Marvel's Official Bottle Episode
Let's get this out of the way right off the bat: this film is fine. It is a fun ride throughout its 117-minute runtime, but from a technical standpoint? It's a bloody mess. Which is a damn shame because this film really should've been a technical masterpiece: the cinematographer and editor should've had a blast transitioning set-pieces from big to small, and small to big, but who am I kidding? Why spend a bit more money to do something creative from a technical standpoint when you can just have standard cuts between big and small and no one will care? You could put out an Insurgent-level of crap from the CGI, editing, and cinematography departments and the Marvel fanboys will still say OMG THIS IS THE BEST FILM SINCE _______. (Insert some other Marvel film there) Look that's the first thing that we should get out of the way: don't listen to anyone who says Ant-Man is the best Marvel film or is the best thing ever or anything. They're just fanboys. If you really want to hear a non-fanboy opinion of this film, you've come to the right place. You put your faith in me now. Ok? Ok. So let's talk about why Ant-Man is just fine and nothing more.
First off, what the film gets right. Casting Paul Rudd as Ant-Man. Paul Rudd brings a nice bit of personality to the character, one which I really look forward to seeing in future films. I think he's going to be pivotal in ensuring these films have at least some semblance of lightheartedness as they get all heavy-handed in upcoming movies. Next up, Michael Douglas is having a blast in this film, which is great to see. He is excellent as Dr. Hank Pym, bringing as much charm to that character as Rudd brings to his. Evangeline Lilly is excellent as well. I've been waiting for her to really break out after Lost, and this just might be the film where she finally does it. Corey Stoll is also having a blast as Darren Cross. I absolutely love this actor, and this is easily his best performance since House of Cards. The story is good. As I said before. this film really removes the grandiose/epic-ness of previous Marvel films, and instead elects to go with a sort of "bottle episode" feel. No really attempt to make the consequence's be earth-changing, just drama between a family, a madman. and Paul Rudd. Which is great! I think a bottle episode at this time is needed given where the films are going and what we're going to get next. And, uhhhhhhhhhh......ya.
Now, let's talk about where the film screws up. (Deep breath-brace for fanboy rage) First off, not letting Paul Rudd be Paul Rudd in Ant-Man. Does he have his moments? Yes. Are they few and far between? Absolutely. Most of the time, Paul Rudd felt incredibly uncomfortable and stiff, and it drove me nuts. It's Paul Rudd! He can have a serious personality, guys! Have you seen him in Anchorman? I mean he has more personality as Brian Fantana than he does here as Ant-Man, and in Anchorman he's not even trying! Paul Rudd, while good, was mostly wasted in this role. And this stems from a bigger problem. The elephant in the room, so to say. Edgar Wright left a gapping hole in this film. My second-favorite director in Hollywood, (behind only Martin Scorsese, in case you were wondering) Edgar Wright's charm and wittiness only shows up a few times in the film we got, which is a damn shame. Paul Rudd under Edgar Wright would've been so great. Instead, we're left to wander what could've been. More on the lack of Edgar Wright-ness later.
Next up, Michael Peña. Seriously, guys? This actor is completely wasted in this role. Why did you feel like you needed a character solely for comedic relief when you have Paul Rudd as your lead? WHO'S IDEA WAS THIS? Michael Peña is a phenomenal actor, but here his bits made me cringe! CRINGE! Don't get me wrong: he has a few moments, but why couldn't we have gotten a character like Peña was in American Hustle? THAT was hilarious. But nope. Here, we get a silly, ridiculous comedic role in a film where everyone is supposed to be funny. Next up? The ending. F*** the ending. No. I can't talk about it here without spoiling anything, so go to the bottom if you want my discussion on the ending, however if you avoid the spoiler just know that I HATED the ending.
Finally, let's talk about one last glaring problem: the action sequences. This film signifies a growing problem with the Marvel cash-cow. This stems from Marvel execs observing the phenom that is the young adult film genre. When you know your film is going to make over $100 million no matter what you do, why bother spending an extra $5 million in your production budget to make your action scenes look, I don't know, real? Guys, let's not kid ourselves. The action sequences here are (AT TIMES) as bad as the final battle between Electro and Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Yup. If the fanboys already didn't hate me, they do now for comparing Ant-Man to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But it's true! You just don't want to admit it. Just like in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, at several points here immersion is completely broken for me when I realize, "There's not a single real thing on the screen right now. I'm looking at 100% CGI." The only difference between the two is that one is life-size, and the other is at ant-level. Doesn't make it any better guys. And the final battle between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket? While it had a few moments, and I appreciated them cutting between their ant-size battle and what it looks like at full-size, the fight could've been SO MUCH MORE. I almost don't want to say it, but had Edgar Wright been in charge, we would've gotten a much more technically creative final action sequence. Go watch The World's End, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim, then tell me how that statement is untrue. But it's the messiness of these action sequences that really holds the film back from being good. I'm sorry for expecting my fight scenes to look real. Is it sad nowadays that films will actually use the notion that all their stunts are real as a selling point? That's just insane to me.
See why you should put your faith in me? Aren't you thankful for doing so? Here's my recommendation for this film: if you need to see a film right now, go see Trainwreck. Don't feed this cow. Wait until this film comes to Redbox and see it at home with some friends. While it has its moments, this film is not good enough to warrant all the money it's going to make. It's not! This film exists solely to continue setting up the Marvel Comic Universe, and to feed the Marvel cash-cow in the process. Nothing more. Don't do it, man. Let it be. Go out and see a good film that is worth your time in Trainwreck. You'll ultimately feel better with yourself I promise.
The Critique: Though not without a few good comedic moments, Ant-Man's glaring technical flaws hold its major set-pieces back from the standard we should expect from action films today.
The Recommendation: Redbox it. Please. Just be content with waiting a few months and Redbox it. Nothing is going to change in the next few months in the MCU I promise.
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
SPOILER ALERT: ONLY READ THIS IF YOU'VE SEEN THE FILM/DON'T CARE IF THE ENDING IS SPOILED FOR YOU
Ok. F*** the ending. Why? How am I supposed to just buy and accept that a burglar solves the space-time continuum in five seconds???? Oh ya. For those who don't know, Ant-Man enters an unknown dimension in order to finally defeat Yellowjacket. He apparently sacrifices himself to do so, but then OF COURSE he figures out how to escape the dimension he's in just so they can keep him on for future films. Here's a thought: Marvel, you know how you set up Evangeline Lilly at the end of this film to show up again as another Ant-Man like hero, right? Well, why don't you just have her become the Ant-Man? I just found myself shaking my head when this guy, a man who had no scientific knowledge whatsoever at the beginning of the film, figures out a way to solve a question that Michael Douglas's character, a scientific genius, has been struggling with for most of his life. Not to mention the entire modern real-life science community. I 100% agree with Edgar Wright. This ending is extremely cliché. And it sucks. But it'll make them more money in the long run I'm sure so yay sacrificing a good ending for better business practices! I mean all they really needed was the mere mention of Edgar Wright's name in order to get the Edgar Wright fans out he doesn't have to actually finish the film....