Josh and Violet share their spoiler-free male vs. female perspective reviews of Marvel’s latest movie, Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed, and starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lilly!
Josh’s Movie Review of Ant-Man:
So Ant-Man came out last weekend. Never heard of Ant-Man as a Marvel character, you say? Not many people had until this movie came around. Before I was drawn in with the trailers, I really thought this might be a silly comic character to bring to the MCU, but let’s get into it!
The film was directed by Peyton Reed, known for other films such as Yes Man and The Break-Up, and stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, and Corey Stoll as our villain, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket.
This film has been marketed by Marvel as comedy/heist film, which would be the origin story of the Ant-Man–sort of. In the movie we learn a little more about Hank Pym’s past, and turns out that Ant-Man was around in the past, but had retired at some point. But Hank Pym thought this technology would be dangerous, so he kept it secret from everyone, including the investors in his own company, Pym Technologies. So Darren Cross, Hank’s protégé, seemed to get jealous of Pym’s secrecy about this mysterious “Pym Particle,” and begins working on his own version, and it looks like he plans on using it for less than noble purposes. Enter Scott Lang, an ex-con who Pym recruits for a heist mission.
There is a lot to like about this movie. The humorous tone of this movie, hit home really well. There are a number of scenes which are hilarious. The “Baskin Robbins” scene is hilarious, and Michael Pena, who played a friend of Scott Lang named Luis, was probably one of the best aspects of the movie. During the intense moments of the movie, Michael Pena and the other members of the “heist” provide some excellent comic relief, but all of them also had a purpose to the movie. These characters combined with the technology that shrunk Ant-Man, made for some hilarious but intense action scenes.
Ant-Man has to be one of the most uniquely filmed Marvel movies yet. The technology of the suit is portrayed so well when Scott Lang would shrink himself down. The opening scene where he first tries the suit is great. These scenes reminded me of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but done so much better.
Performance-wise, I thought everyone did a great job. Everyone portrayed their parts really well. The intense scenes between Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly get really emotional, and you really get the feeling Hank Pym was a big deal. Paul Rudd really makes you believe Scott Lang is trying to get his life on track for his daughter, and the relationship between his character and Bobby Cannavale’s character Paxton was done really well too, really putting some gray area into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This actually leads into some of the problems with the movie though.
Par for the course, the villains in the MCU seem to be the biggest weakness of the film. Yellowjacket/Darren Cross just comes off as a guy who just wants to screw Pym over. Hope does seem to indicate that the formula has interfered with Cross’s mind, but from my understanding of the movie, Cross hadn’t exposed himself to it yet, considering it was killing every other living thing exposed. In the end, I am not really able to really identify with Darren Cross or Yellowjacket and his motivations in the movie. I think the villains of the MCU are what need to be improved, in order to get the Marvel movies to the next level.
Another problem I had with the movie was when Scott Lang enters the “Quantum Realm” at the end. I don’t want to talk about it too much, as it is a spoiler, but it felt a lot like Interstellar‘s ending, which was something that didn’t go over well with me either. Now, I am sure this Quantum Realm is something that will come up in the future, and I think it was intentionally brought into the MCU for this specific reason, but again, it felt disconnected from the movie, in my opinion.
A couple of final, minor quibbles I have with Ant-Man the pacing. It felt a little slow at times, but that was very minor. The other aspect that I didn’t really connect with was the heist aspect. It had elements, with the few scenes that set that up, but in the end it felt more like a superhero movie than a heist film to me.
Overall, I found the film very enjoyable. It probably isn’t quite my favorite Marvel film, but I do feel that it was one of the most unique. Since it has that uniqueness, it really has its own special feel to it. It is also a much smaller film than something like the Avengers, but for me that is a good thing. You can only go so big before it just becomes unbelievable, and a little too repetitive. It is nice to take a step back and tell t he story of the “small guy” (pun intended). There are also a couple very funny/cool cameos in the film, particularly with one of the Avengers, which was a fun little addition to the movie. This leaves me with a score of 8 out of 10.
I think as far as the rest of the MCU, I think this slots in right behind Iron Man 1, and above films like the Thors, Age of Ultron, and Iron Man 3, and maybe even the original Captain America. The one final comment I would say, is that Peyton Reed did a great job making this film, but I would be curious to see what Edgar Wright would have done, since he was the original director, who stepped away due to creative differences. The more artsy feel he would have brought to the movie could have been really great. But still, you can’t do much better than what Peyton Reed did with this movie.
