Director: Peyton Reed
Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Michael Douglas, Abby Ryder Fortson, Martin Donovan
Running Length: 117 minutes
Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Review: It may seem strange that Marvel has chosen Ant-Man as the film to close out Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since he is definitely one of the smaller (in every sense of that word) heroes in the Marvel canon. However, if Guardians of the Galaxy is any indication, just because the character isn’t well-known doesn’t mean it won’t be a well-received film. And in this case, although Ant-Man doesn’t quite reach the heights of Guardians, it is very entertaining and as an origins film, sets the stage for yet another franchise opportunity for Marvel (although Ant-Man will already return in next year’s Captain America: Civil War).
There is this sense throughout the film that this is not considered a marquee Marvel property, and it shows in the anything-goes spirit that embodies the bulk of the movie. Even the trials and tribulations faced by the cast feel more personal than usual – there’s only the merest hint of a global crisis, and more often than not it is familial conflicts that propel the plot forward.
The amount of sight gags and humorous asides are second only to Guardians of the Galaxy, and it will be near impossible to not feel entertained by the film. Paul Rudd is an extremely amicable central protagonist, and his immense likeability, much like Chris Pratt’s Starlord, is one of the biggest reasons why Ant-Man works. Of the supporting cast, Evangeline Lilly once again takes on a strong female role as Hank Pym’s daughter Hope (though she isn’t given enough to do), but no one is as memorable as Michael Pena, and two excellent montages in which other characters “lip-sync” to his motor-mouth narration feel particularly inspired.
While audiences of any Marvel superhero movie would naturally expect a good number of action sequences, these scenes in Ant-Man aren’t particularly memorable, with a fair number of scenes that seem to exist simply to up the action to drama ratio. What does manage to impress is how effectively Reed manages to convey the differences in point of view between the human-sized and ant-sized Ant-Man – the sequence where Scott first uses the suit, where he literally falls through a number of “universes” is both fun and unique. There is, again, a lot of humour employed in these scenes, none more clearly so than during a climactic showdown on a Thomas the Train Engine toy track. Oddly, there does seem to be a higher-than-normal amount of product placement in Ant-Man, and though some of it is quite obvious, it never becomes excessive or too glaring.
Expectations may have been low for Ant-Man, the film has more than exceeded them, and quite easily ranks as one of the best films in Phase 2 of the MCU. It is also one of the most kid-friendly Marvel movies to date, an endearing smaller-scale film that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser and generate positive word of mouth.
P.S. Remember to stay throughout the end credits to catch two coda sequences, one mid-credits and one at the very end.
Rating: * * * ½ (out of four stars)