We were introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) with Ironman. Seven years later and we find ourselves once again following the adventures of a man in a high tech suit of wonder. Ant-Man certainly returns us back to those early days of the cinematic universe, delivering the humor, excitement, and superhero wonder that we all experienced with the first installment of Ironman. The film, however, manages to carve its own unique place in the MCU by providing audiences a heist movie with strong family values woven into the plot.
Story (4/5) – This plot focuses primarily on the two men who ultimately bare the name Ant-Man—Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, and an ex-thief Scott Lang, the man whom Pym has chosen to become the new one. When a former protégé rediscovers the Ant-Man technology (rebranding it Yellowjacket), Dr. Pym enlists Scott’s help to prevent the dangerous technology from being released into the world.
Scott’s primary motivation in becoming the Ant-Man is to show his daughter that he is “the hero that she already thinks [he] is.” The relationship that Scott has with his daughter Cassie runs parallel to the one that Pym has with his own daughter Hope. Additionally, we see that both Lang and Pym are in direct conflict with individuals involved in their daughter’s lives. With Cassie, we have her stepfather. And with Hope, we have Cross.
Characters (4/5) – Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a very likable character with a caring heart. He is quick witted and determined. Unfortunately, he is also a bit too good at being a burglar. So whenever life gets too difficult for him, Scott falls back on his skills as the crook. Rudd played this role well, giving the character a funny quirkiness and a warm likeability that makes Scott more human than most other superheroes.
Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) is a very human character as well. The loss of his wife profoundly alters the course of his life and superhero career. He tries hard to keep this world away from his daughter, but this forces her to hate him instead. Like Lang, Pym seeks to have a better relationship with his daughter. But whereas Lang’s daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson) sees him as a hero, Hope doesn’t see her father as one anymore. The veteran Douglas puts in my favorite performance in this film and his portrayal of Hank is superb.
Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is the daughter of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne (The Wasp). Strong willed and a physically capable individual, she is probably the best choice for becoming Ant-Man. Unfortunately, the death of her mother and her father’s withdrawal from her life afterwards muddied her relationship with her father. So much so that she even assisted Cross in the takeover of her father’s company. It isn’t until she realizes the danger the Ant-Man technology could unleash that she returns to her father for help. Lilly portrayal of this role is spectacular.
Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is the primary villain of the film. He is Hank’s former protégé and in many ways is the man that Hank could have become had his wife not tragically died. Cross is definitely more like the comic book Hank Pym than the Pym in this film. Stoll played the villain well.
I should also note Michael Pena’s performance as Luis. He provides additional comic relief in the film as well as two of the most enjoyable exposition montages I’ve seen in a while. I’m glad that he has been signed for additional Marvel movies. It will be nice to see this character again.
Direction (3/5) – The direction by Peyton Reed was focused. The story stay pretty much on track. The comedic scenes overall were honestly funny and balanced out the action and drama moments well.
Execution (4/5) – Most technical aspects of this fill were done well. But its visual effects were a highlight. Ant-Man creates an amazing world through its effects. The transitions between small sized to full size (and even to giant size) were terrific. The fight scenes alone were amazing dances of action and size shifting.
The CG ants did seem a bit weird in a few places, but were not too distracting overall. They turned out to be surprisingly lovable in fact. I really liked how they were used in their scenes. And it really did feel like pages from a comic. I was only disappointed with the visuals once, and that was by the film’s representation of the subatomic world. Granted, how do you show something that is supposed to be abstract. But somehow, I was expecting something a little more than leftovers graphics from the 80’s Tron movie.
Entertainment (3/5) – I was entertained while watching this film. Being an origin story, the first parts of the movie were somewhat bogged down, which is to be expected. I liked the tie-ins to the MCU that were put into the film, but still glad that this film felt like its own movie.
Overall – I give Ant-Man a 3.6 bow-ties out of 5. I will definitely go see this film again. I may even eventually buy a copy of it when it comes out. I hope that the film truly is successful, so Marvel will continue to take chances.
I think it’s important to keep making different kinds of superhero films to show audiences that there are different ways to look at the genre. We doesn’t always have to be action, action, action. Superhero movies can be a spy thriller instead, or maybe a comedy. In this case, we got to see what a heist movie would look like with a superhero, and I honestly liked it.