Director: Peyton Reed.
I didn’t really know what to expect with Ant-Man, being one of the lesser known Marvel heroes to be granted a stand alone film; not to say he isn’t popular, but I’m just stating a personal opinion. We might be asking why does this dude get an origin movie as oppose to another stand alone Hulk movie or even a Black Widow film, but there is good reason and it’s certainly going to be a big part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s grand masterplan.
This film isn’t based on The Ant-Man or Gi-Ant-Man (see what I did there?) I’m most familiar with and instead, introduces an unlikely hero who carries the Ant-Man mantle. This being Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang. Dr. Hank Pym was the original Ant-Man and whilst the film gives a lot of credit to Pym by way of Michael Douglas, the studio opted for Scott Lang being a more approachable and family friendly character.
It’s true to form that Scott Lang, an ex-convict, down-on-his-luck, cat burglar is someone who is quite possibly the worse candidate for being a possible Avenger. However, this is what makes Ant-Man so good, because whilst the idea and fantasy behind Ant-Man is probably the most absurd of the Earthborn heroes, he’s the one most of us can probably relate to. He’s just a dude trying to do right by his daughter by going straight when fate presents him with an odd opportunity.
Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim director, Edgar Wright was originally at the helm, and he wrote much of the screenplay alongside Big Short, comedy writer Adam McKay and Paul Rudd himself. But due to creative differences with Disney, Wright left the project with the director’s chair going to Peyton Reed who does a great job of bringing the little hero to the big screen. But I do wonder what Wright’s vision of the movie would have been.
It’s essential a heist movie with Lang being recruited by Pym for his burglary skills to steal the technology from protege and potential super villain Darren Cross. Superbly played by Corey Stoll. And halting a possible world domination. They’re not alone with Pym’s beautiful and equally talented Daughter, Hope (Lilly), Lang’s gang of misfits headed by the fast-talking, gleeful Luis (Peña) and a vast army of ants.
Rudd is perfect as Scott Lang who haphazardly wades his way to pretend the sub-atomic shrinking technology from falling into the wrong hands. The idea of Ant-Man gives plenty of ground for comical eventualities and Rudd delivers these effortlessly as he tries to harness the powers of Pym’s supersuit with a combination of self-inflicting sarcasm and wit. There’s a great chemistry between all the characters here and it works with the focus not being totally on Scott Lang.
Although there’s plenty of comical elements and nice touches, especially Peña’s story telling, voice over sequences, the use of some retro toys, an encounter with an Avenger and even some Star Wars sound effects thrown in for good measure; there are a number of thoughtful scenes that pull on the heartstrings. The film actually focuses on the relationships between two dysfunctional families going through a realm of mixed emotions which again makes these superheroes more relatable than the others.
This alone could almost dwarf the VFX extravaganza of the film. The special effects are brilliant and using some very inventive techniques, (I’ve read they used dust mites!) the team managed to create an incredible small world; or is it a big world? The film reminds me of hits like Inner Space, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and the classic Fantastic Voyage but done marvel style. There’s a direct connection with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids purely because of the Ants that feature and much like Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, The Ants make impressive and strangely adorable sidekicks.
Christopher Beck’s score appears to be influenced by the more vintage themes from the 60’s giving that adventurous flair that made those TV show themes so iconic, however there’s hardly anything rememberable or recognisable to give Ant-Man theme. Beck creates a theme, but it likely to go unnoticed if heard anywhere outside the movie.
Overall, this film was an unexpected blast. Hugely entertaining with plenty of laughs and quite a bit of heart. It’s one of the better Marvel movies and certainly the most family orientated one.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 9
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for being a well balanced and unexpectedly good fun movie, from a ludicrous idea.