back to article Ant-Man: Big ideas, small payoff

We were invited by Dolby to see a screening of Ant-Man at its custom-built screening room in San Francisco the other night. And so, of course, we went along. The film is sound-mixed with Dolby's "Atmos" technology, which the high-end cinemas have and which basically allows you to place sounds in a theatre rather than have to …

  1. Phuq Witt

    Oh Dear!

    Look. I'm with you lot all the way, when it comes to discussing computers and gadgets and robots and spaaace.

    But no-one over the age of ten should be interested in films about "magic men" who fly about fighting "baddies", while wearing their underpants outside their trousers.

    Grow up!

    1. chriswakey

      Re: Oh Dear!

      Science Fiction is no different to almost any movie/TV/book genre insofar as it's purely escapism, so pull your head out of your arse.

      1. Phuq Witt

        Worst... Comment... Ever!...

        "...Science Fiction is no different to almost any movie/TV/book genre..."

        Who said anything about Science Fiction?

        I'm talking infantile Marvel Comic superheroes. That's not SciFi. that's one-dimensional infantile yankee fairy stories about magic men who fly around in their underpants, fighting 'baddies' and keeping the world safe for freee-dam' and 'deee-mocracy'. .

        Still. It's American. It must be great. Keep on worshipping Captain America, Captain Sad.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Worst... Comment... Ever!...

          Still. It's American. It must be great. Keep on worshipping Captain America, Captain Sad.

          On the other hand, "Winter Soldier" apparently had some message (didn't see it myself):

          The State: SHIELD or HYDRA? The Rothbardian Implications of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

          Captain America (played by Chris Evans) works for SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division), an international agency run by a shady “World Security Council.” The big twist in the movie is the revelation that SHIELD, virtually since its World War II inception, has been deeply infiltrated by HYDRA, a terrorist network bent on world conquest and named after a mythical many-headed snake-like monster. HYDRA has been using SHIELD (as well as its operative “the Winter Soldier,” played by Sebastian Stan) to surreptitiously foment world chaos for 60 years, with the purpose of whipping up so much fear that the public will seek security in HYDRA’s slithering totalitarian embrace.

        2. Ian 55

          Re: Worst... Comment... Ever!...

          Plus as "Stop thinking and look at that explosion!" is the entire plot of every Marvel film, I suspect their lawyers will be in touch.

        3. Bleu

          Re: Worst... Comment... Ever!...

          Absolutely agree, Mr. Witt, US superhero crap has nothing to do with science fiction, it is just an ugly fantasy pushed as a kind of cultural poison.

          I found when overseas, however, that the child most unbalanced by fiction I met was obsessed by the Power Rangers, a cynical copy of Japanese tropes, definitely a theft of ideas, that has netted the copier an immense fortune.

          However, that was before the wave of Marvel crap since they sat up after seeing the success of the first Sony-CBS Spiderman film.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Oh Dear!

      while wearing their underpants outside their trousers

      It's true. We have politicans wear their underpants on their heads. Much more funny!

    3. Purple-Stater

      Re: Oh Dear!

      "But no-one over the age of ten should be interested in films about "magic men" who fly about fighting "baddies", while wearing their underpants outside their trousers."

      Great things seldom come from those devoid of imagination.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh Dear!

      Phuq Witt by name... Phuq Witt by nature.

      Its a STORY ffs!

    5. Bleu

      Re: Oh Dear!

      I have read an article or two quoting workers at Marvel and DC saying 'underpants over tights', not 'trousers', but with a little thought, I strongly recommend 'short girdle over tights' for the future.

  2. Sandtitz Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Funny review

    ...and mirrors my feelings. I saw the trailer and the Thomas the Tank Engine part made me chuckle but I'd never pay the ludicrous ticket prices they're asking for these days for this kind of junk.

  3. Martin 47

    Should you go watch it? Why not?

    Because you will just encourage 'them' to keep making crappy films out of (possibly) good ideas

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Pint-sized superhero? Made me think of the 'Robo-Lister' from series 4 of Red Dwarf... the one where they are up against the rampaging chicken vindaloo monster because a DNA machine they tinkered with didn't behave as expected. JPEG below:

    1. kierenmccarthy

      That's what I'm doing today

      I had completely forgotten about this until your comment. 30 minutes of joy coming my way some point today.

