Ant-Man (2015) Movie Review by John Walsh

Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Edgar Wright (screenplay),  Joe Cornish (screenplay)
Stars: Paul Rudd,  Michael Douglas,  Corey Stoll

I finally watched Ant-Man the other day, continuing my long tradition of missing the lesser Marvel cinematic films (can a film that grossed over $500m really be called that, who knows?) and then catching up with everyone else the best part of two years later. I have to say, I’m quite pleased that I got round to seeing it, because it’s yet another fine film from the beloved MCU.

The film opens with a very impressive piece of CG, as Michael Douglas gets the Benjamin Button treatment. That aside though, Mr. Pym is not a happy chappy, as he resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D, accusing them of trying to steal his technology. Things don’t get much better in the future either as his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) force him out of his company, Pym Technologies, with the latter transfixed on trying to emulate Pym’s shrinking suit and getting uncomfortably close with his ‘Yellowjacket’ creation. This doesn’t sit too well with Hank and he sets about sabotaging it before disaster strikes.

Step forward Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a man with a masters degree in electrical engineering, who inexplicably turns to a life of crime, carrying out burglary jobs presumably through boredom? I haven’t read the comics, so it’s more than likely that there’s a plausible reason. He’s a bit of a well meaning, loser at the beginning, coming off a short stint behind bars, but he’s looking to get on the road to redemption and earn an honest living, whilst also beginning to play an active role in his young daughters life again. That’s all well and good, but when you have a record, it’s often impossible to get employed, something which soon becomes apparent to Lang, as he loses his job at a fast food joint. Temporarily staying with ex-cellmate and buddy, Luis (Michael Peña) and coming off an awkward reunion at his daughters birthday, it’s not long before he’s tempted back into one more heist.

The heist on the Pym household is mainly an introductory look at Lang’s array of talents and he has quite a few. He acrobatically climbs up the house, disarms the alarm and uses some inventive techniques to pop the door off a vintage, 1910 era safe, apparently made with the same steel as the Titanic. It all appears in vain though as the only thing inside is a crappy suit, but he takes it with him nonetheless, and of course, when he gets some alone time the next day, tries it on. Things get interesting from this point onwards, from a visual and story standpoint. Firstly, those visuals. Wow. It’s absolutely incredible looking when Scott first shrinks down into the bathtub and the sequence afterwards is equally incredible as he makes his way through all sorts of varying, landscapes, before popping back to his original. Hank, who’s well aware of him wearing his suit, and as it turns out, let him steal it on purpose and planted the whole heist idea in general, introduces himself whilst helping to make sure the new, budding, superhero doesn’t kill himself.

A trip back to jail ensues with an overwhelmed Lang attempting to return the suit to its owner despite being told to do the opposite. He’s given a clear choice, stay in a perpetual life of crime or make the decision to be something better. Thankfully, he chooses the latter and it’s a brief stay, as an exhilarating escape is orchestrated by Pym and his army of obedient, mind controlled ants. The perspective then flips back to the villainous Cross, who by this point is brutally murdering several animals and a cynical rival, whilst Scott receives some much needed training from Hope, who’s switched sides again, and Hank on his way to becoming Ant-Man. He’s a quick learner and that’s perhaps for the best as a confrontation with Avenger, Falcon (Anthony Mackie), soon takes place with the former attempting yet another heist, this time on the very much occupied (it was supposed be abandoned) Avengers base. He’s successful, though not without a struggle, and the final assault on Pym Technologies gets brought forward after a lucky breakthrough from Cross brings him ever closer to replicating Hank’s suit.

The final assault is like a microcosmic version of the film as a whole, filled with lots of fast paced action, humour and fantastic visuals. Beginning in a lab as Cross is thwarted in his attempts to take his former masters suit by Hope, after briefly trapping Ant-Man inside a display case for the Yellowjacket (I’m really not sure what else to call it?), in front of Hydra representatives, and spreading out across town, ending in the most unlikely of places, his daughters bedroom, and more specifically, her toy train set. Lang uses nifty, little gadgets created by Pym to expand and shrink various objects, which add some good comedic moments. Everything from a toy train, an ant (later the family pet) and tank key ring gets the expanding treatment. He also utilises this in the films final moments to eventually save his life, after performing the ultimate sacrifice of shrinking into mere molecules to overwhelm and finally kill Yellowjacket/Cross by destroying his suit from within. This, incidentally, was the very thing that killed Pym’s wife and cohort Wasp years before. The scene reminded me a little of McConaughey in Insterstellar as he fell further and further into nothingness and it was very well put together.

Listen, I’ll admit it, I love Paul Rudd. From Anchorman to his role in Friends, he’s a brilliantly, funny actor and fantastic in this film. As I previously mentioned, his character starts off a bit of a well meaning, clown and develops very nicely as it progresses becoming a fully fledged superhero. Michael Douglas was impressive as Pym, the guiding guru figure that sees Lang’s potential when nobody else can and helps him achieve it. I enjoyed Evangeline Lilly as Hope and given the ending, I presume she’ll now be Wasp in the inevitable sequel. I’d have zero complaints with this and I thought there was some good chemistry between her and Rudd throughout. Corey Stoll played the villain well, he always seems to be a villainous character in anything I watch, albeit I’ve only seen him two films, this and the Big Short. He didn’t have a huge amount of screen time, the film seem to serve as more of an Ant-Man origin story, focusing on his training, but he did fine in the time he had.

I watched Captain America: Civil War before this and obviously Ant-Man was part of the ensemble of superheroes in that particular film, so I had a fair idea of what to expect going into this. I thoroughly enjoyed the film from start to finish, but then I thoroughly enjoy just about every Marvel film. It was a visual masterpiece, as it needed to be given the manner of the lead character, and Russell Carpenter should take a bow for that. It wasn’t the most complicated story ever told, essentially a heist film at its most basic level and story of redemption for Lang, but it was well directed by Peyton Reed and the dialogue was generally witty and snappy. Ultimately, if you’re a Marvel fan and somehow forgot to watch this, like me, and I’m aware that will be a very niche demographic then get it watched ASAP. If you’re not a Marvel fan then I doubt this will suddenly convert you.

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