Upon first impression, the mere premise of Ant-Man appears to be a tricky story to capture, the titular “super” hero simply being “ant” man. It seems like an oxymoron. Ants are usually seen as easily destructible and an annoyance rather than as something to be scared of (unlike the similar insect-themed hero Spider-Man). To put it simply, there is nothing particularly super about ants, although they can support up to 5,000 times their own body weight (but you know what I mean). Having said this, Marvel has certainly done its best considering the circumstances.
Nevertheless, Ant-Man follows the story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a recently released prisoner who means to find a way to provide child support for his daughter. In an attempt to raise funds he finds himself working for Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D member who devises a heist, which actually turns out to just be Pym manipulating Lang in order to infiltrate the company he was fired from. One thing leads to another and Lang steals what he believes to be an old motorbike suit from a safe. Little does he know, however, this suit gives him the ability to shrink to the size of an ant – and thus, Ant-Man is born. Despite her estranged relationship with her father, Pym’s daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), helps train Lang to fight and control ants in order to stop Pym’s rival Darren Cross from releasing his similar shrinking technology – the Yellowjackets.
OK, we know. It sounds silly. But this film is not only aware of, but actually embraces, its silliness, through its use of self-awareness and self-deprecating humour is reminiscent of the gags in 22 Jump Street – for instance, Ant-Man’s mode of transport is a flying ant called Anthony.
The film’s actors have stepped into new eras of their careers, with Paul Rudd coming a long way from being Phoebe Buffet’s “Crap Bag” husband in Friends and Leslie Mann’s husband in Knocked Up. Likewise, Evangeline Lilly, of Lost fame, has traded a pair of elf ears for an Anna Wintour-inspired hairdo, looking completely unrecognisable. Michael Douglas, as always, delivers a solid performance as Pym, an ageing scientist who is the creator of the Ant-Man shrinking technology.
While the performances are impressive, there are perhaps a few too many gaps in the logic and the film seems to be lacking in solid villainous motivation, which ultimately means the finished product seems a little rushed.
This comes as no surprise when the pre-production turbulence is taken into account. Edgar Wright, director of the Cornetto Trilogy, was originally hired to write and direct the film, but he pulled out due to creative differences. Next up was Adam McKay who filled the role temporarily, before finally Peyton Reed was chosen as the film’s final director.
One thing that is surprising is how well Ant-Man works as a ‘comedy-heist’ film, but on a multi-million super-hero film budget. Rudd’s comedy origins certainly don’t go unnoticed when informing his portrayal of the protagonist.
If you like a good old summer block-buster, with big-action and dramatic superhero sequences, then latest popcorn flick Ant-Man will certainly be fun and satisfying. However, despite its quirks and originality, it’s no Guardians of the Galaxy.
Watch the trailer for Ant-Man:
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