      1. Haku

        Re: That's what I'm doing today

        Has anyone got a poppadom the size of lake Michigan? This stuff's really good.

        /typed from memory despite not seeing that episode for years :)

    2. Bleu

      Of the great Joe Dante's

      movies for children of all ages, your comment made me think of 'Small Soldiers'.

      If you haven't seen that or 'The Explorers', you are missing out.

      Both are brilliant.

      From the little I've seen of 'Red Dwarf', it is too arch for me, also too much propaganda.

    3. Muscleguy Silver badge

      It was a lamb vindaloo monster, which is why it had a sheep's jaw. You are confusing it from the time they did the same thing to a chicken dish and ended up with a dinosaur.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    But... but...

    Wasn't it "Mighty Atom" (maybe of the Marvel universe ... or was it DC... ?) who behaved like Elon Musk and could shrink himself to mini-size?

    I remember that he paired up with Batman (he also had to explain basic vector arithmetic to Wayne, not the brightest kid in the block, but hey, it's a 1%-er) and at one moment had to enter Batman's brain via the ear to perform inner surgery after a coma attack.

    An then Mighty Atom got split in "The Death of Superheroes", accidentally nuking the whole Kansas...

  6. Tony S

    Hooray for Hollywood

    All they produce these days are films that have increasingly tenuous links to original material.

    They add in car chases, explosions, gun battles, martial arts, zombies and special effects because Joe Public continues to pay for this garbage. Whilst it makes money, they will continue to churn out infantile dreck; when it stops being profitable, they'll panic and start looking for someone to blame.

    Perhaps then, we'll start to see some good movies being produced; but I'm not going to hold my breath.

    1. KjetilS

      Re: Hooray for Hollywood

      Nope, then they'll blame piracy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... I prefer dark quiet films in Swedish, looking at the internal angst of Nepalese goat farmers in winter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personally...

      Angst is always internal, anon!

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Personally...

        >Angst is always internal, anon!

        Haven't you see the DC Angst Man[tm] comics?

        Angst Man vs Dr Žižek is really intense.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Personally...

          That disturbingly sounds like a russian blockbuster novel, one of those you can only read on the transsiberian. When a steam locomotive is all that is available. And there is some sort of revolution going on outside.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personally...

      you jest, but at least the wintry goat film would likely have some striking moments and images and pop back into your head unbidden for another mull. Whereas with the current rash of "Things Explode!" flicks I find I can look at the DVD box months and be unsure whether I saw this one, or that one, or the other, since neither the photos nor the plot summaries provide enough distinction to be sure.

  8. David Kelly 2

    Fast Forward

    I find great disappointment these days with "action" movies. When the special effects action scenes inevitably start and camera zooms in close, I find myself reaching for the fast forward button. Camera zooms in close so the filmmaker doesn't have to connect all the action, doesn't have to make any sense. It doesn't matter, there is going to be explosions, punches, collapsing buildings, gunshots, etc to fill the allotted time then the characters will exit in whatever state the writer desired. Its no different than in American football on TV the quarterback throws a pass and the camera zooms in on the quarterback's face watching the ball fly, then the laces of the ball in flight. I want to see the play, not just one player. I want to see who is about to reach the quarterback, who is keeping others from the quarterback, and what the receivers have managed to establish position. I want to see who is running to catch the ball and who is chasing. But thats apparently not the way things are done with modern camerawork even when all the events to connect and make sense exist on the football field, and when it comes to making a movie they no longer think about making an action scene connect and make sense, they just film the individual punches, gunshots, and explosions then string them together. I close my eyes and wait, or fast forward.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fast Forward

      But the ladies are gorgeous!

    2. DropBear

      Re: Fast Forward

      You make the understandable mistake of thinking they're filming the event. They do absolutely no such thing. These days the only thing anyone films is "the drama"...

  9. Obitim

    At least...

    Put in the title that you're basically going to state the plot of the film plus any slightly enjoyable cameos/fun bits rather than ruin it for people who don't want stuff like the spoilt...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least...

      Look, the plot is always the same in this sort of crapshow.

