A novel concept with potentially grand ideas is belittled into bite sized simplicity, contorted into child friendly comedy and shrunk down to superficial super heroics with no sense of peril or tension.
The Good: Peyton Reed's cool visual style, Paul Rudd's portrayal of the lead character, awesome special effects, refreshingly stylish soundtrack
The Bad: wasted ideas that could have tapped its novel concept, cliche story of zero to hero, weak action, badly placed jokes, ill timed humour, some low quality special effects
3D Readiness: None
Incorporating the most groan inducing aspects of the marvel formula, ant man is essentially the shrinking blue collar Iron Man. We have seen this story countless times. The comedic lovable loser down on his luck, trying his darnedest to be a good man and Father to his kid, he gets a godsend opportunity to turn his life around and sticks it to some big shot corporate dude. Meet Scott Lang, ex-master thief looking to turn away from a life of crime. His caricature of a friend tempts him for one more burglary to rob an inventor but Scott ends up discovering a secret invention: an incredible suit belonging to bitter inventor Hank Pym that is able to shrink its user to the size of an Ant. Where Scott sees a horrible mistake, The elderly Hank sees opportunity to outsmart a former protege Darren cross who had ousted Pym from his own company and created the weaponised "yellow jacket" mech suit incorporating pym's shrinking tech. Now Scott lang is given his second chance to be a hero. He breaks out of captivity using his shrinking suit, teams with hank and his Daughter Hope to master its capabilities, and attempts to take down the power hungry Cross who is close to perfecting the yellow jacket weapon.
Remember what I said about small stakes and scope? Ant Man is not about some international incident or some earth shattering invasion. It is a personal and very focused story and that's fine actually. But what causes a terrible dissonance is the way the humour is handled. True to such movies, we have characters in constant life or death situations but they seem to be treating their plight like a playground outing or a pillow fight. Jokes, snarky banter and badly timed comedy abounds without any sense of peril or desperation making it difficult to take the plot seriously.
Or perhaps one isn't supposed to take it seriously? After all, the plot in itself is a mash up of Honey I Shrunk the Kids with some Adam Sandler style comedy. I mean there is this one part where Scott enlarges a pre-shrunken tank and escapes from his pursuers. A tank! But even looking at it from an action comedy perspective still presents some problems. It's not Witty enough to pass as a comedy, Nor thrilling enough as an action movie.
To his credit, director Peyton Reed does some amazing work with the shrinking scenes and the fight scenes involving our pint sized protagonist are definitely a work of special effects genius. Paul Rudd successfully captures the plight of poor Scott lang with a very earnest performance, though at times overdoing the jokes a bit. The score by Christophe Beck is also of particular note, eschewing the increasingly cliched action Beats of past marvel scores for something closer to a 1960s spy thriller.
In the greater scheme of things, ANT MAN presents many intriguing concepts,l. Big ideas that were hampered by small minded execution and equally small minded reliance on cheap comedy belittling what could have been intelligent storytelling with cliche after cliche. A sprightly little movie that would be right at home as a family comedy if you took out the shrinking.
Replay value: B-