"This is not some cute tech like the Iron Man suit!"
Full of wonderful gags, light humour and excellent adventure Ant-Man delivers on everything you’d expect from a film called Ant-Man.
Keen to separate Ant-Man from Marvel’s inaugural blockbuster hit Iron Man, Ant-Man falls short of its ultimate potential, but through no fault of its own; let me elaborate. It’s clear that an executive decision was made to ensure that as many aching continuity throwaway lines were included as possible.
When I donned the IMAX 3D glasses on opening night I wasn’t ignorant to the high possibility of Marvel tooting their own horn, nor was I deterred by this probability but I was a little disappointed with their general throwaway tone. Iron Man here, Avengers there but they never really carry any weight. In a strange twist this actually plays into Ant-Man‘s strengths.
Where other Marvel films that rely on franchise history to, a) progress storylines and b) promote brand over product, would suffer from such hackneyed exposition Ant-Man actually comes up trumps with a silly, but effective visual adventure.
Typecasting is a constant threat to blockbuster actors. Downey Jr. is beginning to understand that all too well as Iron Man fans become weary of his consant drivel but Paul Rudd has come on leaps and bounds since his self-pitying sales of “Shrek’s piss” in Role Models. Slipping into the Ant-Man suit designed by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) Rudd, as Marvel’s Scott Lang, brings his usual self to the table with added sincerity and depth to character chemistry.
Released from prison in the opening scene Lang is picked up by his old cellmate Luis, played by the scene-stealing Michael Peña in his best performance to date. Recognising the error of his ways Lang seeks a straight job to provide for his daughter and fulfil his duties as a father. But his master plan gets off to a shaky start when he’s fired from Baskin-Robbins. Returning home to his shared hotel room with Luis and his soon-to-be crew Lang relapses back into his cat burgling ways and follows one of Luis’ tips.
It is in this sequence that we witness Edgar Wright’s contribution after leaving the project in 2013. Peña’s multiple montage edits are brilliant and add a unique element to an otherwise predictable story. Breaking into Pym’s house, through his various security measures and leaving with an odd looking motorbike suit wasn’t exactly what Lang had in mind. But curiosity got the better of him.
Standing in front of the bathroom mirror looking utterly ridiculous Lang puts his PS2 Beijing Olympics button mashing skills to the test. Frantically smashing around and desperate to hide from Luis dressed like moron he jumps into the tub, finds the magic button and shrinks to the size of an ant.
"It's a trial by fire, Scott... or in this case, water."
Pym pipes up and guides him through his first trial as the Ant-Man. This trial delivers on the trailer’s promise of unique visuals and inimitable style and is well worth the 3D viewing if you fancy forking out the extra dollar. Thrown from the tub by a raging wave, crashing to the hard tile floor, lashed out of the window and slinking through drain covers are just a few of the sequences we’re treated to in this ant sized adventure in a big wide world bringing tiny dangers to life.
As Pym mentors Lang into becoming the eponymous hero his plan is revealed. To stop his previous protege, Darren Cross, from developing his own version of the shrinking technology and selling it to top paying criminal organisations, not least of all Hydra. Ant-Man turns from ‘Superhero Action’ into a ‘Comedy Adventure Heist’ and reeps the deserved rewards.
While Corey Stoll’s Cross is temporarily intimidating with his warped businessman persona his invention, the Yellowjacket, fails to personify the threat it portrays. Unfortunately Ant-Man is let down by its villain, but true to the overall tone Ant-Man never tries to be something its not. By focusing the attention on the visual and audio gags rather than throwing money into the development of Stoll’s character we view Ant-Man for the ride rather than the incredibly predictable storyline that fails to throw too many obstacles our way.
With the highly visuals focused trailer Ant-Man carried less pressure to produce a film that went beyond expectations. However, with great casting, slick comedic dialogue and a simple storyline Ant-Man copes with the big stuff, but excels at the little things.
To channel Stan Lee’s cameo, Ant-Man is “stupid fine.”
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