Concluding Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have Ant-Man. Ant-Man is a strange film to hold that position though. If anything, it feels like Ant-Man is the interlude between the second and third phase. Sure, it introduces a new hero, but Avengers: Age of Ultron was the movie that created a solid resolution for the series (and Joss Whedon), and having Ant-Man follow it as the official conclusion seems forced and unnecessary. The scale of the film is just too small (heh) for the movie to seem like anything but filler.
Ant-Man is directed by Peyton Reed, which is a definite step-down from when Edgar Wright was attached to the movie. In fact, Edgar Wright was the one who lobbied so hard to get the film made in the first place, but he left the project last year due to ‘creative differences’. Now, it’s not a very daring remark to say that Edgar Wright would have probably made the Ant-Man better, but I think that it’s true. For one thing, he was obviously incredibly passionate about the project, and that goes a long way towards making an enjoyable movie. Wright also has a strong track record making quality films for a cult audience. However, Wright’s movies also don’t always reach a wide audience on their initial release, making him a not-so-profitable director. It’s disappointing, but it makes sense to me why Marvel is wary about taking risks with their pictures, especially with characters they want to make a big part of their shared universe. And it’s incredibly obvious as you watch Ant-Man that the focus was on establishing a character to be used in upcoming films, rather than creating a unique and singular movie.
Paul Rudd stars as the titular superhero, and he has a good amount of charisma, but not a lot of material to work with. There’s some blatant emotional manipulation and mediocre humor and that’s about it. The film is ultimately a superhero origin story, and Ant-Man’s origin is a man named Scott Lang. He’s an everyday sort of dude who went to San Quentin after hacking into his corrupt company’s system and ‘Robin Hood’ing millions of dollars. He’s trying to raise enough money to pay for child support so that he can see his daughter, who absolutely adores and remembers him after he spent several years away from her in prison. He resorts to a life of crime, where he meets Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and gains his shrinking powers. There are father-daughter relationships, villains that we don’t really need to talk about because they’re not memorable or important, and brief cameos by both Avengers and postmodern Nazis.
The special effects in this movie are really good, at least. In the first scene, we see a younger version of Michael Douglas, and while it’s not perfect, it’s pretty convincing. Shrinking the main character gives a new perspective to each of the action sequences, making them somewhat more enjoyable than the standard color orgy that we find in most Marvel films. Not to mention that the shrinking special effects look really cool.
But the thing about Ant-Man is that you’ve already seen Ant-Man in one form or another. There are no surprises here. Just some redundant plot points and missed opportunities. The film is missing the sense of fun and passion that’s necessary to make a movie like this really work. Ant-Man is by no means a bad film, but it’s pretty tedious and dull at times. To me, Phase Two was increasing in likeability as each film went by, but this installment is a lukewarm finale. 5/10.