Directed by: Peyton Reed
Written by: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Judy Greer, Michael Peña
When a series of films involves mass government conspiracies and explosions upon other explosions, sometimes it feels good to have a change of pace. Something small and not substantial, which Ant-Man sought to provide. Through its quick wit and comedic tone, the film becomes a fun little heist film that has some heart to it.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) recently got released from jail and attempts to reintegrate himself into a relationship with his daughter. Having trouble with the job market with his record, he gets involved in a heist that has him find a peculiar suit. After trying it on he shrinks to the size of an insect and learns about what it means to be a superhero.
The placement of this film within the larger cinematic universe has it between two large stories. With it being between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, it certainly feels different in regard to the scale and scope of the story. In a way, it makes it a breath of fresh air because the events that transpire in the film feels very contained and not having world-changing ramifications. Having those large films feels epic but sometimes it’s nice to see a compact little story that does not feel like it needs to connect to others.
With that freedom, Ant-Man has the chance to have some fun and the script does just that. Originally set to be directed by Edgar Wright, the film still feels the imprint of his work. It especially comes out in the recap sequence done by the hilarious Luis (Michael Peña). Small sequences like that allow a small movie like Ant-Man to standout within a 20+ film series that ventures to different galaxies. This film feels real and that a bunch of normal people got this advanced technology unexpectedly thrown into their lives.
One thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe cannot be criticized for is their exceptional casting. Rarely do they get it wrong and having Paul Rudd portray Scott Lang works incredibly well. While not knowing the character from the comics, Rudd embodies the spirit of a guy trying to make up for lost time with his daughter after messing up with the law. He condemns his past for a better future and with the suit, he gets the opportunity to do some good. It makes the character all the more tangible rather than being a billionaire playboy or a super-soldier.
The other cast members that round out the cast include some powerhouses like Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglass, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, and the always great Judy Greer. Seriously, someone let Judy Greer get some lead roles; she really deserves it. None of them have a real arc and very much just support Lang’s story of redemption and heroic awakening. Lilly and Douglass are more relevant as they help Lang learn how to operate in the suit and engage in combat.
Even with its comedy, the film suffers from following the same superhero origin tropes that have become very predictable. Marvel has its formula that can interchangeably input any character and Ant-Man does not veer far away from that by any stretch. Thematically, it’s razor-thin with no real substance outside of being something worth watching for the comedy and how it plays into the Marvel world. The villain comes right out the playbook of a scorned ex-employee that vows revenge in his exploits for money. Not original or groundbreaking by any measure but it’s definitely fun.
The high points from the film include how the miniature sequences are filmed. Ant-Man succeeded in displaying the scale of everything when Lang shrunk down to his miniature state. One of the fight sequences between Lang and Yellowjacket displays that very well and gets highlighted in the trailer. As they fight as tiny men and a toy truck rams into one of them, it feels like an epic moment in their battle and then the camera brings us back to the macro level and shows the insignificance of that collision through the human eye.
Ant-Man will not impress with its thematic elements or strong character work, but it tells a fun story proficiently with some strong comedic sequences. It provides a break from all of the world-ending action of the other films and delivers a compact narrative about second chances and how one can be a superhero no matter the size.