Marvel's reign over what seems to be the entire world - they have been getting our attention and our money for years now - has recently started to become a bit shaky. Age of Ultron, sequel to their most profitable movie yet, Avengers was disappointing. Not financially, of course, but the reception was underwhelming. And who can blame the people who were let down - Ultron repeated the sin of formulaic storyline, bland villain and frankly it was just bizarre. I mean what the hell was up with the"hey kids, gather around and we will tell you about that time Black Widow's ovaries got removed!" thing?
But Marvel redeems itself with Ant-Man. Well, almost. First there was a hysterically overblown marketing campaign that screamed 'go see this film, we spent so much money and we are terrified it won't earn it back!'. Ant-Man managed to score #1 at box office and earn 100 million dollars worldwide in the matter of days. And what does Marvel do? Some high up guy who works for it basically says that they hoped the movie would do better. It's like a kid brings B home and you sigh to express disappointment. It just sucks of them to behave this way. Have they become so delusional that they literally think the fact a film earn 100 mln dollars in a week is something to complain over? I swear this is some mad detachment from the outside world Gwyneth Paltrow's bullshit.
Now that we got infertile Widow and corporate greed out of the way let's talk about actual movie, which is absolutely delightful and I'm hoping in the years to come people will go "hey, that's one of the better Marvel films!" and we do get a sequel. Ant-Man has everything Marvel flick should have - action, jokes, likable hero and a lot of heart.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd, whose world domination over the hearts of everyone is complete, bastard has the abs now) gets out of prison after being there for several years for burglarizing a company that basically stoke from is customers - Scott broke in and gave the money back to the ordinary people. But life outside is not easy - in spite of his degree Scott cannot find a job and his ex-wife doesn't want to let him see his beloved daughter, Cassie. But soon Scott gets caught up in something huge.
Scott is contacted by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, so awesome in the role). Pym wants to stop his former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from discovering the formula that allows shrinking living organisms - Hank did it years ago and was himself Ant-Man, a hero who used his power for good. Now he needs Scott to wear the suit and stop Cross. They are aided by a bunch of ants and Pym's reluctant daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who resents her father who distanced himself from her after the death of her mother.
The idea of a person shrinking down to the size of ant is not something new - we saw shrinking in films before. But add to that commanding legions of ants? This could potentially be ridiculous but it's not because Ant-Man strikes the perfect balance between serious and silly.The film is entertaining and action packed and it just forces you to accept the fact that the main hero is swimming through the water pipe on a raft made out of the ants.
The concept allows the film to have some really awesome visual effects - the sequence where Scott wears the suit for the first time is just mesmerizing as is entire quantum realm scene. That one was actually compared to bookshelves in space from Interstellar but it works here because no one is telling us that this is a super serious science fiction movie and then shows us McConaughey coding a watch in fucking space. This is a Marvel movie. Ants putting sugar in the tea? Sure. Device that can make things big? OK. Shrinking without no end? Go for it.
The film also has emotional core which is great because I cannot remember the last time Marvel movie actually moved me. We have Scott being an awesome dad and really loving his daughter - there is a brief moment where he uses the suit to sneak in and give her a kiss which was lovely and if you weren't hopelessly in love with Rudd before, you will be after this happens. But even more emotional is the arc with Dr. Pym and his daughter. The scene where he tells Hope what happened to her mom actually made me cry.
One of the annoying things lately is that these studios idea of a cool female character is a tough chick who needs no man. Hope is like that too but thankfully Lilly and Douglas play their parts so well that the other side of Hope - the daughter side - is so well acted and written, which in the end that rescues her character. When she yells "dad!" when Hank is shot Lilly really sells the shit out of this moment.
The romantic angle feels a bit forced, but I suppose after Hope checked out shirtless Scott and you know, that huge deal with him saving the world and rescuing everyone while being pretty much the perfect guy entire time, it would be insane if she didn't make out with him in that hallway.
The supporting cast is really great and while not all jokes land, Scott's team members played by Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian and rapper T.I. are hilarious. Peña deserves all the praise he is getting for his work here, but really it's when they work as the team that's when the scenes are the funniest. The bit where they say Scott is in trouble and nothing is gonna stop them and then they see a bunch of police cars and back up is hysterical.
Michael Douglas is really fantastic here and creates such a great character. You can clearly see that Douglas is having a blast being in a movie like this but he also brings so much heart to the role, especially when we get to see his pain of the loss of his wife. Douglas also has terrific chemistry with everyone who shares scenes with him.
The villain of the movie isn't the greatest but usually I just don't care what happens to the bad guy in these movies - I'll give Ant-Man that I actively hated the fucker here. These poor lambs!
But the film would never work if we didn't have the right actor for the main part and man, is the casting of Rudd brilliant. He is so sweet and likable, funny, charming, charismatic and good looking. He is just perfect to play the hero. The film doesn't need to waste any time of getting us to like this guy - we already do. Add to that insanely sweet scenes with his daughter and the fact he is saving the world and it's just perfect. I used the word "perfect" a lot didn't I? Well, he is, damn it.
Rudd also co-wrote the script and Ant-Man is easily the most humor packed Marvel movie to date. It's also incredibly cute and clever - the film's final action piece set on Thomas the Tank Engine tracks is such a blast and easily one of the most original ideas ever in Marvel film. There is also a score which is so good - grand when it needs to be but whimsical at other times.
A lot was made of Edgar Wright being attached to make the movie and dropping out due to 'creative differences'. People have been whining about it for months now. As good as Wright is, he is so overrated and director Peyton Reed did very well here. Ant-Man is easily the most unique Marvel movie to date. I mean, come on, there is even an awesome Zoolander reference here.
While the movie is not perfect, the strong father/daughter theme gives the film the heart and the committed performances by wonderfully cast actors ground the story and make things believable for the audience. Ant-Man, the character, may be tiny but the movie has a big, big heart.
Ant-Man (2015, 117 min)
Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay &
Paul Rudd (screenplay),
Edgar Wright &
Joe Cornish (story),
Stan Lee &
Larry Lieber &
Jack Kirby (comic book)
Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll