Ant Man Review: Can’t Squash This

Chad White

My Ant-onia

Take one part Ocean’s movie, one part common superhero flick, and one part comedy and you have the ingredients of Ant Man. Marvel has had its ups and downs with its cinematic universe but one thing is for certain: they follow a certain formula. They have it down to a science with introducing main characters and subsequently giving said characters some sort of crisis where their powers, superhuman or militarized, come into play. Ant Man, however, is a slightly different take with its pseudo origin story, magnificent script and direction.

Ant Man follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a criminal who wants to do right by his daughter and ex-wife (Judy Greer). He is challenged by Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), who doesn’t want him to see his daughter anymore. Lang is dragged back into the thieving business by Hank Pym (Michael Douglass) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) who enlists Lang and his friends (Michael Pena and T.I.) to steal Darren Cross’s (Corey Stoll) Yellowjack suit. Since this is only partially an origin story, the story pretty much takes off from the get go. That’s a good thing too as most of the dialogue happens to deliver the necessary details. A move like that can come off hackneyed in other movies but Ant Man benefits from dialogue driven story delivery. To add on to that notion, there is very little in the vein of action. For the first time a comic book movie takes the veil of heist film.

Tons of buildup including the planning is interesting and the character interactions are funny and engaging enough to not notice the lack of explosions. With that in mind, this movie was at first an Edgar Wright joint. Then Adam McKay and Rudd rewrote the script Wright and Joe Cornish established. Ant Man screens innovation in terms of comic book movies thanks in part to having four talented and funny people write the flick. All that is to say is Ant Man feels different in terms of the common superhero movie. There are genuine laughs, great intimate and powerful set pieces and a fun time to be had all around. The only nitpick to mention is that Evangeline Lily’s character is kind of a cardboard cutout of a comic book character. She’s pretty bland -- almost 2 dimensional.

Should you watch Ant Man?

It’s better than more recent Marvel movies (i.e. the sequels). You don’t have to watch the other dozen MCU based films in order to enjoy it. This is how comic book movies should be made. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man is able to establish characters while existing in the same universe. There are nods to the other films but Avengers or Captain America don’t necessarily tie into this movie. A comic book movie should be able to stand alone while noticing its contemporaries. Go see it.  

 

Notes

Another subhead for the review was going to deal with a reference to the Greek tragedy “Antigone” but I wasn’t clever enough to come up with anything.

Judy Greer is utilized way better here than in Jurassic World.

Greer and Michael Pena are in four of the biggest movies of 2015 (Jurassic World, Ant Man for Greer and Ant Man, The Martian for Pena).

Pena and TI steal the scenes they’re in.

John Slattery and Hayley Atwell pop up in the first scene and they fit in with the story (Peggy Carter was aged!). I’ll take those two over wasted cameos any day.

So many references that work so well: “Why can’t the Avengers do it?” Lang asks Pym. “Because I don’t want to give my tech to another Stark” Pym rebuttals. There is going to be a power struggle in Civil War, just like the comics.

Edgar Wright’s direction could’ve had an entirely different take on Ant Man. I want him for a DC film!