Ant-Man (2015) Directed by Peyton Reed. With Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly.
The smooth operation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit a bump in the road when co-writer, Edgar Wright, vacated the directors chair citing that old chestnut, “creative differences” and was swiftly replaced by Peyton Reed on Ant-Man, a quirky new branch of the Marvel series, in which a cat burglar is given a chance at redemption, when his skills capture the attention of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Fortunately for all involved, a bump is all it was.
Ant-Man continues the MCU theme of making a concerted effort to subvert its own ‘big’ dramatic scenes, which usually comes in the form of a quip, tagged on the end of some kind of emotional speech. Mostly known as a comedic actor, Paul Rudd is a perfect fit for this kind of delivery, as he takes the lead role of Scott Lang.
Interestingly, although we met Rudd’s character in an awful predicament (he’s being released from prison and has an awkward relationship with his ex-wife and daughter), the tone from the outset is bright and comedic. It’s made clear to us that he isn’t a bad guy – just someone who’s made poor choices, which is an ideal jumping off point for the hero’s journey to begin.
While it isn’t home to any big reveals, twists or surprises, the action and comedy are both inventive and at times, surprising, in and of themselves. With some outlandish visual gags, as well as savvy interplay between the actors, the film succeeds in sweetening the chore of having to endure yet another origins story.
The real ace in the pack, here though, is seeing the mundane world from a tiny perspective. In this sense, the film harnesses the comedic appeal of Land of the Giants meets Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, while never overplaying the hand. It leaves a sense of wanting more (I sat there dreading him stumbling across a random house spider), which is something the numerous Marvel films have been very careful to achieve.
While it might feel significantly more aside than many of the big Marvel productions, with some boundary pushing silliness with a few of the supporting characters (Michael Peña and co), there’s a good sense of personality woven into a film that refuses to take itself too seriously. 3.5/5
I loved this movie so much! I thought it was better than Age of Ultron, Paul Rudd was so awesome and so was Michael Douglas!
I’d agree that as a film, I prefer Ant-Man, but it’s a very different kind of film to Ultron, with a lot less to balance. I think Joss Whedon had too much on his plate to make Ultron click. Sadly, it never found rhythm, despite bring very entertaining, at times.
Fair point Gareth! I do love both and have the Blu Rays of both but agree that Joss had so much on his plate and it was difficult to make everything click, but it was absurdly entertaining!
Good review. I totally agree that this film doesn’t take itself too seriously and I loved that. It’s a throwback to the traditional superhero movies we got to see before everything became about gritt and hyper-realism. I loved seeing this and enjoyed it more than Avengers.
Thank you, my friend. Great to hear from you, as always. It’s interesting that people keep comparing Ant-Man with Age of Ultron, especially when they are two starkly different films, albeit both comic book films. I expected a LOT of Ultron, whereas Ant-Man had the luxury of small expectations (forgive the pun).
Not my favourite Marvel film but still a very good and enjoyable one non-the-less and I liked it more than Guardians of the Galaxy. As you point out, the use of the ‘shrinking’ element (and I like the way you draw on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in your review) is actually quite inventive.
Paul Rudd is great casting fro this role and I look forward to seeing how they integrate Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Great write-up as always Gareth!
Thank you Chris, it is going to be interesting to see how all of these characters will meld together as the Avengers series reaches its inevitable climax. I wouldn’t want to be the juggling them, that’s for sure.
Compared to Guardians, I don’t think I quite lost myself in this one, as much. Perhaps that was because Guardians surprised me in ways this did not, although tonally, they were very similar – humour and fun being the dominant forces.
It’s always great to hear from you. 🙂
I would have loved to have seen that Edgar Wright film but you’re spot on Gareth. I sense people have noticed a conveyor belt quality to Marvel films recently but Ant-Man shows each one is given enough leeway to be its own thing. Silly though it may be the Pena storytelling flashbacks complete with fantastic Stan Lee cameo were a highlight for me. I also wonder how many of the cool playful effects like the fight with the ipod or train set came from Wright, Reed or others but it doesn’t matter. We’re entertained and everybody got a credit.
Yes, it might have been a bit more ‘out there’ than Marvel/Disney wanted, but I would have liked to have seen the Edgar Wright cut – and you’re right, we are left wondering who was responsible for what, although as you rightly state, the quality of the overall end product is what really counts, Must have been frustrating for Wright, though, to have bits of his vision scattered around.
Plus he’d been trying to Ant-Man before the MCU was a thing.
Good review! I really enjoyed this film and it actually ended up on my “best of 2015” list. I also enjoyed it more than Age of Ultron. It was simple, entertaining, and funny, and I liked Paul Rudd in the lead role. I’m now curious to see how Ant-Man will fit into Marvel’s larger universe.
Thank you. I like Rudd too, his casting surprised me at first, but I think he was a good fit. As for Ultron, I think the two films are quite different, but I’d agree that this is a much tighter effort, although its storytelling responsibilities are far less than those of Ultron, which had the added the pressure of being the Marvel centrepiece. I fear it’s becoming a case of too many characters.
This movie was just so much damn fun. It’s the reason that I really believe I won’t get Superhero fatigue anytime soon. Ultron was more of the same, but was still a very entertaining movie for me. This one was fresh, and as long as Marvel puts out something fresh for every movie that’s “more of the same”, I think they’ll continue to be really successful. Keep up the great work, and check out my blog if you get the chance! I’ll be back to read more for sure. Your writing is awesome 🙂
Thank you very much, that’s very kind of you. I’m pleased to say that superhero fatigue hasn’t kicked in with me either, which is a credit to the quality that has been served up by all involved. I’m invested in all the various strands of the MCU and I hope that it continues with the same confidence and inventiveness.
Just by looking at their slate of future films, I’m sure that it will!
Really glad to hear someone who shared my thoughts on it. I liked Ant-Man but wasn’t as won over by it as many. It too found it a bit uneven and felt Stoll’s villain was among Marvel’s flattest. I am anxious to give it another look. Haven’t seen it since the theater.
I’s say it’s worth checking in on again, although I can’t imagine you’d change your mind that much. It’s fun and bright, so I think it generally succeeds, but I don’t think it’s anything to hold aloft.
Great review, especially love the part of stumbling across a house spider. Wow that would have been scary 🙂 I really enjoyed Ant-Man, there were a lot of humorous moments especially with the giant Thomas the Tank Engine and the tank 🙂 And the ants were adorable too.
Haha! Yes, you’re absolutely right, the giant Thomas the Tank Engine was inspired – loved it! I look forward to seeing how the characters fit in with rest of the Marvel gang.
I liked this movie too and actually, a lot of the points you mentioned are what I felt at that time too, like seeing the world fr that tiny viewpoint.
All in all, another great review.