A suit that shrinks a man to the size of an ant, but gives the wearer superhuman strength. There’s a reason Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) buried the technology many years ago; but now the threat of it being released is real. Dr. Pym has just the man in mind to prevent it happening. Marvel’s Ant-Man is reviewed after the jump.
Dr. Pym’s former protegé and current CEO of Pym Technologies, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has just about unlocked the technology to shrink people to the size of ants. He’s intending to commercialise the technology and sell it to those seeking the ultimate weapon – a solider too small to detect, with strength greater than any man.
This same technology was hidden by Dr. Pym many years before, when he realised its potentially dangerous applications. Dr Pym is now retired from the company he founded, but together with his daughter (Evangeline Lilly), they hatch a plan to stop Cross. Crucial to their plan is Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) a reasonably successful con-man, with particular skills in breaking and entering.
Ant-Man has a simple, easy-to-follow story, which is actually quite refreshing in the often convoluted Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not dark and twisty and the world isn’t in imminent danger of destruction. There’s no hard language, and the violence is toned down. That’s not to say that there’s nothing going on, because there is, it’s just heavier on the fun than on the darkness. Perhaps it’s the PG rating which drove the decision for a lighter film? I’m not exactly sure. While it is rather broad, I found Ant-Man to be quite a charming and very easy viewing.
Watching Scott learn the ways of being Ant-Man is very much the traditional ‘fish out of water’ sort of story, and it is done well. When the world suddenly becomes very big these small ants seem monstrous, a bath tub becomes a potential death trap, and humans walking pummels. Once Scott gets the hang of things and the action kicks off it’s fun – an interesting blend of traditional action sequences and the humour of tiny beings fighting in a giant world where innocuous objects are suddenly weapons.
I suspect the biggest footprint left on Ant-Man by Edgar Wright (the original director of the film, who is still credited as a screenwriter and executive producer) is the humour of the supporting characters. Michael Pena got the best lines and his witty, yet casual, humour had a distinct Wright feel about it; as did the sequences where he told stories – some of the best visual humour in the film. Rudd was affable, but aside from the physicality, the role was hardly a stretch for him. Evangeline Lilly gives very little in her largely thankless role, which is a shame since her character and Scott’s daughter were the only female characters with any screen time. Judy Greer’s 90 seconds doesn’t count.
Ant-Man has slotted nicely into the Marvel Universe; the smaller stakes giving it a point of difference from the existing films. It’s big on family and friendship, and it puts humour ahead of gloom and doom. Ant-Man achieves its modest ambitions and is an enjoyable, if slightly forgettable film.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer(s): Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay (screenplay)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Evangeline Lilly
Runtime: 117 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: July 16 2015; USA: July 17 2015