Ant-Man (2015)

antman_2015_poster
Ant-Man (2015)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Action | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Cast: Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña

Storyline:

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

7 reviews

  • “Scott, I need you to be the Ant-Man.” So quips the Michael Douglas character, a radical physicist with a penchant for training ant organisms of the malevolent kind. Me, well I had a “need” to see Ant-Man the movie, a “need” to like Ant-Man the movie, and a “need” to give said shebang a favorable review. Oh well, at least 1 out of 3 “needs” were meant. That ain’t bad (oops, the saying is “two out of three ain’t bad”. Somewhere Meatloaf is complaining). Anyway, I’ve heard a couple of other critics talk about “Ant” in the same vein as last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I honestly don’t see it except for the whole sly humor-mixed-with-galloping maneuver concept. “Galaxy” does a reasonable job while the latter has a concoction that comes off as a bit uneven. It’s corny when it should be compelling, it’s action as pure exhilaration then action as completely risible (all you gotta do is watch a scene involving good versus evil via a battery powered train set), and finally, it’s Paul Rudd showing us the funny instead of maybe expanding his acting repertoire. Truth be told, I didn’t want another Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I wanted Honey, I Shrunk the Badass Superhuman.

    Referencing The Avengers multiple times, using enough CGI this side of Bruce Jenner to make Michael Douglas look thirty years younger (this was only in the first frame), and featuring a blink or you’ll miss it cameo from Stan Lee (it’s a Marvel Studios flick so of course), Ant-Man is something I wouldn’t quite recommend. However, it’s unlike any Marvel endeavor I’ve ever seen and heck, it’s disparate from any film in general (we’re talking some pretty broad territory here). It dares to be different and I give it points for that. The director is Peyton Reed. Recognized for normally helming comedies (The Break-Up, Down with Love), you wouldn’t even know it was his baby had you not read “Ant’s” dossier. He’s like a new breed of action kingpin with his camera constantly moving. There are zippy flashbacks, tons of whip pans, and film pacing so earnest, the effect is dizzying. But while you admire his freewheeling technique, you wonder what he’s trying to get Ant-Man to be. Was this thing intentionally meant to give off a Marvel spoof vibe? And is it a parody of the superhero/comic book genre? Oh and what’s with all the out of place jokes killing much of the dramatic momentum. There was a concluding sequence where the protagonist and antagonist yelled childlike insults back and forth to each other (as shrunken human beings). I gotta confess, it was a laughable run-in that kind of made me wonder.

    The story, which takes place monotonously in present day, subjugates thief and chronically absent father, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd who can’t shake his romcom persona thereby staying in his acting comfort zone). He’s been in and out of jail, he has no job (despite being college-educated), and his daughter is watched over by his ex-wife and her jerk husband (Bobby Cannavale as Paxton. His character is well, a cop. Ouch.). When he’s arrested for the umpteenth time, he’s taken out of the slammer (I won’t reveal how) and tapped to work for a scientist named Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Pym wants him to put on a suit, a suit which will allow him to shrink down to something the size of a penny. Here’s where the ant species come into play: Lang learns to communicate with them via the guidance of the Douglas personality. They begin to act like humans and they help him steal government secrets from Pym’s mentor who’s also in the shrinking business (Darren Cross played by Corey Stoll). There’s a robbery at a heavily secured building and as expected, chaos ensues with Rudd’s Lang kicking some serious butt (I’m thinking it wasn’t Pauly despite his buff physique. Come on, you knew a stuntman had to be wearing that shiny suit).

    Now the strongest performance here, in fact comes from Stoll. He channels the obligatory, archenemy. He underplays it with just the right amount of smarmy and slimy. When he executes a co-worker turning him into nothing but liquidity in a tissue, you squirm in your seat and know that he means business.

    All in all, despite some eclectic fistfight concatenations and a heist factor that is carried off with veritable aplomb, Ant-Man seems so small scale compared to other Marvel Studios films. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but the more you watch it, the more you forget that anything is really at stake (stuff like you know, the saving of the world or the fate of mankind hanging in the balance). There were moments to be had but it didn’t possess the “ant”idote I was looking for. My rating: 2 and a half stars.

