Standing Room Only

Ant-Man – A Spoiler-free Review

Jul 20, 2015

# | Rica Wiersema

As mere mortals, we all make mistakes. And, as hopeful beings, we seek out second chances to right wrongs, mend relationships, reset careers…. We all wish for a shot at redemption. Unfortunately, as many of us know, it doesn’t just happen. It takes work. And, for one particular mortal with a shady past who has suddenly been given the super powers of an ant, it is especially challenging.

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man centers around a thief with a heart of gold named Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), who wants to walk away from his life of crime in order to do right by his five-year-old daughter, Cassie. Prison has cost him precious time with her, and he wants to preserve her faith in him and not let her down. However, when the economy and his criminal record keep catching up with him, he decides to rob just one more safe in order to get his feet on the ground.

Unbeknownst to Scott, that safe belongs to reclusive genius Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who has invented a suit that can shrink the wearer and facilitate communication with ants. Pym has been trying to keep his work from the rest of the world to prevent a new level of warfare, but his former apprentice Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is on the verge of replicating his invention. Pym thinks that Scott’s thieving skills may be just what he needs to stop Cross. So, Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) recruit and train Scott to become the Ant-Man and steal Cross’ new weapon before he can sell it to the highest bidder!

Scott’s shot at redemption is unorthodox, to say the least. But to Scott’s credit, despite all the poor choices in his past, he does hunker down and dedicate himself to this fresh start even if it might kill him. After all, it’s not every day that one gets the chance to become a superhero…even if ant-like abilities don’t seem very impressive at first glance.

Audiences unfamiliar with Marvel comic books may be skeptical about a superhero with insect sidekicks, but the makers of Ant-Man seemed to know not to take the concept too seriously. There’s not as much action as one might expect from a superhero movie, but it is still a rip-roaring ride, and provides a fascinating look at the hidden world beneath our feet. Scott’s journey takes him everywhere from anthills and water pipes to crashing helicopters and bug zappers. He and his gang of delinquent companions respond to everything with candid, tongue-in-cheek humor, and that keeps the adventure very down-to-earth.

The relationships between the characters lack chemistry at times, and they go through some pretty clunky dialogue to spell out the movie’s theme about second chances. They also spout more foul language than the usual Marvel hero.But, then again they’re starting out as members of the criminal underworld, and not as paragons of virtue. By the end of the film, they still have the same rough-around-the-edge personalities, but they have grown and risked their lives to save one another and the innocent people around them. Ahhh…redemption.

Overall, the film’s cast is pretty diverse, but the production doesn’t exactly break the cultural mold. The top four protagonists and most of the well-to-do characters are Caucasian, while most of the characters of color are in the lesser-well-off and/or criminal category.

Evangeline Lilly’s character, Hope, has an interesting back story, but she and her father seem to go through their entire emotional journey in the movie’s middle act. While everyone’s character and stories are developed over the course of the film, their life story is explained and then resolved in less than twenty minutes, which feels sloppy and rushed…as if Hope was only included out of an obligation to fulfill the role of “strong female/love interest.”

Ant-Man is filled with less action and more wry comedy than the average superhero movie, and viewer opinions may differ on whether or not that’s a good thing. Its hero may make some pretty poor decisions in his search for a clean slate, but that’s what second (and third and fourth) chances are about.

Category: film

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