The latest of the Marvel canon - "Ant-man" comes with a promising cast, an interesting (although safer) choice for the direction and a rather unusual superhero at its core, is this film more of the same or a shot of re-invention for the now yearly superhero entry?
|Our protagonist trio.|
Direction: Peyton Reed, a man who directed "Yes man" and "Bring it on" with a solid resume on comedies is a sufficient option for this rather lighthearted heist flick. Having said that, it is intriguing to see which original bits from Edgar Wright's script, Peyton decided to keep once the former parted ways with the studio due to creative differences. While Reed maintains a sense of awe during Ant-man's shrinking scenes and fully embraces the potential of 3D, there is a lack of personal stamp. Just like Alan Taylor, he is good although he does not carry around a strong visual flare for the proceedings that could concoct something mind-blowing or memorable.
Action: Conceivably smaller in scale that the "Avengers" and its cousins, "Ant-man" is at its heart a heist movie. Here you will not find (wisely) a large amount of digital explosions, catastrophies and an array of CGI-ed opponents for the hero to take down. The final fight with Yellow Jacket is rather impressive and more close quarters and contains probably the best scenes injected with a nice dose of humor.
|Evangeline Lilly, a feast for the eyes but the script does not allow her to become a full character|
Plot: Despite a likable protagonist, the drama involving his life - stealing money from an evil CEO just to prove a point - costs him any future job, strains the relationship with his wife including his adorable daughter who considers him a hero and puts him in jail. Really guys? It is another attempt in the depiction of modern movie relationships that families have to be perfect no matter what and despite for what reasons you might have to do what others might not do, this is always a bad thing. In the addition of this pointless (and safe in terms of movie progressing plot) family drama, we have Hank Pym who equally shares a damaged relationship with his own daughter after the death of her mother. The screenwriters do their best to inject pathos in the proceedings but the cast is characterized very poorly - particularly Evangeline Lilly who is basically a dialogue generator that offers nothing to the plot or to the hero's evolution. Ant-man has to take down some evil corporation and in typical Marvel fashion, the storyline shares similarities with those of the first Iron Man that might produce a few yawns left and right with a rather very simple to execute heist at its core.
Cast: Paul Rudd is actually pretty good, being cool and a goofball at the same time fairing better than Chris Pratt's overly exciting performance - inmo - in "Guardians of the galaxy". He has enough presence and a down to earth personality, that is simply not to be charmed. Michael Douglas - clearly having a ball - on the other hand destroys anyone that shares the screen with him, bringing enough gravitas to support his acting claim while making Pym a force to be reckoned with and a fun guy to work around. Besides these two however, the rest are one dimensional characters with Corey Stoll playing a by the numbers villain that oozes no menace or anything memorable at all. Evangeline Lilly continues the string of under-performing movies and it is a shame because there is an interesting story to be told about her character.
|Paul Rudd as the very likable Ant-Man|
Comedy: While it is known that going to see an adapted version of your favorite superhero from Marvel/Disney, you will encounter intense action, a good cast and the off-key comedy that worked well in the first 3-4 entries but now has started becoming tedious and childish. The filmmakers (or I should rather say the producers) keep repeating the same jokes - someone being interrupted in the middle of a big speech, an intervention during an important moment from the main character who will leave like a crab sideways, etc. It is a tactic that got perfected unexpectedly in the first "avengers" film but after "Thor the dark world", "Captain America: the winter soldier", "Guardians of the galaxy" and "Avengers age of Ultron" it becomes really thin really fast. Therefore the saving grace of "Ant-man"'s is Peyton's insistence in visual gags particularly towards the climatic fight.
"Ant-man" is not Marvel greatest (or smallest) triumph. Instead it is a rather borderline efficient heist film with the superhero twist. It needs a more solid ground for it to work and a coherent script. But for now, "Ant-man" will have to wait.
+ inventive action sequences towards the end)
+ Paul Rudd is very likable
+ Nicely visual comedic touches (towards the end)
+ Michael Douglas, always awesome
+ not the tragedy I was expecting
- one dimensional characters
- lack of enthusiasm for the material
- needs a more involved director
- repeated jokes
- script has not time for relationships and gets muddled