Though he’s often had his own comic book, Ant-Man — much like Thor before him — has always worked better as a member of The Avengers than he has on his own. So it’s rather fitting that the Ant-Man movie would — much like Thor and Thor: The Dark World before it — be an interesting flick, but not anywhere as good as The Avengers or The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Or that the same could be said about its Blu-ray, Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray combo pack, and especially its DVD.
When Ant-Man begins, it’s 1989, and scientist Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas of The Game, Traffic, and countless other films) is pissed that S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to turn his most prized invention, a particle that can shrink things, into a weapon. Flash forward to now, and watch as Pym and his daughter Hope (The Hobbit‘s Evangeline Lilly) recruit a burglar named Scott Lang (Anchorman‘s Paul Rudd) to be the shrinking superhero Ant-Man so Lang can help stop Pym’s invention from being used as a weapon by Pym’s former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll of The Strain).
Now, the tale that follows in Ant-Man goes exactly as you can imagine if you’ve ever seen a movie. But that’s not the problem; sure, it may be a predictable story, but it’s still a good one, especially as the origin story for a superhero. The problem with Ant-Man is its tone, it’s goofy, jokey tone. Clearly inspired by the box office receipts of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Ant-Man takes a similarly light approach. Much of which can be laid at the feet of Michael Pena (Fury), who’s such a goof here that it undermines the whole movie. At least when Robert Downy, Jr. is funny in the Iron Man movies, it’s a humor that’s smart and genuine; Pena is neither.
That said, Ant-Man does deserve a commendation for avoiding some rather obvious plot points: [SPOILER ALERT] it doesn’t have Lang winning back his ex-wife (Archer‘s Judy Greer), and it doesn’t have him finding and rescuing Pym’s missing wife. Both of which are so obvious and telegraphed that it’s actually rather surprising that they didn’t do one of them, let alone both.
Ant-Man also gets points for not being boring; it has some solid action, and moves along at a nice clip. The special effects are also well done, and not just because the scenes when Lang is small don’t resemble Honey I Shrunk The Kids. There are even some Pena-free parts that are genuinely funny, mostly when Hope shows Lang how to fight. Lastly, Rudd is not only his usual likable self, but he also works well as Ant-Man. Which bodes well for his appearances in such upcoming Marvel movies as Captain America: Civil War, especially since his lighter tone will be tempered by being just one of many superheroes.
All of which makes Ant-Man worth seeing…but only once, and only so you’ll know his origin. When you watch the film more than once, you realize that, like his comic counterpart, this Ant-man is really just a supporting superhero.
As for how this movie is presented on the Ant-Man Blu-rays and DVD, while the latter is sorely lacking, the former two have some good extras for people who enjoyed the movie more than I.
For starters, the movie both looks and sounds good on the Blu-rays. The latter of which is a pleasant surprise, given how many movie Blu-rays have a sound mix that was originally done for theaters and, as a result, have to be watched with one hand on the volume button because the difference between the loud and soft moments are too great.
As for the extras, the Ant-Man Blu-rays has nearly nine minutes of deleted and extended scenes. While all are interesting and worth seeing, only one — in which Hank details his time [SPOILER ALERT] as Ant-Man — really adds anything worthwhile. In fact, it’s the first deleted scene I’ve seen in a long time that actually deserves to be in the movie from which it was cut. Even better, these deleted scenes come with optional commentary by Rudd and director Peyton Reed (Bring It On), which provide some much-needed context.
The Ant-Man Blu-rays also include “WHIH NewsFront,” a collection of four short fictional videos that include a clip from a news show about Lang that features Leslie Bibb reprising her role from the first two Iron Man movies; a second clip from Bibb’s show in which her character interviews Lang; unedited surveillance footage of Lang committing the robbery that landed him in the jail where we first meet him; and an interview with Cross conducted for Wired magazine’s website. But unlike most of the deleted scenes, these clips actually add a bit of back-story to the movie.
There’s also a gag reel on the Ant-Man Blu-rays that has three-and-a-half-minutes of the cast screwing around and up. And, like gag reels on other movie collections, it has a couple funny bits, but is nothing you’ll want to watch more than once. Especially since it’s censored.
The Ant-Man Blu-rays also have a commentary by Rudd and Reed that, like the optional ones on the deleted/extended scenes, are both informative and entertaining, in large part because Rudd is funny and gets along well with Reed. That said, it still would’ve been better if Douglas and maybe Lilly or Stoll had also been involved. Just not Pena.
Lastly, the Ant-Man Blu-rays includes two behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Making Of An Ant-Sized Heist: A How To Guide,” which spends nearly fifteen minutes on the filming of the movie, and “Let’s Go To The Macroverse,” an eight minute look at the scenes when Ant-Man is small. Both of which are fairly predictable, but then there’s nothing in this movie that’s breaking new cinematic ground anyway. Plus, they really should’ve been combined into a single featurette.
As for the Ant-Man DVD, all it has is a one deleted scene. And I don’t even know which one since Marvel only sent me the 3D Blu-ray combo pack, which just has the regular and 3D Blu-rays. Not that it matters since only including one of many cut scenes and none of the other extras is lame.
While the Ant-Man DVD is inexcusably thin, the Blu-rays are also somewhat lacking. For starters, they don’t really go into the history of Ant-Man comics, the character’s importance to the Marvel Comics universe, and how the character has evolved over the years. There’s also nothing about how the movie was originally going to be written and directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun Of The Dead), who walked away for mostly unknown reasons, but still gets “Story By” and “Screenplay By” credits. The Ant-Man Blu-rays and DVD also don’t have the film’s original trailers, which were intriguing and not at all spoiler-ish.
The 3D Blu-ray of Ant-Man also has the 3D version of the film, naturally, but it’s not worth the time it takes to put on the glasses, as the film never really takes advantage of the added dimension.
In the end, Ant-Man comes in alongside the Thor flicks and Guardians Of The Galaxy as one of the Marvel movies that’s worth seeing, but only once. And this is mirrored by what’s included on the Blu-rays. There’s a small joke in there somewhere, but after watching this flick, I’m not inspired to make it.