“Ant-Man” is directed by Peyton Reed and it stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, an ex-convict who is trying to make a better life for himself until he comes across the Ant-Man technology, developed by Hank Pym. Now Scott has the ability to shrink himself down to microscopic size and he’s now entrenched in a plan to prevent the Ant-Man tech from falling in the hands of Darren Cross, a businessman who wants the tech for his own nefarious reasons.
Originally, Edgar Wright was set to wright and direct this movie, but the usual reasoning of “creative differences” lead to him dropping out and he was ultimately replaced with Reed. It would appear that Marvel wanted this movie to tie in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as much as possible, but Wright had his own vision for a standalone Ant-Man origin story. I personally would’ve loved to see Wright’s version of the movie, but nothing can change that now. We have ourselves the Peyton Reed version which serves as the twelfth addition to the MCU and it’s time to judge simply as that.
Paul Rudd is a very good choice for this role and he delivers a solid performance as a former thief who simply wants to start fresh after being released from jail. He wants to make things right with his ex-wife and daughter, but there’s also the comedic side to his performance that stands out. For the most part, it’s basically Paul Rudd playing his usual quirky self, but it works for the tone of the film. Alongside him in supporting roles are Michael Pena in one of his funniest performances as Scott’s friend, Luis, Michael Douglass who’s great as Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man who’s weathered and clearly dealing with some baggage in his prior tenure as Ant-Man, and also Hope van Dyne, Pym’s daughter who serves as a likable ally to Scott, but she also has this side of her that wants to prove herself to her father and it really shines when it needs to in certain scenes.
Where this movie deserves its praise is in its small scale compared to previous MCU films. A lot of Marvel movies have dealt with the usual big bad guy trying to destroy the world by shooting a beam of light into the sky and seeing as how the last film, “Age of Ultron” dealt with the potential for worldwide extinction, it’s nice to see a movie like this where the consequences are toned down. All in all, it’s a heist movie and there’s no global threat. Hell, the climax of the movie takes place in Scott’s daughter’s room and it’s a simple, albeit entertaining showdown between two minuscule beings in Ant-Man and Yellowjacket.
Speaking of Yellowjacket, I’ll go ahead and put him down as the movie’s biggest flaw. Corey Stoll chews the scenery every chance he gets and it’s a suitably villainous performance, but the character is severely lacking in any real motivation outside of “I’m a bad guy because the script says so”. Ultimately, his plan is to sell the Ant-Man tech to Hydra, but there’s nothing special about this scheme. Granted, Yellowjacket looks cool and him and Ant-Man have a highly entertaining fight scene, full of spectacle in seeing normally innocuous objects turned into legitimate threats to these penny-size men, but he unfortunately won’t go down as the exception to the MCU’s villain problem.
But back to being positive, this movie does make good use of Ant-Man shrinking down and interacting with his environment. A lot of the visuals really stand out, whether it be of a Thomas the Train being brought to a ginormous size or of Ant-Man flying around on an ant, it all looks great. And there’s undeniably going to be plenty of humor in this movie and all of it comes from the oddity of having a man shrink down in size and dealing with all sorts of obstacles, including but not limited to Live Safer candy and a toy train set.
I also think that this movie does a good job in being Scott’s own contained story, though this movie doesn’t fall short of a few references to other MCU films, but it works really well. Peggy Carter and Howard Stark make brief cameos, Tony and the Avengers are mentioned, and the new Avengers facility makes an appearance as Ant-Man engages in a humorous fisticuffs with Falcon. The MCU references feel natural and it doesn’t ever feel like a commercial for the MCU as a whole. Scott’s story is still front and center and it works as the origin story for the new Ant-Man as he takes up the mantle from Pym.
This movie ends with two of the best post-credits scenes in the MCU. The first one is of Hank unveiling the Wasp suit to Hope and offering her the chance to don the suit after her mother had previously worn it and seemingly died after shrinking to subatomic levels and vanishing into a quantum realm. This directly sets up “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and I’m sure it’ll be exciting to see Hope become a hero and team up with Scott.
The other post-credits scene sets up “Captain America: Civil War” as Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson come across Bucky, not knowing what to do because of “the Accords”. It not only sets up “Civil War”, but also Ant-Man’s involvement in the movie as Sam mentions that he mentions someone that can help them.
Overall, “Ant-Man” is another strong addition to the MCU. The cast is great, it takes full advantage of the spectacle in Ant-Man and his shrinking abilities, and it succeeds in being its own contained story about Scott Lang while also keeping the stakes small and having some fun with its absurd premise. Marvel already proved that it could do virtually anything after the success in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and now this movie just further solidifies that point.
Rating: Full Price!