A reformed criminal with amazing powers must save the world as incredible Marvel superhero Ant-Man makes his big screen debut. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a con-man whose extraordinary Ant-Man suit allows him to shrink in size while boosting his strength. With the future of the world at stake, he must find his inner hero and help his scientist mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to pull off an audacious heist.
This was going to be it, this was the film were the Marvel money making machine would finally come off the rails. Character that is not well known? Check. A somewhat silly superpower? Check. Underwhelming trailer? Check. Troubled production? Check. Not only that but had the added bonus of removing geek icon Edgar Wright and replacing him with both a figurative and literal “Yes Man” in Peyton Reed.
But much like the undersized titular character, the movie punches above its weight. From a cool opening sequence were a digitally de-aged Douglas confronts a number of Marvel mainstays. The movie is never less than engaging. The movie is littered with exciting action scenes from the first time Rudd shrinks down to a tripy finale that could possibly open an entire other avenue for the Marvel universe to go down. The effects are perfectly done and never looks like a superhero “Honey I shrunk the kids”.
If there is one thing Marvel movies tend to get spot on, its casting. Michael Douglas brings his old school Hollywood star power to proceedings. Having himself starred in a number of entertaining action movies like Romancing the Stone. Its not hard to imagine an alternative timeline were a younger Douglas would be a corner stone of the MCU. There is strong support from Michael Pena who absolutely steals the movie by throwing himself into every scene with the enthusiasm of of an excitable puppy.
The big surprise here is Rudd, already well known for his laid back, slacker charm in a number of supporting roles. Here, given the lead role it would have been easy to fall back onto that. Instead he reigns in the snark and adds a layer of depth and nuance that makes his relationship with his daughter believable as opposed to a plot point. This is a Paul Rudd we have never seen before (not just his impressive abs) it is every bit the star making turn that Chris Pratt gave in Guardians of the Galaxy and I am sure we will see Rudd now being touted for every upcoming project in the coming months.
It is refreshing to see a superhero movie that valued story and character over giant Helicarriers or continents being thrown around. Both Lang and Pym’s main motivation as simply being good fathers is a clever new wrinkle that has been absent from the Marvel movies. As the two men have much more personal stakes in the outcome as opposed to saving the whole world, they just want to save their own.
The film is not perfect but it is a huge improvement over the underwhelming Age of Ultron. The villain is a bit too similar to the first Iron Man and again the least interesting Avenger is shoehorned in to the film in an effort to make them seem relevant. This leads on to another of the movie’s problems and apparently the reason Wright walked away from the movie. The integration into the rest of the Marvel universe seems forced, particularly during the reveal of the villain’s motivations.
But these are minor gripes, the film sits comfortably at the top end of the Marvel league table and not one but two post credit scenes open up a number of interesting possibilities for a number of the characters. Highly recommended.
4 out of 5 Nerds