Jul 19 2015

Preliminary Review of Ant-Man

Published by at 6:25 pm under Comic Book Movies

My expectations for the Ant-Man movie were exceedingly low — mainly based on concerns about the source material (no memorable villains, not much interesting personality, not conventionally useful superpowers, etc). In actuality, it’s a consistently funny movie with reasonably good fight scenes. Right now it’s averaging 79% on RT and I think that’s about right. Some observations:

 

–The main villain is a one-dimensionally psychotic businessman. His lack of style and depth is probably my biggest knock against the movie.  At the very least, if you absolutely need a psychotic businessman (which has already been used quite heavily in superhero movies), other movies have blazed this path better. E.g. generally Spider-Man 1’s Harry Osborne and Incredibles’ Syndrome felt like they could be real people with major mental issues. Not so much here. That said, I really liked the scene where the villain asked his mentor Dr. Pym why he kept the villain at such a distance. At the very least, the villain did give a really good opportunity to develop a side-protagonist’s personality.

 

–Using reformed sort-of-criminal* Scott Lang rather than generically brilliant scientist Dr. Pym as the main protagonist was an excellent choice. I think we’re overstocked on brilliant scientists at this point.

*He committed one theft, a Robin Hood-style crime where he returned the money to people that a company had overcharged them. The filmmakers softened the edges on his criminal work so much that it didn’t look like they were completely convinced that a criminal-turned-superhero could work. For PG-13 movies, I prefer the Guardians of the Galaxy mold (where protagonists have more latitude to at least talk about committing selfish crimes**, even if most of the things they actually do aren’t).

**Even removing someone’s spine, which is actually murder, and also illegal.

 

–In the comics, Scott Lang gets back into crime to help his sick daughter. Boohoohoo. In this case, it was to make child support payments (after a hilarious failure at Baskin Robbins), which felt a lot less cheesy/generic than the comic version.

 

–The side-cast in this movie and the (somewhat outre) comedy were much better than anyone had any right to expect. E.g. I believe comedic side-character Luis was created for the movie, which must have been a series of leaps of creative faith. “I know this guy, Michael Pena. Well, my cousin was at this PTA meeting, you know, and…”

 

–Falcon’s cameo is probably the closest he’s come to being interesting, especially when Luis goes into storytelling mode for the second time. This is also the most interesting SHIELD/Avengers cameo in any of the Marvel movies so far. Doing it with Falcon (who doesn’t have a personality independent of Captain America yet*) is just plain impressive.

*E.g. “I do what he (Captain America) does, just slower.” I believe the most charitable interpretation for Falcon is that his main purpose is to replace Captain America if/when Captain America’s actor Chris Evans stops making CA movies. He’s essentially a slow-rolling reboot.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Preliminary Review of Ant-Man”

  1. Yuuki991on 21 Jul 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I won’t lie; I am not the biggest fan of Ant-man, namely Hank Pym. I always considered him generic and one-dimensional. Even other scientist characters, like Beast from X-men and Reed Richards have more iconic characteristics and traits.

    But I digress. Ant-man overall was a fun movie. While very formalistic, in my view the film does enough to not only fit into the MCU, but stand on its own.

    The plot was fairly typical for a heist movie. That said, I forgive it because this is the first time Marvel has tackled something and reinforces the idea that superheroes can fit into other genre films.

    I will agree with you that Darren Cross, YellowJacket, was the film’s weakest link. Even getting Corey Stoll, who is a phenomenal actor, I wished he was more developed. Perhaps, a flashback of him and Hank working together and showcasing the tension would have at least added credence to his motivation.

    And considering(SPOILER ALERT), the cold opening during the beginning with shield, they could have added that in.

    In regards to Paul Rudd, he nailed it as Scott Lang. I always liked him more than Hank Pym, as he felt more relatable. And though I disagree with you about the comic interpretation of Lang’s motivations for his daughter, I will agree that the movie managed to transition that very well.

    The rest of the cast was phenomenal. Michael Douglas is great as Hank Pym. Props to Marvel for getting such a great actor to play such a role. He is really the old man archetype done very well.

    Evangeline Lily as Hope Van Dyme was also an interesting character and I do look forward to seeing more of her. While I won’t put her as one of the best female characters in the MCU(for me, that’s Agent Carter from Captain America), she has the potential to get up there.

