Going into ANT – MAN, I had a closed mind: yet another Marvel film, the second of three of the 2015 summer. ANT – MAN is preceded by THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and proceeded by Fox and Marvel’s FANTASTIC 4. This is the third movie to be set in San Francisco, and there’s not specifically wrong with that. We’ve only seen it leveled to smithereens twice this year.
As the movie started, I set aside my misgivings and tried to enjoy the movie.
The movie opens in 1988, with Dr. Hank Prym (Michael Douglas) in a disagreement with another board member (Martin Donovan) over a technology that Prym developed. Fearful that it would fall into the wrong hands, Prym resigns his position to go into seclusion. We flash forward to current day where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is in a prison brawl of his own. He is released after serving time for “burgling” a significant amount of money. Unable to keep a job because of his record, and in jail again for breaking and entering, Lang is connected with Prym and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Prym believes that Lang is the only one capable of wearing his long-hidden creation – a shrinking suit. And with that, Ant-Man is born.
Directed by Peyton Reed (YES MAN, BRING IT ON), the film tries far too hard to be visually funny, to the point where it borders on obnoxious. Despite this, Reed understands how to set up his shots, especially action. His vision is on the screen. The screenplay, written by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd tries to be charming, witty, almost whimsical and works on some levels, but otherwise fails. Editing also seemed to be a problem, as pacing seemed choppy in certain sequences.
Besides being overbearing, the film suffers under the weight of a flimsy supporting cast. Michael Pena’s Luis is lovable, but overly thuggish while Bobby Canavale’s Paxton, though strong, was a token detective role while serving as the better half to Lang’s ex-wife and daughter. Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross/Yellowjacket is the typical brooding, ‘oh woe is me’ villain needing female company to feel ‘complete’ while he makes clandestine plans to destroy the world. He borders on manic, which as a simple plot device works, but feels overused.
I’ve been critical in the past about CGI special effects and their overuse. Surprisingly, I found the use of effects, CGI and practical to be well used. From a ‘younger’ Prym to the forced perspective shots of larger items to depict the miniaturized Ant-Man, the effects won me over. Christophe Beck’s score is quite riveting and when mixed with the pop music selections, it works. The Dolby Atmos sound was extremely engaging and effective.
Did I find the effects and music engaging enough to enjoy the movie and give up on my dislike of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No. Michael Douglas primarily carried the movie. And despite poor attempts at humor, Paul Rudd and Michael Pena are charming. It was just overdone.
At least, San Francisco survived this time.