Do you ever just crave watching an exceptionally mediocre movie? You know, kind of like that feeling you get when you’re binge watching Drake and Josh reruns on a Sunday afternoon? Well look no further than Marvel’s Ant-Man! This movie’s got it all, folks – an almost-interesting protagonist, just enough action to keep you from slipping into a coma, a plot that follows story beats like it was ripped straight from “How to Write Film Scripts for Dummies,” and so much cheese you’ll regret not bringing a few bottles of wine. If you saw Paul Rudd on the poster for this movie and had some second thoughts about it, well I’m here to affirm that sense of apprehension. Ant-Man is pretty much the most Paul Rudd movie ever. A more fitting title would be Ant-Guy, or possibly even Ant-Bruh, to be quite honest. You won’t hate yourself afterward, and you’ll be able to cross it off the bottom of that “haven’t gotten around to it” list, but Ant-Man‘s got “Redbox and chill” written all over it.
The first red flag (aside from the fact that an Ant-Man movie exists) came within the first 5 minutes of the movie. Michael Douglas (made youthful again through the power of CGI) wastes no time establishing an absolutely ludicrous tone that I knew in my loins the film was not going to maintain. Playing the role of Hank Pym – the original Ant-Man – Douglas casually slams a man’s head into a table with all the grace and finesse of a WWE performer while at some sort of corporate board meeting. In that one action, Ant-Man already establishes a fictional world that is unbound by real world logic. Coupled with how corny the set looked, doubt slowly started to creep in. What remaining hopes I had were swiftly dashed in the following scenes, in which Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang character is released from an insultingly childish depiction of San Quentin State Prison, and proceeds to have conversation after tiresome conversation of expository dialogue opposite various character cliches and blatant racial stereotypes. It’s at this point that it became apparent that Ant-Man is just another summer popcorn flik that feels it has to spoon feed every detail because general audiences are too stupid to piece anything together on their own. All of it is hamfisted to hell too, of course. Seriously. So much ham! Someone with a kind heart should really show this movie in a homeless shelter for the holidays. Please. No one will go hungry this Kwanzaa. The best part is this exhausting process of “telling,” rather than “showing” what these characters are like, is repeated with Hank Pym, Wasp, and Yellowjacket as well. None of it clever, most of it cringe inducing. The movie feels like it doesn’t actually start until 20-30 minutes in because we have to go through the motions of watching Down-and-Out Hero Plot #3. And even then, the movie just transitions to Superhero Origin Plot #2, where we get to watch the time-tested and never-stale “new to my powers,” scene, as well as a training montage for good measure. To be fair, Guardians of the Galaxy‘s terrible introductory scenes still beat this in terms of sheer cringe value. But just the fact that I’m having to draw parallels with the overhyped feces that was Gaurdians doesn’t speak well for Ant-Man.If there’s one thing that Ant-Man does do right, it’s making Ant-Man’s powers actually seem cool. No sarcasm. Despite what little life P-Rudd brings to the Ant-Man character, I think my 5th grade self would’ve thought having a shrinking suit is awesome. The suit is actually pretty nice too. It’s kind of got that Captain America color desaturation thing going on to make it seem realistic (?), but at least it’s better than this:
Also to the benefit of the movie, rather than having the protagonist create the suit and ant-telepathy tech himself (and waste even more time), Paulie Rudderstein just pilots it. In doing so, the movie allows audiences to discover the powers of this lesser-known character alongside the hero of the movie. It almost feels too smart for this movie when I say it out loud. Hmmm… I’m going to have to balance that out with a harsh critique. Ahem… The Baskin Robbins shill was GROSS. An entire scene dedicated to product placement, guys?? When did Adam Sandler start his contract at Marvel Studios? I’ve seen less Baskin Robbins promotions INSIDE of Baskin Robbins. No, that scene wasn’t funny. No, I will not go to Baskin Robbins . Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. F*ck that scene. F*ck it in the nose and between the toes.
I didn’t have massive expectations for Ant-Man, but I wish someone would have warned me about Evangeline Lilly’s portrayal of Wasp. For the majority of her time on screen, she’s either being overly dramatic or just plain stiff. The blame falls squarely on the writing. It’s embarrassingly obvious her character was shoehorned in as supplementary “drama,” with a weak, inconsequential subplot about her and her father’s terse relationship. She must have needed some more lines, because aside from this, she’s just the person who trained Ant-Man. (By punching him in the face?)So we all have to suffer as a result. My recommendation for anyone interested in seeing this movie (because you would feel like an incomplete nerd to not have all the MCU under your belt) is to take care of any other things in your life you need to get done during these scenes. Out of popcorn? Time to microwave some more. Got some emails you need to check? You’re good, fam. Whether you got a load of laundry to check on or just have to drop the load of a lifetime, this is an overall great movie to run your errands/take a shit to. <<real quote on the cover of the DVD box.
Taking all this into account, there are some moments that made me realize that I was still alive. As I mentioned before, the fight scenes are pretty neat, and Pudd Ruddershins getting shrunken down to Planck length near the end is a visual trip. Stan Lee’s hilarious cameo is one of his best. Michael Douglas is still too cool to hate. And though Michael Pena’s silly Mexican was groan-inducing, the schtick where his voice comes out of other peoples’ mouths is funny. That’s about it, though. If you can stomach telenovela melodrama, cardboard cutout characters, a child actor more effective than rat poison, a mustache twirler villain, and an unoriginal script written by what must be high schoolers in the bodies of Hollywood screenwriters, then by all means watch Ant-Man. At the end of the day, you’re just watching a slightly lamer version of a movie you’ve already seen before. Personally, I can think of another movie I’d rather give my repeat views to…
Back to School, anyone?
Obligatory Number at the End: 5.75/10