Another Boatride Around the Sun and a Movie Review: Ant-Man

Yesterday marked the thirty-fifth anniversary since I was unceremoniously sucked into this world by a doctor with a vacuum (no, really, after fifty-four hours of labor the doctor had had enough and used one of those old, and now thankfully no longer used, baby vacuums for removing stubborn little shits like me). I gloriously spent it having breakfast with my guys, playing video games, reading good books, eating sushi with my wife (after dropping my son off with a friend for the night), and watching Ant-Man.

2014-2015 was not an easy year. It was full of of challenges. We lost friends, loved ones, and people we admired to cancer. There were definitely some learning experiences, a few that were the “You done screwed up MAJORLY, do not do this again” variety. I also lost a job I had literally dreamed about and desired for years due to a layoff.

But, still, there were many more good things if you care to look at it from a balance-sheet sort of perspective. I met some awesome people I’m happy to have in my life, relationships have grown and broadened, I love my wife and kid more than I can express, I’m a home-owner now, I got a new car, and, for the most part, I’ve been healthy (though there was a period in November when I was knocked on my ass). If it weren’t for losing my job and the pain in the neck it’s been working to get a new one then I’d say life is pretty much perfect.

Today will finish up my “birthday” stuff. Michelle’s wrapping up some work and in a bit we’ll be heading out to grab lunch before seeing Jurassic World and, later, playing Cthulhu Wars and picking up the kid. In the next year we’ll be going back to Kauai, going camping with friends, and, hopefully, there will be a new job.

But now Ant-Man.

Ant-Man is the story of Scott Lang, a good man who has a tendency toward being a criminal when down on his luck. He gets out of San Quentin after pulling a Robin Hood-esque heist from his former employer (who had been funneling money from their clients to their own pockets, he returned that money and exposed it to the media but was charged with hacking and corporate espionage) and, more than anything else, wants to be able to connect to his daughter whose life he’s largely missed due to his incarceration. Life isn’t cooperating, it’s hard for a con to get a job, and so he agrees to do a heist with some criminal (but likeable) friends of his. Only what he doesn’t know is that the heist is, in fact, a test by one Frank Pym who used to be the Anti-Man, a super hero that fought alongside SHIELD in the ’70’s and ’80’s and had the power to change his size at will, thanks to the hand-wavy Pym Particle, and communicate with/control ants.

Pym wants Scott to do a heist because Pym’s former protege, a man named Darren Cross, is very close to discovering the process to make the Pym Particle in a desire to essentially weaponize and mass-produce the Ant-Man suit. This would allow any government in the world to own an army of minute, nearly-invisible assassins to bring chaos to the world over. Working alongside Scott and Pym is Hope, Pym’s somewhat estranged daughter. That’s all of the plot I’m going to give you because anything more would be spoilers.

So, honestly, I’m of two-minds with this movie.

I certainly enjoyed myself and, from the standpoint of a comic book movie, it’s not a bad adaptation; there have certainly been worse. The action scenes were well done, especially the work with the ants, the use of the suit was cool to see, Scott is a funny and easy to like character. There are some genuine shots of great humor in this film, though I think Guardians was a funnier film overall. There are hints that he’ll do more in future MCU films (made more evident by the “ANT-MAN WILL RETURN” splash we get after the after-credits scene).

But I do think I’m having to agree with another review that, in the sense of the MCU as a whole, I’m finding this to be kind of a pointless film. While introducing two more characters to the MCU (that’s part of the spoilers I mentioned), really this movie could’ve not been done as it does nothing to really lead up to CA3:Civil War or push the current MCU, Infinity Stone plot line. Are there ways that Scott, Pym, and Hope could be used more in the MCU? Sure, but we’re going to have Black Panther (and I’m sure other, secondary characters in that), Inhumans, and Captain Marvel soon (not to mention Spider-Man, what with the Sony-Marvel deal having been reached). I worry that we’re going to have Spider-Man 3’s “too many villains” problem, but with main characters.

Additionally, Hope is, yet again, a wasted female character to add to the list of so many others like Marian in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2, someone who is introduced as both competent and kind of a bad ass in her own right but who does almost nothing of consequence in this film except get the hero ready to be a hero. This point is driven home over and over again in Ant-Man by her stated desire to do more, to be more of an active hand in the scheme, and her father’s seemingly reasonless refusal. Scott does puzzle out a reason of why Pym doesn’t want her to wear the suit and do more, and it makes sense in a way when Pym reveals some details about other spoiler-iffic stuff, but, still, Hope feels like a wasted opportunity.

Do I recommend seeing this film? Yes, but, unlike the other MCU films, I think this one could wait for home viewing.

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