Monday, March 21, 2016

5Q Movie Review: Ant-Man (2015)

Q: Ant-Man? Why would Marvel spend valuable time and resources on a hero like Ant-Man? I mean, remember the superhero sketch on the original "SNL" when Dan Aykroyd as Flash said, after hearing an explanation of Ant-Man's powers, "Check this guy out. He's got the strength of a human!" Then he pretends to be afraid and says, "Every molecule is quivering!"

A: Let's just say the filmmakers are well aware of that moment!

As for the character, he is kind of cool. His shrinking power brings something new to the Marvel movies, and his interaction with little robot ants looks good. They can't all be super strong or shoot lasers out of their butts.

Q: Wasn't Hank Pym the original Ant-Man? Why did they make him an old dude and go with the newer one (Scott Lang) for the movie?

A: I'm the wrong guy to ask about current incarnations of all these characters, but I will say that while, yes, Hank Pym was a founding Avenger, the current movie group has enough super geniuses. It's refreshing to see a hero who is not one.

Oh, Hank Pym is still a super genius, but he's not the one suiting up. Michael Douglas' Pym guides Paul Rudd's Scott Lang, and it's an interesting dynamic, something a little different. Since they already have this Avengers established, it made sense to go a different direction with Pym. Some Pym/Stark banter down the road will be amusing.

Q: How does this fit in with the other Marvel movies?

A: It references the Avengers, but other than a clumsy post-credits segment setting up another Marvel movie, it feels separate from them in a good way. In fact, Ant-Man tries to reach out to the Avengers in the narrative, but he meets Falcon. I love Falcon and am thrilled that he's a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or whatever, but he's a B-lister, and the Avengers portions of this movie make it feel like a second-tier movie.

And you know what?  I'm fine with that. There should be room for some of these solo movies with lesser-known heroes.

Q: Does this have a nice juicy villain for Ant-Man?

A: Sadly, no. There are some oily corporate types who are easy to root against, but while Corey Stoll  is skilled at playing an a-hole, he's not really a good super villain. Perhaps the idea was that Any-Man is sort of an anti-hero and that the other elements of the story would make up for the lack of a decent foe. In some respects, they do, but this is perhaps the movie's biggest weakness.

Q: How excited are you for the sequel?

A: The superhero movie docket is getting pretty full, but as long as the films are good, that's not my problem. "Ant-Man" is a solid movie, not one that makes me overly anxious for a follow-up, but one plenty good enough to make me want to see it when it does come out. I felt on some level we weren't supposed to like it because it was directed by Peyton Reed and not the original guy, the much hipper Edgar Wright, but Ant-Man delivers. Rudd and Douglas are charming, and their dynamic has a lot of potential that can be explored in the future. I'm less enthused about Evangeline Lilly's character, but perhaps the sequel will make her more interesting.

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