It’s safe to say that Marvel’s got this blockbuster movie thing down to a science. They have figured out how to take source material that most people wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at – the stuff that has had a “geek” stigma associated with it for decades – and turn it into a film that has the masses scrambling to the theater on release night. It began with Iron Man in 2008 and, well, you know the rest.
Most notably, Marvel took a series that the general population hadn’t even HEARD of and that most comic fans didn’t give a rat’s ass about and turned it into a record-breaking box office smash. Guardians of the Galaxy was probably the biggest cinematic surprise of my entire lifetime, and when the Ant-Man trailers rolled out, I wondered if Marvel could REALLY do it again. The short answer? No. But almost.
It may seem unfair to compare Ant-Man with Guardians, but to me it’s the most logical comparison. Aside from the fact that one is an ensemble cast and the other is a “solo” superhero movie, they are both the kind of stories that came out of left field and made everybody go “What? Really? They’re making that a movie? Ok, Marvel…You do you.” And Marvel does. And we are grateful.
As far as casting, Paul Rudd was about as obvious a choice for Scott Lang as Chris Pratt was for Peter Quill – I was equal parts excited and confused when the casting announcements popped up on the internet for this film. The more footage I saw, though, the more convinced I was that Paul Rudd has always been an action hero, he’s just never played one in a movie. Because he’s FUNNY, and people like comedies. So that’s what he does. The great thing about the “Marvel Formula”, though, is that they incorporate so much humor into their films and almost exclusively cast known comedians as their leads (or at least people who are known to have a pretty strong funny bone).
Paul Rudd knocks Scott Lang out of the park, in my opinion. Now, let’s just get out into the open that I have never read a single Ant-Man comic (I mean, we know my comic knowledge is extremely minimal, but growing every day). I do not pretend to know these character histories or previous story arcs (or even if Scott Lang EXISTS in the comics, because I only ever knew that Hank Pym was Ant-Man?). Ok. So we’ve got that? Good. I loved Paul Rudd as Scott Lang. He’s a hacker/ burglar who actually has a kind of Robin Hood complex & got busted for stealing money from his former employer & returning it to the people they had swindled it from in the first place. He wants to make something better of himself so he can be there for his daughter, as any good father would. That’s when he’s approached by Hank Pym, who has been forced out of his own company by his 2nd-in-command.
I don’t want to reveal too much of the plot line here, because part of the fun is not knowing what you’re in for. That 10 second clip from the trailer really says it all.
Scott Lang: My days of breaking into places and stealing stuff are over. What do you want me to do?
Hank Pym: I want you to break into a place and steal some stuff.
Scott Lang: Makes sense.
All-in-all, this movie was a near-perfect blend of humor and action, just like we like our Marvel movies. The one thing they did better this time than in other recent superhero flicks *cough* Age of Ultron *cough* is that the action sequences were NOT long & drawn out. They are entertaining & visually stunning, but not excessive. I was very pleased.
As for supporting characters, Evangeline Lilly is great as Pym’s daughter, Hope. Although I could have done without the supposed “sexual tension” between her & Lang. The chemistry between Rudd & Lilly was severely lacking, which is crazy weird. Both are attractive human specimens (seriously, Rudd got pretty jacked for this role…it’s very nice – see below) and both play romantic leads very well. It just fell flat with the two of them & I was rather disappointed in that aspect of the film.
Michael Douglas as an aging Hank Pym was probably the only casting where I thought to myself “duh, of COURSE Michael Douglas is Hank Pym. Michael Douglas IS Hank Pym… you know, once he’s old…er”. He plays the role with a signature pinch of snark & dry humor that I would associate with Pym just based on my minimal knowledge of the character.
Of course, let’s not forget the trademark Marvel cameos. Fans of the franchise will love mini glimpses at some of their favorite characters to tide them over until the next big release. Oh, and of course there’s the mid- and post-credits scenes (yes, this one actually has two additional scenes). They are worth sticking around for. Especially the 2nd one.
Even with the PG-13 rating on this, I would call it a family-friendly film for those of us with children above the 7-year-ish mark. Heck, I’d probably let my 5-year-old watch it, were she to show any interest.
ANT-MAN DOES NOT DISAPPOINT, NOR DOES IT THRILL.
7.5/10 IMDB STARS.
And now we just sit back and wait for The Force Awakens (because Fantastic Four is not something I’m eager to count down to)…149 days to go!