a critiQal film review Ant-Man (2015)

Plot: Forced out of his own company by former protege Darren Cross (Stoll), Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Rudd), a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross, also known as Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.

Reviewed
671 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 21s)

When I first heard about Marvel’s film, Ant-Man, I was pretty excited for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was being directed by Edward Wright, the man behind Shaun of the Dead (2004). Also, based on the comics I read as a kid, this was going to be the cinematic introduction of Hank Pym, the man who seemed to take on a different superhero persona all the time.

Of course, that was several years ago, and a few things have changed. First, while Edgar Wright did a script for the film, he was replaced by Peyton Reed (Bring It On (2000)). Secondly, while Pym was replaced by secondary Ant Guy Scott Lang, he does still make an appearance in the film (Michael Douglas).

After waiting years for it’s release, I couldn’t wait to check it out as soon as it arrived for home viewing. Despite all the changes, would Ant-Man still be worth our time? Or had Hollywood done something to ruin it?

Paul Rudd, known for his comedies, seems an unlikely choice for the main character in Ant-Man. But then, so was Robert Downey Jr. when he first strapped on a tin suit, and look how Iron Man (2008) turned out. Thankfully, Marvel has made another smart out-of-the-box choice with Paul Rudd. He manages to play the character decently, meshing a bit of humor with the seriousness of his character. He does seem a bit light-hearted even after his stint in jail, and he doesn’t quite manage tough, either. But, his toned-down humor and “two-bit loser with a heart of gold” shtick actually finally serves him well. No, he doesn’t nail the part like Downey Jr. owned his role in Iron Man (2008), but he’s still entertaining.

The backup cast is on about the same caliber. Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll, as love interest and villain respectively, both do decent jobs in their roles. Like Rudd, none of them really own their role, however, and could have been easily replaced by other actors. Michael Douglas is smart as Hank Pym, bringing his impressive acting chops with him. Surprisingly, the heartfelt moments between Douglas and his character’s daughter Evangeline are a bit of a struggle for Douglas, but it’s brief. Michael Pena brings off another memorable performance, despite not being given that much screen time, and Anthony Mackie (as the Falcon) really shows how much he’s embodied his role.

The storyline is smart, following a down-on-his-luck burglar as he becomes part of something greater. Like most Marvel films, each scene seems to have been planned to enhance the overall film. While many films seem to just be padded with extra scenes just to run up their screen time, Marvel films are designed for overall impact. Ant-Man showcases this well.

The special effects are stand-outs, keeping viewers immersed in the cinematic world Ant-Man is looking to create. Watching as he runs into his first ant in his shrunken size will hearken viewers back to Honey I Shrunk the Kids, watching the ants from Ant-Man will have viewers amazed at how far special effects have come. Watching him zap from small to big and back again in a furious fistfight is impressive as well, especially as the viewer never gets lost amongst what would seem to be a
sequence rife with confusion. This new small reality is brought to life expertly, giving viewers a whole new perspective on the world around them.

With Marvel’s smart casting evident, a storyline that will enthuse, and special effects that put Honey I Shrunk the Kids to shame, Ant-Man is another hit out of the park for Marvel. It’s definitely a bit more comical (not comic-y, but lighthearted) than most of the other films Marvel has given us lately, but it still works incredibly well. Marvel has a formula that works, and as long as they stick to it, viewers should continue to clamor for more.

With a sequel already scheduled (tentatively titled Ant-Man and the Wasp), we can’t wait to see Rudd, Lilly and the rest of cast continue to embrace their characters.

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