The next report card is for the final entry in Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, entitled Ant-Man.
Ant-Man—directed by Peyton Reed; written by Edgar Wright (screenplay & story), Joe Cornish (screenplay & story), Adam McKay (screenplay), Paul Rudd (screenplay), Stan Lee (comic book), Larry Lieber (comic book), Jack Kirby (comic book); starring Paul Rudd (Scott Lang / Ant-Man), Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym), Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne), Corey Stoll (Darren Cross), Judy Greer (Maggie Lang), Bobby Cannavale (Paxton), Michael Peña (Luis), and Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter).
One of the problems I had with this film was the pacing. Its shorter running time made things felt a bit rushed to me and as a result, I didn't quite get the feel of some characters as much as I was hoping. For the most part, everyone is presented very quickly as "this is the character and here we go" and not much more else. For instance, just as we're starting to see the real struggle between Hope and Hank (as opposed to merely being told that they have issues), it ends with Hank's spontaneous reveal about what happened to Janet. Scott Lang is presented as a kind of jokey guy who is the good guy and we're off to the races. His friends are funny and help him with heists and that's it. Darren Cross is a pretty one-dimensional villain who I have a feeling will go down as one of the least memorable ones of the whole franchise to the point where people might even forget not just his name, but everything other than how he was Yellowjacket. I did like the inclusion of some other characters like Falcon, Peggy Carter, Howard Stark and HYDRA, but I definitely think the characters were weak overall.
I've got no real complaints for the acting, but also nothing really positive to point out, either. The flaws from characterization made it harder for me to distinguish whether or not certain scenes would have been better off with a different actor or if it was the directing or just the pacing itself, but outside of the holdovers from previous films and to an extent, Paul Rudd and Michael Peña, I didn't get the feeling that this was a film of Marvel's caliber. No stars are going to be made with this one. People know who Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are from Thor, but is anyone going to start pointing out Corey Stoll or that guy who was also in The Dark Knight....whatever his name is? I doubt it.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): B–
Some shots looked a little sketchy when it came to the CGI—almost as if they had been made a couple years ago rather than in 2014/2015—but overall, I was a fan of the visuals. It was interesting to see something different with the shrinking when there was something to give perspective to it, as opposed to the water scenes which lost the size aspect in translation. The best costume is easily Yellowjacket, which was pretty badass looking for something that looks so ridiculous in the comics. The Wasp outfit at the end also looked quite cool, so kudos for designing those.
MUSIC & SOUND: C–
I don't want to give this a D, because it wasn't bad, but I honestly thought the music was one of the weakest points of the film. Other Marvel movies have had killer scores with catchy main themes and this one just doesn't. I've had the Iron Man 3 theme stuck in my head all day and I can't tell you a single note from Ant-Man, nor can I name any songs that showed up in the film other than "It's a Small World". As far as sound goes, I also didn't quite get a feel of just how other people could hear the smaller characters. Was there a built-in transmitter of sorts and I missed that explanation? If so, how does it know to project the volume of their voice only when they're small, so when they're normal sized, they aren't shouting at ridiculously high decibels? I know that's more of a script issue than a sound design one, but seeing as how we could hear what they were saying and other characters could as well, I would have liked some kind of explanation.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): B+
ACTION: I didn't expect this to be action-heavy, so the amount that we got was perfectly fine for me.
COMEDY: Perhaps a bit too jokey, but Michael Peña's comic relief was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of the film. A little less jokes and some more serious building of the plot would have gone a long way to me.
ROMANCE: There really wasn't any romantic stuff in this movie. Hank and Janet really is non-existent and Scott/Hope is literally a case of lampshade hanging where it happens out of nowhere and Hank points it out.
FINAL GRADE: C+
I went into this movie thinking that it was going to be a tough sell that could possibly suck, and I'll admit that I liked it more than I thought I would, but I also can't deny that I'm also disappointed. I had fun and enjoyed the film, sure. I also can't place it anywhere above the bottom run of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. This isn't going to be one that I can just put on at random and watch like I can with The Avengers and it's so far from being in the same ballpark as the two best ones in my opinion: Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man. I think it's one of the weakest outings in the franchise that really doesn't bring much to the table to be celebrated about. If there's a sequel, I'll naturally be seeing it opening night, but if this wasn't a Marvel film in that continuity and it was just a random movie out of nowhere called The Shrinking Man, I'd end up being harder on it.