Walt Disney Pictures
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is beginning to feel the Disney bleed.
The latest flick spewed forth from the now-standard summertime superhero season, “Ant-Man,” is decidedly lighter fare than what most have come to expect from Marvel. It stands in contrast to the apocalyptic doom and gloom built up in the latest “Avengers” film or the gritty “Daredevil” series that recently debuted on Netflix.
Paul Rudd dons the super suit this time around as thief-turned-hero Scott Lang, and the casting of a recognizable comedic actor in the main role serves (or affected, as Rudd shares a writing credit) the tonal shift. This isn’t the quick-witted, dialogue-driven Joss Whedon humor that marks the “Avengers” movies; “Ant-Man” feels more slapstick, with more weight placed into goofy characters — namely Scott’s three heist buddies, led by Michael Peña — than pop culture-laden banter.
The results make for one of the most family-friendly movies Marvel has released yet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — these are, after all, movies based on comic books. But despite the change in direction, the movie has standard failings to other middle-of-the-road franchise entries, like “Thor 2” or the latest “Iron Man,” and never really moves beyond the cliches that other Marvel movies have set up. “Ant-Man” manages to be something a little different without being something unique.
In keeping with its title (or maybe as some sort of meta-pun), the movie also operates on a much smaller scale than most modern superhero movies. The action is confined to more narrow corridors than the rolling chaos that fills city streets in other Marvel offerings. It’s less loud and cluttered, without too many meandering side stories to build up secondary villains or anything similar. To the film’s credit, the CGI used in the shrinking action scenes is very cool and has a good flow; it manages to refrain from creating too much confusion, even with Rudd rapidly shrinking and resizing in the middle of fight scenes.
Corey Stoll, of “House of Cards” fame, plays Darren Cross and represents the resident baddie of the film, a scientist intent on creating a weaponized shrinking suit of his own and selling it to the highest bidder. Stoll does well with what he’s given, but he’s not given much — it’s very much a villain added in because the movie needed one — and comes off like the passable result of a very uninspired brainstorming session. Yeah, sure, I guess evil scientist makes sense, let’s go with that.
“Ant-Man” delivers some pretty standard Marvel fare, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the movies are wading into B-team territory. Yes, those familiar with the character will know that the titular hero was a founding member of the original Avengers super team, but a man with a shrinking suit and the ability to communicate with his insect brethren feels like a harder sell than the fleet of other super-usual suspects that have already had films dealt to them.
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