FILM REVIEW: 'ANT-MAN'
'Ant-Man' offers audiences a perfectly good natured blend of action, humour and story to wear away the time until the next Marvel flick. Nevertheless, Peyton Reed successes come with an overriding sense of restriction and 'been there, done that', utilising a pattern of Marvel narrative that has withered away to predictability and at times boredom.
With an uninteresting first hour, the second gives 'Ant-Man' the chance to show signs of greatness, but never enough laughs or action to make us forget what came before it.
When I say that 'Ant-Man' is the funniest movie yet, it strides in making fun of the concept of a man becoming smaller with a darling sense of introspection that draws the audience into going along for the ride. Michael Pena and Paul Rudd give us some of the best jokes to come out of Marvel, breathing life into a transparent narrative. The cast have a fun chemistry that bounces back and forth between characters, offering us a reason to be here and watching this movie. It's disappointing that the story falters on reminding us why 'Ant-Man' is worth watching in the first place.
Ant-Man's story is one that struggles to come alive, like a caterpillar trying to break out of its cocoon and transform into a flying, colourful butterfly. 'Ant-Man' begins with a link to pre-avengers S.H.I.E.L.D., leading us into a clunky unpacking of our key players, villain Corey Stoll, and our lead heroes Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly. The story never feels like it's unfolding before our eyes organically, rather than fulfilling necessary beats to give us the context of fights and conflict to come. The refreshing laughs Rudd offers us sheds a little more light on an otherwise dark tunnel, keeping us in his narrative before we want the chance to turn back and go home.
Reed's direction never fails when it comes to confidently depicting Paul Rudd's transition from normal size to ant size, and the special effects handle these changes in the best way possible. It's certain that our unique journey into bite sized action makes 'Ant-Man' stand apart from the rest, but it takes us an hour to get to this revelation. The second hour shines because of this unique display, delivering a solid blend of action and humour. Marvel has gone to great lengths to show us that 'Ant-Man' can stand along the rest of the Avengers, offering us the first sign of something different.
When it comes to sub-genre, Ant-Man's heist narrative isn't enough to put people in seats. If 'Iron Man' was about rockstar Tony Stark, and 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was about misfits, at least both of these had room to grow. Heists are narrow, just as the beats of Reed's storytelling.
The villain effect of Marvel is one that has yet to be addressed. Villains have weak backstories and they are always hellbent on acquiring more power. Villains are typically thwarted by our heroes in the third act, killed or sent away and never seen again. We've seen it all before with the one exception of Tom Hiddleston's Loki reprising his role. Nevertheless, great actors like Lee Pace and Corey Stoll are thrown away, their villainous caricatures carried only by their talent in making the most of their lines. Corey Stoll is a fantastic actor, and it disappoints us when we see him wasted away into insignificance. He makes the most out of his role, but he deserved so much more characterisation than he was granted.
Marvel is showing signs of ageing. James Gunn's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and Joss Whedon's 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' both suffered with fulfilling certain narrative beats and plot structures, and the audience is feeling it too. Marvel may still be drawing audiences and making money, but what was once fresh and exciting may be falling into patterns of boredom.
'Ant-Man' is never a bad movie, it is often good and sometimes great, but it is very familiar. Paul Rudd's flick is all we have to hold us over until 'Captain America: Civil War,' and you can best believe we'll be there to see the result. We just hope that we can be engrossed for the entiremovie this time.
Playback Rating: 6.5/10.