Marvel ended Phase Two by branching out to a very different superhero, and honestly, I was pretty anxious about this one. So, did this Phase end on a high not, or a whimper?
Why was I so worried? Partly down to keeping the superhero’s skills interesting through the whole movie. But mostly due to the departure of Edgar Wright during the production. It didn’t sit well with my expectations, so sitting down to watch this today, I was apprehensive.
The story itself has Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as a former high skill thief who wants to redeem his ways so he can be there for his daughter. But when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) tricks him into a fake heist, Scott is introduced to the world of the “Ant-Man” suit, which can shrink the wearer down to a minuscule size while possessing incredible strength. Hank wants him to stop his former student Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from replicating his work and using it to create an unstoppable military force.
Yeah, it isn’t the most original starting story for this film when you break it down to the base components, you could even call it overly-basic. And to an extent you’d be right to do so. The motivations for Darren Cross are just too one-dimensional, the “world domination!!!” stereotype which is backed by spite for his mentor Hank Pym. Speaking of which, I’m not sure his plan of hiding his technology away worked out so well. I mean, he left Cross to just keep trying un-disturbed for years to replicate the shrinking tech? For someone that smart he sure did leave acting on his words to the last moment.
But, let’s move past those issues because to be honest, when you watch the movie, their visibility is smeared away by the fun the story offers. Kind of like “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but not to the same dizzying levels of success. From the moment that Paul Rudd appears on screen, you like him. He’s just so laid back and casual that I couldn’t help but find him the kind of guy who’d be awesome to hang out with at a bar over beers. His performance keeps everything else ticking along at a good speed, pushing the clear flaws to the background. The same can be said for Michael Douglas who is so great in here. That voice, the dedication he has to his character type, the kick-ass hair, it was a great, great casting choice. Like I said, Corey Stoll just doesn’t have enough dimension to his character to be that interesting. And the same can be said for Scott’s former wife Maggie (Judy Greer). I mean, she’s totally fine but… doesn’t have a whole lot to do or add to the story as a whole. I get the feeling that some characters were created over a very long time, while others were cast as required pre-production.
But again, let’s not dwell on the problems here! During the whole movie you can feel the input that Edgar Wright made in both shots, comedy, and set pieces. Sure, it is taped together with the post-Wright material, but it still resides there, and punches up the movie rather than makes it feel uneven. The action sequences have a great dynamic to them, as you see the mundane world from the level of an ant. Tiny objects become obstacles, rats become monsters, toy trains become weapons of death and mass destruction! I kind of loved it all, there’s an underlying silliness to the sequences that feels like a Saturday morning cartoon show. But just like that, you can’t help but smile and cheer for the hero. The digital effects team did a very good job and added in the originality this film so badly needed.
And the scene with THAT Avengers hero, you know the one I’m on about. Holy fuck that was hilarious.
“Ant-Man” turned out to be very enjoyable from start to end, in a way I was not expecting it to do so. It may be silly, one-dimensional in parts, with a patched together screenplay and script, and a character that isn’t well known to general audience. But by hell, they somehow made it work. Instead of attempting to be serious or significantly expand the Marvel cinematic universe, you’re allowed to just have a giggle and follow the hero to victory.
It is much better than “Thor: The Dark World” and not as good as “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and so resides in the middle, but without any major issues you can point at and scowl over. I know some people might not like this to the extent I did, and to them I can’t really say much except that you may have set your expectations a little high. Since I went in fearful of it falling flat on its ass, I walked away having had a great time. It won’t be any game changer, but I do want to see it again soon.
Thanks for reading!