    Of note: So OK, as I viewed Ant-Man, I kept thinking to myself, “this feels like a Disney movie”. Well I checked the film’s wiki page and it turns out I was half-right. I mean it’s not a Disney vehicle per se but it is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Wow, you could have fooled me. This so-called Disney discern was not what I was hoping for and it came off as totally unexpected. Bummer. Also, I left during “Ant’s” closing credits (after a midday screening) and was told that I missed an extended ending. If you the reader, end up seeing this flick, feel free to comment and let me know if it made things any better.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

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  • Quickie Review:

    Brilliant scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), in his desperation turns to con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) for help. Together with a suit that has the ability to shrink the wearer and control hordes of ants, Scott must pull off a heist in an effort to save Hank’s research from falling into wrong hands. Ant-Man is the funniest movie in the current Marvel Cinematic Universe. With gut-busting comedy, incredible visuals, and beautifully orchestrated action, this movie clearly shows that the Ant-Man is not to be underestimated. Ant-Man is the perfect blend of action and comedy that makes for one of the more enjoyable blockbusters of this summer.

    Full Review:

    It’s not surprising that the initial reaction of the general audience when they hear the concept of an Ant-Man is one of ridicule. However, this character has been critical in many of Marvel comic stories. So the question became can they really translate one of their smallest comic book characters on the biggest screen? The answer is a resounding yes.

    The main cast of this film were perfect for the tone of the film. Paul Rudd has been supporting character in lot of my favourite comedy films, but here he takes centre stage with his quick wit and charm. At the same time he is not just some joker, and is a completely capable action hero. Whoever casted Michael Douglas as an older Hank Pym was a stroke of genius. Even though he is not the main character he brings so much depth to his role. There is a lot back story to him and in just few moments he is able to convey how that affects him. Also he is not just some grumpy old man, he won’t hold back in pulling a punch or two if he needs too. The absolute show stealer is Michael Peña as Luis. I don’t invoke God very often, but Oh My God he was hilarious. He is such likeable guy that won’t let anything take away his smile and so you smile with him. Then, when he starts to tell his stories, prepare for continuous stream of laughter. I would listen to him tell me stories every day. The only weakness for me has to be the villain. I found him to be very shallow and one note. Considering how well the rest of the cast was developed, it’s a pity that Corey Stoll’s addition was wasted.

    Apart from the characters, what makes this movie stand out is the action like we have never seen before. The shifting of scale from large to small was very well used in the fight choreography. The movements had a lot of power behind them and the Ant-Man felt like an unstoppable force. The small scale scenes were ironically the most grand set-pieces of the movie. It was a different way of looking at the world and it was beautiful. Oh, and don’t forget the ants! Ant-Man can also control armies of ants and yes they were fascinating creatures that were way more useful in the missions than you might expect. They were basically another member of the heist team.

    What I appreciated most about Ant-Man, is the fact that this is a heist movie. With the current trend of comic book movies always setting the stakes higher and higher, with the end of world is nigh, it is nice to pull back a little and tell a much smaller story. The stakes are only high here because of the characters and the father-daughter relationships. In that sense there is a more relatable motive.

    So don’t underestimate this film, go and watch it. You will laugh more here than most comedies, and meanwhile be enjoying a f-ant-astic cinematic micro world. Paul Rudd and the gang are a great new addition to the MCU.

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  • (Rating: ☆☆☆ out of 4)

    This film is recommended.

    In brief: A major upgrade for a minor comic book superhero that is lots of fun.

    GRADE: B

    The battle between man and those pesky ant invaders rages on, with our species usually triumphant having our vast arsenal of insect sprays at our fingertips and our sheer size to trounce them into smithereens. Size unfortunately does matter over this tiny creatures. Granted they readily outnumber us, work extremely well together (as opposed to us), and have mega-strength in comparison. But to make a superhero out of this ant-heap, as with this latest superhero franchise, Ant-Man, sets itself up with limitless limitations.

    Yet the film gingerly sidesteps these disadvantages most enjoyably due to its comedic tone, nice use of CGI, compelling action sequences, and some fine acting from its cast. Plus having Paul Rudd in the title role helps make this moviegoing experience more diverting than expected.

