Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas & Evangeline Lily
Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar 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
Rating: 12A Run time: 117 minutes Release date: 17 July (UK)
Before its release, there were more than a few people with more than a few concerns over Marvel’s latest offering. Ant-Man was a film bogged down with rumours and reports of trouble behind the scenes, and its original director; Edgar Wright left the film half way through production. And let’s be honest; no one gave the new guy, Peyton Reed, a chance. The end result then, is nothing short of a miracle and it’s remarkable just how good Ant-Man is.
A large part of Ant-Man’s success is down to the casting of Paul Rudd. The ever likeable funny man was probably one of Marvel’s riskiest casting choices to date, and to many is the person least likely to play a superhero. But then, that does seem the point. Rudd’s Scott Lang is a career criminal whose crimes have seen him gain a reputation as someone who robs from the rich and gives to the poor, rather than robbing the rich and giving to himself.
Rudd’s easy charm and laid back nature are a perfect fit for the both Lang and the film, and these attributes play perfectly against the other characters in the film and the other entries in Marvel’s canon. Yet again, Marvel seem to know exactly what they are doing with their approach to superhero films and what seems like a risk at first, makes perfect sense in hindsight. As a studio, they do appear to be unstoppable at the moment, and any talk of them being knocked from their perch only seems silly in retrospect.
This level of risk taking is especially true with the late addition of Peyton Reed as director. Reed came onboard to replace Edgar Wright after the former wasn’t happy with Marvel stepping in and trying to alter the outcome of his film. Arguments will no doubt be had regarding how much of each director exists in the final cut, but it would be wrong to deny Reed the praise he deserves for coming in half way through and coming out smelling of roses.
Stepping into a film that is already in production is a difficult task for any director, yet Reed has not only made a good film but he has also made one the freshest superhero films at a time when it felt like things were getting overstuffed and all too serious. This year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron was one such film, and when you consider how deep The Winter Soldier also went, it’s nice to have a film feel so bright and breezy.
Ant-Man, like Guardians of the Galaxy, is the perfect aside to Marvel’s more sombre hits and feels all the better for it. It may not have the same swagger as Guardians or the excellent soundtrack, but it does have the same rebellious nature that makes its list of characters that much more interesting to see develop on screen. While Captain America, Thor and Iron Man are all entertaining in their own right, there’s something about the likes of Scott Lang and Star Lord that feels more human.
It’s therefore easier for the audience to make a connection with them. Lang in particular has no desire to become a superhero, but rather finds he fits the role rather well, especially when committing himself to his new role of for nothing more than to be a better father to his estranged daughter. This is the mirror image of Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym. Pym, the original Ant-Man, fell out with his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lily), after the mysterious death of her mother which may or may not have been Hank’s fault.
The similarities are there for all to see, and in that regard Ant-Man is less a superhero film and more of a redemption film for two sets of families. And that’s something that Marvel has been doing so well with their recent releases. Iron Man 3 felt more like a spy caper, The Winter Soldier was a cold war thriller and Guardians was a heist film in space. It’s their ability to blend different genres into their films that separates them and makes each one feel unique while continually surprising audiences.
There’s also a inventiveness brought to the action scenes, and the shrinking and enlarging of characters feels less like a gimmick and more like a vivid experience. The first few times Lang shrinks throws the audience into proceedings while creating some entertaining action scenes late on. Even the much seen Thomas the Tank Engine moment from the trailer throws in some nice touches while looking superb in the process.
If there are any faults, they are few, but Marvel tends to stick to its proven formula too rigidly and once more the value in Marvel’s villains is pretty low. Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross is underwritten and suffers from being the direct opposite of the films hero, something Marvel needs to nip in the bud soon. These are minor quibbles though, and Ant-Man is escapist entertainment at its best and is the perfect antidote to the stuffy Age of Ultron.
In summary: Marvel knock another one out the park with a funny, charming and moving film that will have you waiting impatiently for more.