By Scott Tibbs, December 30, 2015
The biggest problem with "Ant-Man" is that it is way too complicated for its own good and therefore makes very little sense. Neither the villains nor the heroes have good plans and there is far too much comedy to take anything seriously. And warning: There will be plenty of spoilers in this review. If you want to see this movie... Don't. But if you still want to see the movie, stop reading now.
Right off the bat, the scheme to get Scott Lang into the Ant-Man suit was far too complicated. In order for Hank Pym's scheme to work, absolutely everything has to go 100% perfectly. When your entire plan can be defeated by a question that begins with "Why don't you just..." your plan is several times more complex than needed.
First. Pym manipulates Lang into breaking into Pym's house to steal the Ant-Man suit. What if any of the multiple people needed to pass the rumor on to Lang decided not to spread the rumor? What if Lang fails to steal the suit? Do you find someone else? What if he sees the suit and does not take it? What if he never puts the suit on? What if he does not mess with the controls to activate the Pym Particles? What if Lang actually died in any of the multiple life-threatening situations he finds himself in after activating the suit?
How did Pym know that Lang's roommate would be coming in to turn on the shower at the very moment that Lang was trying on the suit, and activating the Pym Particles? What if, instead of breaking into the house and returning the suit, Lang had brought it to Stark Industries, SHIELD, the news media or the police? What if Lang refused to don the suit when the ants brought it into the jail, and decided to go back to prison instead?
So here we begin with the questions. Instead of having Lang break into your house, why don't you just invite him over and show him the suit? Instead of having Lang arrested, why don't you just make up a lie and say he was testing your security system? Instead of having the ants break Lang out of jail, why don't you just walk into the police station and say you do not want to press charges?
It is one thing to suspend disbelief for science fiction technology. But this plan is so full of holes that no rational person would behave this way. Furthermore, the way Lang is treated after he gets out of prison makes no sense. His ex-wife is nasty to him for no reason. Lang is not a thief. He went to jail for being a vigilante - he found out his employer was stealing from customers (many million dollars' worth) and hacked their system to give the money back to the victims. The police also treat him like a thief, even thought he is a vigilante. Yes, he needed to go to jail for what he did, but it is absurd to treat him like a common thief.
I would be remiss to note that Lang's buddies and their crew are uncomfortably close to being racist stereotypes, and I am being generous here.
Pym's former associate Darren Cross is trying to recreate the Pym Particles, but why did he not see the military application in the "malfunctioning" particle ray? The idea is to shrink organic matter, but it instead kills the subject and transforms him into a tiny blob of goo. (I think people would notice the fact that a member of the board of directors went to the bathroom and never came out.) The next time the Hulk is on a rampage and flattens half of New York City, they could shoot him with the "malfunctioning" particle ray and kill him. It would also be very useful to hand to soldiers the next time there is an alien invasion. You would not even need the Avengers to show up.
The movie tries to put over the Pym Particles as a huge deal, and is successful when the original Ant-Man easily dispatches an armed enemy battalion all by himself. Pym even mentions the Pym Particles are far more powerful and dangerous than even the Iron Man armor. But the final battle is far too silly and filled with slapstick. The movie jumps from intense action scene to a toy hitting the carpet over and over and over, and the drastic tonal shifts ruin the mood of the scene. Comedy can be worked into a superhero movie effectively, but if it is overdone it cheapens the experience. It was overdone here several times over.
I meant to go see this movie in the theater, but I never got around to it. After renting it, I am glad I missed it and did not waste the money to see it on the big screen. This could have been so much better, with a more straightforward plot and a whole lot less comedy. If Marvel wants its lesser-known characters to be viable properties, they have to treat them more effectively than they treated Ant-Man. There was enough good here that it does not deserve an F, but the stupid overshadows the good.
Final Grade: D