I am a man-child who has never quite grown up enough to call himself a grown-up. I am Ant-Man. Just, you know, without the super powers or criminal record.
I still love many of the things I did when I was a kid, this includes dragging my wife to see the latest instalment of the Transformers franchise (Dark of the Moon wasn’t quite as bad as everyone else said it was. Yeah I said it.) The resurgence of Superhero movies in the last seven years has only reinforced my man-child status and with each passing release from Marvel studios I get so giddy I pee a little bit. This includes the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Ant-Man.
Having been an Edgar Wright fan since the days of Spaced, to hear he was involved with a Marvel project was massively exciting. However after I heard that he’d left the film last year, I felt crushed. Just like everyone else in the wider nerd world, I was deeply unsure how successful the big screen translation of one of the Comic Book Colossus’s smaller characters would turn out… especially in the hands of the director of You, Me and Dupree.
For those who don’t know, the first Ant-Man, Hank Pym was an original member of The Avengers. A scientific genius who developed the ‘Pym Particle’ which enabled the creation of a suit whose wearer could shrink down to the size of an ant. As the comics and character developed there arrived a second incarnation of Ant-Man, Scott Lang, a petty criminal who stole the suit and assumed the moniker. The cinematic version of the character features both men, the former played by Michael Douglas and the latter Paul Rudd, who must collaborate to stop the development of a ‘Yellow Jacket’ armour which shares similar properties to the Ant-Man suit and was developed by Pym’s resentful protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
As you would expect there’s a heavy reliance on CGI, especially as there are two characters who can unnaturally shrink down at will, but the effects are superb, in particular the de-ageing of Michael Douglas in the opening sequence. However the effects aren’t the only trick up the film’s sleeve. It’s has a big heart without being overly sentimental or saccharine and if there are moments when it starts to fall down a syrupy well then a grand gesture always drags it back out again.
Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang perhaps surprisingly, stands shoulder to shoulder (or shoulder to ankle) with the established stars of the MCU and while it’s not as serious as some of the other films it still feels a part of the combined universe. Ant-Man is a great antidote for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Please don’t think I didn’t like AoU, because that’s definitely not the case, but things in the Marvel Universe have started to get a bit serious lately. Sure they’re still a million miles away from DC’s ‘No Laughs’ policy but some of the playfulness that was apparent in the Phase One films has given way to a focus on spectacle with only the occasional quip.
I wasn’t sure how effective the look of the suit would be, but against my better judgement Peyton Reed does a great job of showing the switching of sizes without it looking shit. Also Michael Peña may not steal every scene but he does bring some big laughs as Lang’s good-intentions-with-bad-ideas best friend.
It’s not all high praise, there are times when you feel like the soundtrack tries to follow the route of Guardians of the Galaxy but it doesn’t get close, the opening is a little slow and Evangeline Lilly phones in about 50% of her performance. However you can still feel the Edgar Wright film at its heart and because of that I’ll always wonder what might have been. All that being said, this is easily the most fun I’ve had watching a Marvel movie since Avengers Assemble. Hopefully Ant-Man won’t fly under the radar, as this film about a little man with a big heart deserves to be an even bigger success. 4/5