Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stroll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña
Directed by Peyton Reed
IMDB Rating: 7.4
With Marvel dominating the cinematic universe as much as their own, now is as good a time as they’ll ever get to monetise their bit-part characters with the Marvel blueprint. Nowadays Marvel appear to be throwing solid movies out their like confetti, but nothing lasts forever. Is this the first sign that Marvel’s superhero formula may be starting to dry up*?
Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scot Lang, a master thief who is just out of prison. Eager to reconnect with his ex-wife and daughter, he looks to start fresh. However his criminal life holds him back from getting a job and getting back on track. Seemingly out of options, he reunites with his criminal friends, led by close friend Luis (Peña). He robs the rich home of Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas), not realising that it was a test of his abilities set by the man himself. Pym gives Lang the Ant-Man suit that he created and explains that he needs him to learn how to use the suit to stop his old protégé Darren Cross (Stroll) from selling the suit’s technology and creating an army of super ants. Pym’s daughter Hope (Lilly) is asked to help train Lang but is reluctant to help, believing that she should be the one donning the suit.
Marvel these days are building a nice mix of comedic and dramatic action movies. I think this movie is almost the exact midpoint. The story is trying to create something along the lines of the Avengers, however the cast (almost all of them from comedic backgrounds) gives the film more of a Guardians of the Galaxy feel. I think by the end it ended up working for Ant-Man, having enough good moments to be considered a solid movie. However, there were multiple times especially early on where I was wondering why this film was a thing. The action sequences felt exactly the same as Avengers, and the comedy moments felt like they were written the same people as Guardians. A lot of this felt exactly the same as what I have already seen, and that’s the worst possible thing that could happen for Marvel as it’s probably the only thing that could stop them steamrolling cinema.
One thing that disappointed me about this was the middle. It would be expected that a film like this where the nobody becomes a hero would have a montage-style moment in the middle that goes over how this transition plays out. This would usually last about 5 minutes max. In Ant-Man, the montage lasts about half-an-hour. It starts by introducing Lang and then introducing him to Pym, then he goes from nobody knowing nothing to being best friends with everyone in an incredibly short space of time. It almost felt like they had phoned in the bit of the film that might have actually been hard to write, choosing to stick with what Marvel knows best. That might not be a bad thing, but it made the film feel a little bit cheaper for me.
Performances in this film are quite good. Paul Rudd is his usual comedic best, his illustrious career in comedies and romances coming to the floor in those moments. For me, the jury’s still out as to whether he can effectively portray the most serious dramatic moments. Evangeline Lilly was also quite good. She has one of those names that you’re like “I’m sure I’ve seen her before, but where?” She had one of the better character to work with and I think she did a good job with it. Michael Peña reputation seems to be on the up and up right now, and I must say he is a very funny man and does a really good job with Lang’s sidekick Luis.
The directing by Peyton Reed is solid. There is some good action shots in the movie, and you can tell he knows what he’s doing when directing the more comedic moments, with notable previous credits including Yes Man and 2000’s teen comedy Bring it On. However it all still feels a bit similar to all the other Marvel films. Maybe he was told to direct in a certain way for the ‘Marvel universe’? Although it’s not necessarily all down to him, I thought the transition from big to small and how his time as an ant was portrayed was also pretty good.
Overall this is yet another solid offering by Marvel. There’s enough about this for it to be considered good, the majority of it thanks to good comedic performances from good actors. However, it is all starting to feel a little ‘samey’. While this film is good enough, there do appear to be a few cracks in Marvel’s seemingly impenetrable armour. This should serve as a warning, that Marvel need to be careful their films don’t all become “Stereotypical Superhero 2”, or they could end up getting as dried up as the YA dystopian genre. You’ll be surprised how quickly people get bored of seeing the same thing. Also, as a mid-point this isn’t as dramatic as Avengers and isn’t as funny as Guardians, and I would suggest watching them more than Ant-Man.
*I wrote this before seeing Deadpool. Obviously Marvel aren’t drying up just yet. However, I do still think Marvel’s Doctor Strange will be similar to this and could signal the end of their dominance over cinema, whenever that comes.