At the suggestion of a reader, I am attempting an edit of my ANT-MAN review. In my original review, I had intended to use this as a platform to speak out against the MCU and franchises in general. However, I decided to abandon that idea and try and focus the movie. I’m interested in feedback on the edited version versus the original review. ~bc
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 [heated debate] with a board member (Martin Donovan) over a technology that [he] developed. Fearful that it would fall into the wrong hands, Prym resigns his position. [Prym has started his own company and locked away the technology from everyone, including his protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).] 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 unable to support his daughter and his ex-wife, he seeks other options, hoping to avoid criminal activities. Without any alternatives, he decides to listen to his friend, Luis (Michael Pena) about a job he heard about. Hoping for a big score, he takes it, The break in is a vault in a private residence. When he gets into the vault, he realizes there’s nothing of value except for a futuristic suit, which he grabs. The deed done, he gets his ‘loot’ home, feels badly about his wayward ways and returns the suit, only to be arrested for the break in. Convinced that he is the only one capable of wearing his long-hidden creation, Prym springs Lang from jail, bringing him back to his home,] and [along with] his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly)[, train him to be Ant-Man.]
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 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.
[Despite the clumsiness of the story, second chances don’t come often. Take them when you get them.]
At least San Francisco survived. [This] this time.