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Film Review: “Ant-Man”

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“Ant-Man” was released July 17. (Image courtesy of IMDd.)

As the newest member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe family,Ant-Man has some big shoes to fill, with some very small feet.

The movie, which premiered Friday, stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a cat burglar who finds himself thrown into the middle of a classic fight between good and evil. Lang dons a suit that proves just how big things can come in small packages, as the suit allows him to shrink to the size of an ant while retaining super-human strength.

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This hero, Ant-Man, first appeared in Marvel comics in 1962, and was one of the original members of the Avengers. The original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, also appears in the film, as portrayed by Michael Douglas.

Going into the film, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Being a huge MCU fan, I’m always excited for new additions to the story. However, unlike heroes such as Thor and Captain America, Ant-Man is rarely a character I hear about. Despite being a classic Avenger, the hero simply doesn’t stack up against the rest of the big-screen stars. The advertising campaign for the film was excellent, including the use of ant-sized billboards, but the trailers simply didn’t call to me as much as the rest of the Avengers team or even “Guardians of the Galaxy” did. The cast alone, despite being star-filled, made me wonder how serious of a movie Marvel was aiming for.

Casting Paul Rudd as Ant-Man was an interesting, albeit not unusual, choice for Marvel. Its history of using comedic actors to play heroes has worked quite well, especially in the case of Chris Pratt in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” However, Rudd falls short in this role. The actor lacks some of the depth that allows other Marvel heroes to command the silver screen while still having playful dialogue. Although he plays many of the more casual scenes well, there’s a definite lack of seriousness in his general portrayal. He fits the part of a quick-witted burglar, but it will be interesting to see him sharing the screen with big names like Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. in Captain America: Civil War.”

The rest of the cast plays their parts well, with Douglas playing an aged Dr. Pym well, and Corey Stall having just the right amount of the genius-protege-gone-mad feeling as he plays the villain, Darren Cross. The biggest complaint comes from Evangeline Lilly‘s character, Hope Van Dyne. Although Lilly plays her part well, the character seems far too stereotyped as the bad girl who softens up, and falls flat compared to other MCU females such as Black Widow and Pepper Potts.

Altogether, the cast of characters feels forced, with a strong main cast being supported by a heavily stereotyped group of background characters. These characters do carry the story in a strong direction, though.

The plot, while following the standard Marvel build-up to a big battle in the end, feels much more down-to-earth than other MCU films. Lang’s motivations are built around seeing his daughter again, which are much more relatable than many other heroes simple “do-good” moral codes. The film does an excellent job of keeping the audience on their toes while still carrying a good vs. evil feeling. In the end, however, this film’s saving grace is by far its cinematography.

When first hearing about this movie, one of my biggest concerns was how well they could create a movie based around a character who stands as tall as a grain of rice. Many of the other MCU films are simply so fantastic because of their large-scale feeling. “Ant-Man” not only handles the size wonderfully, but it leaves many scenes coming out better than I expected.

The film uses depth of field, as well as different perspectives, to give the audience a sense of exactly how small the main character is. The movie often shifts from small to large scale, usually offering either fast-paced fight scenes or comedic relief as a scene that is epic at a small scale becomes laughable when viewed from afar. The CGI and well-crafted effects absolutely carry the film, and it will be interesting to see how this style carries over into the next MCU movie that Ant-Man is a part of.

In the end, “Ant-Man”s biggest flaw was that it seemed unable to balance comedy and seriousness. Rather than quick wit and funny scenes helping to make the story more entertaining, as they did in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Iron Man,” they seem to distract from the serious parts of the story here. It’s obvious that Marvel tried to learn from the success of “Guardians” as a more casual and comedic film, but they failed in carrying that over into this film.

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Rating: 7.5/10

Although the special effects and story carried well, characters were lacking, and the movie failed to balance its funny and serious parts. The movie is still absolutely worth seeing, and if you’re a MCU fan like me, there are plenty of references to the rest of the Marvel movies hidden within this one. Also, be sure to stay behind to watch BOTH of the post-credit scenes.

Collegian Reporter Chapman Croskell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @Nescwick.

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