy I was suspicious as to where the Ant-Man franchise would fit into the larger MCU. I took the risk to view Ant-Man anyway, early reviews were positive, but to lessen the risk I also viewed Mr. Holmes (for review later in the week). Sadly, my fears became a reality with a movie that alternated between being boring, predictable and forgettable. The Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed, made me think to remember to tell you it felt like a bad Chinese knock-off of Iron Man.
So before I continue detailing everything the movie did wrong, and the few things it got right, I have to explain what Ant-Man is all about. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has just been released from prison after being convicted of a heist. His return to a normal life is disrupted when his ex-wife imposes conditions for joint custody of their daughter. Scott can’t keep a steady job and is slowly dragged back into the world of heists and robberies. Meanwhile retired scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) sees his world endangered when his backstabbing protégé, Darren Cross, releases a new incarnation of the Ant-Man technology he has desperately tried to hide for decades. Darren used the help offered by Hank’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to ease Hank out of the company he headed. Hope has since partly reconciled with her father and together they decide to prevent Cross from releasing the technology. They settle on Scott as their new ‘Ant-Man’ after Hank can no longer use the suit to shrink to a size of an.. ‘ant’. Hank sets up Scott for a heist only to have the police arrest him. By smuggling the Ant-Man suit into prison he gives Scott one chance to free and redeem himself.
What I have described above is pretty much the first half hour of the movie. I won’t spoiler it too much but I will say the rest of the movie (about 60 minutes or so) feels far too familiar. You can already guess what Hank and Hope want Scott to do prevent Cross from releasing the second generation Ant-Man suits. The story has a few flashbacks detailing why Hank Pym doesn’t want the technology released, what happened to Hope’s mother and why Cross wants to take revenge on Hank. Quite frankly, it was a bore and I decided upon this after just 10 minutes. But why does Ant-Man not work where Iron Man succeeded? Ant-Man is a mess of actors and characters. The lead character, Scott Lang, is utterly forgettable. Evangeline Lilly is wasted on the hopeless character Hope (bad pun I know) while Michael Douglas acts as though he is in Schindler’s List and just like Lilly his talents go to waste.
Top it all off the villain doesn’t feel real, he feels like a caricature of a B-movie villain complete with a nonsense but also supposedly diabolical plot. Ooh and he sold the technology to HYDRA, because we all know HYDRA has unlimited resources no matter how often the Avengers destroy one of their bases. To top it all off there were plenty of small issues that stopped me liking certain characters. For a start the movie felt a bit sexist in a childish sort of way. The writer’s have Hope say that Scott’s daughter’s name is pretty. Scott says the same about Hope to her father Hank. Both were cringe worthy moments. I was going to add that Hank preventing Hope from helping Scott was also sexist, but the writer’s solved that problem by having Hank play the fearful father who didn’t want the same to happen to Hope as did her mother. The word is still out on whether that is sexist, but it does sideline a female character yet again!
So is there anything salvageable from this train wreck? Well, some of the scenes between Scott, Hank and Hope were memorable. Their difficult three-way relationship is unusual. It reminds me a little of Kirk, Bones and Spock. Furthermore the many references to other MCU franchises such as Captain Rogers and Tony Stark are cool, but also feel forced. Scott’s friends from his previous heists added a good amount of humor, but that may have just made the movie more ridiculous as well. Ultimately, Ant-Man feels forgettable. It doesn’t really matter what Scott Lang accomplished because the villain is forgettable and so is his plot to profit from the miniaturizing technology.
With the release of the Ant-Man movie the second chapter (or phase) of the MCU has officially come to a close. I don’t think it has been as memorable as the first chapter. It is of course hard to beat the first Iron Man movie but the efforts to tie together the storylines around the fight against HYDRA only make it clear more work needs to be done on that score. Fans of the MCU are in for a long wait, not until May 6th 2016 will the third phase (or chapter) of MCU begin with Captain America: Civil War. Until then there will be more Agents of SHIELD and more… Netflix stuff
Score; 6 / 10. A waste of effort on a franchise that is limited in scope but also hampered by poor execution.
Below are some stills from the Ant-Man premiere. This was Ant-Man Review. I hope you enjoyed it. I understand some people may have a different opinion about the movie, but please be civilized in the comment section below
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