    Ant-Man is the cleverest of major upgrades to one of Marvel Comic’s most minor of superheroes. The film never takes itself so serious, its chief virtue. It does dish out the customary exposition heavy-handedly, in larger than necessary dosage in order to try to explain the science behind the power. The interconnection with that other Marvel Comic’s Avenger gang of crusaders becomes weary and unnecessary as this film would do better to stand alone.  But the script by committee wisely takes its time to develop its characters and their relationships between all the chases, explosions, and plotting. (Three writers, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Mr. Rudd himself are credited with the screenplay.)

    The cast makes the film work so efficiently. Mr. Rudd is totally appealing as Scott Lang, a.k.a. Ant-Man, a petty thief who wants to leave his criminal past behind him. This actor uses his oddball charm and high likability factor to immediately pulls us onto his side as he learns the ups and downs of becoming a superhero. Michael Douglas plays Dr. Hank Pym, his mentor and scientific mastermind behind this great shrinking man plan and he is convincing in his role. Evangeline Lilly is Hope, his estranged daughter and Scott’s romantic conquest and the actress has a strong screen presence and great chemistry with Rudd. Our evil villain and disgruntled former protege of Pym, is Darren Cross, a.k.a. Yelllowjacket, who, of course, is interested in wealth and world domination. This role is wonderfully played by Corey Stoll with just the right crazed menace. Michael Pena adds the comic relief as Scott’s loyal and dopey sidekick. Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, John Slattery, and Martin Donovan round out the cast in smaller parts.

    Ant-Man’s sharp contrast with the real and miniature world is captivatingly presented and the film’s spirited playfulness within this comic book genre is refreshing. It is never more spot-on than in its climactic action scene between our hero and the film’s arch villain, Yellowjacket, set aboard a speeding Fisher-Price Thomas the Train that is priceless fun.

    Solidly directed by Peyton Reed, Ant-Man follows its true-and-true formula with a resourcefulness that will certainly pave the way for another sequel. There is lots to admire about these pismires and their human leader and Ant-Man proves itself to be worthy of more than a little respect indeed.

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  • For better or worse, everything is connected in the Marvel Universe. The ties may at times be tenuous, but they are in place nonetheless. It’s been said that Edgar Wright parted ways with Marvel Studios over this policy of integration. This was no small separation – Wright had been developing Ant-Man for eight years. . .as a stand-alone crime caper comedy. How his vision was going to fit seemed a source of contention and the studio’s request for another round of rewrites proved too much for the Cornetto trilogy filmmaker, who upped sticks when the script that he had re-written with co-writer Joe Cornish was given to the studio’s in-house writers for more “polishing.”

    Who knows what Wright’s Ant-Man would have been? The Ant-Man that is hitting the screens is an entertaining diversion, a modest origin story that generally avoids the bloat and self-seriousness that have been defining elements of most superhero movies. Whether helmed by Wright or current director Peyton Reed, Ant-Man is a risky proposition for Marvel Studios, perhaps even their riskiest to date. Ant-Man has fewer safety nets than last year’s gamble Guardians of the Galaxy, which at least had Groot and Rocket Raccoon. Iron Man had the luxury of Robert Downey, Jr., Thor had Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and even the seemingly bulletproof The Avengers had the Hulk as insurance. Ant-Man has the eternally affable Paul Rudd, always a winning presence but certainly an atypical choice to anchor a summer blockbuster. The character itself doesn’t possess the most exciting superpower – shrinkage – and is too off the Marvel radar to call upon their most established darlings.

    The Avengers are referenced in Ant-Man, establishing a blatant though awkward connective tissue. The preamble introduces Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, digitally youthanised), a widowed scientist who rails against S.H.I.E.L.D. and Howard Stark (John Slattery) for wanting to use his particle research. Stark believes Hank’s particle suit and technology, which allows its wearer to shrink in size whilst retaining super strength, could be for the greater good. Hank believes otherwise and, fearing his work could fall into the wrong hands, takes the formula and hides it away.

    That was in 1989 and Hank sees his worst fears realised when, 25 years later, his former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) replicates Hank’s technology, touting it as “the ultimate secret weapon […] to end warfare as we know it.” Determined to thwart the power-hungry Darren, Hank and estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) recruit recently released ex-con Scott Lang (Rudd) to help them steal and destroy Darren’s newly-developed shrinking technology named Yellowjacket. Scott isn’t exactly eager to sign up for the job since he just wants to keep on the straight and narrow in order to convince his ex-wife (Judy Greer) to let him spend more time with their daughter Cassie. But what’s a guy to do when no one wants to hire someone with a prison record? Besides, Hank says, it may be too late for him to repair his relationship with Hope, but it’s not too late for Scott to be the hero Cassie wants him to be.

