Monday, July 20, 2015

Ant-Man (2015) - Recap and Review

Paul Rudd Scott Lang Ant-Man poster wallpaper image picture screensaver

The movie starts with a pre-credit scene set in 1989. Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is furious when he realizes that his secret formula for Pym particle is being stolen by Howard Stark (John Slattery), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Mitchell Carson (Martin Donovan). An angry Hank retires from S.H.I.E.L.D  and vows to keep his formula a secret.

Back to the present. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is in San Quentin Penitentiary. The day he is released, he is met by his buddy, Luis (Michael Pena).

Despite Luis' best sales pitch for another con, Scott opts for an honest living with Baskin Robbins. But not for long.. His boss fires him as soon as he finds about Scott's run-ins with the law in the past.. Scott again refuses to participate in another of his buddy's plan.

Scott's determination to play it straight weakens, when he realizes that he has to have cash to play any role in the life of his daughter, Cassie Lang (Abby Ryder Fortson). Cassie is now living with his estranged wife, Maggie Lang (Judy Greer) and her current husband, Paxton (Bobby Cannavale). Paxton is a cop.

Evangeline Lilly wig Hope Van Dyne Ant-Man poster wallpaper image picture screensaver

Dr Hank Pym's daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is also estranged from him.

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Yes, the movie takes a heavy-handed approach to show the similarities between the previous Ant-Man and the current one. Will the two sets of father-daughter be united at the end? Hey, this is a Marvel/Disney movie we are talking about. A movie that has been specifically designed to appeal to as wide a global audience as possible..

The villain of the piece is Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), former protege of Hank and current rival. Darren has developed another version of the Ant-Man technology and has unimaginatively named it Yellowjacket” for obvious reasons. He plans to sell it to Hydra (who else?) for a large sum of money and it is up to Hank Pym to stop this from happening.

Hank's solution: He organizes a plan with Scott and his buddies to infiltrate the Darren's corporate headquarters and steal the suit. Throw in a few training montage scenes and of course, the necessary fight scene between heroes and Voila! we have our Ant-Man movie.

The most obvious aspect of the movie is this: The movie shamelessly rides the coattails of the success of Avengers and the brand name of Marvel Studios. There are a number of references and name dropping to those set of characters throughout the movie.

Avengers Age of Ultron team photo poster image wallpaper picture marvel cinematic universe

Gone are the days, when each movie stood on its own legs and was measured by its own merits and demerits. Today, thanks to the idea of a shared cinematic universe, all a studio has to do is churn out one massive global hit and the rest of the movies can have a free ride coasting on the aforementioned success.

As if Marvel's brand name is not enough, the parent studio (Disney) has enough money and marketing muscle to make sure that every single person, not living under a rock, is aware of the movie's release date.

All of this leads to the single most important question: Under the circumstances mentioned above, does the quality of the movie really matter?

People are going to show up en masse to see the latest Marvel Studios movie anyway. But for the sake of the discerning readers out there, who actually want to spend their time and money on a quality product, I am going to present my thoughts on the movie...

Edgar Wright Ant-Man comic book poster wallpaper image picture screensaver

Edgar Wright, the visionary director (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) was originally attached to the movie since 2006. Yes, even before Iron Man came out and launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to both critical and commercial success.

Edgar's movies tend to carry his quirky sense of humor and quick camera shots. He had a strong vision for the Ant-Man movie (as any self respecting director would do). But as the Marvel Cinematic Universe grew leaps and bounds over the years, Edgar's vision went out of sync with the Marvel Studio's bigger plans for a shared movie universe.

Edgar stepped out and in came another director who was more willing to play along with Marvel Studios' cleverly crafted plans for box office domination: Peyton Reed. The final product still bears Edgar's influence but lacks his signature wit and energy.

Instead, we have a lackluster movie that has been designed to appeal to as broad a worldwide audience as possible and make as much profits as possible for Marvel and Disney studios.

Ant Man fighting Yellowjacket fight scene poster wallpaper image picture screensaver

Evangeline Lilly sleepwalks through her role and also happens to be burdened with a hideous wig. Interestingly, Corey Stoll also sported a similarly out-of-place hairpiece in the FX Vampire horror show “The Strain. Another coincidence: Corey also looked bored as Dr. Eph Goodweather. In this movie, he is slightly better as the antagonist, but is just as forgettable.

Michael Cena goes overboard as Luis. Some of his attempts at humor work and some fall flat. Many of these attempts come off as childish and predictable.

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Michael Douglas is OK as Dr Hank Pym. He is reported to have shown interest in having his real life wife, Catherine Zeta Jones to play his reel wife, Janet van Dyne/Wasp in the inevitable sequel/upcoming MCU movies. Hey, if BBC Sherlock can do it, so can we. Nepotism is after all a common human trait.

As for Paul Rudd, he has hit the cinematic jackpot by being cast as a lead in a MCU movie. He seems to have learned his lessons well - Just as the studio marketed the movie by associating it with the Avengers and the Marvel brand name, Rudd himself has been claiming to have followed Chris Pratt's lead in training himself for his role. Way to go, guys. All of you deserve some sort of medal for milking the value of “Positive Brand Association for all its worth.

The movie has a couple of scenes, in which characters mouth anti-feminist dialogues, referring to female anatomy. I am sure, this will be lost even on the female audiences as well.

Fans of Marvel Cinematic Universe will love this movie. There are the usual ingredients they have come to expect from a MCU movie:

1. Heroes fighting each other - In this movie, Ant-Man fights Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) at the Avenger's mansion. A MCU movie is not complete, if the heroes don't fight each other and that is a proven fact.
2. Mid-Credits and Post-Credits scenes, that will have the fans stoked for the next movie and ensure a box office success well in advance.
3. Cameos from supporting MCU characters - In addition to Falcon, Howard Stark, Peggy Carter and Captain America make their appearances.

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Image Source: Marvel Studios 


  1. Ah, well, much like Guardians of the Galaxy, this one isn't for everyone. I like how it ties into the Marvel universe, but especially, I just like Scott. He's a fun, likeable guy with a semi-criminal past who still wants to do the right thing, if he can. To be honest, we don't go to Marvel superhero films for intellectual stimulation. We go for entertainment, pure and simple, and this one delivered, at least according to most fans and critics.

    1. Hi Carissa,

      I too love watching movies as a form of pure escapism. Wish I was able to enjoy this movie as much as you did.

      BTW, have you seen Ian McKellen's Mr Holmes yet.


  2. Sorry you didn't like this one so much. What you said about it riding of AOU's coattails may be true, but I certainly didn't like it just because it was name-dropping. We'll never get to see the full Edgar Wright version, and it did come after and reference other Marvel films, but that doesn't matter to me. It entertained me through and through, so I love it. :)

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Knowing how much you love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I really appreciate your balanced and courteous response.

      As much as I love comic book movies of all shapes and sizes, somehow I was unable to get into this one.