By Phillip Guy Ellis (Northampton, England)
Star – Paul Rudd
Genre – Action > Comic Book (USA)
1 hr 57 minutes (PG13)
BAFTA – 1 Nomination
Awards – 3 Wins & 32 Nominations
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So Ant-Man and Marvel are so confident their films will be a hit they are simply throwing their back catalogue superhero’s at the audience and see if they will stick, and getting away with it. Rom – com star Paul Rudd had been eyeing the Ant-Man role for a while and had tried – 15 years prior to the release of Ant-Man (2015) – to buy the rights from Marvel in hopes to translate it to the big screen. British director Edgar Wright also wanted to get his hands on it and was duly signed up as director early on. But, during script development, he insisted the film to be completely stand-alone, with no references to the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This demand did not match the studios plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and so he left the film. Wright wanted them to focus on the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. However, Pym developed several personalities, one of whom abused his girlfriend, and producers decided he was not family friendly. Instead, the focus shifted to Scott Lang, with Pym as a mentor and supporting character.
Occasional director Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Down with Love, The Break-Up and Yes Man) was dusted down and took the gig. For its $142 million budget it did $600 million back and so another huge hit for MC. People just love this Marvel stuff and sure to pass the trillion dollars one day this century. Less said about DC Comics the better.
Paul Rudd … Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Michael Douglas … Dr. Hank Pym
Evangeline Lilly … Hope van Dyne
Corey Stoll … Darren Cross / Yellowjacket
Bobby Cannavale … Paxton
Anthony Mackie … Sam Wilson / Falcon
Judy Greer … Maggie Lang
Abby Ryder Fortson … Cassie Lang
Michael Peña … Luis
David Dastmalchian … Kurt
T.I. … Dave (as Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris)
Wood Harris … Gale
Hayley Atwell … Peggy Carter
John Slattery … Howard Stark
Martin Donovan … Mitchell Carson
We learn that back in 1989, scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. after discovering they are attempting to replicate his Ant-Man shrinking technology, science that closes the gap between atoms and cells, which he believes is dangerous for the world, vowing to hide it as long as he lives.
The present day and Pym’s estranged daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), and former S.H.E.I.L.D protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), have forced Pym out of his company, Pym Technologies. Cross, rather alarmingly, is near to perfecting a shrinking suit of his own, the Yellowjacket, which horrifies Pym, concern showed enough to get him killed.
Across town and Scott Lang (Rudd), a well meaning thief, has moved in with his old cellmate, Luis (Michael Peña), who constantly tries to get him back into the criminal fraternity to utilize his special skills. Lang lost everything from his crimes, including visiting rights to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and determined to get a job and go straight, constantly chastised by his ex wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her police-detective fiancé, Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) for not providing child support.
Unable to hold down that job because of his criminal record and just sacked from a fast -food place, Lang agrees to join Luis’ crew and commit a burglary. The crew breaks into a big house as Lang cracks its safe, hoping to find great riches, but only finding what he believes to be an old motorcycle suit, which he takes home. But the suit has gadgets on it and, after trying the suit on, Lang accidentally shrinks himself to the size of a bug in the shower. Terrified by the experience, he returns the suit to the house, but the surrounded by cops on the way out.
Pym, the homeowner of the vault, visits Lang in jail and smuggles the suit into his cell to help him break out, which he does. He has set the kid up for a big fall so he can do a job for him. Pym wants to stop Cross from developing the technology and Lang is going to help him do it, a chance for both dads to win the trust and respect of their daughters once again.
I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this as what can a tiny little superhero do, other than be flushed down the plughole? Well it is good fun and although Paul Rudd doesn’t make a convincing superhero he makes Ant-Man his own and just about gets away with it. As I say some big changes were made from the original comic on who is Ant-Man but that doesn’t bother me as I never read superhero comic books as a kid. I still haven’t got over Martin Short in Inner Space. I kind of see why Marvel want to weld Ant-Man into the S.H.E.I.L.D – Avengers universe for merchandising and spin off reasons and sad that Edgar jumped ship for Baby Driver but both films turned out entertaining so no worries there.
The de-aging special effects are the star here as Michael Douglas face is cleverly zapped back to 1989 when Zeta Jones was just a glint in Harvey Weinstein’s eye, and I believe that technique was also used in the new Star Wars films. It’s a clever effect. The main reason superhero films have taken over Hollywood and beyond is because those malleable and brilliant digital effects allow the superheroes to really come alive. Saying that is not a film big on those now familiar bold Marvel Universe action scenes and more about the story – and ants, rather awkwardly. Yes, there are a lot of ants in this. Well he is the Ant-Man.
This is not the best comic book film I saw last year but it’s not the worst. Batman v Superman and The Justice League are pretty average. I would not bother with those and see this, Logan and Wonder Woman, instead. Supporting cast is solid and Bobby Cannavale from Boardwalk Empire beginning to turn up in everything the way Michael Shannon does. Rudd is likeable, the action is solid and the film suitable for kids and that’s all that really matters with Marvel.
IMDb.com – 7.3/10.0 (407,234votes)
Rottentomatos.com – 82% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 64% critic’s approval
London Evening Standards – ‘Ant-Man just isn’t that great an idea and the film exists only because the Marvel machine is working so remorselessly through its massive back catalogue’.
Chicago Reader – ‘At long last Marvel Studios offers up a superhero smaller than its artistic ambitions’.
New Yorker – ‘What, if anything, holds Ant-Man together? First, Paul Rudd, who is laughably unheroic, and has the grace to know as much …’
BBC.COM – ‘The film isn’t terrible but it makes earlier Marvel outings look like masterpieces. There’s hardly a trope in it you haven’t seen before, and done with far greater flair. It feels like making a mountain out of an anthill’.
The Telegraph – ‘Ant-Man stands on its own as an entertaining, smartly funny film, while also fitting neatly into the Marvel cinematic universe’.
Mail on Sunday – ‘Yes, it’s funny at times and nearly always entertaining but, helped by a terrific cast and a thoughtfully constructed screenplay, Ant-Man has enough gravitas and drama to keep an open-minded adult audience entertained, alongside its target younger market’.