    Father-daughter dynamics are at the heart of Ant-Man. Hank convinces Scott to suit up by reminding him of whose world will be destroyed if Darren has his way. Scott is first and foremost a father, and it is his fatherly duty to protect his daughter. Of course, a father’s protectiveness can breed resentment as evidenced by Hank’s complicated bond with Hope. Hope is far more qualified than Scott to carry out the mission – a fact she never neglects to mention at every available opportunity – but Hank will not let her claim what is essentially her birthright. Scott points out that he’s expendable to Hank. Hope, however, is not.

    And so Scott trains to save the day, learning to throw a punch, transition between sizes, and communicate with four different species of ants, all of whom are to help him infiltrate Darren’s laboratory. Darren is less a villain than narrative justification for the film’s often witty and inventive set pieces, the best of which employs Thomas the Tank Engine to full comic effect. There is a certain tongue-in-cheek manner win which the destruction is dealt on a decidedly smaller scale. Compared with the decades required to rebuild the damage done by the Avengers, the wreckage Ant-Man leaves in his wake can probably be cleaned up in an hour or two.

    How Ant-Man will be deployed in Phase Three remains to be seen, though the filmmakers tease potential crossover interactions by staging a humorous fight between Ant-Man and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Those familiar with Stan Lee’s comics know that Hank was a founding member of the Avengers and, perhaps more importantly, was the first Ant-Man, carrying out missions with his wife Janet Van Dyne, also known as the Wasp. Ant-Man may seem an unorthodox way to close Phase Two yet, if the mid-credits scene is anything to go by, it may also be a most elaborate bait and switch on Marvel’s part. If that’s the case, then “it’s about damn time.”

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  • For a few brief moment it seemed that Marvel’s luck had finally run out with Ant-Man. Unlike most films under the Marvel Studios umbrella, this production has been haunted by doubt and dissension with director Edgar Wright who had reportedly been developing the film for a decade leaving the project. His replacement Peyton Reed, the guy behind comedies such as Yes Man and The Break-Up did not feel like a worthy successor either but guess what? Marvel has done it again and Ant-Man proves that the studio is in fact invincible.

    Forced out of his own company by former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross, also known as Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.

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  • The exhilarating Ant-Man is a huge advance upon The Incredible Shrinking Man and Them. But it has one credibility problem. The ultra-brilliant scientist Dr Pym (Michael Douglas) commits a serious grammatical error. He uses “presently” as if it means “at present” instead of “soon.” No ultra-brilliant scientist would do that. But that’s what our universities are coming to. Once the Humanities die will humanity be far behind?
    But that’s another film. Or is it?
    This delightful, witty entertainment grows out of two traditions. The first is the mock-heroic, which John Dryden characterized as a very small man wearing a very very large suit of armour. In literature, that translates into a trivial issue treated as of major importance. Examples of the mock epic include Pope’s The Rape of the Lock.
    The very concept of the film is mock heroic. As the giant screen swarms with huge figures of superhuman strength, hulking hunks and tower-sized robots, it was only a matter of time before the estimable Marvel comix would proffer a mini-hero. As Superman begat Mighty Mouse the 3-D behemoths bred Ant-Man. The empowered hero Scott Lang is played by the usually nebbish Paul Rudd, who would usually out-nebbish Clark Kent, except for his extraordinary cleverness as a cat burglar — with a pussy’s idealism.
    Instead of empowering the weak the essential fantasy in this film is restoring father-daughter relationships. Scott is an ex-con frustrated in his attempt to see his daughter, post-divorce. Dr Pym lost his daughter, the aptly-named Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who now works for his arch-enemy and ex-mentee Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). As the scientist, daughter and ex-con join forces to save the world from an army of evil miniatures, the fathers win back their daughters and a second-generation romance promises to avoid past freezes and neglect. Cross lives out the son’s rebellion against his surrogate father figure.
    The second tradition reflects the current global military dread. The drama centers on the use of destructive power. As Pym observes, you can’t destroy power, just learn to control it. Most films present the war between good and evil as clashes between armies, nations, even cultures. Individual heroes may face off to settle the issue, but wars are between armies.
    By miniaturizing the war this film makes the army subordinate to the individual. True, Ant-Man commands an entomologist’s dream of obedient battalions, but that just puts him in harmony with nature, contra all the other bombers. (In further harmony, there is even music by Adam and the Ants.) This war is between the goodie Ant-Man and the baddie Yellowjacket. Ant-Man’s mobility seems trumped by Yellowjacket’s laser shots, at least till he’s zapped himself by a patio light. Here the villain is a solitary shooter not a commander of men. That is, Ant-Man here fights off our current dread, the outlaw loner, the suicide bomber, the terrorist cell. Ant-Man may be a familiar kind of hero but his opponent — and the nightmare he personifies — is the dread evil of our times.

