Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel has a pretty good reputation for dependable action movies these days – in fact, they're addicted to making them. Hell, I think they'd go into a coma if enough people didn't re-tweet them on Twitter about each new movie that came out. But they did have one movie that was pretty weak, and it should be obvious what I am talking about by now, unless for some reason you didn't pay any attention to the title of this review.

I'll give you a hint though: If you've ever said the words 'my favorite movie is Ant-Man,' then you may not like this one.

Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Michael Douglas

Co-written with Tony.

Ant Man is the kind of movie I think they'd produce if they asked the most generic human being alive to produce a movie that is acceptable – not great, not even particularly good, just acceptable. And then you took that and gave it to a robot who had never seen or talked to a human before to recreate it from memory. That's this movie. It's as unfunny, weird and awkward as you'd expect, while simultaneously also being pretty dull and ordinary.

This thing starts with Michael Douglas's scientist character punching another guy in the face for a disagreement at work – you know, one of those heated scientist disagreements that so often results in a physical altercation. Oh those rowdy scientists. Apparently Douglas is mad because they stole his formula to make people tiny. What, how does he know it's HIS formula? I mean, that's pretty self centered of him. What an attention whore.

Don't worry, he can't hurt you. He's all bad CGI to make him look younger.

Then we fast forward about 20 years to the middle of a Fight Club outtake starring Paul Rudd, who is less an actor and more of an alchemic combination of bad comedy tropes cobbled into something resembling a man. He's playing Scott, a Thief With a Heart of Gold™ who got arrested for stealing some stuff from a rich con man and giving it back to the people he conned. Don't worry – there's a scene about 20 minutes in that spoonfeeds you this information with all the nuance of a guy trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by just destroying the whole thing with a jackhammer. Exposition!

This movie represents prison like you would if you talked about a second cousin you don't see that often - vague and noncommittal. I know it's not the point of the movie, but could we have ANY effort at character development? Like at all?

But this only lasts a few minutes, because we have really important shit to focus on like the pretty racist caricatures of everyone else who isn't Paul Rudd. Like, the guy who picks him up from prison is the most stereotypical Hispanic character ever, like you'd think Donald Trump's idea of any Spanish speaking person is. His thing is that he talks in a really stereotypical way and goes on long, unfunny tangents when he's trying to convey information. Wow, what a great character idea. I'm sure glad someone's paying you to write this.

And who else do we get? A black guy whose only purpose in the movie is to steal a cop car? A European guy of vague descent who talks in a ridiculous accent and talks about his reverence for superstition in one scene while also being an expert at computers like a Die Hard villain the next scene? Wow. I guess it's progressive if you consider 'progression' to be having them in the movie at all?

Oh good, the local awful Improv troupe is here...

I just think it takes a lot of balls to write characters that most pornos wouldn't consider writing because they're too stupid and shallow. “Hmm, well, you've got a good start, but how much MORE racist can you get without getting protesters on our asses? Can you implement at least some of the stereotypes from 1950s conservative drug propaganda films before your time is up?” It's asinine exactly how bad this is – like, what, just because the KKK would still be like 'nah, that's weaksauce,' it's okay?

I guess Paul Rudd can't hold down a job at Baskin Robbins, which is a bad joke that the movie milks like hell with even worse jokes on top of it, like the manager at Baskin Robbins chewing scenery and talking in unrealistic dialogue about how cool it is that Scott stole things, but also saying they have to fire him. Yeah, convicts can't get jobs! Hilarious! A gut buster!

Ugh, ANOTHER movie in the pocket of Big Ice Cream, shoving its message down our throats...

Oh, and he tries to see his daughter at a birthday party only to get harassed by his ex-wife's new husband, a cop who seems to be so unrealistically douchey that I am pretty sure he literally has a stick rammed up his ass. Can we get a Kickstarter fund going to remove it and end this man's pain? He really is just such a douche to Scott that it comes off as hacky. Because ya know... a convict not being able to spend time with his kid, just more of that hilarity that is Ant Man.

The rest of the plot focuses around Corey Stoll's character Darren performing experiments on goats to try and turn them tiny, which doesn't work and only turns them into formless goop. I'm sure glad all this money is going toward this noble fucking cause.

We really learned a lot from this...

