The latest Marvel adventure is a tons of fun, from its creative action sequences to its hilarious jokes. By now, there is no risky Marvel movie. Whatever superhero they pick, the audience will show up. The success of GUARDIANS went a long way.
Now, the studio is so assured instead of aiming their story on the end of the world, they have focused on a contained story about a father trying to keep custody of his little daughter. And the movie is better for it.
Thankfully, the first acts spends a lot of time developing character. ANT-MAN begins in the past, with the original Ant-man played by Michael Douglas (with some fantastic de-aging digital make-up).
There are some guest appearances in the opening, shouting out earlier films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and connecting this story to a larger framework. This sequence doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb either, like some earlier movies are guilty of.
Then our hero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) get introduced in prison. It isn’t long before he’s released and trying to find a job to pay for child support. This early character work ensures we are emotionally invested and want to see our hero succeed.
Rudd is great in the role, walking a fine line between joker and hero. This origin story is so enjoyable because of his charming presence.
Michael Pena nearly steals the show as Rudd’s friend. He’s the one that kicks off the plan to steal the Ant-man suit, although they have no idea that’s what inside the safe.
The way Pena tells the story of how he learned of the safe was one of the movie’s highlights. We hear his voice as the plan unfolds, nothing new there right? But then the characters talk during this flashback, and it’s still Pena’s voice coming out of their mouths. What may sound cheesy, works amazingly well.
I won’t comment on some other gems from Pena, as to not spoil the movie, but I will say, “Back up. Back it up. Back it up…”
The breaking into the house sequence was really exciting, from the parkour entrance to the safe-cracking hijinx, it was just a pure joy to watch.
There were a couple of other heist segments, one including an amazing special guest appearance from an Avenger. These heists are a fresh approach to the usual Marvel action extravaganzas. The smaller scale (pun actually not intended) really helps this story, making the motives easier to relate to.
The miniature scenes were each mind-blowing in their own way. Each one was so imaginative.
Rudd working with the ants was way better than I imagined. I waited off on seeing this movie because I thought it might be too cheesy. Man, was I wrong. These sequences were completely enthralling and incredibly fun.
I really enjoyed the actual fight scenes too, as our hero would shrink and expand in between punches. Each and every action sequence had so much variety.
We even get into theoretical science with an impressive hallucinatory sequence reminiscent of Kubrick’s 2001 and its final trip. It also reminded me of INTERSTELLAR and the quantum bookshelf stuff. I expected Rudd to start yelling, “Murph.”
The characters for the most part work well. Michael Douglas takes it serious in his mentor role of Hank Pym. There were some compelling moments as he trained Rudd to communicate with ants. It was like Obi-Wan teaching Luke to use The Force.
I also enjoyed Pym’s backstory with the suit and his wife. With the events of this movie, I think Douglas may have learned a new way to find his wife (spoiler free, but hopefully you know what I mean).
Evangeline Lilly (LOST, REAL STEEL, THE HOBBIT) co-stars as Pym’s daughter. I’ve heard a lot of hate for her in this role, but I don’t get it. I actually really enjoyed the chemistry between Lilly and Rudd. The training montage stuff was great. Let’s just say, I like how she throws a punch. Her character motives were pretty clear too.
I can’t wait to see more from her in CIVIL WAR (?) If you stayed for the end credit sequence you know what I mean.
The only thing holding back this movie was its slower pace at times and its villain (Corey Stoll), a rival scientist who learned under Pym’s wing. His motives weren’t so clear. I’m guessing he was affected by his experiment and started to go a little nutty.
Stoll eventually dons his own suit, the Yellow Jacket, and dukes it out with Ant-man. The best part of their fight occurred within a briefcase. Yeah. You read that right. His most intimidating moments had to do with an innocent sacrificial lamb.
That said, this film wasn’t about the villain, it was about our hero’s origins. With that, I think the film greatly succeeded.
ANT-MAN was so much more fun than I anticipated. The training sequences were all exciting to watch, instead of humdrum cliches we have to sit through like in some other movies.
I’m looking forward to the sequel when Ant-man might use his other powers. What do I mean? Well, add a G and an I to the title. I can’t wait to see this hero go big! Maybe in the next AVENGERS?
The creativity of this hero’s powers, the large amount of laughs, and out of this world heist/action sequences make this Marvel movie a must watch. If you were on the fence like I was, hop on off.
Do not let ANT-MAN slip/through the cracks.
(above / = 4 out of 5)
What do you think?
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