Before going into “Ant-Man”, the 12th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I was a bit hesitant. My lack of knowledge of Ant-Man gave me the idea that this superhero and his powers were kind of a joke and mildly stupid compared the other Marvel heroes we have met so far. Also, the production was a troubled one, with one of my favorite directors, Edgar Wright (“Hot Fuzz”), originally set to direct but left the production due to creative differences. They replaced Wright with Peyton Reed (“The Break Up”), a director who was known more for his work in the comedy genre than comic-book films. “Ant-Man” had the potential to be a mess and a low point in the Marvel arsenal.
It isn’t a mess though. “Ant-Man” is a great film going experience that is funny, entertaining, and action-packed even if it does hit all the cookie-cutter Marvel introduction movie plot-points.
In “Ant-Man”, we see Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a brilliant scientist who has concocted a formula and suit that is able to shrink a human down to the size of an ant while having super-human strength. This is looked at as a weapon of war and is wanted by all sides of the government, but Pym won’t give it up, knowing what it can do in the wrong hands. When fellow businessman/scientist Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) starts making his own version of the same formula, Pym decides it is time to give his serum to only a man worthy of it. He settles on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a cat burglar who is recently released from prison and wants to turn his life around so he can see his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). With limited options, Lang takes on this important mission, which is followed by a series of training montages, fight sequences, flirting, bad guys getting badder, and wittiness, as we see our once troubled man grow into a hero and save the day.
Paul Rudd is one of the great comedic actors we have working today, so it was a bit of inspired casting to cast him as our hero but it works and he will be perfect with the other Avengers. His quick, dry, sarcastic sense of humor is very similar to Robert Downey Jr.’s as Iron Man. He also pulls off the action and seriousness quite well, which is impressive due to his inexperience in both areas. Michael Douglas is one of Hollywood’s lost gems. He kills it in every role he does and the same goes for his performance as Dr. Pym. He adds a level of gravitas to the movie and wears the face of a tortured genius as good as anyone. Corey Stoll is an actor on the rise and it’s a shame he had to play the doomed villain in a Marvel introduction movie because he chews up the screen with a maniacal smile and intensity. It’s a shame we won’t see him in any other Marvel movies. Evangeline Lilly is impressive as the strong willed daughter of Dr. Pym, Hope. Hope acts like she’s helping Cross, but she’s really helping her father and plays both sides well. And I can’t talk about the performances without talking about Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, and Tip ’T.I.’ Harris as Lang’s post-prison friends Luis, Kurt, and Dave. They are a sweet, hilarious, Three Stooges-like criminals that steal the movie
Like every Marvel movie, the action sequences are top notch. Even the 3-D in this film is done well. It’s a spectacle for the eyes. The story is nothing new and is basically recycled from every other Marvel introduction movie, which is what you come to expect now from the studio. You can essentially make a one-sheet outline from every introduction movie and they are all the same.
Overall, “Ant-Man” is what you’d expect from Marvel. A cookie-cutter introduction film filled with action, spectacle, wit, and good performances. It isn’t the trainwreck it had the potential to be which shows that even if Marvel can’t come up with an original plot, they consistently put out good movies.
MY RATING – 3/4
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Images courtesy of YouTube via Marvel Universe.