Review: Ant-Man

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, up until this moment, has been growing larger and larger with each new installment. Well, that growth pattern has changed (for the moment) with their latest addition to the franchise, 'Ant-Man'.

'Ant-Man' is the twelfth addition to the super-successful superhero movie franchise that launched in 2008 with 'Iron Man' and 'The Incredible Hulk'. While the MCU has had the odd critical underachiever, the series has managed to gather consistently positive reviews with each new entry. Thankfully, despite the concern that 'Ant-Man' might become the series' first critical flop, the movie proved to satisfy general audiences and critics. It is uncertain, as of yet, as to whether the movie will become the financial success the studio was hoping for. But I'm not here to discuss the box office with you, am I?

'Ant-Man' starts Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a convicted cat-burglar who has just been released from prison and is ready to turn his life around for his young daughter, Cassie. Only Scott's estranged ex-wife (Judy Greer) and her new police officer husband (Bobby Cannavale) are refusing him the right to see his daughter until he is able to pay the child support he owes them. But since he's unable to hold a job, due to his criminal record, his chances of seeing his daughter any time soon are just shy of impossible. That is, unless he goes against his vow of sobriety against thieving and does one more job with his ex-cell mate / best friend, Luis (Michael Peña). What's the job? Well in involves breaking into an the house of a "rich old man" and stealing his money. Simple right? Wrong. What Scott finds, instead of riches, is a weird red and black suit. And guess what? He takes it home, puts it on, and turns it on. The rest is for you to find out.

The "big" question, of course, is did 'Ant-Man' give us the excitement and thrills that we've come to expect from Marvel thanks to films like 'Guardians of the Galaxy' or 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'? No. But is that a bad thing? I don't really think so.

After all, 'Ant-Man' is about things being on a smaller scale. The cast is smaller and almost exclusively new to the series, the story revolves around a decidedly intimate number of individuals and the events are not known to a global (or even regional) audience, and, of course, our hero is the size of a thumbtack (that's the main thing). It's also an origin story (sort of), which means that a considerable portion of the film will be dedicated to acquainting us with everyone and everything. And I'm totally fine with the change of pace. We haven't been gifted with such a dedicated, and focused origin story since 2011's 'Captain America: The First Avenger' (sorry, 'Guardians', but a smaller cast makes for better character development) and for those of you who felt (or will feel - if you haven't seen it yet) that the amount of on-screen action was minimized too greatly, consider films like the 'Transformers' series (or anything that Michael Bay has contributed to) where development of the story and characters are basically thrown out the window to make room for explosions and other frivolous things of the same nature. We don't want that, people.

What we want, and what we have come to expect, is what The Marvel Cinematic Universe (almost always) gives us: stories and characters that fans and casual viewers alike can appreciate for being respectful of the source material they're based off of. The only times we're not given this is when the filmmakers decide to throw us a curveball and surprise us (like with the "Mandarin" in 'Iron Man 3') or when the filmmakers, well, occasionally disappoint us with lackluster villains. And we might be looking at a case of that with this movie (to a point).

Aaron Cross (aka "The Yellow Jacket") is your average smirking white guy in a suit (we've had plenty already and this marks the second bald one - originality is becoming a problem) who thinks he's providing a service (although it is usually an evil-ish one) to a world that isn't up to standards (ok, that one we agree with - the MCU is a scary place). And his character development goes about as far as the whole "thinks he's a genius, his idol abandons him, he vows to be better than his idol and wants to be king of the world" scenario. Heard that before? The chances are you have, and it's too bad since Marvel should have the bad guy formula down by now (Loki and Ultron are basically out only "A" grade villains). So just try your best to focus on what's going on between Scott Lang and Hank Pym (a great mentor and protégé pairing), Hank Pym and Hope Van Dye (Pym's estranged daughter played by Evangeline Lily), and Scott Lang and Cassie Lang (the daughter Scott Lang had with his ex-wife - a relationship equally strong father-daughter story) to indulge in better-written character arcs.

To wrap things up, I'd say that 'Ant-Man' does everything it needs to do to be your average quality MCU installment (which includes having a so-so antagonist - nothing new). It's character-driven, has a good story, great special effects, throws in references to the Avengers, and brings on the feels and the laughs when the time is right. It has my seal of approval, and hopefully it will agree with you too.

That's my two cents on 'Ant-Man'. Feel free to request a movie you'd like for me to review by messaging me on my page. I do one a week (if I can manage) and that does not always include the reviews I write for movies I see in theatres (like this one).

P.S. Sorry this is overdue. I saw this movie on July 17th (and it's the 24th, now). Life happens, sometimes.