Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed is a pretty bland, by the books sort of film. Though this is a film that has a unique, and very fun to watch concept at its core, Ant-Man is a film that follows the same formula as every other Marvel superhero outing. This is a film that doesn’t surprise (partly thanks to the trailers) and in the end delivers something not to dissimilar to what we’ve already seen from this movie making juggernaut.
The story of Ant-Man sees the wise cracking criminal, Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd; try to restart his life after a stint in prison in the hopes of getting the chance to properly see his daughter again. Things don’t go as planned, that is until he runs into Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, who offers him the chance to not only be fully reunited with his daughter, but also save the world from the evil doings of his former protégé, Darren Cross (Yellow Jacket), played by Corey Stoll.
What was surprisingly the weakest part of Ant-Man is something that Marvel films are usually pretty good at. The characters in this film are some of the most underdeveloped I’ve seen in any recent Marvel superhero flick. Take the lead character, Scott Lang, who the always charismatic Paul Rudd takes on. The extent of his character is that he is a modern day Robin Hood who just wants to see his daughter. That’s really kind of it. Some slapped together scenes occur, none of which really fill in the integral dots, and presto, he’s Ant-Man. At the end of this film I didn’t really feel like I knew who he was as a person, we just got the cliff notes of his character.
The same can also be said for the Father, Daughter duo, Dr. Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne, played by Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly. Both of these are good actors, yet the characters they have are so painfully one dimensional. Daughter blames the father for the death of the Mother; Father is distant and was barely there during her childhood. While there are some heartfelt moments between the two, it does get a little lost in the film. What I will say is that the relationship that forms between Hank Pym and Scott Lang is fun and both actors play well off each other. However the opposite can be said for Hope van Dyne and Scott Lang. Not only do the characters have a tediously cliché relationship, but the actors are also missing that on screen chemistry, and in result a lot of their scenes together fall flat.
Without a doubt though, the most criminally underdeveloped character in the film is its villain, Darren Cross (Yellow Jacket) played by Corey Stoll who some may recognise as Peter Russo from House of Cards. Now let’s be honest, pretty much every villain in any of the Marvel films are poorly developed and quickly disappear into the background of the film. Loki is perhaps the only exception to this rule. The reason why it was really frustrating in Ant-Man is that actor Corey Stoll brought his all to the little that he had to work with. You can really see the damage that our villain has within him, but as usual, with it being a Marvel films he’s given some quick, stereotypical scenes that are all designed to emphasise the point that he is a bad guy and you shouldn’t like him. It’s so annoying because there were points in the film where there were some hints of an interesting character. He’s not a God or a big purple alien on a floating throne, he’s a man with some deeply messed up psychological issues. Had the film taken the time to explore that, we might have actually had a fully developed and well-rounded villain for once.
Now something that I never thought I’d be saying about a Marvel film is that the action sequences were some of the best parts of the film. Well pigs must be flying because the action sequences in Ant-Man are some of the most clever, and fun to watch moments of any Marvel film yet. When I first heard the concept behind Ant-Man, I like many others thought it to be pretty dumb; boy was I wrong on that front. Seeing Scott Lang shift from being the size of a fully grown man to the size of an ant and then dispatch with a group of henchman was so much fun to watch. Ant-Man is certainly one of the more unique set of super powers, and seeing it in action, and seeing the new and exciting ways in which it is utilised in the film, and utilised in future films, makes this a character that is very enjoyable to watch.
Something that I was fully prepared for though, and is something that plagues almost all Marvel films, is a woefully underdeveloped plot. Ant-Man is no different, as this films plot revolves around a series of training montages that are all leading to some grand heist, all in the hopes of stopping the bad guy. There’s not really much else to it, it’s very bare bones as usual. Sooner or later someone is going to have to write a Marvel script where the story doesn’t consist of getting something so that they can stop a poorly developed villain’s plot to destroy or take over something, any day now.
I keep flipping back and forth on how I feel about Ant-Man. There were points where I had a lot of fun watching the film, and fully got into the exhilarating adventure it was taking me on, but there were also points were I was beyond bored with what I was seeing, and was hoping for the film to move it a long and begin to focus on anything else. It’s a difficult one to nail down and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
I think in the end I will recommend Ant-Man, if only for the fact that it is a pretty fun summer film. This isn’t a film that I think will be as talked about as Guardians of the Galaxy was last year (see the review for that here) but it’s still better than most of the other films we’ve gotten during this summer blockbuster season.