      Baddies threaten the US

      Hero(s) come out of nowhere and save the day.

      USA USA USA No 1. Urrrraaahhhh

      This sort of stuff is aimed at the 15-25 age group who frequent the US multiplexes in droves during the summer break.

      This lot buy into the experience 1,000,000% even if it involved overpriced mega tubs of Popcorn and talking to their mates on the phone who are sitting a couple of rows away from them.

      Yes I have experienced this tribe at firsthand. It was not a nice experience.

      If this is your bag then great but IMHO I could get more entertainment out of watching paint dry.

      1. Obitim

        Re: At least...

        Yeah, true, the plot is roughly similar but the bits in-between are what makes the film, how the protagonist with triumph (even though we know that they will), the small unexpected parts that give the film a bit of character (small quips, or linking into the larger universe such as the Avenger cameo, which I didn't know who it would be till I read thanks for that)

        I do like these kind of films, but at the same time enjoy meatier fare, it depends on my mood at the time...horses for courses and all that.

        I like the Anthony Hopkins quote regarding Rocky 'Rocky is kokey but sometimes people need hokey' - this is paraphrased from Sky advert tho... :)

        Although bad news about the idiots at the cinema...I hate that!

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: At least...

        Errr you haven't actually watched a recent marvel film have you? Except for their source material and the fact they are made in the US they aren't particularly USian in content.

        They are generally happy to explode any location/creed/colour.

        They are what they are which is usually the top end of the Hollywood entertainment machine - I cant speak for Antman but ffs it's not like they pretend to be a great work of art.

  10. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    It turns out ...

    ... making decent superhero movies is no picnic.

    Sorry. I'll get my coat. Shaken out well, of course.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I took some important facts from the age of ultron (though I did enjoy it)

    9/11 make hulk sad

    America bad in eastern europe

    America make up for being bad in eastern europe

    America good

    I quite like comic book adaptations however please don't bring westernisation into them, it's tacky and obvious.

    Waiting for Justice League which is DC as hopefully they won't mess it up. Can't comment on Atom till a decent cam comes out (j/k)...

  12. Franco Silver badge

    Personally, I usually quite like superhero movies, for the simple reason that they are mindless escapism, much like James Bond for example. If I want to be challenged intellectually I'll read a book.

    That said, Ant-Man is IMO pretty disjointed. It's either been badly edited, or the multiple script re-writes and change of director have taken their toll. Possibly both. Either way, it's not bad, just not that great.

    1. DropBear


      "Personally, I usually quite like superhero movies, for the simple reason that they are mindless escapism, much like James Bond for example. If I want to be challenged intellectually I'll read a book."

      To each his own I guess, but I have to say superhero movies don't work for me at all - the glossy, sleek CGI feels like a cheap veneer of plastic to me and everybody being over-the-top strong/resilient/etc. makes it much harder for me to care for any of them than for Lt. Bullit for instance. There is really nothing at stake, we all know it all too well. As for intellectuality, Hopscotch or Charade (heck, even Love and Bullets) are hardly Eisenstein-level heavy duty stuff either, but I enjoy them even today incomparably more than the 101th incarnation of "bad guy shows up, kicks the hell out of good guys, good guys regroup, barely manage to defeat bad guy, THE END". I think I can handle a bit more challenge than that...

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Well...

        I take your point, but to me the cheap veneer pretty much applies to anything that comes out of Hollywood so I just accept what I like and ignore what I don't.

        In many ways the blockbuster/popcorn movies are rather more honest than the "serious" movies that come out of Hollywood. It's hard not to see some of the "I'm a serious ac-tor" playing someone with a disability films as a cynical attempt to win awards. I'd far rather watch an "action" film rooted in realism given the choice, but it's very rare to find the right combination of actor and script to produce something like Bullitt or The French Connection, and anyway Hollywood right now is more interested in comic books, shared universes and reboots.

        Case in point, the X-Men franchise, the Star Trek franchise and the Terminator franchise have all used time travel as a plot point to effectively wipe out all which went before. Or in 80s terms we're watching Dallas and it was all a dream.

    2. BlartVersenwaldIII

      "Pretty, disjointed" is to me a problem synonymous with the vast majority of action films these days.

