Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly
Written by: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must don the shrinking suit of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to stop Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from selling the technology to Hydra.
The final film in Marvel’s Phase Two comic films, Ant-Man is as different from the other Marvel films as Guardians of the Galaxy is. While this film takes place on Earth and will actually have a connection to the greater story arc being planned, it is a mixture of heist and comedy with some action elements thrown in. It is not a balls to the wall action extravaganza like Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is a fun ride, to be sure, and entertaining as all get out, but by the end of the film, I found myself questioning the relevance of the powers of a man who can shrink and control ants in this growing universe of gods and super soldiers and sentient vibranium coated robots. Despite the question of relevance, I found that I quite enjoyed Ant-Man.
Cat burglar Scott Lang is having a hard go of things. His old friend Luis (Michael Pena) is trying to get him to burgle again, but Scott isn’t interested. He is trying to make things work on the outside but can’t get a job with grand larceny on his record. This stops him from seeing his daughter since he can’t pay child support. He finally cracks and breaks into a house owned by some old, rich, white guy. When he breaks into the vault in the basement, he finds a suit that he steals. When he puts it on, he shrinks down to the size of an ant. He is then contacted by Hank Pym, the old, rich, white guy who had been watching Scott as he needs a burglar. Soon, Hank and his daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are training Scott for a mission to steal the Yellowjacket technology designed by Pym’s old protege, Darren Cross.
This is the origin story of Scott Lang becoming the Ant-Man, not the origin story of Ant-Man. Let me explain. In the film, Michael Doulas’ character of Hank Pym is the original Ant-Man. Pym created the ‘Pym Particle’ which allows the user to shrink. He used this technology in the ’80’s but then retired the particle and suit that was necessary to control it after he discovered S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to create their own version of the particle. This is an interesting approach to an origin story because, let’s be honest, how many of us are getting sick of straight up origin stories? I know I am and this take felt fresh and it didn’t feel like an origin. It felt like a passing of the torch, if you will. (NOTE: Was Pym mentioned in one of the earlier Marvel films? I cannot remember exactly, but I think he was, even though I cannot remember the context.
This film is quite funny. The writers and director knew the inherent comedic value of a shrinking superhero and made a point of making this film funnier in nature than the other Marvel films, with the possible exception of Guardians of the Galaxy. While the Marvel films are know for having a sense of humor about them, they usually have moments of levity, not extended gags. Ant-Man has extended comedic scenes and even throwbacks to earlier in the film. Along with the action and the heist aspect, this makes for a good ride. That’s not to say it’s perfect.
While the scope of this film is limited, it still feels like a small film. Not the rip roaring, rousing adventures we are used to seeing from Marvel films. This does give the audience a chance to connect with the characters more and understand their motivations, especially Scott Lang. who, as a parent, is easily identifiable with. The problem is, it still seems a little fractured, plot wise. This is the first Marvel film that I found myself thinking that there may have been too many cooks in the kitchen whipping this thing up. I suppose fractured is a bad choice of word. Maybe you can finally see the cracks starting to show a little bit. That these films need to be a little tighter; the glue a little more dried before unleashing.
I enjoyed Ant-Man. I really did. The comedy, smaller scope of the story, and the wonderful Thomas the Tank Engine scene in the end are all keepers. Paul Rudd did a wonderful job as Scott Lang, as did Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne, and the always great Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. I’m glad I took the time to catch this in the theater and not wait for Blu-Ray. If you haven’t seen this, make a point of shooting out and checking it out. It’s a fun ride.
*** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, The World’s End) was the original writer and director. Due to creative differences with Marvel, he dropped out and Peyton Reed (Bring it On, Yes Man) took over directing duties.
- This is the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to reference Spider-Man. He is not shown, but is referenced near the end.