Ant-Man (2015)
Ant-Man (2015)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 57 min.

Release Date: July 17th, 2015 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Peyton Reed Actors: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Michael Pena, Martin Donovan, John Slattery

 


 

F

or a film about an extremely small superhero, “Ant-Man” contains some very large plot holes. But to its credit, many of the storytelling shortcomings are either forgivable or forgettable once the craftily designed action sequences begin showcasing the intriguing possibilities of atom-modifying warfare. However, despite several notable set pieces, “Ant-Man” suffers from a lusterless villain and a heavy reliance on the audience to just accept the rather ludicrous science-fiction ideas thrown at them. Perhaps it’s another testament to the visual spectacle that the imagery of a miniscule warrior flying into combat with an army of insects at his command doesn’t always muster head-shaking disbelief.

When his power-hungry protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) forces him out of his own company, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) vows not to let his revolutionary research with atomic reduction gear fall into the wrong hands. Decades later, Cross nears completion of his own weaponized version of Pym’s original vision, forcing Hank to partner with his estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and cunning burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to steal the designs. Offering Lang one last shot at redemption, Pym trains the ex-con to don his size-altering “Ant-Man” suit and lead allies both human and insect into battle against a devious psychopath.

Taking a cue from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Ant-Man” employs a comedian in the lead role, providing comic relief for himself, while numerous supporting players also offer up moments of levity. It frequently borders on too many wisecracks, but manages not to go as overboard as Iron Man in every one of his theatrical appearances. Strangely, part of the humor comes from references to other superheroes, including the Avengers, which is not only meant to be serious, but also feels insincere coming from the everyday people of this alternate-reality San Francisco.

Though existing in the same arena as space-alien-battling immortals, mutant monsters, and invincible men from the past, Scott Lang’s story only works if he’s the lone element of exceptional, preternatural, science-fiction phenomena (or, at least, the only one regarded as such). It’s particularly detrimental to his believability when he’s forced to fight the Falcon. Why would all the other denizens of his ordinary life react with such surprise if they fully believe in the common presence of superheroes? Wouldn’t the Ant-Man suit and its capabilities impress (or bewilder) very few onlookers?

Scott is out of the heist game, just like Danny Ocean (which is to say that not only can he never give up his stealthy profession, but he’s also quickly able to find a ludicrously wealthy benefactor to fund his endeavors), in a hopelessly generic setup (for superhero movies and actioners alike) that establishes a man in need of a second chance, a scientist in need of a steadfast protégé, and a madman in need of evil deeds to be carried out obligatorily. But it gets better as it progresses, swapping explanations and sensibility for stunning CG work that puts viewers into the realm of a 21st century version of “The Incredible Shrinking Man.” The use of insect armies (perhaps a microcosm for the manipulation of Mother Nature) is particularly amusing, along with the creativity sampled at the climax, where something as harmless as a Thomas the Tank Engine set can be calamitous from the viewpoint of an ant. These bursts of imaginativeness help to counter the absence of reasonable explanations, especially when the word “subatomic” is thrown around. Although Marvel dug deep into their oeuvre to adapt a character as unknown as Ant-Man, they’ve wisely utilized wider (and less expected) arrays of talent to write and direct – such as Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz”), Joe Cornish (“Attack the Block”), Adam McKay (“Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”), and Peyton Reed (“Bring It On”) – to prevent the superheroes from becoming too limited.

– The Massie Twins

  • 6/10