MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Ant-Man’

Written by J.T. Johnson

4-stars

DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Russell Carpenter
WRITERS: Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
MUSIC: Christophe Beck

This has been a solid year for the blockbuster film experience. Returning franchises such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Jurassic World” have entertained in big ways. Now, it’s time for the little guy… literally.

Marvel Studios returns with what they hope will start yet another series in their MCU franchise. While it does have a bit of a shaky start compared to its predecessor, “Ant-Man” quickly finds its footing and never lets up on the thrills. With a leading man that actually has the ability to also be funny and a great supporting cast, the movie does what any good Marvel movie does and leaves you wanting more.

Someone once told me that they had read somewhere that the solo Marvel movies are not actually superhero movies. They actually embody other genres in order to get their characters into situations that work for them. “Iron Man” is a straight up action movie. “Thor” is a fantasy film and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is a spy movie, just to give a few examples. The same can be said for “Ant-Man”, which quickly reveals itself to be a heist film starring Marvel’s favorite burglar, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).

Having just been released from prison, professional criminal Scott wants to do right by his daughter Cassie and live the straight life. However, he has bills to pay and a reluctant workforce that won’t hire an ex-criminal. Therefore, he must take one more score in order to set himself up so he can get the things he needs to gain visitation rights for his daughter.

The thing is that the score is a setup by none other than the original Ant-Man himself, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), so that he can see how talented Scott really is. Hank needs Scott to suit up as Ant-Man in order to destroy an experimental suit and formula made by Hank’s demented ex-protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). Along for the ride to help Scott is Hank’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Scott’s friends and fellow heist members, Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).

Before any of the heist material starts, though, the film actually gets off to a rather slow start for a Marvel movie. There are a lot of plot points and sub-plot points that need to be introduced. The movie jumps around for a bit until Scott finally joins Hank in his mission. From there on, all the points join together seamlessly as it moves toward its climax.

The cast works out pretty much all around. The trio of Scott, Hank and Hope make a valuable team that keeps the film’s standards up. However, they also have a very humorous supporting team along for the ride. This is no truer than with Peña’s character Luis.

Luis is a fast-talking hyperactive thief that loves to describe all the mundane details of how information for a job came his way. Peña knows that he is pretty much just there to be the quirky comedic relief and relishes the role. You better watch the scenes carefully, because Peña more than likely will steal them.

However, Ant-Man does have a secret weapon with Rudd. This is an actor who can play the straight leading man if he wanted to, but he is also that rare breed that can end up being the funniest person in the room. It also helps this film that Rudd knows he is playing one of the more ridiculous superheroes in Marvel’s stable and loves to point that out a couple of times.

The action is also very well done. The up-close battles between Scott and the others throughout the film is brilliantly juxtaposed with funny shots revealing that all of this is happening mostly on an ant-sized playing field. The best example of this that could also be found in the trailers for the movie was watching the little Thomas the Tank Engine simply fall over after it appeared that Yellowjacket was facing impending doom.

This movie took years to get off the ground. It was in the hands of director Edgar Wright before it was very publicly announced that he left the project. Thankfully, director Peyton Reed along with his lead star manage to live up to what Wright promised years ago with that stellar test footage. Ant-Man may have a slow build up, but it checks all of the boxes in just the right way with more than enough surprises to satisfy any fan of the MCU.

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