Jul 17, 2015

Next Time On Marvel: Ant-Man Review

Friday Night vs Monday Morning Reviews are simple. I go see a movie and do a write-up of my initial feelings and reactions so you have them by Friday Night. Then on Monday Morning I write another section after I've had time to think about the movie that will go more in depth.

Friday Night
Ant-Man is certainly a film that exists. It's not bad. It's not even average. It's above-average. But at this point all I have to say is that it's your typical Marvel movie and you know what you're getting. Truthfully, that's all I really want to say about the movie but generally people expect more out of a review so I'll give it my best shot to write about Marvel's latest in something resembling a longer form review.

At this point the Marvel Cinematic Universe is like a TV show with the world's biggest budget and only puts out episodes every few months. Ant-Man is just the latest episode in the ongoing saga.

Not that there's really anything wrong with that. It's just that it doesn't impress that much. The basic plot is this, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a former burglar who can't get a job because he's an ex-con. He was one of the "steal from the rich, give to the poor" types. He can't land a steady job, his ex-wife won't let him see his daughter etc. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), former Ant-Man and SHIELD Agent wants to stop his former protege and all around evil bastard Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from recreating and selling the technology. Cue up Marvel's version of a heist movie. At this point it isn't much of a spoiler to say that the good guys win, the bad guys lose and everybody goes home happy. There are no twists and no surprises.

It's a perfectly fine heist movie filled with witty banter and impressive action scenes. Speaking of which, Director Peyton Reed makes good use of the shrinking and growing in rapid speed to come up with some slick fight choreography and visuals. The climax of the movie shakes up Marvel's standard ending, which
is a nice change from "oh god, oh god the world is ending!" Basically it comes down to two guys who don't like each other beating the snot out of the other. It's a nice change of pace in that way.

But there is little substance. Darren Cross is a lame villain. He's a one-dimensional evil bastard. It's established he's an evil bastard early on in the movie when he straight up murders a guy for disagreeing with him. There is a half-hearted attempt to make his actions understandable but frankly he's just so damn evil those scenes don't work.

Beyond that there isn't much I think is worth mentioning. The CGI young Michael Douglas blew my mind on how real it looked. There's a cool fan service scene where Ant-Man takes on an Avenger one on one. The special effects are good and Michael Pena made me laugh a couple times.

Word to the wise, there are two post-credit stingers. One is half-way through the credits and there is one after they're finished. It's a clip from Captain America: Civil War, the only thing that was missing was the deep voiced announcer saying, "Next time on Marvel: Earth's Mightiest Heroes..."

If Marvel movies are your thing, check out Ant-Man. If not...

Monday Morning
Well not much has changed concerning my opinion of Ant-Man, but it has gotten me thinking about the trajectory of Marvel's future films. How long do you think the superhero fad is going to last? I'm not sure. I think that people have been calling superhero movies a passing fad since Iron Man came out. Marvel does appear to have a problem and that problem is predictability.

Marvel's movies always have a light comedic tone where the good guys always win and the bad guys always lose. So far Marvel has gotten a lot of mileage out of these movies because they're fun little romps. All I have to say is it's a Marvel movie and you know exactly the type of flick you're going to get. They've refined the movie a bit by making the superhero elements set dressing for another genre of film. Ant-Man was a heist movie, Thor: The Dark World was fantasy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a spy thriller etc. So far that's been working just fine but there has to be a change soon because the sheer novelty of seeing superheroes on screen isn't enough anymore. So what can Marvel do to change up the monotony of the standard formula.

I think they're going to start addressing some of the more unsavory aspects of a world with super powered beings. Pym mentions not wanting to go to the Avengers for help because they're busy "dropping cities" and he doesn't trust Tony Stark. Captain America: Civil War's premise is entirely based on governmental oversight of superheroes. How mush destruction has been left in the wake of these epic battles and how many lives have been lost? Manhattan, London, Washington D.C, a city in Wakanda, and Sokovia's capital city have all been ground zeroes for these super beings pounding each other. Should these people, these "heroes" be policed? Who should make the decisions on where they are sent? Whose responsibility is it for the casualties and property damage? Should they be held accountable and to whom? These questions are uncomfortable to ask in superhero fiction because suddenly you think of the real world consequences of when one knocks down a building in a heavily populated area just to slow down the bad guy. Asking these questions changes the tone of the superhero movie and adds a certain amount of substance to it. The risk is making these movies not so fun anymore once the very premise is questioned. (That seems to be the problem the Superman movies are currently facing.) It could either open up a lot of interesting story opportunities or push away audience members who just want nothing lighthearted fun. In order for it to work there's going to have to be a balancing act between asking the rough questions and being able to cheer when Rogers knocks Stark through a crowded office building.

What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment