Ant Man Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has followed a strong formula for each of its films, which has resulted in none of them actually being bad. They’ve all been consistently good up til now and I had some decently high hopes for Ant Man. Unfortunately, I forgot that the concept of Ant Man may have doomed it from the start and every film series has to jump the shark eventually. This one proved to be Marvel’s first big miss! (For this continuity)

Scott is a man who has made some wrong choices. He chose to become a cat burgler and spent a lot of time in jail. He finally gets out, but realizes that nobody will hire him so he cracks and decides to become a criminal again. An old man who is called Mr. Pym gives Scott an offer. Scott can steal something for him or go back to jail. Scott uses the get out of jail free card and undergoes a training regime. Now that he is able to shrink and talk to Ants, nobody can stop him right? The ultimate battle against evil has now begun!

Ignoring the crippling negative that I will dive into soon, the film handled itself fairly well. As I mentioned, the MCU has a certain tone/atmosphere that is used for all of the films (Not counting The Incredible Hulk…another reason why that one is only barely in the MCU for me) and it works quite well for Ant-Man. We’ll get a serious spy scene, then a comedy moment, then a serious scene, comedy moment. It’s essentially a constant stream of back and forth and you typically will not go 2-3 minutes without an epic one liner or a burn from one of the characters. It’s one of the reasons why the MCU films have typically been crushing the competition.

It doesn’t take itself too seriously while still giving us good battles. I’d say that phase 2 has actually ramped up the comedy angle as the one liners seem more frequent, but it could be a coincidence. The action has also been ramped up so it could just be the “bigger is better” effect like what Slayers did with Next. Compare Avengers to Avengers 2, Cap to Cap 2, and Iron Man 3 to Iron Man 1. The sequels all had more action (The first is debatable I suppose) and more comedy moments. As long as the writing is good, this formula should always work quite well. Even if some of the jokes don’t work, there are enough of them that the good ones should overshadow the bad ones. Likewise, if you have a lot of fight scenes in a film, there should be at least one or two that you will like.

The MCU’s fights are also a step ahead of the other Marvel companies with the exception of ASM2. Ant Man’s battle against Yellow Jacket is pretty fun. Antman is certainly outmatched and probably should have lost, but it’s cool to see him dodging lasers and keeping up the intensity. Both fighters are always on the move and trying to keep the other off balance. The special effects seen here will definitely age well and the music while in the brief case was pretty epic.

Ant Man also likes to show us just how tiny the fighters are by showing off the outside world during the fights. During these moments, the music will stop and the real world will only have slight movement. This does rage a possible plot hole of Ant Man’s strength though. It’s shown that he still has his human sized strength while he’s tiny and he uses it quite often to take on the villains. So, why does Thomas barely move when the characters hit him at full strength in one scene? In the human world, we just see Thomas get lifted slightly as he bumps into the window. If Ant Man had his full human sized strength, it should have easily shattered the glass.

That’s only a mild thing though. Ant Man’s soundtrack is naturally good. The very first scene has a classic theme that you will remember from most of the other MCU titles with SHIELD and Ant Man introduces some other themes to the franchise. I’d say that just about all of them are good and especially the main “Ant Man” theme. You’ll know it when you see it. Having a good soundtrack is the first step to being a good movie. The next is having good writing.

Ant Man’s writing is solid for the most part. I say “for the most part” because it’s still not quite as good as the average MCU title. For one thing, I found Ant Man’s friends to be a little sad. They’re essentially all stereotypes. It’s used for comedy though and they each have their moments I suppose, but they felt like the characters that you would see in a mainstream comedy title like Pitch Perfect or Tower Heist and those are the characters that I can never like. The main friend is always making crude comments when talking about how he heard his stories and they are pretty off putting. The other two friends are really just there to use slang and try to be funny, which doesn’t work quite as well as the natural jokes that flow from Scott and the villains. An example of a scene that was funny was the Baskin Robbins moment. Those scenes I could get behind and I liked the manager a lot as he knew when to talk off the record as well as on it. Ant Man also felt like it had more language than I would have expected. The characters just can’t keep themselves in line so they constantly panic and let out some colorful words. So, I feel like that’s a bit of a writing issue.

Let’s go into the characters. Scott Lang is the main guy of course and he’s not bad. He’s essentially your average film protagonist who wants to do the right thing, but isn’t sure how to do that. I do think that he gave up and went back to a life of crime rather quickly, but we are led to believe that he looked for jobs for quite a while. A quick montage of that would have been good though. Still, in the end, he learns the values of teamwork and how to be a responsible hero. He really wants to keep his bond with his daughter and gets her a pretty nice gift. He’s certainly a good parent and I do like the character overall.

One plot element at the end of the film does hurt him a little though. There is a very forced romance between him and Hope. As with the average film, they meet and basically fall in love in the span of a few days. It’s just sad that the heroes have to be so predictable like this. At least it’s just one scene, but it’s still something that was not needed at all and was just added because it’s essentially expected at this point.