    The rest of the side cast was hilarious. The script clearly showcased Paul Rudd’s tactic of adding a sense of light-heartedness and humor. And while I felt at times the humor did distract from the plot, this is really a nitpick.

    The fight scenes were amazing. I always thought the power of shrinking was underrated and this movie showcased how cool it was. Definitely, this ability led to some creative setups, especially the final fight.

    Also, I appreciated the Avengers cameo, as I felt it was the smoothest of most of the MCU movies.

    Overall, despite the weak villain and a bit overreliance on humor, Ant-man is a fun movie that doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but executes it as best as it can.

  2. B. Macon 21 Jul 2015 at 8:31 pm

    “I always thought the power of shrinking was underrated and this movie showcased how cool it was.” I’m encouraged that he was able to have a reasonably interesting fight with a non-shrunken combatant (Falcon), though I anticipate that picking a villain that can have interesting fights with him will probably be very challenging. I anticipate that his role in ensemble movies will probably be relatively limited (e.g. focusing on a particular stealth/infiltration/heist mission but totaling less than 20 minutes of screentime) because his powers may be hard to work into most standard fight scenes.



    I agree that Corey Stoll is a great actor, but he didn’t have much to work with here.

  3. OldTeenon 25 Jul 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Hey! You”re back! Awesome!

    On the subject of Ant-Man, all I can say is that I loved it. Despite Marvel’s promise of “no more origin stories”, this one was a fairly straightforward example of an origin story. The true test for Ant-Man I think will be in the upcoming Civil War and hopefully Avengers 3 and 3.5.

    Also, freaking loved Luis. And Corey Stoll did a great job with what he had. Excellent good crazy bad guy.

    On a completely different subject (sorry for hijacking your post) but I was wondering if I could get your thoughts and critique on the title of my comic book. (Actual comic book)

    Bit of info. It’s set in a alternate 1930s. Very pulpish and dieselpunk. The main characters aren’t really superheroes but they do have powers. They are an air-racing team. Cool planes and all that.

    My current title is “Wild Aces”

    Reasoning behind it is multifold.

    First, it just sounds pretty good I think and it has a pulpy feel to me.
    Second, aces denote (at least to me) pilots and planes.
    Third, the crew frequently goess… off book. They’re a crazy crew. Hence “Wild.”

    My questions are:
    Is the name not very memorable? “Aces” and “Wild” are kinda plain.
    Is it too close to “Wild Cards”?
    What are your honest thoughts about it?
    Based on your experience, do you think people would be interested and take a second look?

  4. Phoenixon 26 Jul 2015 at 12:46 am

    Haven’t seen it yet, but my brother did and he liked it a lot.

    I’ve long felt that one of the advantages that Ant-Man had over the Atom was being able to not only become giant-size, but to shrink other targets. Miniaturized weapons quickly become harmless and miniaturized bad guys even moreso. If I’ve interpreted the trailers correctly, they’ve co-opted the Atom’s mass manipulation tech into Ant-Man’s arsenal. I don’t think he had that capability in the comics, at least none that I ever read.

    A little light-heartedness in the genre is also not a bad thing. Done well, it’s enough to make me look forward to fresh projects for Captain Marvel or the Greatest American Hero.

  5. B. McKenzieon 26 Jul 2015 at 8:40 am

    “Is it too close to “Wild Cards”? I agree that “Wild Aces” is sort of plain. I’d recommend looking into alternatives, particularly ones that cover flying/airplanes and/or feel more uniquely 1930s and/or pulpish*. Maybe something slightly hopeless… Longest Crash? Bleeding Sky? Last Flight?

    *Some actual examples: A Shot in the Dark, The Big Sleep, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Strangers on a Train, Trouble Is My Business, The Big Clock, Nightmare Alley, A Man Called Thin, etc.

  6. OldTeenon 30 Jul 2015 at 4:25 am

    Well, pulp more in the vein of Indiana Jones rather than noir. Thoughts on “Renegade Skies”?

  7. B. McKenzieon 30 Jul 2015 at 8:14 pm

    “Thoughts on “Renegade Skies”? I like it. It’s definitely good enough as a working title, although I wouldn’t recommend committing to any title until you’re ready to submit. I think it’s more specific to characterization/plot/mood than, say, “Flying Wild” (which could well be a comedy a la Airplane!).



    “Well, pulp more in the vein of Indiana Jones rather than noir.” Ah, thanks! Sorry for the misread there.

  8. OldTeenon 30 Jul 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the advice! You’re awesome!

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