Movie Review: Ant-Man

By: Amy Whalen

Alright, let’s talk about Ant-Man.  The latest superhero added to the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t come in with a bang so much as a shrug.  This movie has all of those key elements we have come to expect from Marvel witty banter, good fight scenes, and a white dude in a super suit.  We are introduced to Paul Rudd’s, Scott Lang just as he gets out of prison for a Robin Hood style burglary.  He struggles to keep clean out in the world where he is unable to find work or see his daughter.

Enter Hank Pym, a genius scientist who wants nothing more than for the world, and his old company, to forget his life’s work which he believes will lead to the type of warfare that destroys the world.  The technology in question is the ability to shrink a man to the size of an ant in a suit that gives him the speed and power of a bullet.  There is a short video clip from many years earlier of Pym in the suit knocking out a room full of enemy combatants to prove that it did exist and that it worked.  I’m not sure how this scene was supposed to read to the audience, but I laughed, like a real hearty belly laugh at what looked like a fly beating up grown dudes.  I was the only one in the theater to do that, so it’s possible I misread the situation.  Pym’s company is being led by a bad man who arranged to have Pym booted so that he could continue Ant-Man research.  At his side is Hope van Dyne, Pym’s daughter, played by Evangeline Lilly.  In a mild spoiler which you discover very early in the movie, Hope is a double agent working to sabotage the company’s research and help her father.

How do these two zany stories collide?  Pym decides that Lang is the perfect man to wear the suit and become a hero.  Why?  Because reasons.  Hope gives several impassioned pleas to be the person in the suit, citing her martial arts training, intimate knowledge of the mission and company, easy access into secured areas, ability to ant whisper and general badassness but these are all dismissed.  Instead she teaches Scott Lang a vague amount of martial arts and they go with it.  Notice how I snuck in ant whispering?  Pym has created and earpiece that allows you to thought control ants.  We even go through a montage of various ants and what they are good at, which is an interesting choice for filling up movie minutes

The things that you expect Marvel to be able to deliver they basically did.  Rudd banters well which seems to be his main role throughout this adventure.  I did want at least a subtle nod toward the fact that all of this is ridiculous, more ridiculous than usual.  This movie has no more humor than Iron Man or Thor but it seemed to scream for a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that this superhero is not like the others.  At one point we are meant to feel emotions when an ant is killed in battle.  I want you to let that sink in…..

Naming this something adorable doesn't make it less of a bug

Naming this something adorable doesn’t make it less of a bug

Then I want you to agree with me that the stakes aren’t nearly high enough to make that happen.  All in all the fight scenes were pretty strong.  The enemy you can’t see that knocks you out is usually good for a laugh.  They had a few great sequences where the camera would be zoomed into the fight and it would be just as intense as any in an action movie.  Suddenly the camera would zoom out and you’d see that they were actually just fighting in a toy village in a child’s room so all these explosions and train derailments are just plastic toys.  (That isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the trailer).

Side note, the very last scene in the movie is deeply unsatisfying.  It’s too spoilery to put here but you’ll know what I mean if you see it.  If not, shoot me a message and I’ll let you know.

Final thought is that this movie had missteps.  The decision making didn’t feel flushed out and for that reason the stakes were never raised.  If I as a viewer don’t know why something is happening, why should I care whether or not it is successful?  There were elements that were very fun and the whole spectacle is odd enough to be entertaining without really being good.  That being said I wouldn’t pay to see it in theaters.

You know what I would pay to see in theaters?  A movie about Hope becoming Wasp because that seemed like the story they wanted to be telling but couldn’t.

10 things that struck me while watching this movie were:

  1. Why isn’t this just a movie about wasp?
  2. Why do they only mind control ants? Shouldn’t it work on all bugs?
  3. Why did the villain, knowing that the old superhero was called the Ant-man not get an exterminator to spray down all the vents?
  4. If the hero has a tool to make things very big and very small, and they can be used on living creatures why wouldn’t you make giant ants for every fight? Then you would be mind-controlling a giant ant.
  5. Hank Pym presumably recruits Scott Lang because he needs some of those awesome burglar skills, but it’s established earlier in the story that most of Lang’s original burglary was computer based. Pym doesn’t need a computer genius, so why choose Lang?
  6. If you shrink and get more strong could you grow things bigger and make them weak.  Could be a good way to turn your enemies into essentially giant babies.  Then wait till they agree to not be evil before returning them to normal size.
  7. Pretty sure enough stuff happened here to revoke Lang’s parole so I think he should be going back to prison.
  8. Ugh gross more bugs, bugs everywhere.  Why are there so many bugs? Shouldn’t people notice that many bugs in a corporate setting?
  9. Why is the Yellowjacket suit so small when they show it to investors? Wouldn’t it make sense for it to be man sized until someone was in it?
  10. Can there be a movie about wasp now?

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