Ant-Man is more than a comic book movie. It takes viewers on a thrill ride through the world of science fiction physics. The smaller the size of the movie is, compared to that the characters are complex, charismatic people, whose relationships go through ups and downs every now and then. These characters are so well written that they appear as convincing players in an otherworldly premise suspending our concept of reality, once we buy in, well-placed humorous references poke fun at the day-to-day environment we take for granted.
Created in 1962 by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, Ant Man has been a B-List Marvel character even after being one of the founding members of The Avengers. In a failed attempt by Edgar Wright to bring the shrinking superhero to the big screen when he wrote a script for the project and further went on to develop the film for 8 years. Finally in 2014, he was set to direct Ant-Man for the now successful Marvel Studios. He left the project with a mutual agreement with Marvel Studios due to creative differences. Yes Man director Peyton Reed then took over. As Wright was adored by critics, many have wondered whether Ant-Man would turn out to be Marvel’s first failure due to his absence.
Even with Peyton Reed calling the shots this movie feels like an Edgar Wright film. He and Joe Cornish are still credited with story and part of the screenplay (the latter shared with Adam McKay and Paul Rudd). And if you are a fan of Wright’s work, you’ll be able to pick his parts of the film out almost immediately.
The film is filled with Edgar Write trademark style. The movie has prominently used jump-cut scenes in a very humorous way. Something that is Edgar Write is known for, where he presents a part of the story in a series of staccato images that say what they need to say in a concise and exciting way. In my opinion, it’s a trait that proves his genius and a big part of what I love about his films.
The film opens as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) leaves prison after a three year sentence for a Robin Hood-like bit of computer theft. He wants to start a clean life so he can provide a good role model for his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), but he’s not even able to keep a job at Baskin-Robbins due to his criminal record. He gets on a heist job with an old prison pal Luis (Michael Peña) and agrees for a job at home of an ex-military guy.
Paul Rudd is comes out as an awkwardly charming good guy with a witty sense of humor. He’s just weirdly adorable like a cross-over between Tony Stark and Peter Quill with more humility. Hank Pym though, is an ass. Which is not surprising considering he mostly is exasperating in comic books.
Rudd’s co-stars are all equally on fine form as Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly both deliver solid performances as Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne. Oscar award winner Douglas fully commits to the role as the secretive ex scientist Pym while Lilly’s ice queen van Dyne is as serious as her bob haircut. The film’s most dramatic scenes arise from the strained father-daughter relationship between the two which plays out very well.
But it is Michael Pena who steals the movie with his crazy fast narratives. He plays Lang’s motor mouthed best bud Luis and steals almost every scene he’s in. The flashback scenes where he narrates the lines of others in his own wild words produce some of the films biggest laughs.
And as expected from a Marvel movie, Ant-Man is a blend of action and comedy. When Ant-Man shrinks for the first time, he has to avoid death by bathwater, clubbers, a hoover and a rat in a visually stunning sequence.
After the huge city smashing destruction earlier in the year from Avengers: Age of Ultron (which is snarkily referenced by Hank Pym) there was a need for Marvel to scale back the stakes in order to keep things fresh. Ant-Man certainly brings something new to the table as, on the whole, it feels very different to anything else in the crowded comic-book movie market.
Ant Man comes with its flaws but Marvel has tries its best to keep it grounded and more personal on every level. Next time when we see Ant Man in Captain America: Civil War it is going to be a whole new level of awesome.