Ant-Man: Review

     After all my excitement for Ant-Man, I am torn between liking it and seeing the films immediate flaws.  Right off the bat, you have a movie with Edgar Wright's flavor seeping through, but then we can also see how blatantly it was forced into conforming to the typical Marvel Studios filmography.

     The strange need for the movies to link in the most obvious ways is getting absurd.  The connectivity is wonderful, but it's beginning to be shoved in our faces.  Marvel has a tendency to strongarm things into place for the bigger picture, which is at odds with the whole premise of Ant-Man itself.
     Ant-Man isn't about the world-saving glories the Avengers have become known for.  It is a passing the torch story, but one that is being done under the table.  Hank Pym, played with great aptitude by Michael Douglas, is a failed father and creator of both his shrinking Ant-Man suit, and a nice device that allows him to communicate with ants- giving him access to the world's largest biomass colony, meaning he has an infinite army of unseen warriors and workers.

     After keeping his Pym Particles and shrinking serum out of the hands of Howard Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades, Hank now has to take action to keep his former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll)- who is played as a villainous caricature in his path towards becoming Yellowjacket- from militarizing and selling the shrinking technologies.

     Along the way he enlists Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an ex-con that burgles for all the right reasons.  He too is a failing father, struggling with his ex-wife, her new-and-stereotypical douchebag police officer boyfriend, and attempting to be there for his daughter.  Under Pym's guidance he can become an actual hero, one worthy of his daughter's ideal view of him.

     What this movie gets right is taking massive steps back in terms of the story.  This isn't about "dropping cities" on things as Pym complains about the Avengers (a reference to the Age of Ultron film), it's about doing what's right for the ones you care about.  It's about doing it in secret.  Ant-Man was a secret in war espionage in Pym's younger days, and now that the suit has taken its toll on him, he must find an heir.  Due to a tragic loss in Pym's past he is reluctant to have is extremely overqualified and capable daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) take over for fear of losing her as well.  So he goes with the second best choice, Lang.  Which is almost a metaphor for the film in that they don't go with the right choice, they go with the safe one.
     The movie then becomes a heist film focusing on training Lang to become the unrecognized hero of the day.  Along the way he has some old friends assist- including Michael Pena whose role as a criminal is that of stealing every scene he is in- to stop Cross from unleashing microscopic chaos around the world.

     What I think the movie does wrong, however, is shoe-horn in a love story.  It feels out of place and completely unnecessary.  They could have left it open ended and it would've worked better.  Not every leading pair needs to become romantically involved.
     The whole lead up to the going subatomic and Lang's solution for escape is a bit preposterous as well.  Why wouldn't he have just smashed a few of them all over his body- maybe even one too many- causing him to grow past normal size and become Giant Man accidentally?  Which was another complaint I had.  Quite a few items are grown to super sizes, so why didn't they use that in the film on a person?  All the build up and no payoff.

     Then at a middle ground between good and bad, although I complained about the movie being forced into a mold, when an Avenger finally does show up, they chose the right one.  They chose the most human and relatable person for Lang to encounter and it actually works very well.  So even though it seems forced, it also feels fitting.

     Overall, I really enjoyed the film.  It has plenty of predictable elements, but also a fair amount of moments of genuine heart and originality.  Ant-Man was at its best when it focused on the small things and really, it should stay that way.  Hank Pym wanted the Ant-Man to stay out of sight, so Marvel should keep the stories with him small, but with a large impact.

     After seeing this, I am unbelievably eager to find a leaked copy of Wright's original script.  To truly see what wonderfully subtle things were there that were buried under the typical Marvel must-haves could be enlightening.
     I'm also looking forward to Hope Van Dyne finally getting to take up the mantle of Wasp...

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