"Ant-Man" packs an ant-sized punch

Aug. 19, 2015, 8:18 p.m. | By Sandeep David | 6 years, 3 months ago

Miniscule hero does not live up to Marvel's standards.

As is Marvel's custom, a huge universe-advancing epic like "Avengers 2: Age of Ultron" is usually followed by a lighter film, which in this case is "Ant-Man." Though a man who can shrink and talk to ants is an absurd idea, Marvel has gotten away with more (see: "Guardians of the Galaxy"). The mistake Marvel made with "Ant-Man" that they did not make with "Guardians of the Galaxy," however, is they did not fully embrace the silliness.

The movie starts off in the past, with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) resigning from his position in Stark Industries after refusing to give up his "Pym Particle" which would allow humans to shrink. When he discovered the particle, long before the events chronicled in the film, Pym became the first "Ant-Man," a man that would shrink and grow and wreak havoc on a battlefield. However, after a long run, he was forced to hang up the suit due to health reasons. Pym believes that the Ant-Man is needed again when the current CEO of the company that Pym founded, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is on the verge of starting a global disaster by creating his own shrinking soldier suit: the Yellow Jacket. Pym recruits Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an inmate in prison, to infiltrate the company.

Though "Ant-Man" does not meet the standard of other Marvel films, it is not bad. The tone of the movie is just very uneven at times. Director Peyton Reed presents the shrinking hero in a way that fits the absurdity of his powers, but the movie is weighed down by its imitative nature. It is, essentially, just like every other heist movie, though this time with a superhero. Moreover, it is unnecessarily overwrought with father-daughter drama between Dr. Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

Michael Douglas is stellar in the role of Dr. Pym, bringing a necessary gravitas to the character. He should, however, have been given more screen time. Rudd was marketed as the star, but Douglas steals the show. Though Rudd does an adequate job, it was not up to par with other Marvel leads. He is solid as Scott Lang, but does not shine. Rudd brings the necessary easygoing charm to the character, but that was all and he did not have much depth other than that. The segments of the film where he tries to balance hilarity and seriousness do not fit well with his established character and those segments suffer as a result.

The rest of the supporting cast do a stellar job. Michael Peña, who plays Lang's main partner Luis, hits his mark perfectly. He provides great comic relief with his impeccable timing and lovable style. The rest of their team, Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (T. I.), do an outstanding job as well, adding much-needed laughs.

The special effects in "Ant-Man" are spectacular. As can be imagined, a man shrinking to the size of an ant would require some heavy CGI. The animation of Scott Lang shrinking is very well done; it's smooth enough so it doesn't look like cheap effects but fast enough that it doesn't take the viewer's attention from the scene itself. The fight scenes are put together perfectly as well, balancing action and humor.

Overall, though, "Ant-Man" is a solid film regarding its purpose of laying down the groundwork for future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with many little points that set up a wider story to come in the future. Marvel aficionados will also enjoy the small cameo by a recent Avenger. It is a movie for people who care less about plot and more about special effects and action scenes, which are done extremely well. Though Marvel does not perform as well as it usually does, a viewer that goes in with ant-sized expectations will get a big surprise as it still is a solid movie.

"Ant-Man" is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Tags: Ant-Man Corey Stoll David Dastmalchian Evangeline Lilly Marvel Michael Douglas Paul Rudd Peyton Reed T.I.

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