Edgar Wright Peyton Reed
Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson
Scott Lang (Rudd) is a reformed criminal who is trying to make amends with his daughter. When he’s approached by Hank Pym (Douglas), a brilliant scientist, he sees the chance to redeem himself and save the world. Armed with a super-suit that enables him to shrink to the size of an ant, Scott Lang becomes Ant-Man and tries to stop Yellowjacket (Cross) from using a similar piece of technology for nefarious purposes.
Ant-Man has been a project long in gestation, and I’ve been waiting for it all this time. It went through some rocky periods, most notably when the original director Edgar Wright left the production and was replaced by Peyton Reed. Whenever I’ve mentioned Ant-Man to people who aren’t into superheroes it’s been met with a smirk and a disdainful laugh, so it was a risk by Marvel but with the track record is anything a risk anymore?
Ant-Man does have its problems but overall its an entertaining film and one that offers a much more intimate story than the often bloated Avengers: Age of Ultron, which came out earlier in this year. With far less moving pieces to keep track of, the film can focus on the characters, and I’m finding that I’m enjoying the smaller stories (no pun intended) rather than the bigger spectacles. The plot and the emotional beats of Ant-Man are, it has to be said, fairly generic. There’s some father/daughter drama that happens in many other films, although the fact that both Pym and Lang have their own problems with their daughters lends itself to some nice moments between the two as they recognize a similar pain in each other’s characters, despite the differences between the two men. Branching out from this, I liked how a romance between Lang and Hope wasn’t forced on us because most films seem to have a romance, sometimes just for the sake of it.
The main thrust of the film is the business deal between Pym’s former protege, Darren Cross (Stoll), and again this is nothing new either, and it does echo some of the plot points from Iron Man. However, I found that the performances elevated this material. Rudd was his usual likeable self as Lang, and Marvel got themselves a real coup by getting Douglas, who is not just here for name recognition but is basically a co-lead with Rudd, and it’s as much about his time as Ant-Man as well as Rudd’s.
One of the things that I liked about DC is that they had legacy heroes, but here Marvel manages to explore that concept while also filling out a little bit of their history. There are a lot of references to the wider world but it feels natural, and it’s the perfect way for them to use the universe they’ve built. Aside from references to the Marvel world there are other pop culture references, most notably a couple of overt ones to Star Wars, and one that was only on screen briefly but was absolutely brilliant.
I enjoyed the special effects and felt that the film made good use of Ant-Man’s abilities. One of my favourite films ever is The Incredible Shrinking Man, which explores the nature of our place in the universe, because in the grand scheme of things we’re all small, so I was hoping for a bit of existentialism thrown in, but there wasn’t really any of that unfortunately. However, the 3-d effects were great and I’d suggest that this is a film you should make the effort to see in 3-d. It’s also billed as a heist movie, but I felt the climactic heist wasn’t given as much attention as it could have, it’s not like Ocean’s Eleven, for example.
Michael Pena’s characters was a little too over the top at times and became annoying, and some of the humour didn’t quite land. I saw the film with a three teachers who all either teach or have a background in science and physics, and they had some problems with the science used in the film, but that didn’t bother me so much (mostly because it would have gone over my head if they hadn’t been there to point it out).
It moves along at a good pace and it actually feels like quite a short movie. I really enjoyed Ant-Man and I think it actually feels like a comic brought to life from the era when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started to build the comics universe. It has that same tone and spirit, so while the film doesn’t have the most original elements in the world the casting are top quality and the spirit and tone of the film are great. Like with Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel proves that with the right talent involved, a risk doesn’t have to be a risk at all.
Also, there are two scenes during the credits. The first is a scene that I felt should have been included in the film itself because it’s a natural plot development and was hinted at heavily during the film. The final one is worth sticking around for though, because it is a scene from an upcoming film.