Director: Peyton Reed
Genre: Superhero, Action
Marvel Studios should be used as an analogy to teach the Big Bang theory and the endless expansion of our universe to a pack of confused middle school students. But whilst our own universe only expands into more of the same, Marvel still finds ways to surprise their viewers, albeit with distinct irregularity. Thankfully, with ANT-MAN, executives managed to dig into the depths of innocuous comic book heroes and cobble together a screenplay to a film that should have been hopeless from the moment you read its title.
No part of this is objectively cool
The Marvel screenwriting template consistently results in films that are average, rarely results in films that are great, but never really results in films that are bad (THOR:THE DARK WORLD aside). ANT-MAN might not be the height of Marvel’s entertainment catalog, but it feels like the least “Marvel” a Marvel film can be thanks to a heightened lighter tone, action scenes that aim for pure entertainment as opposed to spectacle, and a narrative that feels like it can be viewed independently of its brethren.
Unless you care about The Falcon, for some reason
However, what must be said before going any further is that ANT-MAN possesses a good script, not a great one. It’s apparent that Edgar Wright’s involvement is largely to thank for the film’s brisk comedic pacing, but the fact that Wright was removed from the project as director is a serious travesty. The scenes where Wright’s humor is most apparent is where this hurts the most, playing out like some college fanboy attempting to imitate the director’s trademark style. Having said that, ANT-MAN is not a poorly directed film (in fact, its action sequences are some of the most fun since CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER premiered in 2014), but it’s blatantly obvious that the film could have been even better if the director’s reigns had been left in the hands of its brilliant writer.
Marvel felt the director of YES MAN was a safer bet
Everything that audiences have come to expect from Marvel is in ANT-MAN, but because the film is the franchise’s first traditional origin story in a long time, one has to commend ANT-MAN for managing to avoid a lot of the egregious winks to future installments and spin-offs that plague the dialogue scenes of most Marvel films these days. Borrowing GUARDIAN OF THE GALAXY’s best quality, Ant-Man functions as an independent film, separate from the canon that binds this boomeranging money magnet. The first act is unnecessarily long and overstays its welcome by a long shot, but Paul Rudd is charming enough to carry the film into what soon becomes a fun second and third act.
What’s more fun than the alcoholic from HOUSE OF CARDS?
Once the narrative really takes off, it becomes apparent that ANT-MAN is really a heist film disguised as a superhero film, which is its most redeeming quality. Providing a ton of fantastic visual ideas, it’s understandable why Edgar Wright was even interested in working on the project in the first place. Though the antagonist is undeniably dull, the great thing about ANT-MAN is that it realizes that it isn’t supposed to capitalize on the Ant-Man vs. Mecha-Ant-Man formula, but rather the visualization of scale and the fun that can be had when Paul Rudd needs to adapt to his rollercoaster of a new environment.
Now THIS is objectively cool
Seeing small items become threats to superheroes is a welcome change of pace from the city-destroying, mythical demigods we’ve come to expect from Marvel and DC lately. In fact, the sense of scale that is established through ANT-MAN’s set pieces are the film’s absolute highlight. The final act that involves molecular sizes also makes for some beautiful imagery and maybe one of the few occasions where wearing 3D glasses felt somewhat justified.
Like the end of INTERSTELLAR, but less stupid
ANT-MAN is electrifying and carries great momentum, primarily during its action scenes. Whilst the dialogue is not bad, it doesn’t hit the audience with the comedic velocity that it should. It’s unfair to keep comparing director Peyton Reed’s accomplishments to the hypothetical version of an Edgar Wright ANT-MAN, but it’s just too obvious that these scenes were written by and for Wright, and it’s a bit of a shame that it didn’t stay that way. That being said, ANT-MAN is the most refreshing Marvel film of recent memory, and a welcome break from the onslaught of average superhero flicks inundating the box office.
This review originally appeared here.