Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll
Release Date: Out Now
Review by: Dave Griffiths
Marvel have been on a roll over the past few years. They reached massive heights of awesomeness with Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier, while even their weaker films like Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Thor 2 are a lot better than most people give them credit for. Then there was Guardians Of The Galaxy – a film that had most people scratching their heads after they saw the trailer but is now firmly entrenched as one of the best comic book movies ever made.
But how soon it seems that people forget? As soon as Ant-Man was announced people seemed to jump all over the film. Who is Ant-Man? Who has heard of him? Well do a little research and you’ll learn that he was an original Avenger. Why did they cast Paul Rudd, he can’t play a superhero? Pretty sure you said the same thing about Robert Downey Jnr. before Iron Man and Chris Pratt before Guardians as well, and they turned out okay.
Yes, for those not up to speed the film explores the origins of Ant-Man whose alter ego is Scott Lang (Paul Rudd – Role Models), a modern day Robin Hood who commits break-ins to expose the rich and corrupt.
After being released from prison Scott thinks his life is over. His criminal record means he can’t even keep down a job at Baskin & Robbins while his ex-wife, Maggie (Judy Greer – Jurassic World), and her Police Detective partner, Paxton (Bobby Cannavale – Chef), won’t let him see his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Forsten – Playing It Cool), until he starts paying child support.
Reluctantly Scott decides that the only way this can happen is to join in a robbery that his good friend Luis (Michael Pena – Fury) has planned but that soon has him entwined in a plot planned by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas – Basic Instinct) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly – Real Steel) to stop the evil corporate like doctor Darren Cross (Corey Stoll – Non-Stop) from unleashing a virtually unstoppable weapon on the world. Hence the birth of Ant-Man and Yellowjacket.
After some of the negative reviews that Avengers: Age Of Ultron generated Marvel had to be praying that Ant-Man was better received and thanks to the creative team behind the film it certainly should be. It is obvious from the get go that Ant-Man is supposed to be lighter than the other films in the franchise. The casting of Paul Rudd suggested that, as did the decision to have Peyton Reed to direct… after all his claim to fame is directing films like Bring It On and The Break-Up. The good news is the lighter feel to Ant-Man actually works, you never really feel like you are watching a straight out comedy but amongst the action and corporate intrigue are some little gems of comedy (the best moment featuring a huge Thomas The Tank Engine) that have obviously been inserted into the script by Rudd himself as well as Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, a pair who have written most of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s gags over the years.
The comedy aside Ant-Man also delivers some pretty decent actions scenes, one which includes Ant-Man going up against an Avenger (no spoilers here), and the most important thing that Avengers: Age Of Ultron lacked… some heart. Fatherhood plays a huge role in the Ant-Man story, whether it be Scott willing to do anything for his daughter or the very stretched father/daughter relationship between Hank and Hope, this film explores this topic very, very well and often the emotionally driven scenes here outweigh the power of the action scenes.
With such a well-written script it is not surprising that the actors put in some great performances. Rudd puts his comedic days behind him and steps up to the role of Ant-Man in such a way that many will be as surprised as they were when they first saw how brilliantly Robert Downey Jnr. played Iron Man. Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll would have perhaps been better off if they had been given some meatier (and less clichéd roles) but that is quickly forgotten when you watch the acting performance of Michael Douglas. Douglas seems to forget that he is acting in a comic book movie and instead he puts in a performance as emotionally challenged as the one he did in Arbitrage. Douglas owns this movie and you can only hope that he and Rudd sign up to do more Marvel films.
Somehow Ant-Man manages to mix comedy, action and drama brilliantly well and at the end of the day it services the Marvel universe quite well. While it certainly won’t win its way into fan’s hearts quite the way that Guardians or Captain America did it is certainly a good film that is worth more than one viewing.