“…really focuses more on the heist aspect than a “I have to use my powers to fight bad guys and stuff” aspect…”
Last night I watched Ant-Man, which was a movie that I kept putting off seeing for some reason. For those who don’t know, the movie stars Paul Rudd as the titular “Ant-Man”, as well as Michael Douglas as the formerly titular “Ant-Man”. That may sound confusing but let me explain. Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang who is hired by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to assume the role of Ant-Man to break into a laboratory and steal-back some technology that was stolen from Pym himself. so this movie is a superhero film, but it is interesting because it doesn’t feel so much like a superhero film. Sure, the film does show Scott Lang having to learn his powers, much like every other superhero film ever made, but it really focuses more on the heist aspect than a “I have to use my powers to fight bad guys and stuff” aspect, which I thought was cool.
The problem I had with Ant-Man is that it didn’t seem to want to commit to either a full blown superhero, or a heist, category. It just kind of floated in the middle. Like I said, it is difficult making a superhero film because you have to show the characters learning their powers. Well, you don’t have to, but everybody does anyway because it allows the audience to feel more of a connection with the character as they both go on that journey together. It also helps with setting baselines for what a character can and cannot do, though nine times out of ten the character will find a bullshit way to use his powers at the end of the movie, that we had no idea about, to get out of a situation. Anyway, what I was saying was that Ant-Man plants itself firmly in the middle of “cookie cutter superhero origin” and “heist film”, and I felt that led to a few downfalls. For one, Ant-Man felt like two different movies. The first half showing the learning of the abilities, and the second half showing the heist. This wouldn’t have bothered me so much of there wasn’t such a clean cut in the middle of the film. I shit you not, at exactly the half way point of Ant-Man, we are struck with a scene that makes a character do a complete 180, and then directly after we are struck with a whole lot of exposition. Usually those things happen over time, with events leading up to them, but it was almost like the filmmakers forgot that they were supposed to have character development and exposition in the movie so they just threw it in halfway through. That was when I felt that the first “film” ended, and the next began. Something I liked about the way Ant-Man approached the superhero origin story, is Scott Lang had the dude who was literally Ant-Man before him coach him on things. Usually when characters get powers, they either invent the means to get their powers (so they are aware of how they work), or they have to do a kind of trial and error run through of what they can do. Ant-Man was a little different in that Scott Lang had a dude literally telling him everything that can, and can’t, be done as well as offer advice from first hand experiences.
One thing Ant-Man had going for it was the humour. The movie was really funny, with the only downfalls being the re-use of many jokes. It was almost like the filmmakers laughed really hard at a scene, so they decided to put identical scenes in the movie countless more times. There are specific examples for these, but I don’t want to spoil them because they are legitimately funny the first time they happen. With that being said, I think Paul Rudd did a fantastic job as Scott Lang. Much like many superhero movies, I’m not familiar with the source material of Ant-Man, but Paul Rudd played a likeable, funny, and pretty cool character who has a heart and is really just a normal guy who was thrust into a situation where he had to become a superhero. I also thought that Corey Stoll did a fantastic job as the villain, Darren Cross, portraying someone who you could tell had feelings once, but is now so drunk with power that he couldn’t care less about those feelings. One of the low points in the film for me was Evangeline Lily. I don’t know if I can blame her directly for how shitty her acting was because I’m not sure she had much to work with, but boy was it bad. The lack of character subtlety was laughable, and I know she can do better which is why I say that it might not be her fault. It honestly felt like she didn’t even want to be in the movie. And really the star of the movie, the special effects. You can’t have a movie where a dude shrinks and have bad special effects. Or at least I thought you couldn’t until I saw Ant-Man. I admit it is a little harsh to say the effects are outright bad, it’s just that I know they could be so much better. The crux of the movie is having a guy be the size of an ant, and then interact with ants and other things that are now huge, so I was disappointed when everything looked so fake. I understand that it is not easy making special effects look good, especially with how easy it is for people to spot special effects nowadays, but I feel that there could have been some work arounds. For instance, I am a huge fan of practical effects. I’m not saying that the whole movie had to be practical, but would it have killed to make one or two “miniature” sets to give the movie a more authentic feel. And the camerawork is another thing that I thought was all over the place. Honestly there is a scene where I was confused about who was doing what, because the camera would show a close-up of character A’s face, then a close-up of character B’s hand picking something up, and it would cut to the wide and character B would be holding the thing. How the fuck was I supposed to know that was character B’s hand?! that’s a small gripe, but still one that bugged me. Another camerawork issue I had was the cutting during dialogue. It seemed like every other word the camera would cut to a different shot of the actor speaking. Someone should tell the editor that its okay to rest on a wide shot when two characters are talking.
Despite the issues I had with it, I thought Ant-Man was a pretty fun movie and it did a good job of introducing a character that I am excited to see in more marvel movies to come.
I give Ant-Man a C