Without even going into the Marvel verse too deeply, Ant Man skirts along the edge of all things Avengers without encroaching on Iron Man territory. Michael Douglas enters into the spirit of superheroes with the gravitas of an elder statesman (with a mean temper) and the film ends with a teaser that has a surprise appearance by Captain America.
This production had a troubled start and lost its first helmsman, Edgar Wright, who may have given the world a much different Ant Man, although Paul Rudd manages to employ a lot of humor in the role. As Scott Lang, a man with a daughter he is desperate to keep in contact with, Rudd brings that special brand of persona that he does so well.
As an over intelligent cat burglar determined not to go back to prison, Lang still manages to get in trouble because, as Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) puts it, when things get tough Scott turns to crime. The likable ex con is targeted by Pym to be the next Ant Man, much to Hank’s daughter’s chagrin.
Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) may be a chip of the old block of both Dr. Pym and his deceased wife, but she is too precious to the scientist to risk putting in the suit. Her job is to get close to baddy Darren Cross, aka Yellowjacket (played brilliantly by Corey Stoll) and she does this well.
The storyline deals with a strict ex (a tiny cameo by personal favorite Judy Greer) and her new fiancee “a**hat” cop Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) who actually turns out to be less of a hat than Scott reckons. Rudd’s character goes through an arc, a very impressive one, and steps up to “save the day.”
Along the way, actor Michael Peña manages to almost steal the film from Douglas, Lily, Rudd and Stoll with his comic portrayal of career criminal Luis. The actor is aided by some brilliant montage and flashback work where Peña voices all the characters in his expository scenes.
The combination of his topical language choices and phrasing, along with his voice over matching the expressions of the people he voices in the flashbacks, makes the performer the clear winner in terms of captivating the audience.
Of course the film is not about Luis, so his “take over” is fleeting as Rudd manages to imbue his character with an exponential “nice guy” factor that shines through. Douglas is a fine mix of curmudgeonly despot and loving father who cannot quite show how he really feels.
While the characters all help to bring the film to life, it is the action sequences, most by necessity CG, that carry the movie forward. Some of the effects are most certainly practical, for example the “exploding from underground” when Lang is freaked out by his initial introduction to the ant world, and are mixed with the computer generated FX brilliantly.
Sidenote: Speaking of CG there is that oddly real, but at the same time creepy, looking scene at the start of the film where Michael Douglas is years younger. Despite leaps and bounds being made in this field, Douglas still looked…weird and a bit disturbing.
There is a great blend of humor with some of the scenes. The entire toy train sequence is incredibly funny. Peyton Reed, whether influenced by the multi penned screenplay (with Edgar Wright as main scribe) or not, gives us a Thomas the Tank Engine chase and action scene that is just priceless.
Seen from both Ant Man and Yellowjacket’s tiny view, the sound is enormous and the train with its speeding cars, looks deadly. From another perspective Thomas’ danger value diminishes to nothing with comic results.
By the end of the film, it looks like Dyne will be joining Ant Man for a bit of crime fighting, or as an addendum to the Avengers and Dr. Pym survives being almost killed. The original Ant Man will act, presumably, as a continuing mentor to Scott Lang.
Marvel continues to bring more superheroes to the screen; big and small, with some being more oblique than others. Jessica Jones as a sort of Marvel-Noire offering, along with her paramour Nick Cage has been given a second season on Netflix, for example.
With a lot of territory to cover yet in terms of the Avengers and all the peripheral action that entails; Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, et al, there will be enough material to keep Marvel on both television and movie screens for some time. (Not too mention the Agents of SHIELD and good old Peggy Carter.)
Ant Man is entertaining but not wildly funny, just amusing enough that the casting of Paul Rudd was a masterful move. All the cast do a more than capable job and the storyline is entertaining “Baskin-Robbins” don’t play dude.”
This is a 5 star film version of Marvel’s Ant Man. While it would have been brilliant to see Wright’s version of this world, Peyton Reed brings an entertaining feature to the masses and it is to his credit that after watching this film, one immediately wants to watch it again.