Ant-man is a good diversion, but its dragged down by a run-of-mill plot, forgettable characters, and recycled action. Marvel used the superhero lite entry as a palate cleanser from its heavy world-saving sequels, but ends up producing a forgettable blip in their cinematic universe.

Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. [Marvel]

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The latest entry to the Marvel road map is a straightforward superhero movie. This is perfect for those who want a light blockbuster flick.

Marvel always has a keen eye for casting. Paul Rudd is perfect as the every-man stand in. Micheal Pena is amusing as Luis. Corey Stoll is getting typecasted as the well-meaning but misguided guy turned villain, but he pulls it off very well that it’s hard to complain.

The effects-driven comedy is entertaining. There are enjoyable action pieces from Ant-Man’s perspective, which I assume to be from Edgar Wright. The witty fight scenes involving a suitcase and a toy train is far from the Marvel standard of big action beats.

When Wright left the project because of creative differences, the company filled his seat with a more cooperative director to change the final product and suit its vision.

Unfortunately that vision just wants show you that Ant-Man is Marvel property and then use it as a temporary antidote to the serious modern dystopia-themed Avengers sequels.

The references and tie-in are obviously post-Wright additions to remind you that Ant-Man is still part of the awesome Marvel Universe because when you compare him with Earth’s mightiest heroes, there’s nothing much. Sure he has superhuman abilities once he shrinks, but the logic behind it doesn’t fit its own movie rules (hint: mass remains constant). Nitpicking aside, Marvel made sure that this entry is light but ends up producing a forgettable blip in its road map.

If only studios would put in as much wit into their blockbuster movies as they do for their marketing campaigns.

Ant-Man has a dull by-the-numbers plot. Something familiar is to be expected, but a single Dad showing up at his daughter’s birthday party uninvited only to be spotted by his replacement is too generic. You’ll know how the rest of the story goes once this plays out in the screen. Paul Rudd does try to add some emotional weight, but the family drama falls flat.

It didn’t help that the narrative is burdened by an exposition heavy first half and then devolves into a standard heist. The big action here is not much different from a regular-sized superhero duking it out with a number of hired defense contractors and stuff blowing up around him. It’s littered with borrowed stunts from The Incredible Shrinking Man and The Fly. The ants are nothing special.

The movie is filled with thin characters. Micheal Douglas is supposed to be a mad scientist but he’s bland. Evangeline Lily, as SOP for Marvel, is stuck with a bad wig and reduced to the token female bad ass with daddy issues. The minority characters are boxed into decades old stereotypes. Bobby Carnavale is underused.

In the end, well you’ll know how it goes once the designated daughter shows up. Overall Ant-Man is still an amusing diversion despite being a typical blockbuster with recycled elements. It delivers as advertised.

However, it’s the weakest entry to the Marvel universe. The rest of the first headliners – Captain America, Thor, Iron Man – all had familiar elements but had redeeming qualities that elevated their scripts. Cap had endearing character development, whiz bang action, and period details. Thor introduced the best Marvel villain to date  – Loki – and had Shakespearean drama. Iron man poked at a timely political issue and balanced it with a sense of humor thanks to Robert Downey Jr. Plus it has Jeff Bridges who makes everything better.

Paul Rudd, like the rest of the movie, has minuscule impact. The guy is likeable as Scott but forgettable as Ant-Man. It didn’t help that he’s surrounded by pre-assembled  parts from the blockbuster machine. It makes you wonder what Wright had in store for his character.

But that isn’t necessarily his fault. Ant-Man is just Marvel’s side trophy – a token to show that they can expand their franchise to whatever direction they want while DC barely manages to catch-up.

My Rating: 6/10

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