      I might get strung up for saying it, but to hark back to your example of escapism I thought Skyfall made absolutely no sense and felt like a committee of ten different scriptwriters had each come back from the Ideas tombola with their own idea of A Cool Scene With Protagonist In It (known in the industry as an ACSWPII, pro-nounced axe-wee-pie) and it was up to the summer intern to link them together. Transformers is perhaps the ultimate example of taking such an incoherent script and putting it in the hands of an even more incoherent director that keeps getting distracted by tits in a wind tunnel raining racial stereotypes.

      That said, I appear to have given up on most superhero films altogether so I don't really know if they've got any better in the last few years, and indeed much of the big-budget cinema-fillers. Too much hype means it's usually out of the cinema by the time I've come to finding reviews that I trust... only saw the Mad Max rehooglination at the request of a mate and was very glad I did... served as an excellent example on how to make coherent chaos out of one long series of explosions.

      Waiting for Hollywood to announce a new series of films chronicling The Boys series of comics... would be well worth the big screen treatment and is probably the only series in existence to feature a Tenpole Tudor reference.

      > Angst is always internal, anon!

      Spoken like a chap with absolutely zero academic interest or knowledge of the psyche of Nepalese goats and their symbiotic artistic melange with 1920's german expressionism and The Bay City Rollers. I weep for you and your family, you have no idea what you're missing!

      On the other hand, is there a kickstarter or something for Angst Man vs Dr Žižek?

  13. Oldfogey
    Thumb Up


    I'm seeing reviews in the "serious press" that really like this - though they keep apologising for liking something geeky!

    And why should I grow up? I got to 66 without doing so, and along the way made enough money to retire in comfort 20 years ago. You grow up if you want to - I don't have to.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Two points

    1) As has been pointed out, chriswakey, superhero movies are not sci-fi. I like a good sci-fi movie (*good*, mind...) but superhero movies, I could take it or leave it.

    2) I figure liking these movies or not is based on taste (to clarify, I don't mean "bad taste" versus "good taste"). I have a friend who is absolutely obsessed with Avengers movies, and Marvel movies in general. I'm sure he would say Ant-Man is the pinnacle of cinema as every Marvel movie has been. I find the plots to be rather formulaic (some baddies show up, there's lots of fighting and explosions, the bad guys are defeated, usually after wrecking half the city.) So I can't get overly excited about the prospect of another one. I'm not going to go out of my way to see one (i.e. spend any money) but if one's on I won't object.

  15. TheProf Silver badge

    The real question is...

    Is it worse than Green Lantern?

    1. Franco Silver badge

      Re: The real question is...

      No, because Ryan Reynolds isn't in it. Neither is it worse than the Ben Affleck Daredevil travesty, nor indeed than Blade Trinity (Ryan Reynolds AND Jessica Biel, so utterly utterly terrible)

    2. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Re: The real question is...

      In some ways they share a lot in common, but the Ant-Man is a better popcorn movie. I disagree with most of the reviewer's commentary; I liked Paul Rudd's direction. I had issues with the science. (When you're small, you have the same density as when you're big... so why can I carry a tank in my pocket again?) But otherwise it was amusing fluff in line with Guardians of the Galaxy.

    3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: The real question is...

      No. Almost the only superhero film worse than Green Lantern is Silver Surfer..

  16. bex

    slow, so slow.

    Origin movies are usually a bit on the dull side but this takes it up a notch, slow with too little action is my take.

  17. Medixstiff

    Mum loved it.

    I took her to see it and she loved it. I found the bad guy was pretty boring actually and Evangeline Lilly was wasted. Michael Pena stole the show.

    I must admit they did a good job of the CGI for the 40 year old Michael Douglas.

  18. Alex Walsh


    Loved it. Best Marvel film in years; it's a heist movie with a superhero flavouring. The script is often laugh out loud funny, the two Michael Pena "tip" scenes are comedy gold, and the action is very well handled. The movies pacing is also good, there is plenty going on and since it's not wall to wall action, there is texture to it all, rather than an Age of Ultron style endless action sequence. Yes, it's not Citizen Cane but then it is a summer blockbuster, and one that will probably not be topped this summer either.

