I like Ant-Man. The character, I mean. I really liked the movie too, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I own a copy of Marvel Premire #47, which was Scott Lang’s second ever comic appearance and featured the story that this film is loosely based on, My daughter’s middle name is Pym, and one of the first things I ever wrote for this site was an article called “Will The Real Ant-Man Please Stand Up“. (While it is no way necessary for you to read that article, I would love for you to because I still 100% stand behind every idea and feeling I share in that, which is not something I can say about everything I write, especially after 2 years.)
I was very excited when Ant-Man was announced as coming into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I honestly thought it was a little strange that it took them this long to finally get around to it, but whatever, it was happening and it was awesome. Until… Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), who had co-written the script with Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and who was the film’s director, exited the project over creative differences with the film studio. That made me, and pretty much everyone else who’d been pumped for this movie, very nervous. After finally seeing the film, I can safely say that there was never anything to worry about.
First off, here’s the film’s IMDB synopsis:
Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
I’m going to keep this a spoiler-free review, so as to be considerate to those of you who want to experience the movie with as fresh of a perspective as possible. Being that, I’ll not spend a lot of time explaining the plot. Essentially though, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) need help stopping Hank’s former protege, and current head of Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from unleashing a weaponized Ant-Man-style suit (called the Yellowjacket) into the hands of the wrong people, and Hank feels that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is the only person that can do that. Hope isn’t so sure, but reluctantly agrees to go along with the plan. Hank’s criminal friends (Michael Peña, T.I., & David Dastmalchian) eventually join in the effort and together they… well, they burgle. But it’s like REALLY cool burglary.
The story that Wright and Cornish crafted is still here, pretty much entirely. When director Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Yes Man) was brought in to take the helm, Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights) and, the star of Ant-Man, Paul Rudd were also tapped to do some rewrites on the script. The “heist” idea was Wrights from the very beginning and Reed did a fantastic job executing that dynamic perfectly. A large portion of the film plays more like Ocean’s Eleven than it does any superhero movie I’ve ever seen. It’s Reed’s cleverness, and McKay’s and Rudd’s comedic relationship that pulls that off. If these guys weren’t firing on all cylinders, the film would have fallen flat more often, and it really rarely did. The dialogue is funny but not inherently cheesy. Any cheesiness is supposed to be there so that the film shows you how self-aware it is, and It’s more “wink and a nod” cheesy rather than a serious attempt to make a legitimate joke.
Rudd IS Scott Lang. I know that a lot of people aren’t going to be familiar with him, so they won’t quite understand, but trust me when I say that he captures the nature of that character just as well as RDJ does with Tony Stark. There have been a lot of comparisons of him to Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill/Star-Lord, and that’s not without merit. Paul Rudd and Chris Pratt have similar comedy styles and so that shows through their characters. Quill and Lang are both morally-gray underdogs with quick wit and sarcastic attitudes. The difference is, Lang has more to lose being that he’s got a daughter to think about.
That plays a huge part is this movie too, Lang’s relationship with his daughter, or rather, his desire to make sure there continues to be one. Since I have a daughter of my own, that aspect of Scott’s story is one of the things I’ve always grown to relate to, and Rudd’s performance in the film really made me feel how deeply he wants her to see him as a hero and not a loser (I just wanted to run home and hug my daughter after the movie). In fact, that protective-father ideal is a running theme in the film. Douglas and Lily do a fantastic job playing the damaged father/daughter combo of Hank and Hope. Hank is desperate, but realistic and Michael Douglas pulls that off perfectly. Evangeline Lily is amazing as Hope van Dyne, and gives us another bad ass, independent woman in the MCU to be excited about. They also both play excellent straight characters next to Rudd’s sarcastic and occasionally awkward Lang and his trio of goofy friends.
Corey Stoll, who plays Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, is almost an amalgam of the different villain’s we’ve seen previously in MCU films. I saw glimpses of Obadiah Stane (Iron Man), Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2), and Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but yet he still brings an emotional element to the character that almost makes you pity him briefly, but then he’s a lunatic again and you’re like, “Nope, still an asshat.”
The real standout, and I sincerely hope that everyone who sees this picks up on it, is Micheal Peña. His character is Scott’s best friend & former cellmate, Luis. He steals every scene he’s in and will have you laughing constantly. I want to see the movie again right now just for him and how great he was, and really hope they keep bringing him back.
The cinematography and CGI of Ant-Man were phenomenal. The special effects team did an amazing job of taking a small character and creating the massive scale of everything around him when he shrinks. Then there’s the incredible partnership of CGI and choreographed fighting/parkour. When Scott is jumping, and diving, and all out brawling with dudes he’s shrinking and enlarging back and forth, and it looks great on screen.
Also, we can’t forget about the ants. The way they show us the ants working together to do various tasks was really well done. They feel like a genuine part of the team and not just carelessly expendable tools. Without the top-notch CGI work I don’t think they could’ve sold that as well as they did.
This time around I did see the film in IMAX 3D and I can tell you that if shelling out the cash for it is no big deal to you, it’s actually worth it this time. The layers that the 3D adds combined with the IMAX screen making everything so massive made for a really awesome viewing experience.
Before I share my final thoughts, I’d like to take a moment of your time to finalize a bet that was made between myself and my fellow 4LN writer Bill Clark. See, Bill has been vocally opposed to Ant-Man and he said that if Ant-Man was certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes that he would publicly apologize to the film.
I would like to publicly apologize to Ant-Man, I’m sorry Ant-Man.
— Bill Clark (@Bill_Clark27) July 17, 2015
Just like his idol Kanye, that’s the best I’m gonna get out of him so I’ll take it.
Also, I advise you to stay all the way until the credits are finished rolling. There is a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene, and both seem to foretell things we can expect to be expanded upon in the future (the mid-credits scene made me smile so big).
If you’re excited to see Ant-Man, I promise it’s not going to disappoint you. If you’re on the fence about it, give it a shot and I think it will pleasantly surprise you. Let’s be honest, the MCU movies haven’t gotten worse, so at the very least this movie is worth a watch. It has some moments that don’t land quite right, but those movies don’t hurt the film at all. It’s exciting, hilarious, and it’s just a really fun movie. Probably the most fun I’ve had watching a movie all year, and definitely the most fun movie of the summer. You’ll be all smiles as you walk out of the theater and that’s what summer movies should do for you.