In that expected Marvel way, this last Phase 2 movie is formulaic but it has a welcome change in terms of style. It’s more light and loose with the way it builds the hero origin and the perspectives of Ant-Man’s world give the film a new edge.
Recently released convict Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is scouted out for hire by one time hero and scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to become the new user of his Ant-Man suit. Trying to stop S.H.I.E.L.D and now Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from using the dangerous technology, Hank and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) help Scott become the necessary hero to stop shrink tech getting into the wrong hands.
After going through small halts in its production phase and then a big piece of news in exciting directing talent Edgar Wright jumping off the deck, this film is slightly evident in not being so smooth as the previous slick efforts from team Marvel. Peyton Reed does direct the film with enough style to showcase the big moments of being small yet mighty and the humour from Wright’s mark is still clear thanks to Rudd and writer Adam McKay aiding the scripts changes. It’s just slightly shaky at times in the way that the film builds to the conclusion.
It’s good that Wright and Joe Cornish still get screenplay credit and Edgar Wright’s fast paced and comedic value is felt throughout a lot of the film even though he wasn’t behind the camera. Obviously we don’t fully know what parts were kept until a possible DVD bonus feature sheds some light but that zanier zippier quirk of humour feels strong in Luis’ accounts and generally how Scott is as a character. Peyton Reed includes an Avenger which works, maybe not part of Wright’s vision to make it stand alone but this hero’s part isn’t forced and becomes right for the story and I liked them being there.
Spectacle wise, this film is a showboat for the microscopic detail of Scott’s journey into insect sized heroism. The initial sequence when he first sees what the suit is capable of is is brilliant, from bath tub dilemmas to night club traversing, the mini him is literally thrown into a terrifying new life. The design of the suit with it’s graphics beaming around it as it shrinks is cool and the jumping back and forth between sizes makes for a pacy film. It’s also a great way to utilise on the comedy of the situation, the Thomas the Tank Engine moments leaping out as perfect examples.
The villain is slightly underwhelming, though he’s bad and doesn’t give a damn, he’s like most wrong ‘uns, charging their way to make money and not stopping until they win. Darren is like Obadiah in ‘Iron Man’, from who is in comparison to the initial hero to their rise to evil. The Yellowjacket suit is super fancy though and does look nasty, those many sharp prongs giving it a creepy wasp vibe even though the Wasp is another creation altogether.
Paul Rudd has everything needed to tackle a Marvel cinematic lead and most of that comes from the charm of him being the incapable hero. It’s no Chris Pratt performance but Rudd is likable and is the strongest element of this film. Evangeline Lilly packs the punches in training Scott, at times put to the sidelines but for purpose that is seen later in the films progress. She has the emotion under the duress of a tough father who won’t let her show her potential. Corey Stoll does more than enough with the smirks and glares as Darren Cross and though the villain is poor, Stoll makes him feel like he’s better. Michael Pena gifts narrations with a funny pang of speed and nonsense and his constant happy unknowing grin about situations is brilliant. Michael Douglas is intelligent yet vulnerable as Hank Pym, the leading knowledge in science is also fractured by a past loss and his desire to protect Hope. Douglas displays both sides of this character very well.
It’s not exactly a truly exciting film like the new additions of Star-Lord, Groot and the gang but Ant-Man has some snappy visuals and enough difference to keep the Marvel Universe chugging along nicely. A fun, pacy summer watch about tiny thrills with a big heart.