Ant-Man is another movie in the seemingly never-ending Marvel canon. I’ve said before that I don’t follow the comic books so I only know of what is presented before me in movie form, and I have to say that, from the moment I first heard about this entry in the series, I wasn’t exactly wowed.
After all, superheroes are big and loud and they smash shit up! This one is tiny and would barely leave a stain on your shirt if you splattered it while he wasn’t looking.
But at least we had the promise of the fantastic Edgar Wright (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead) being handed the directing reins… Sadly, he returned them back to the studio after ‘creative differences’ split them apart. This is a great shame as he’s a massive fan of the character, suggesting back as far as 2003 that Marvel make this film with him at the helm, and even stopping them from putting Ant-Man in the first Avengers movie, as well as one other character who I won’t name here because that would be a spoiler.
Alas, instead, we have Peyton Reed. Who? Exactly. He made the dire Bring It On, the dire Down With Love, the so-so Yes Man, starring Jim Carrey, and despite 2006’s The Break-Up starring Jennifer Aniston, only her drama movie roles have been worth watching. The rest of the time she’s made ditzy, pointless rom-coms, all of which should have the original prints and negatives destroyed so no-one can view them again.
There’s also the problem with the casting for the main character – Paul Rudd. Really? Is he the best Hollywood could manage? He has less charisma than one of my old stinky shoes! Thankfully, somehow I’ve managed to miss almost every single one of his films that he’s made, and certainly all of those where he has a leading role. Why would anyone give him a leading role, anyway? I get that he has the hang-dog facial appearance of a slacker ex-convict who wants to do right by the daughter to his estranged wife, but purlease, I’m sure if Hollywood tried, they could’ve found a zillion better actors than him.
Ant-Man was originally going to concentrate on the Hank Pym character, played by Michael Douglas, but apparently his backstory involves elements the filmmakers would rather ignore like him being abusive to an ex, so they started afresh with a new guy. Then again, even if they’d stayed with Hank, they’d still have gone with someone younger than Douglas, although at 46, Rudd is no spring chicken, either. Given all this, perhaps that’s why they haven’t updated the suit from its old 1960s style.
Scott Lang, like Pym, learns to talk to the ants, rather like Doctor Dolittle. As he goes through his inevitable training regime, he discovers there are various type of super ants, the only one of which that stood out were those that build bridges to help him get from A to B, or raise him up out of harm’s way.
And building bridges (see what I did there?) is also something he needs to do with his estranged wife, Maggie, played by Judy Greer who acts with as much emotion as a wooden doll. I mean, I know she’s an underwritten character, but you could literally have replaced her with an inanimate carbon rod and no-one would’ve noticed the difference.
He doesn’t get to see his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), much, so when Maggie tells him that he should be her hero, you know that’s the setup for the girl to eventually realise that Daddy is Ant-Man. However, standing in his way is Maggie’s new beau, an utter dick called Paxton (Bobby Cannavale, who can normally be relied upon to be good, but here all he’s given is the typical meathead/new boyfriend role. Or maybe they’re married. I didn’t care either way).
Elsewhere, Michael Peña is Scott’s best friend and fellow ex-con Luis, whose only ability seems to be to talk pointlessly fast for one of the film’s apparent plot points – something that’s repeated later to absolutely zero effect, leaving you with a “Huh?” in your mind. He has two accomplices in tow, but stereotypes is the only way to describe them. And then there’s Corey Stoll as cardboard cut-out baddie Darren Cross. Stoll knows only two acting stances: (a) shouting, and (b) shouting louder.
Still, at least it’s only 2 hours long, whereas other Marvel films have drifted towards the two-and-a-half-hour mark, with no good reason for doing so.
Three good things about the film:
- 1. There are a few mild laughs in the film if, albeit, very few and far between.
2. Evangeline Lilly’s toned upper arms
3. It’s not Terminator Genisys
However, the acting on view from everyone concerned would give the cast of Eldorado a run for their money. In fact, everyone just looks so bored like they’re just waiting to get paid. Hell, Douglas even said in an interview that he only took the role because he knew there’d be sequels. Clearly, at 70 years of age, he hasn’t got much else to go by!
Oh, what would it have been like if Edgar Wright had stayed on to direct? His name’s still on the screenplay, story and executive producer credits, but knowing he left the project early on, it’s clear there’s not the clever touches there that he would’ve provided.
In short, Ant-Man is boring.
If you’re curious about what there is after the credits then there are TWO scenes – one mid-credits and one post-credits, as follows:Midway through, Hank and Hope are shown with the former showing off the prototype Wasp suit in a secret room. The suit was never finished, so they plan to get to work on it, so as to give her something else to do in the sequel.
And then after the credits, I assumed we’d get a clip for Fantastic Four, but no. The widescreen ratio changes from 1.85:1 to 2.35:1 – or rather is 2.35:1 within the 1.85:1 image, so the picture won’t expand or anything, and we see Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who’s in their custody. They’re not sure what to do with him, but Sam states that he knows someone who can help (i.e. Ant-Man). This will then lead into 2016’s third – and hopefully final Captain America film – Captain America: Civil War.
Time for a big moan, though. Every now and again you get an extra dickhead and there was a bloke who suited that perfectly. I was sat at the back of the Premier seats, and had a spare ‘guest ticket’ so thought I may as well use it on the biggest screen even if the IMAX in the Trafford Centre’s a let down compared to Manchester, and Ant-Man was not shot in 3D or with IMAX cameras anyway), but behind me, at the end of the row was a man with his son.
As the film began, he surreptitiously slipped into the Premier seats at the end of my row (and not far away, sadly), and for the best part of the first hour, his son was talking rather a lot. I don’t blame the lad, I blame the parent because (a) he wasn’t doing anything to dissuade the lad from talking, but was actually encouraging it by continuing to reply as if they were home watching the film; (b) he completely ignored any of my attempts to ‘shush’ him, and (c) when I snapped twice and, somehow politely, said something like “Mate, will you stop talking?!” he did nothing, except he might’ve tried a retort to one of them.
Somehow, the lad settled down after that, so he could get on with the important business of replying to text messages, and a lot of the second hour was quite loud so would’ve drown him out.
Clearly he missed the instructions at the start which state quite clearly: “Are you a selfish bastard? Then do fuck off, there’s a good chap!”
Running time: 117 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Released: July 20th 2015
Director: Peyton Reed
Producer: Kevin Feige
Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd (based on the story by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, and the comic book by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby)
Music: Christophe Beck
Scott Lang/Ant-Man: Paul Rudd
Dr Hank Pym: Michael Douglas
Hope van Dyne: Evangeline Lilly
Darren Cross: Corey Stoll
Paxton: Bobby Cannavale
Sam Wilson/Falcon: Anthony Mackie
Maggie Lang: Judy Greer
Cassie Lang: Abby Ryder Fortson
Luis: Michael Peña
Kurt: David Dastmalchian
Peggy Carter: Hayley Atwell
Gale: Wood Harris
Howard Stark: John Slattery
Mitchell Carson: Martin Donovan
Young Pym: Dax Griffin
Janet Van Dyne/The Wasp: Hayley Lovitt
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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