  • “My days of breaking into places and stealing shit are done.
    What do you want me to do?
    I want you to break into a place and steal some shit.”

    Is it a plane? Is it a bird? Is it Superman? No, it’s just an ordinary guy named Scott Lang (Rudd Paul) who stole from some millionaires in a digital, Robin Hood-like way in the past and who can transform into a superhero the size of an ant by using a high-tech suit. This suit was designed by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and reduces the distance between atoms. Thus, it’s not a spider bite or the exposure to certain radiations that created Ant-man. Is it so super hero-like, say, like Spiderman? Yes and no. I don’t think there’s need for a sequel. The overall content is a bit too … euh … I could say a bit to “little” for that. But the tongue in cheek humor then again was enjoyable. Pretty much a sort of “Guardians of the Galaxy” humor. This was already evident from the beginning with this hilarious excerpt:
    “Hey, how’s your girl man?
    Oh, she left me.
    Oh.
    Yeah, my mom died too.
    And my dad got deported.
    But I got the van! ”

    Marvel keeps coming up with new action heroes. That’s no surprise since they have quite a collection after all these years. Besides the well-known superheroes like “Spiderman”, “X-Men”, “Hulk”, “Daredevil”, “Blade”, “The Avengers” and “Iron Man”, they recently introduced several new ones such as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Fantastic Four”. And next year, they’ll add some more : “Deadpool”(I’m waiting impatiently for this one), “Gambit” and “Black Panther”. And now they introduce Ant-Man at the last moment. Although I’m about to succumb to a Marvel-saturation, I’m always keen to see a new super hero at work. The advantage of Ant-Man is that you don’t need to be a real Marvel freak to follow the story. And despite being one of the least-known Marvel characters (plus the critics were quite harsh), the film itself managed to be successful.

    Ant-Man’s objective isn’t as grandiose as in most Marvel films. In other words there’s no need to protect earth against total annihilation or subjugation. Hank Pym uses a devious way to put Scott Lang in a dilemma so that Scott is forced to help him with the recovery of his invention. And this because of the fact that it could be used for less peaceful purposes. Not very original as you might think at first sight and yet they knew how to make it an entertaining and action-packed adaptation of a action hero comic book. Especially with the emphasis on the comical aspect. A Marvel movie you shouldn’t take too seriously. Actually, it’s a kind of “Honey, I shrunk the kids”, the adult version.

    Unfortunately, the storyline is pretty clichéd. Another poor devil who gets no chance in society due to a mistake and is destined to return to his criminal activities. There’s also a rising employee who filches the life’s work of his employer. And then of course there’s the inevitable confrontation between the end products of the two rivals. But “Ant-Man” is still an excellent film. Especially by the use of the interwoven humor (Michael Pena ensures some hilarious moments) and the superb special effects. The learning process Scott goes through to familiarize himself with the designed suit, is hilarious and splendidly visualized. The acting of Paul Rudd (who’ll always stick in my memory as Mike of the brilliant sitcom “Friends”) was acceptable. Although he doesn’t look like real superhero material with his puppy appearance, he succeeded in showing an ideal mix of amazement and determination. Even Michael Douglas’ performance was plausible.

    “Ant-Man” is an action-packed, light-hearted superhero movie. Especially the end is breathtaking and filled with scenes that’ll last a lifetime. Also the various references to other Marvel heroes was original, culminating in a confrontation between Ant-Man and one of the Avengers. Who thinks the hilarious talking tree from “Guardians of the Galaxy” would be unbeatable, will have to revise his opinion after witnessing this tiny little figure that travels on the back of an ant.

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