What we love and hate about Ant-Man

The verdict is in on Marvel's final Phase 2 superhero film, 2015's Ant-Man: it's great! With a solid cast, fun story, and plenty of gags, Ant-Man is just the kind of superhero romp that we needed—especially after having to endure the trailers for Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad. But even movies this fun aren't perfect—here's what we love—and hate—about Ant-Man. Be warned: spoilers follow.

It's A Superhero Heist Movie!

Ant-Man has all the trappings of your standard superhero fare: an unlikely hero gaining strange powers, a power-hungry villain in need of vanquishing, and special-effects laden fight scenes that thrill and amaze. But most importantly, it centers on a massive, high-tech heist that subverts the usual plot points we tend to see in Marvel's movies. Ant-Man is a great new superhero. He also happens to be a wisecracking, ant-riding, super-burglar, and that's awesome.

Way Too Much Exposition

A necessary evil of the heist movie is a reliance on telling characters—and by extension, the audience—all about what's going to happen. It's how complicated plans tend to make sense on-screen. But in the case of Ant-Man, the abundance of exposition isn't limited to plotting out the heists themselves. There are way too many instances of characters simply telling each other their backstories. It all comes down to that old saying: "show, don't tell." Ant-Man tells, and tells, and tells some more. But its best bits are when it simply shows.

Paul Rudd Is An Excellent Ant-Man

With charisma and comedic chops, Paul Rudd is tailor made for the world's current superhero movie craze. But his ability to carry an action movie was still untested—until now. As Ant-Man, Rudd cracks jokes, cracks jaws, and legitimately gets us to feel bad when he loses the companionship of his flying ant-pal, Antony. It's the kind of moment that could've been played purely for laughs, but Rudd sold it with just his voice-over. He'll be right at home next to Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Two-Dimensional Villain

Corey Stoll does a wonderful job chewing every inch of scenery as Ant-Man's villain, Yellowjacket. But his main two character traits are "evil" and "bald." Beyond that, it's not clear why we should fear him, or care about him. He's mostly just a standard-issue antagonist with a barely sketched-out agenda. The good news is that, as an action flick with an emphasis on comedy, Ant-Man doesn't need a world-shaking villain. The bad news is that it leaves the movie without much in the way of truly memorable stakes.

Evangeline Lilly Will Make A Wonderful Wasp

While Paul Rudd's turn as the eponymous Ant-Man wasn't really in doubt, Evangeline Lilly's role as his heroic (and romantic) foil Hope Van Dyne works really well, too, adding yet another classic female hero to Marvel's ever-growing roster. By the end of the movie, we see that Van Dyne will soon take the mantle of her missing mother, the original Wasp, and while it's truly a shame she didn't have the chance to suit up and save the day in Ant-Man, we know she'll shrink down and beat up bad guys pretty soon.

It Doesn't Earn Its Emotions

When not showing super-heists or super-fights, Ant-Man's plot revolves around original Ant-Man Hank Pym's efforts to reconnect with his daughter, Hope, and Scott Lang repairing the relationship with his estranged ex-wife and daughter. Needless to say, both of these things happen by the end (and Scott and Hope share a kiss), but none of these emotional moments seem earned. Hank and Hope decide they're a happy family with no trouble at all. Scott's reconnection with his family is entirely contingent on him having a job—and once he's a superhero, all seems forgiven. And Scott and Hope's relationship is almost non-existent, dictated entirely by the tradition of having the two attractive leads get together.

Great Shrink-Fights!

Ant-Man's powers aren't necessarily easy to translate in a visually compelling way—at least not in terms of action. But director Peyton Reed and his team create exciting and fun fights that lean on Ant-Man's ability to shrink and grow quickly, leaving his enemies guessing. While the CG ants never look too convincing, all of the shrunk down scenes are really fun explorations of scale and its effect on a person's perspective. People shrink tiny, tank keychains grow huge, and Thomas the Tank Engine has never been more powerful.

Creepy Age-Defying CG Makeup

The film opens with Hank Pym in a flashback from about 25 years in the past, featuring Michael Douglas sporting some truly bizarre CG-style makeup to make him look younger. The technique was first seen in X-Men 3 to unfortunate effect. Similarly, Hayley "Agent Carter" Atwell has old-lady makeup, achieved via similar digital wizardry. Neither actor looks especially convincing. It's an unnecessary and jarring effects technique that should probably be retired.

Hey, Look, It's Neil Hamburger!

For one glorious scene, we get to sit down with alternative comedy star Gregg Turkington, aka Neil Hamburger. Playing Scott Lang's idiot boss at Baskin Robbins, Turkington helps set the movie's tone early. Lang's criminal cohorts in Luis, Dave, and Kurt, played by Michael Peña, Tip "T.I." Harris, and David Dastmalchian, respectively, round out the comedy crew to keep the fun going even as the film goes deep into superhero movie territory.

One Giant-Sized Plot Hole

At one point, Hank tells Scott that using his shrinking formula "takes its toll." Another time, Hope says Cross is out of control because of how long he's been exposed to the shrinking formula. At no point does Scott—a regular dude—ever ask precisely what these side-effects are, or whether or not he's actively killing himself by taking the Ant-Man role. Hope seems similarly unconcerned about the negative effects on her own well-being, as she constantly harangues Hank about being the one to go on the heist mission instead of Scott. So is Pym's formula toxic, or isn't it? If it makes Cross crazy, does that mean Pym is crazy too? Will Scott be crazy by Ant-Man 2? This seems like kind of an important detail.