The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces a new hero, as Scott Lang’s attempts to start a new life lead him into a small world that offers a big chance at redemption.
Director: Peyton Reed
Staring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie
Run Time: 117 Minutes
Release Date: Out Now
For those who have followed the long, winding road that is the story of bringing Ant-Man to the big screen, it’s a marvel (pardon the pun) that this moment is finally here. For so long the passion project of Edgar Wright, things not only took a turn for the worse, but completely came off the rails. Still, what is meant to be will be and despite the exit of Wright from the project, Marvel pushed on and possibly their most intriguing character yet is finally unleashed on the masses.
For anyone that feared for the future of the film following Wright’s exit, you will be pleased to learn that his fingerprints are all over this script. Additional work was done by Rudd and Adam McKay, which may go a long way towards explaining why comedy remains as the movie’s main theme, but Wright’s original work shines through. Granted, this does at times become a little too obvious; there are several moments where the script too eagerly moves back to comedy. One scene in particular actually makes reference that comedy ruins a moment, and while it may be a little far to say that for the film overall, it does become noticeable the longer the films runs. That isn’t to say the film runs long however, it is actually refreshing that a summer blockbuster doesn’t fall into the trap of having a bloated running time. Ant-Man breezes by, never outstaying it’s welcome while still delivering a solid story.
Following Chris Pratt’s remarkable, career-making performance in Guardians of the Galaxy, Paul Rudd’s casting as criminal Scott Lang was questioned by many, much like Pratt’s as Star Lord. However – again, like Pratt – Rudd delivers as a leading man, and by the end of the film you struggle to think of another actor who would fill the role better. However, despite being the leading man of the picture, in many ways the film is really about Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym. Comic book readers will know that Pym is credited as one of the founding members of the Avengers, something largely ignored in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (a Pym reference was actually cut from Thor). Here, the character regains some of his dignity and gets his place in Marvel movie history. This is helped by Douglas putting in a performance that makes you quite possibly hear the sounds of a career being revitalised. Indeed, the acting legend clearly has a blast playing this character, and the chemistry between his original Ant-Man and his chosen successor (Rudd) seems natural.
Elsewhere, Evangeline Lilly continues her career progression from TV actor (Lost) to full-fledged movie star. After impressive performances in the Hobbit movies over the last couple of years, she now finds herself in the demanding (those Marvel contracts can last a while) world of superhero movies. Without spoiling anything, she may want to keep her schedule clear over the next few years, and based on her performance here, it is a well-earned spot she has found herself in. In a similar vein, Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross now has a spot as Marvel’s best villain since Loki. Admittedly, he doesn’t topple the helmeted one, but he offers a lot more than The Dark World‘s Malekith and Guardians’ Ronan. It makes it all the more frustrating, then, that he isn’t given anywhere near enough to work with. Cross is a well-structured bad guy with a simple yet effective backstory and motive, but there is more that could have been done.
Much has been made of Ant-Man’s announced appearance in next year’s Captain America: Civil War, with many wondering how much, if any, reference would be made to the world-saving Avengers here. The answer; unfortunately, too much. Anthony Mackie’s appearance as Falcon – while fun initially – was spoiled by the trailers, and overall the inclusion of Cap and company just feels too forced and frankly unnecessary. Given Rudd’s casting in the superhero ensemble, it is understandable why it is done, but the film suffers as a result of what seems nothing more than an exercise in franchise building. The post-credit scenes (yes there are two, stick around ’til the end) do a more-than-suitable job of teasing what’s time, making it all the more puzzling why so much Avenger influence was shoehorned in.
On a more positive note, Ant-Man succeeds in possibly it’s most core part; shrunken action. Given the film’s title, it makes it imperative that when the time comes for Lang to miniaturise, the action backs him up; highlights include a short scene involving a vinyl record and the already-much talked about scene involving a certain blue tank engine.
Boasting a fresh story – a comedic heist movie – yet to be seen in the Marvel world, Ant-Man is a fun, likeable jaunt that won’t trouble the top contenders in the much-discussed poll of ‘Best Marvel movie ever’, yet still provides great action and another new lead star that will slot in alongside an all-star cast over the next few years. Marvel do it again.