Violet’s Movie Review of Ant-Man:
Let’s take a trip back in time. Back to San Diego Comic-Con 2012. It was my first Comic-Con, and I was having a great time during the grand finale of Hall H on Saturday: the Marvel panel. One aspect of the Marvel panel was Edgar Wright, talking about a film he had in development: Ant-Man. We even got to see some test footage. I must confess, I wasn’t really familiar with Ant-Man at that time, and had maybe only vaguely heard of the character. But I thought the clip looked cool, and I was intrigued to see more.
Fast forward to May 2014, and Edgar Wright departed the project after working on it since 2006, due to him and Marvel having different visions for the film. However, that didn’t stop Marvel from going forward. Rewrites were done, and a new director, Peyton Reed (Yes Man, The Break-Up), was brought in seemingly without missing a beat. Of course, we’ll never know what that Edgar Wright script was like, though Joss Whedon is of the opinion that was “the best script that Marvel had ever had.” It made me a little wary that such a great script was abandoned, but upon seeing the trailers, I was cautiously optimistic about the film.
Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter, Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, and Michael Pena as Scott’s friend, Luis.
In the film, Scott Lang has just been released from prison after three years, and is trying to stay on the good side of the law. This is not just for his own sake, but because he has a 5 year old daughter named Cassie, and he wants to be a part of her life. However, obtaining and holding a legitimate job with a criminal record proves to be difficult, so he gives in and agrees to do one last job employing his skills as a thief, which promises to pay off well. However, the job turns out to be quite different than he expected, and he finds himself working with Dr. Hank Pym, and Hank’s daughter, Hope. Together, they train Scott how to use Hank’s Ant-Man suit, which shrinks its wearer down to ant size, in order to pull off a heist with the goal of keeping the shrinking technology away from those who would put it to dangerous use.
Edgar Wright or no Edgar Wright, Ant-Man was hilarious. It unexpectedly kept me laughing throughout almost the entire movie. That’s not to say that it’s non-stop laughs. The film manages to fit in a good amount of serious and even sentimental moments, chief among which are centered around family themes, namely father-daughter relationships, both between Scott and Cassie, and between Hank and Hope. But don’t worry, superhero fans, there are some fun action scenes as well.
The cast was great. At first, I was skeptical of Michael Douglas, but he ended up fitting into his role quite well, and he grew on me pretty quickly. Like many, I have been a fan of Evangeline Lilly since she played Kate Austen on Lost, who was a strong female character. Here, too, Evangeline Lilly plays a strong female character, more than capable of taking Scott’s place as hero at any moment, though her father forbids it. Then of course there’s Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd, who was so charming and witty and quirky and just perfect. He’s does such a great job in humorous roles, and this performance was no exception. I can’t forget to mention Michael Pena, who, although a side character, managed to steal like every scene he was in! That guy was hilarious.
Corey Stoll did a good job playing the villain, though he didn’t have much to work with, as it was just a straightforward bad guy. That brings me to one of the problems with the movie, which tends to be a common problem with Marvel movies: the villain. It seems that The Bad Guy is often just presented as The Bad Guy with little to no explanation, other than that they’re power hungry. We usually don’t get to know their back story, or learn what made them they way they are, and don’t have a chance to sympathize with the villain. Here, with Darren Cross, all that we really know about him is that Hank Pym used to be his mentor, and now he wants to take over Hank’s company. Right off the bat when we meet him, he’s not a likeable guy. I would have liked to know more about him, rather than just accept the fact from the beginning that this guy is The Bad Guy, and that that’s all we needed to know.
As for the CGI, I have some mixed feelings about that. For the most part, the effects looked great. I especially thought the VFX team did an amazing job making Michael Douglas look 30 years younger in a flashback scene. It looked so real and lifelike, unlike the effort in Tron: Legacy to do the same with Jeff Bridges… My biggest complaint, though, is that at first I wasn’t sure if the ants they were controlling were supposed to be real ants, or mechanical ants. It turns out they were supposed to be real ants, but that’s a bad sign if they don’t look like real ants. Then when the ants were enlarged, they didn’t look very real, but I guess I’ve never seen a life-sized ant, so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. So I guess my verdict on effects is: ants – not so good, everything else – good.
I feel like I’m complaining a lot, when really, I should be praising the movie. I did have quite a fun time watching Ant-Man, and though I was cautiously optimistic about the film, it turned out to pleasantly surprise me. Not only that, but it seemed to have some interesting suggestions about what’s to come in the MCU (“Marvel Cinematic Universe”), which I am looking forward to seeing.
My rating: 8/10
P.S. Be on the lookout for some awesome cameos, and make sure to stay for both post credits scenes!