I’d like to begin this review by saying, perhaps, one of the most clichéd things I can think of: big things come in small packages. Sure, it’s a dopey line, but it certainly describes Marvel’s Ant-Man. We’ve known Ant-Man was on the horizon for perhaps as long as we’ve known of the Iron Man films, and yet now in 2015 the incredible shrinking Ant-Man is finally upon us. I’ll be honest and say that Ant-Man’s productions woes, be it delayed filming windows to multiple directors swapping in and out, had me worrying about the quality of the film. Could something that’s languished so long in development hell and passed through so many hands come out on the other side no worse for wear? The short answer is yes. For the most part Ant-Man succeeds in being funny, heartfelt, action packed and most importantly entertaining.
As Marvel has done in movies past Ant-Man is a super hero film wrapped in the trappings of another genre. The genre of choice this time is a heist film. We’re introduced to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a recently released from prison thief, who’s chosen by enigmatic Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his appropriately prickly daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) to steal Pym’s former business partner and protégé’s shrinking suit and formula before it can be used for evil. Sounds pretty par for the course, because it ultimately is. Marvel has never really broken new ground when it comes to its plotting, but it’s never needed to. We’re given familiar story elements with a fresh coat of paint, and what a coat of paint it is. Like Marvel’s previous films this movie is packed with wit. It’s a funny, funny film. At times the humor undercuts the serious elements, or rather the serious elements undercut the humor? It’s difficult to say. We’re told very early on not to take the film and it’s happenings too seriously. Everything is done with a wink and a nudge. That’s both very good for the film as well as a detriment. Whenever the film tries to get weighty and bring us a serious dramatic beat we’re left waiting impatiently for the next one-liner. Still, those moments are few and far between and the film is paced well enough that I was never bored.
Ant-Man has a curious power. The Ant-Man suit, powered by these wacky things called Pym Particles, allows the user to shrink down to the size of an Ant. We’ve never seen anything like this from the likes of a super hero movie and that is such a good thing. The fight scenes are exciting to watch as Ant-Man switches between big and small so effortlessly that you wonder if anyone could stand a chance against such a nimble and difficult to strike target. Spoiler warning: Ant-Man even gets the opportunity to fight an Avenger in this film and the result leaves us with an admiration and respect for what this insect based crime fighter can do. Ultimately Ant-Man is just another way for a character to punch another character, but the way it’s presented is such a breath of fresh air that I can’t wait to see what they do with the character next. If reports are to be believed Ant-Man will be popping up in the next Captain America film, so if you like Scott Lang was much as I do you’ll be very happy.
Shrinking films give filmmakers and audiences are really exciting and interesting new way to look at the world. What it small and insignificant in ordinary life is rendered with awe when you’re tiny. A shag rug becomes a forest. A toy train becomes a gigantic monolith. The macro photograph used to shown this tiny world is amazing as well. It’s a joy to see what the director, Peyton Reed, does with all this. He seamlessly switches between showing us the tiny world of Ant-Man and the mundane view of the normal sized world for comedic effect. As you’ve no doubt seen in the trailer a fight takes place on a toy train and this is one of the more exciting moments I’ve seen in recent films. It’s funny, exhilarating and had me captivated. At the end of the day this is a Marvel film. We’ve come to expect quality with Marvel and Ant-Man is right in that swing zone. It’s not the best film Marvel has produced, but it’s still a wild ride and should not be missed. See it on the big screen. You won’t regret it!