Prime Reactions Review – Ant-Man

Site’s not dead yet. Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I was able to go to San Diego Comic-Con and that took a lot out of me. Might do a write-up on that but I have quite a backlog to write on. First thing I want to tackle is Ant-Man. There will be spoilers.

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If you know my relationship with Marvel, you can probably assume that like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t go in with any expectations. I was simply hoping to leave with a good time.

I liked Ant-Man well enough. After so many sequels and huge battles, it was nice to return to a simple origin story. That said, the beginning of the movie was really slow… I know I just said that an origin story is welcome after the last few movies and while Ant-Man does need one unlike DC’s ilk, the cliches start to pile up.

There wasn’t anything in Scott’s life pre-Ant-Man that was particularly interesting. The comedic moments stand out but otherwise it turns out Scott’s really just a good guy who got arrested for exposing a company involved in wrongdoing which can be considered a good thing. You get the dismissive ex-wife, the jerk who’s with her now, and a daughter he’s not allowed to see. By the end we get the obligatory respect ending where the jerk accepts Scott and he gets to hang out with his daughter. Despite all that, I think Paul Rudd did an excellent job and I believe he can carry a second movie now that all the origin and backstory stuff is out of the way. He’s got enough charm and his comedic timing was on point.

Hank Pym is easily the more interesting character though. I kind of wish the movie was about his younger days. I would really like to see his adventures in early S.H.I.E.L.D. You can argue that his backstory has just as many cliches but I felt more weight with what he went through and I didn’t have a problem with any of it as I was watching. Michael Douglas’s performance was my favorite as he added a lot to the training and exposition scenes. Whether it’s the emotional moments or instructing Scott I think he was perfectly cast for a retired hero with a tragic past.

I also really liked Hope. Live-action superhero movies in general aren’t known for good female characters. Peggy Carter did nothing in the first Captain America and was only allowed to shine in Agent Carter. Black Widow was only good in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where she got to be a character, have conversations, and still fight. The rest… yeah, who cares? They establish in this movie that Hope can fight, easily control the ants, and has been infiltrating the company for quite a while. Unfortunately, none of her skills come into play but then we see the Wasp suit at the end and I’m really looking forward to her suiting up. There’s a severe lack of good female heroes in these films. She could be the one I’ve been waiting for.

Not sure if the family drama was forced. Maybe a little bit. Scott had a talk with Hope about how she must realize why Hank didn’t want her in the suit despite her attitude towards him. I also got the feeling she knew but she kept up the act for the sake of drama? I don’t know how to feel here. In some ways this also ties in with Scott and his daughter along with Hank’s relationship with Darren Cross, but let’s be honest. They’re weak connections at best. At the very least all of that wraps up nicely when Hank revealed the Wasp suit for Hope showing that he’s willing to let go and allow her be the hero she could be.

Darren Cross is sadly another poor villain. He’s got some daddy issues with Hank but beyond that… who cares? There’s a scene where Hope tries to reason with him saying it was the particles messing with his head and that he’s not really like this. I never got the impression that he ever tried the suit or was a good person. Wasn’t the reason they were using lambs because he didn’t want to move on to human testing? When did they ever tell us he’s been trying it on himself? Can’t he just be a bad guy? Going over the villain checklist, he’s got motivations. Not good motivations but a reason for doing what he does. He’s functional as the villain being a major threat both psychologically and physically. He was one step ahead of our heroes despite all their planning. I just have to question how he was so adept at using the Yellowjacket suit. I assume this was the first time he put it on yet he gave Scott so much trouble.

The performance was fine. If only he were written better or had more time. I have to reiterate that Marvel movie villains are never up to par because so much time is spent on the heroes. That’s necessary but such a shame because I’m waiting for memorable villains. He’s a functional villain, but he’s not interesting. Is anybody going to be talking about Cross/Yellowjacket in a few years? Is anybody going to be talking about a Marvel villain except Loki?

Some other things I need to get out of the way.

I didn’t care for Scott’s buddies. I don’t agree with the people who think they’re racist caricatures. This isn’t a Michael Bay film after all. These characters are at least useful even if they’re comic relief. You have to give them that and during the tip flashbacks, Luis was at a wine tasting and art gallery which are considered refined hobbies. On that note, Luis’s tip flashbacks were funny. The way he dubbed over dialogue that those people clearly did not say but mouthed anyway was great. Other than that I could’ve done without these characters. They didn’t ruin the movie but I’m hoping they don’t take up too much time in the future.

Falcon’s appearance was a surprise. I heard some people got spoiled on it which is a shame because their fight and interactions were a blast. The scene after the credits shows that Captain America and Falcon know where Bucky is. I was surprised they found him so soon because I kind of wanted to see that. Good thing the next movie is a Captain America where we’ll get answers.

The special effects were very good. Between de-aging Michael Douglas in the first scene, the shrinking down, and the fight scenes the special effects were used very effectively and none of it felt forced or extensive. The fight between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket was very fun considering their environments and their abilities. Like Thor: The Dark World, they got really creative with the final fight which added an element of fun to an otherwise bad movie like that one or fits right in with this one.

Breaking into Hank Pym’s house was the better of the two heists. The security system stuff in the company wasn’t as interesting. It was more fun seeing Scott “Macguyver” his way past the two safe doors. I do wonder how he’s so good at this since I don’t recall them mentioning him having a criminal record and his degree certainly wouldn’t have taught him what we see.

On the issue of Edgar Wright leaving the project, I think the movie turned out fine. I don’t know what would’ve happened if he stayed on. He’s worked on Ant-Man for years and he just up and leave? It doesn’t surprise me that Marvel Studios tried to force too much into his movie to the point of him leaving but it might’ve been a shame. I’m a big fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and I think the first twenty minutes would’ve been better with his style.

Ultimate Reflections:
Ant-Man’s easily better than Age of Ultron. It may be full of cliches but they’re presented in a way that doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. The cast was fantastic and there’s enough solid comedy throughout as well. As time passed and I thought about it more, it’s easily in my top six for Marvel Studios. It had more going for it in general than their other offerings and I want to see more of our leading trio. I would easily recommend it. I think Iron Man’s first two-thirds might be a better starting point for those new to the universe, but this is also a strong origin story that’ll help acclimate them as well.

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