With expectations rather low considering the behind-the-scenes drama and some mediocre trailers, Ant-Man set itself up to be Marvel’s first failure.
While I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s a “failure”, it’s certainly one of Marvel’s weakest offerings largely thanks to a sloppy story and underwhelming characters.
After Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) discovers that his shrinking formula that he’s hidden for decades is about to be used as a weapon, he tracks down petty criminal Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to help him get it out of the bad man’s hands.
Ant-Man’s story is slightly disjointed, especially in the second act. After we’re introduced to our characters, the movie lazily throws together scenes with no narrative to connect the dots. The best example is this emotional scene where Hank Pym reveals some pretty vital information to his daughter (Evangeline Lilly) about her mother. The acting and the dialogue aren’t the problem here. The problem is that Hank just reveals this completely out of the blue. There’s no setup, Scott and Hope (Hank Pym’s daughter) just walk in the room where Hank was just chilling and he lays this story on them. Even worse, the scene that took place before was a fun action scene. Tonally, it made no sense. The movie got its act together by the end, but it was a bumpy ride to say the least.
There’s really no excuse considering how many times this story has been done before. Scientist hides formula that could be used for evil deeds if put in the wrong hands, but the business man uses it anyway only thinking about money. Good guy does bad things but needs to become a hero for his estranged daughter. There’s no originality in this story’s structure and that’s saying something considering there’s a shrinking suit to mix things up.
All of the people who worked on this script have proven their writing abilities before, especially with comedy. Which is why it’s also a shame to say that the dialogue in this film is rather lifeless. A few chuckles are mixed in with bland exposition and obvious sappy dialogue whenever the movie tries and fails to have a heart.
The actors were able to save as much as they could. Paul Rudd is charming as hell and Michael Douglas remains one of the best actors working today. The other characters leave a lot to be desired. Corey Stoll as the villain didn’t receive the best direction from Peyton Reed as he came off more ridiculous than threatening, Evangeline Lilly was given nothing to work with, with her mostly lifeless character, and poor Michael Peña had to have the most stereotypical mexican best friend role possible. He even has a beat-up van with the La Cucaracha horn.
Marvel may not have the highest quality films, but they always know how to show their audience a good time. Ant-Man is absolutely no exception. Whenever Scott hits that red button, get ready to have some fun. The camerawork and visual effects used whenever Scott shrinks is pretty cool. It’s actually breathtaking when the camera follows that suit down to the ground for the first time, and that whole first ride with the suit is pretty spectacular. The rest of the action scenes are pretty fun too. They’re ferocious and fast, and, it being a Marvel movie, you can expect quite a few of them.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with Ant-Man, but the screenplay disappoints in every field. Characters aren’t very well-realized, the narrative is sloppily put together, and dialogue is mostly uninteresting. The movie is painless and doesn’t do anything exceptionally terrible, it just doesn’t excel at anything besides being a forgettable but fun popcorn flick.