One of the things setting the Marvel Studio movies apart from the DC films is their willingness to make fun and exciting movies with their lesser known heroes. Back in 2008 Marvel Entertainment took a chance with Iron Man, a character that certainly didn’t have the name recognition of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk or Captain America, but it ended up launching Marvel Entertainment into the big time. And who outside of comic geekdom knew who The Guardians of the Galaxy were, yet it has pulled in over $700 million dollars worldwide, and now with one of their tiniest heroes they hope to strike gold again.
The biggest danger the Marvel films have is their ever expanding universe, a person almost feels that they have to brush up on all the movies and televisions show before going to see the latest installment.
Ant-Man begins in the 80s with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) pissed off when he finds out that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Howard Stark (John Slattery) have been trying to reproduce his “Pym-Particle” which allows a person to be shrunk to ant size. He believes the technology is too dangerous to be left in the hands of governments so he walks away from it all, “No one will have this formula while I am alive!” We then jump ahead to the present where we find out that Pym’s company is now being run by evil Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) and Pym’s estranged daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). How evil is Cross? Well he’s also been spending his time trying to create shrinking soldier tech, but has only been able to get it to work on non organic matter, so he tests his latest formulas on a lamb. On cute fluffy white lamb!
Enter Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a recently released ex-con who wants to reconnect with his little daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), but his ex-con status hampers his ability to get a job and pay child support. His ex-wife (Judy Greer) holds this against him and refuses visitation rights, that’s basically her whole character and she’s about as pointless to this movie as her character was to Jurassic World . That Scott was in jail for being a cat-burglar makes him an ideal candidate for Hank Pym in getting the shrink-tech away from a man who has no problem with selling it to both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA, and Pym doesn’t trust Tony Stark.
What follows is a superhero version of Ocean’s Eleven with Hank and Scott coming up with a plan to break in and steal the technology before it is unleashed on the world. But what good is a heist movie with about some romantic sparks? Evangeline Lilly fills this role quite nicely as her character has only been working with Cross to keep tabs on how close he is to solving the organic shrinking problem, she helps train Scott in the use of the Ant-Man suit and how to control the legion of ants. Though I must say the acting sparks fly much higher in the scenes between her and Michael Douglas than the ones with her and Rudd.
Now Paul Rudd makes for likable enough hero, director Peyton Reed knows exactly how to use his comic sensibilities, and they even give him some fun comic sidekicks to help carry the burden, but I’m more interested in eventually seeing Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp and maybe Michael Douglas in the Yellow Jacket suit.
When Darren Cross eventually dons the Yellow Jacket suit we are treated to an epic battle on a really small scale, and it gets huge points for originality and humor throughout the big finale, but unfortunately Cross just isn’t that interesting of a bad guy and he joins the ranks of Obadiah Stane, Whiplash, and Ronan as two dimensional villains we could care less about.
This movie is certainly more a comedy heist film than a superhero action film, and certainly doesn’t match action or laughs of Guardians of the Galaxy, but they are no way trying for that scale. This is a much smaller film (pun intended) and clearly setting up for him to be one of the players in further Marvel films (stay for the end credit cookie), but all that aside it is still an immensely entertaining film. The visual effects are simply amazing and Scott Lang going into battle with an army of ants is both incredibly cool and immeasurably creepy.
Overall this is a good Marvel film, just not one of the cream of the crop but a nice addition to the Marvel universe, and I’m sure he’ll make an excellent Avenger.
I would have loved to have seen an Edgar Wright Ant-Man movie but Peyton Reed did a serviceable job with one of Marvel’s second stringers.