  19. Morrie Wyatt

    Pseudo scientific sense.

    "When small, they are of course much denser and that means that, y'know, when you are a person, you still have all your man-sized strength but in a much smaller space which means ... more strength ...?"

    Matter with the space removed is the basic secret behind the gravity of a black hole after all.

    And I'm old enough to remember analogue mechanical wrist watches, where tapping on the crystal is a bad move, because the force would be applied through the tip of the balance wheel pivots and could smash the little ruby bearings due to the concentration of force from a wide area (the balance wheel) onto a pivot only a few thou wide.

    So greater strength?

    I suppose, given the suspension from a NASA Saturn V Mobile Launcher Platform to support the weight of my disbelief that there could just be the barest shade of support for the premise.

    1. BlartVersenwaldIII

      Re: Pseudo scientific sense.

      >"When small, they are of course much denser and that means that, y'know, when you are a person, you still have all your man-sized strength but in a much smaller space which means ... more strength ...?"

      >Matter with the space removed is the basic secret behind the gravity of a black hole after all.

      As any fule no, miniaturisation is only possible through using extremely tiny atoms, and have you priced those lately? I'm not made of money!

  20. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    It's obviously not supposed to be serious..

    It does a decent job, has some splendid special effects, and rattles along nicely.

    No, it's not as good as other superhero films, but is definitely above average. Pacing is off - it's too slow to start, and various plot points are dismissed with technical hand waving, but nothing as glaring as the travesty that's Terminator Genisys.

    I enjoyed the comic relief, and even the tank sequence was quite funny, despite the fact it was blindingly obvious what would happen.

  21. Bleu

    I'd love to see

    Mills and O'Neill's Marshall Law clean out the whole Augean stables of superhero crap. Law doesn't have super powers, except extreme hate of underpants over tights lunatics, which they all were in the comics (Law and what it was reacting to, Mills and O'Neill clearly hated US superhero comics, and I thoroughly concur, although I have a few collections to enjoy the stupidity, and in the cases of Djikstra and Kirby, the art).

    I loved the anti-superhero trend, Accident Man was also brilliant, an amoral creep with class and a sarcastic tone who set up 'accidents' for money. He'd be a great one to make 'accidents' for a 'superhero' or two.

    Judge Dredd would do a good job of collecting them and throwing them into the perp tanks.

    People saw Miller's take on Batman as being in similar territory, but of course, it was not, people perceived irony, but he was expressing his own real views. Not that I think his work is without value.

    He is I suppose most responsible for the 'edginess' of Marvel and DC offerings since, not that I have ever been a fan of those, we used to have import shops for them (amecomi), the number of frames per issue made it clear that it was just an exploitative joke. I would only ever buy collections.

    I haven't seen any of the movies since the first Fantastic Four, at home, the only good point in that was Jessica Alba in her underwear, and that exploitation was hardly a good point in the artistic sense.

    Once saw the seventies Spiderman movie at a theatre specialising in old B-movies, liked the style.


  22. Tikimon

    "Flailing" as the fail point of most action films

    "Flailing" is my generic term for any action scene that absolutely does not matter. Because you KNOW that the Hero will not die, and the Bad Guy won't be stopped yet because there's another hour of film left to go. That uber-cool mega fight scene that just started? Meh. It's just wild flailing around, nothing important will happen. So who really cares?

    For a conflict to matter, there must be something at stake, and the chance for an upsetting change. "Hero fails to stop Villain yet" is not change, and everyone knows before the first blow is even struck that the bad guy won't be stopped. In the longer run, your Hero is invincible, because you can't let the franchise die. Woo, the invincible hero's in a fight again, whatever.

    Solve this problem and superduperhero films will be interesting. Me, I've checked out of the genre entirely.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Re: "Flailing" as the fail point of most action films

      Why bother watching romance films, you know the trysts won't be resolved until the end of the film.

      Why bother with historical films, you can just read it on Wikipedia.

      Why care about thrillers, you know it won't have a resolution till the end.

      The protagonist being beaten, then having to build themselves up again to triumph over their opponents is a staple of stories since they began. That doesn't make triumph against adversity any less compelling if properly implemented.

      Journey, not destination.

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