I guess this is what Michael Douglas's old scientist character perfected years ago, which he didn't release to the world and now Stoll's character wants to make a whole army of tiny soldiers to go and do evil shit like assassinate world leaders. They have a whole video presentation about this, like it's some sort of weird school presentation, which is kinda funny. It should really just say “WE'RE GONNA DO REALLY EVIL SHIT” across every picture in boldface lettering. Like, who the fuck was actually in charge of making a goddamn video presentation about assassinating world leaders and doing military coups?

Douglas, I guess, has the one suit he used locked up in a safe which Scott goes to burgle. He breaks into the safe and tries on the suit for no real reason except shits 'n' giggles – like, he broke in already, so why not, I guess? Then it shrinks him down to the size of an ant and we get a pretty decent action scene of him being tiny and running around and stuff. Though I am not sure why this mansion Michael Douglas lives in is apparently in the same building as a fucking night club...

I guess Douglas just likes a good time.

Also, how does he not die when he gets sucked up by the vacuum cleaner? I mean, I guess I've never really TRIED to do that. So maybe I can't criticize the movie on this part.

This is not the movie for you if you're afraid of vacuum cleaners at all.

Then we get a bunch of lame scenes of Scott waking up in Douglas's mansion, where he and his hot daughter live. They also have an army of ants in there that Douglas can apparently control, so he has them guard the bed Scott is in so it's almost like he's a prisoner there – if he steps off the bed, they'll sting him I guess. Except then that turns out to be pointless as he gets out and there is really no threat to him – so, whoop-de-do I guess.

Then there's a bunch of training scenes with him and the daughter, who is the most boring and lame type of female character – the super stoic, badass chick who says everything in a deadpan monotone because THAT shows strength, right? The only type of strong woman is the kind who never experiences emotion because she was probably created in a laboratory as a domesticated robot to deliver quips. I mean, what kind of woman ever has emotions, or a personality, am I right? Oh, she fires back blandly sarcastic quips to literally everything Rudd says? Yes, exactly how real people talk. And in this movie about a guy who shrinks down to the size of an ant, THAT is what I am most worried about for realism, yes.

Her wanting to cause Paul Rudd pain is the only believable part of her character.

Oh, what's that? You didn't think we had enough scenes of forced, dull fucking family drama with the daughter and Douglas shouting about how they didn't really love one another and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes me fall asleep? The movie has you covered.

Then there's a lot more bad jokes, stiff and unrealistic dialogue and lame stereotype characters as the climax clunks along. They stage some plan to break into the lab and I guess Stoll is so far gone by this point that he just ends up dressing up in the suit and going full on supervillain like, immediately. Wow. I dunno why THAT was his first choice, but one thing is clear, and that's that this lab really should do better background checks and mental health analyses on these people before hiring them.

Who, aside from gun sellers in the US, could look at this and go 'yes, this is a mentally OK man'?

Because this is still so cliché that it borders on parody, Stoll goes straight to the house of Scott's kid and threatens his family. How would we have any conflict if we didn't make it super personal right away? I mean, there's NO other sources of things a villain can do that are evil.

But to be fair, this is actually a good scene, and one of the only ones in the whole movie that actually works – I like the silly stuff they can do with the shrinking fight scene, like when they knock stuff over, it falls over with the weight of a mountain in their eyes. But then they show it just looked like some little thing falling over in the regular world:


It's really just one of the only scenes that actually works for the movie's sense of humor – why couldn't they have put this kind of effort into the characters and dialogue? Visually, it's good. Though I think the world could have done without this giant Thomas the Tank Engine and the mutant giant ant... I mean, is this like what the 1950s-era horror films predicted would happen? Jesus.

I guess there really is no price too high to give kids nightmares in this movie's universe.

That is pretty much the end really – we get a few more scenes of things winding down in a happy way, and I don't really care. That's Ant Man!

I guess a lot of people like this, and that's fine – sometimes that many people ARE just wrong. I dunno. I just find it really dull and bland – the writing is bad and the characters are weak when they're not outwardly idiotic stereotypes that come off as vaguely racist. The plot is dime-a-dozen origin story stuff and there's really nothing of interest about any of this except for the wacky scenes where he shrinks down to ant-size. So I guess I'm saying, if the movie was just a 10 minute short film with only those scenes, it'd be okayish, so long as they cut out literally everything else in the movie.

Oh well, at least it's better than Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad; because those are good standards to have!

Images copyright of their original owners; we own none of them.