Marvel’s twelfth film in its Cinematic Universe is Ant-Man, and it follows on from The Avengers: Age of Ultron in a sort of tangential manner. Ant-Man himself is far less well-known to non-comic buffs than other Avengers, or even the Fantastic Four. Let’s see how well the miniature hero stacks up against the bigger names.
Fans of Marvel’s series will be well aware that this film actually features two
Ant-Mans Ant-Men versions of Ant-Man. The main character, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd), is an ex-con who finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that could have world-shaking implications, and has to pull off a near impossible heist to ensure the safety of the world, and more importantly his family. The other one is ex-Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the genius who invented the Ant-Man suit, giving people the ability to shrink and regrow at will, while maintaining the body’s strength. Theoretically, this is done by shrinking the relative distance between atoms, but this actually amounts to a fair amount of waving it away as “spooky science”. The suit also gives Ant-Man the ability to order ants around (although whether the suit affects other insects too is left as an exercise to the viewer). Evangeline Lily plays Hank’s daughter, Hope, who helps Lang train for his pint-sized adventure. (Ed: More like nipperkin- sized…)
In a way, this film is a reward to loyal Marvel fans, because there are so many references to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, and the prior Avengers films, as well as to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film. If you’ve been following the films and TV series, you’ll feel far more a part of the references and in-jokes that are frequently dropped. Of course, if you’re not quite up to speed on the MCU, the film is still fairly standalone enough that you can enjoy the adventure without needing to know who Falcon is, or even who the comic version of Hank Pym is (hint: Pym is the guy who invented Ultron in the comics, which is a complete departure from the film).
Cinematography in Ant-Man was superbly done, and the way the film balances shots of Ant-Man’s miniature world and the larger world around him is nothing short of brilliant. There’s never too much focus on either perspective, and yet you never feel horribly disoriented by the shifting between the two. The CGI ants didn’t feel horribly out of place, either, but I’ve noticed that it always takes a few years before one can judge how well the CGI was integrated into the film. Still, they felt organic and as much a part of the universe as Ant-Man himself. Where my suspension of disbelief started to fall apart was nearer the end of the film, but there’s an important plot point I don’t want to ruin, so I’ll say no more about it.
What I found delightful and refreshing was the fact that the movie was not the sombre, “OMG the world’s in danger save save save!” that many of the superhero films devolve into, but a far more personal tale. Yes, there’s a possible danger to the planet, but it’s far more offset by the humanness of the characters. By far the best performance of the film was Michael Peña, who plays Scott’s ex-cellmate. I am not going to spoil things here ,but his lines are the funniest in the entire film, but never so over the top that it detracts from the scenes he plays in.
Marvel’s Ant-Man makes for a brilliant “night out with the lads” movie, and I heartily recommend it to all Marvel and comic book fans. It doesn’t take itself seriously and is all the more perfect for it. The story pays decent homage to Pym’s role in the past, but focuses very definitely on Scott’s incarnation as Ant-Man. As an origin film, it ticks all the right boxes (training montage, check…) and you get a wonderful appreciation for how dramatic and explosive an event is on different orders of size. I went into the film not knowing if I’d enjoy it, but I came out of it with Ant-Man as possibly my new favourite Marvel character. And also a newfound appreciation for ants.
Final Score: 8.5 ant-prawns out of 10
Director: Peyton Reed
Producer: Kevin Feige
Screenplay: Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Michael Peña
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Production: Marvel Studios
Release Date: 30 July, 2015