Otherwise, Hope makes for a good heroine. She can fight, which is always a good thing and she whips Scott into shape right away. She’s better at controlling the ants and is also a better hand to hand fighter, but she had quite a lot of prep time when compared to Scott. You’d think that Scott would have learned some more hand to hand in jail, but I guess he became buddies with the others too quickly. Hope easily outclasses Pepper, Jane, Betty, and Peggy as far as the MCU heroines go. Mr. Pym is another supporting character and he was fairly likable. It was good to see him take a nice shot at the government agent who stepped out of line and he is definitely very active for an old guy. This is not someone who plans to quietly retire from the front lines and I’m sure that he will have a decent role in the sequel. Hopefully he goes back to the mini world himself!

As for the main villain, he’s decently good. He seemed to flirt with Hope a little, which is generic villain 101 for how to not be taken seriously, but Yellowjacket was all right aside from that. You really can’t expect much from him in terms of character development as he’s meant to be a really generic villain, but he fits the bill and I definitely didn’t mind him as the antagonist. The Yellow Jacket suit is definitely really cool and seeing it again someday would be fun.

The film ends with some loose ends to be continued in the sequel or other MCU films. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about the villain who may be around for the sequel since we’ve done this dance so many times already, but we’ll see how it goes. There are two after credit scenes so you’ll want to check them out first. The first one is more of a traditional after credits scene in the sense that it would work for just about any film and doesn’t rely on the large continuity. It’s a good scene. The second one is some build up for the MCU. Time to start speculating about what this will all mean. It was cool to see the “Ant Man will return” sign at the end for sure.

One thing that I enjoyed about the film was that it didn’t act like everyone was gone. In a lot of comics, heroes will conveniently be out of town or asleep so that they don’t have to appear. This film doesn’t go that far and we actually get our first big meta human fight between heroes. It’s definitely neat and I agree with the outcome. There’s really no way that the hero should have lost this battle and as far as the victory went, I felt like it could have been even easier. Not saying that his opponent was a pushover….but he wouldn’t be much of a challenge either.

Sounds like a fun film so far right? I enjoyed the action and the comedy. Ant Man’s characters were pretty good for the most part, the effects were a lot of fun, and the film’s pacing was good. The movie always moved very quickly and I certainly wasn’t bored. The friends may have been a little sad at times and the writing wasn’t great, but the film could hold its own. Unfortunately, that’s where the negative comes in. See, this is a film called Ant Man so you can expect a lot of ants right? That’s the problem.

There is a lot of animal violence here and it’s really sad. The scenes are unnecessary and just there for poor shock value. Again, this is just a result of terrible writing and someone needs to get some new staff for the sequel. Goats already have a reputation of dying in big films like Jurassic Park, we didn’t need another one to die here. As soon as the goat appeared, I knew that it was game over. The way that he died was also very gross. A human died this way as well and it wasn’t sad like the Goat’s death, but it was still gross. This was a line that the film didn’t need to cross.

The Ants also die throughout the film. Scott clearly has no regard for their lives except for a select few. One of the ants gets a very emotional death while the others are typically taken down in the background. I knew that the ants should have all been mechanical. That would have solved the film’s biggest problem right from the start. As it is, this negative really destroyed the film just like with Jurassic World. (A film very similar to this one in many respects) Hopefully the sequel will use robots although I doubt that we’ll see a sequel for a very long time.

Ant Man also takes itself a little too seriously during one moment where Pym tells Hope about what happened to her mother. Scott quickly whips out another joke to stop the tension, but I felt like it almost could have broken them out of their slump sooner or they could have had Hope take the news a little better. That’s really the only scene where this happens though as the rest of the film is typically moving too fast for this to be an issue.

Hmmm, any more things to touch on here? The dialogue effect for the friend’s stories were good as every character had the same voice. If not for some of the terrible lines here, these were definitely some of the best jokes in the film. The guy will remind you of Sam from the Transformers Trilogy as they both have a similar style of speaking and maybe even similar personalities, but different enough that you would never mix them up. I think I’ve hit on most of the big points for the film here.

Overall, Get ready for some name drops, cameos, and world building as the film goes on. Now that the MCU is such a big franchise, it has to keep on growing to keep the audience in the loop and ready for some action. The film is still a lot of fun and has a lot of replay value due to its nature. On a critical level though, I still can’t recommend the title because of the very excessive animal violence. The writing and side characters can also be a bit dicey, but without the animal violence, we’d still be looking at a 7 star film here. If you are prepared for animal violence then you should see this film. If not, you really won’t be missing anything so you can still just skip to Avengers 3 and prepare yourself for the powers of the planet busters. Now, will Marvel be able to bounce back from this? I’m confident that they can as Civil War should be epic. From here on out, the only MCU film that you should be worried for is probably Inhumans and that one should still be good. The real question is, can Ant Man defeat the upcoming blockbusters like Pixels, Mission Impossible and Spectre? It’s going to be tough, but the Ant Man is used to being the underdog so he’s ready for action.

Overall 4/10