I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting to like ANT-MAN. I wasn’t even all that interested in seeing it. Between Edgar Wright’s departure halfway through production and the revelation that Janet Van Dyne would be playing the role of Sir Not Appearing In This Film, My level of interest in the movie had essentially bottomed out – which, given that ANT-MAN is a Marvel movie, is pretty unusual for me. Despite my misgivings, I went to see it anyway.
As it turns out, ANT-MAN is a pretty dang good movie. It has a sense of humor and a good heart. The plot beats are fairly easy to see coming if you have any familiarity with the MCU; that said, execution is everything, and ANT-MAN delivers.
That’s not to say the movie is without its flaws. Initially, ANT-MAN suffers from a lack of cohesiveness; that is, it’s very easy to tell where one writer left off and the other began. The first twenty-five minutes of the movie are exposition-heavy and somewhat dry; they also contained a few visual effects that I definitely did not sign up for. The movie begins looking as though it’s going to fall into the same dark, brooding trap that every DC movie since Green Lantern has wallowed in.
And then our main character gives his daughter – whom he hasn’t seen during his entire stint in prison – the ugliest stuffed rabbit known to man, and plans a heist with the group of wacky but somehow believable people he’s rooming with. And the movie grows a heart.
After the first 25 minutes, ANT-MAN becomes a delightful movie, with equal parts of the usual superhero stuff with an insectoid twist and the on-point comedy Marvel is known for. Even during climactic battles, the movie retains its sense of levity; it turns out that events that are dramatic at ant size are hilariously mundane from a normal-sized point of view.
This movie is well-cast and well-acted, with Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang as its focal point. Rudd delivers an everyman with a rocky past who’s just trying to provide for his daughter and keep himself out of trouble; he makes smart remarks that don’t always go over; he occasionally ruins an emotional moment; he tends to say what the audience is thinking at any given point in time. Essentially, Scott Lang is very relatable and very human, and Rudd conveys it masterfully.
Fans of Marvel movies will also love the way ANT-MAN integrates into the larger MCU, both in the post-credits scenes (yes, plural: as usual, stay until the absolute very end) and during the movie itself. I don’t want to give you too many details, as I was gleefully surprised by what happened, but ANT-MAN very neatly wraps up Phase 2 and sets the stage for Phase 3, all without feeling like a filler movie.
On one hand, the movie did have its issues: Janet Van Dyne spent the entire movie in the metaphorical fridge (read: super dead so as to further a guy’s character development), the movie didn’t even try to pass the Bechdel Test, and the aforementioned pacing problems at the beginning; on the other hand, it was still a fun movie, integral to the MCU and, past a certain point, a loud, humorous, rollicking ride. I wasn’t initially looking forward to seeing ANT-MAN, but I will definitely see it again.
What did you think of ANT-MAN? What Phase 3 film are you looking forward to most? Let us know in the comments!