In many ways Ant-Man, Marvel’s latest big screen offering, feels like a do-over of the original movie that kicked this thundering behemoth of a studio into gear, Iron Man: It’s about a guy with a particular set of skills who acquires a super-suit, learns to master that suit, then has to battle a guy with a similar, but over-powered, suit. In many ways Ant-Man, Marvel’s latest big screen offering is something unexpectedly different to every other movie that studio has yet offered us.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has languished for three years in jail for burglary, a Robin Hood-ish crime that reimbursed the investors of a conniving corporation with the funds extorted from them. Three years away from his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and his poppet daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Now all Scott wants is to rebuild his life, pay his child support and spend time with his little girl. Life, though, doesn’t work that way, especially for an ex-con, and Scott is once again drawn into a life of crime. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately) the crime he becomes involved in involves breaking into the home of scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Pym, it emerges, was once a super soldier who worked for Marvel’s go-to super-espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the inventor of a device that allowed him to shrink to the size of an ant whilst maintaining his ability to punch like a boss. Scott steals the super-suit, and the macro-to-micro adventures begin: Pym and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), need Scott and his cat-burglar skills to destroy an attempt to replicate his Ant-Man suit and, effectively, arm the highest bidder with an army of super soldiers.
Paul Rudd is one of the most likeable big screen presences working in movies today, but don’t expect one of his mumbling comedy performances here (although he is still very funny here), Rudd plays Scott as a regular guy, an everyman looking not to atone to society in large but rather to his daughter in specific. Michael Douglas has great fun as aging hero, Hank Pym, punching out one bad guy in particular time and again and embracing the whole silliness of the concept but never hamming it up. As Hope van Dyne, Evangeline Lilly provides us with another strong Marvel female character, no shrinking violet (sorry) or damsel in distress here, she’s strong, spunky, ambitious and not afraid to let her fists do the talking. Corey Stoll, as bad-guy Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, does his best with a slightly under-written, generic villain whose character and arc is a little too much like Jeff Bridges’ character, Obadiah Stane, in the original Iron Man movie. There’s terrific support throughout, but it is Michael Pena’s Luis, the small-time crook with big ambitions chum of Scott, which you yearn to see more of, you can’t help but smile every time he’s on the screen.
The first twenty minutes of Ant-Man has a tendency to drag a little (although there’s little in this movie to upset smaller children, it might be difficult for them to maintain their attention after the exposition heavy opening), but once (director) Peyton Reed finds his footing the movie cracks along at an exciting, an occasionally exhilarating, pace. There’s a lot of fun in the back garden training scenes and the heist portion of the film is thrilling and inventive, as is the final battle between Scott and Yellowjacket. Ant-Man was originally developed for the screen by Edgar Wright, writer and director of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost Cornetto trilogy and there’s a lot of his “DNA” in evidence here: the fast talking; the quick cutting; the inventive, zingy fun.
The macro-to-micro, and back again, effects provide something completely new to the action scenes, with Scott constantly shrinking and growing where the action is appropriate. There’s a lot of fun in playing with everyday objects suddenly scaled to enormous sizes, iPhones, bathtubs and the grooves on an LP all providing fun highlights. These are the few scenes that make 3D seem worthwhile, there’s a slightly disorienting effect that makes it feel like the viewer is shrinking or growing alongside Scott.
Although he might be a secondary character in the greater Marvel Universe, Ant-Man shouldn’t be regarded as a lesser hero, he’s the most human of the lot, so far. It’s not Guardians of the Galaxy great, but Ant-Man is a huge amount of fun and has the biggest heart of any superhero movie yet. If you’re mildly interested and, maybe, thinking about waiting until it comes out on dvd, I would urge you to watch it at the cinema, it might seem small but it’s really rather large. Don’t brush it off.
For show times and booking visit Odeon Colchester.