Down on his luck burglar, Scott Lang, who is ready to give up his life of crime and repair his relationship with his daughter, is employed by former scientist, Hank Pym, to break in and steal technology to save the world from Chaos. In Marvel’s Ant-Man, Lang is given a suit that allows him to freely change the distance between his atoms, giving him the ability to become the size of an Ant. The team embarks on the biggest AND smallest adventure of their life.
- Title: Ant-Man
- Director: Peyton Reed
- Writer: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish
- Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena
- Release: July 17, 2015
- Rated: PG-13
- Runtime: 117 minutes
There was a lot of controversy coming into Ant-Man. Without to much backstory, Ant-Man was originally given to Edgar Wright who started work on the script back in 2006. He then took a break to do “The World’s End” and then eventually left the project in 2014. He is still credited as Co-Writer with Joe Cornish, but left citing creative differences. So, to say that Ant-Man had a rocky landing is a large understatement, and many believed the end product would suffer because of it. I feel confident in saying that the wheels are on the ground and everyone is fine.
At it’s core, Ant-Man is a heist movie. What makes a great heist movie is a solid ensemble cast. What was impressive with the script is that it throws these varied characters together in an organic and comedic way. You meet Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his friend Luis (Michael Pena). They are then cast into the world of brilliant scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his distant daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). None of these characters really fit together, but it’s a credit to the writing that you never really question their union.
The plot, and twists, are also very tight and cohesive. There aren’t large leaps of disbelief, which says a lot coming from a movie about a mini person. The comedy beats are really funny and at the same time you get great moments of heart. And the action that ties it all together hits all it’s marks.
Where the film lacks is seeming to become a common problem for Marvel, and that is in the villain space. This time we are introduced to Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) who is also Yellowjacket. He is a business man and protege of Hank Pym, who eventually takes over Pym Technologies. But, at his core, he is just Obadiah Stane all over again. They never fully flesh out any of his character, his relationship with Hank, his relationship with Hope, or even anything about him outside of the Pym Tech building. There is no connection or sympathy for his character. He ends up being fodder for the last battle, like so many Marvel villains before him.
As mentioned earlier, this is a heist movie and in order to be a good heist movie you have to nail the ensemble. This is something Ant-Man does very good. Paul Rudd is funny and charming and believable. You believe he is a brilliant guy who makes stupid decisions. And you root for him as an underdog. Evangeline Lilly is also very good. I’ve never been a huge fan (you can blame LOST), but she shows heart and fight and feels like a great fit for a future at Marvel. Michael Douglas is also great here. With a name like Douglas, it’s easy to just phone it in, but I feel like he invests in the character and the world. But I have to say that Michael Pena might have stole the show. Here he handles the bulk of the comedy and he pulls it off so great. I was laughing almost every time he was on screen, he was brilliant. I also want to point out that I really like Corey Stoll and felt he did a great job with the lackluster material he was given. He does have a “never quite right” quality to him, you are always waiting for him to snap. And at the same time, it’s easy to forget that in his charm. With better writing he could have been an excellent villain.
With the ensemble in place, the other main concern is special effects. The movie is called Ant-Man after all. Hank Pym designed a formula called “Pym Particles” that powers the suit that The Ant-Man wears and allows him to change the distance between atoms. Thus, he is able to shrink down to the size of an Ant. Since this is such an integral part of the story, the effects had to be there to pull it off. The effects were very well done. The shrinking itself is handled by a quick progression down (or up). But it’s what the movie looks like…and feels like…that make it stand out. The first time we see this is when Scott puts on the suit in the bathroom, stands in the tub, and shrinks for the first time. You are instantly transported to the bottom of the tub. You see the stopper and stopper chain, small stains around the base, and particles flying all around. The sound also changes. This sounds a little more like you are in a tunnel. It was cool to see and it’s only the beginning. Through the film we get a fight on a train table, inside of a briefcase, and on a project model and that’s just some of the sets.
Ant-Man works very hard to stand on it’s own two feet. It is more similar to something like Guardians. While it does still, clearly, take place in the MCU, they don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on that. There is one scene at Avenger’s Compound where Ant-Man meets Falcon. But it’s funny and contributes to the story, so doesn’t feel too forced. Outside of that, you get a few references but nothing major. I actually went to the movie with a person who has never seen a single Marvel movie (I know, I was shocked too!). He enjoyed the movie very much and had a great time.
While I don’t feel Ant-Man is the strongest outing for Marvel, it is one of the more unique. It was well written, well acted, well designed, and well directed and completely worthy of it’s Marvel branding. If you love the Marvel movies you will love it, but even if you don’t, give it a shot. I would guess you’ll will find yourself smiling more than not.
The film is rated PG-13 for Sci-Fi Action Violence. There is very little blood and several fighting scenes. There is a weapon that is used on humans that turns them into goo, it’s kind of gross. Frequent language. Several drinking and/or smoking references. Mild sexual content, most comments will go over kids heads, but they are there. And for the younger crowd, Yellowjacket is very menacing and kind of scary. I feel the PG-13 is justified. You could go a little younger for a more mature child.