Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Homeless Nerd Reviews- Ant-Man

At a glance- another entry in the Marvel cinematic universe, this time a bit of a heist movie mixed in with our superhero movie

What is it?  The Marvel movie universe continues to expand with a new hero, Ant-Man.  He's something of an interesting choice, not one of the biggest characters, but one that is recognizable to the comic readers.  The Hank Pym Ant-Man was an Avenger for a very long time, and when not wearing a suit he was still in the background as the super-scientist/inventor.  This is the newer Ant-Man, Scott Lang, an ex-criminal turned hero.  Like with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this is a superhero movie at its core with a bit of another genera for flavoring.  In Winter Soldier it was the spy movie mixed in with tights, in Ant-Man it's the heist movie.  This is kind of nice, it adds a bit of a new element to the standard mix, but at the same time it makes for a bit of a strange movie that doesn't always seem to know exactly what it wants to be.

The acting-  Paul Rudd is the titular hero, Ant-Man/Scott Lang.  I've watched very few of his movies (according to his IMDB page) but I liked him a lot here, he had a good mix of earnest hero and criminal goofball that the character needed.  Michael Douglas is fantastic as Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and from the moment you first see him on screen I thought he was great.  Evangeline Lilly was fine as Hope Pym, and honestly the movie would have been better if she got some extra screen time to flesh out her character.  Corey Stoll plays our villain Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, in a role that really brought back Jeff Bridges in Iron Man 1, and he does good with what little he has to work with; sadly the bad guy is pretty much a moustachioed-twirling caricature instead of a complex person, which is sad.  Michael Peña should totally get a best supporting actor award, he steals the scenes he's in.  And it was great to see a cameo by Anthony Mackie.

The story-  Back in the 80s Hank Pym was the secret hero Ant-Man.  After losing his wife he retired from the hero business and vowed that no one would ever use his invention.  Flash-forward to today when Pym protegee, Darren Cross, has taken over his company and is one the verge of creating a new Ant-Man, this time called Yellowjacket and designed for widespread military use.  Pym is afraid of how his technology could change the world, not for the better, and recruits ex-thief Scott Lang to be the new Ant-Man and destroy all of Cross' work.
    This is a perfectly serviceable story.  Pym is not the flashy inventor like we saw with Tony Stark/Iron Man; instead Pym is fearful of how his invention could be misused.  Which at first blush seems a little silly perhaps, but if you think about it being able to shrink down allows for some pretty scary invasion of privacy and assassination possibilities - so he's got a point that if widely used his tech could be a very bad thing.  There are a lot of family sub-plots going, with Scott estranged from his daughter, Pym and his daughter issues, and even Cross who feels abandoned by his former mentor, Pym.  Sadly, none of these really felt like they were given the time and development they could have used.  Oddly, I was wishing they had made this movie longer, and used the extra time to spend on developing the characters - much like the last Marvel movie, Age of Ultron.  Oddly enough, a lot of the best moments seemed to come from the supporting cast, the 3 quirky fellow thieves that Scott knows and, well, the ants themselves.  We get a long montage of the different kinds of ants, who were all given their own personalities (great job CGI department) and they are Scott's number one resource.
    Overall, this was a solid movie.  It was not incredible (like The Lego Movie), it was not unwatchable (like Amazing Spider-Man 2).  It did a nice job of expanding the future Marvel universe, since we shall no doubt see more of Ant-Man in the future.  While I don't think Marvel has hit the real depth and emotion that exists in some of their comic stories (some were very deep, others of course, not so much) they have seemed to find a workable formula that makes for watchable movies.  Now, having raised the comic movie bar from rock-bottom to decent, the question is weather or not they can raise the bar further and make some really compelling stories in the time-limited movie format.

My recommendation- worth paying full price for, but catch the cheap show if you can

P.S.- of course, this being Marvel, there is a small scene in the middle of the credits, and another small scene at the end of the credits

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