PLOT: Former cat-burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is given a chance at redemption when scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) chooses him for a top-secret mission to infiltrate his old company and destroy a prototype that allows people to be shrunk down to ant-size while achieving super-human strength. To do this, hell have to adopt Pyms former identity Ant-Man.
REVIEW: Marvel is extremely consistent as far as big-screen spectacle goes. While their mammoth superhero sequel AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON underwhelmed many fans (myself included) they bounce back big time with Peyton Reeds ANT-MAN. While the behind-the-scenes drama, which involved the departure of Edgar Wright and the eleventh hour hiring of Peyton Reed, might make you think ANT-MAN was bound to be a mess youd be wrong. While decidedly smaller scale (pun intended) than their recent releases, against all odds ANT-MAN emerges as one of the better Marvel movies one thats conjures up favorable comparisons to GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
While it remains to be seen if ANT-MAN will be a breakout hit like GOTG the two films do indeed seem cut from the same cloth. Like James Gunn, Peyton Reed goes for fun over drama and pathos every time. Using a similarly bold color palette, ANT-MAN looks different than the desaturated blockbusters that crowd the multiplex (AGE OF ULTRON included) which serves the 3D conversion extremely well (as does the boxier 1:85:1 aspect ratio). While known mostly for comedies, years ago Reed was actually up for FANTASTIC FOUR and its clear the man knows exactly how to make an appealing superhero flick opting for a heist driven plotline that makes this feel like the OCEANS ELEVEN of Marvel movies.
The chief asset here is without a doubt the impeccable cast. Paul Rudd is cast to perfection as the likable, decidedly non-super heroic Lang. Having had a hand in the screenplay with his ANCHORMAN director Adam McKay, Rudds personality comes through strongly. While funny, Rudd never tries to do a Tony Stark but rather shapes his own genial persona to the part. Langs just a nice guy trying to do right by his family and hes unique as far as the Marvel heroes go. It should also be stated that like Chris Pratt, Rudds gotten himself into superhero shape, sporting an impressive six pack and some nifty parkour moves which are integrated into the ant-sized set pieces.
Evangeline Lily is similarly great as Langs love interest and Pyms daughter, whos cozying up to the snarling villain (an appropriately smarmy and over-the-top Corey Stoll) to let the heroes infiltrate his office. Its teased that at one point she could emerge as a super heroine in her own right and Lily seems ideally cast opposite Rudd. Likewise, Michael Pena steals every scene hes in as Rudds none-too-bright former cellmate, with some amazing deadpan delivery that brought the house down every time.
As good as they all are, Michael Douglas comes pretty close to stealing the show as former Ant-Man Hank Pym. Douglas is so good and oozes personality in the part, making one wish hed get his own ANT-MAN prequel something that doesnt seem too far-fetched thanks to a 1989-set prologue that features an amazing cgi-facelift for Douglas who looks like he walked off the set of BLACK RAIN. While mostly sidelined as the younger actors do all the heroics, Douglas still has that thousand watt movie star charisma thats unmistakable.
Another great thing about ANT-MAN is the way the action never becomes bombastic or overwhelming. Superhero movies often have a tendency of getting caught-up in all the sound and fury of trying to out-do themselves with each set piece. By saving the big action stuff until the extremely creative and effective finale, Reed is able to build a real sense of anticipation. Watching Rudd come into his own towards the end is surprisingly thrilling thanks to the fact that weve been allowed to invest in the character so fully.
In the end, ANT-MAN isnt Marvels biggest or most lavish production, but it is one of their most creative. While well never know what an Edgar Wright version would have been like, Peyton Reed has done a terrific job crafting a truly unusual and entertaining addition to the canon and one that should generate great word-of-mouth. Its tough to imagine anyone not liking this.
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