Movie Review: Ant-Man

Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily and Corey Stoll.

As anyone who regularly reads this blog will know, I’m more of a DC fan than Marvel. DC won the war on TV with the superb Arrow and Flash combination, and Marvel’s films have never (in my opinion) reached the highs of the Dark Knight Trilogy or Man of Steel. Marvel films are always entertaining. They rarely make serious errors (Iron Man 2 and 3 are still the only major letdowns) but never quite achieve true greatness. But with their best known superheroes already used they’ve had to take some massive gambles. Guardians of the Galaxy shocked everyone by how good it was. But surely Marvel couldn’t pull the same trick twice? I mean Ant-Man? A superhero with the power to shrink? Basically the same power as seen on kid’s show Ben 10? Who is taken even less seriously by the average fan than Aquaman is for DC? A movie that had several script rewrites, changed director and composer during production – surely Marvel had to finally stumble?

They haven’t. Ironically the film i half expected to break Marvel’s run of quality films in phase two might just be the best of the lot. Yeah you read that right – but surely i don’t prefer Ant-Man to The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron or Guardians of the Galaxy? Actually… i think i might. It’s certainly the funniest of the lot – it uses the Guardians formula of putting a bunch of misfits together in a superhero film that doubles as a comedy with the occasional moment of heartful emotion. But the humour outdoes Guardians – and crucially the film has a better villain and a more complex plot. The villain in question is Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (played by Corey Stoll off House of Cards) who is both a credible threat to Ant-Man (the Yellowjacket being a militarised version of the Ant-Man suit) and more interesting than the usual human villain (he’s a kind of cross between Alexander Pierce from Cap 2 and Arnim Zola from The First Avenger) as a misguided scientist who becomes obsessed with developing the Ant-Man technology that his former mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, tried to conceal from him and SHIELD because he feared it’s potential as a weapon.

Apart from Cross, the main cast includes Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief seeking redemption, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man who chooses Scott to be the new Ant-Man and stop Cross, and Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Pym’s estranged daughter who helps train Scott to master the Ant-Man suit. The interplay between the three is brilliant, with Douglas ideally cast in the role of mentor, and Rudd giving Chris Pratt a run for his money as a wise-cracking charismatic lead. Not to say Scott Lang is a carbon-copy of Star-Lord, the two have their differences and Scott is definitely more moral, trying desperately to redeem himself and (in his divorced wife’s words) ‘make himself into the hero his young daughter already believes him to be’. Hope is a love-interest Marvel fans will be familiar with: the badass (i.e. Black Widow/Gamora)/business-like lady (Pepper Potts/Agent Carter) who initially isn’t interested in the hero only to eventually be won over by his heroism. However Lilly takes what could be an all too familiar role and stamps her own mark on it.

In a way, the film has only two problems: predictability and suspension of disbelief. There weren’t too many moments you don’t see coming (mind you, The Winter Soldier is the only Marvel film with a truly great plot twist so i won’t penalise this film for that), whether this is a problem is down to the viewer. The second problem is whether things get far too silly for you. Don’t go in expecting a serious superhero film, go in expecting a comedy, cause that’s what you’re going to get. I won’t spoil any of the laugh out loud moments but lets just say some discs Scott has which can shrink or grow anything they touch lead to some hilarious moments in the midst of the action scenes. As for the science involved i wouldn’t try to think too hard about it (given we have quantum realms, shrinking and growing and mind controlled ants – yes you read that right – its best just to go with the flow in this film). Scott’s heist crew are also brilliant comedy value, with the over-excitable Luis (Michael Pena), the smooth talking Dave (Tip Harris) and Russian Hacker Kurt (who is a bit like Drax as he gets most of the punchlines) and the banter between the four is brilliant. Scott’s daughter Cassie also gets her share of punchlines, managing to be adorable and hilarious in equal measure without becoming irritating like some child actors can.

Does the film link into the avengers films much? Yes, Peggy Carter and Howard Stark get cameos, Hydra make another appearance (they really are a persistent bunch) and there’s a great battle between Sam Wilson (Falcon from Cap 2) and Ant-Man as Scott attempts to steal some tech from the Avengers base. It also looks like Ant-Man might be back in a future film a bit sooner than i expected he would… There are also TWO post-credits scenes, so don’t leave after the mid-credits one, as the post credit scene has a brief teaser for Civil War…

Overall its ludricous, far too silly and hilarious all at the same time. But it was so entertaining i didn’t care. Comedy of the year? It’s got my vote! DC would never make a movie like this – only Marvel would have taken such a risk – and for that reason if nothing else…

Rating: 5 out of 5! They’ve finally done it. Got a perfect score off me. Well Done Marvel!

Later in the week I’ll publish my list of Marvel films, ranking them in order of quality – you can all guess which one is coming first after this review, and everyone knows what’s coming last, but there might be a few surprises in the rest of the order…

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