Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Film Review: Ant-Man


Director: Peyton Reed 
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll
Runtime: 117 minutes

From hammer-wielding demi-gods to shield-slinging super soldiers, Marvel Studios has been everywhere and done it all. Hell, we've even seen walking trees and talking raccoons play a part in their rapidly expanding company of heroes. 

But in their latest offering, Ant-Man, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and his shrinkable suit promise to show us a different kind of hero; a father. 

An ageing professional burglar looking to get his life back on the straight and narrow, Scott is suckered into a scheme to save the world by genius scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly); but whilst the stakes in Ant-Man might be high, they’re also personal and suitably domestic.

After the cosmic weirdness in Guardians of the Galaxy and the often-messy Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man is a tiny triumph that succeeds on both a micro and macro level. There are no deities promising universal destruction, or floating cities threatening to end the world; just a middle-aged man riding a flying ant and trying protect his daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson) from danger. It’s a refreshing and welcomed shift of focus from the formidable studio that redefined superhero storytelling, with complicated crossovers making way for a holistic back-to-basics approach.


As you can expect, Rudd makes for a charismatic lead right from the get-go. Much like his Marvel co-star Mark Ruffalo, Rudd doesn’t quite fit the mould at first glance, but quickly wins you over with some snappy quips and sly smirks. He doesn’t look out of place in spandex, but he’s more at home out of the suit where he can really let loose that trademark charm.

Douglas and Lilly feel a little under-utilised, and the film’s only major failing is a slightly clunky piece of plotting about their past which is dropped slap-bang into the middle of the second act. Douglas and Lilly are lumbered with some unwieldy exposition that would’ve benefited from a lot less telling, and a lot more showing.

I suspect this is owing to the messy pre-production phase this film suffered; you’ll notice that there at least four screenwriters credited with having a hand in the script, including English cult heroes Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish.

That being said, things do improve. Where most Marvel films start strong and lose steam towards the end (i.e. Thor: The Dark World or Iron Man 3), Ant-Man actually builds in confidence and momentum as it goes. The set-up is good, the training montages are fun – but it’s not until the thrilling heist actually starts to unfold that Reed and co. really hit their stride. 

With all the pulsating tension of Brian De Palma’s original Mission: Impossible and the sci-fi pulpiness of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, this thrilling sequence is torn straight from pages of classic Silver Age comics. 

The action itself is wonderfully constructed; Reed ensures that the varying perspectives in each setting don’t disorientate the viewer with a clearly constructed geography afforded to each set piece.  Even when Ant-Man and his nemesis Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) are going toe-to-toe atop a model train set or inside a briefcase, the film never loses sight of how it all fits into the overall narrative.

This being Marvel, there are one or two pieces of connective tissue that tie Ant-Man to the wider narrative. But for the most part, this is a much-needed change of pace that does away with the clutter that plagued Age of Ultron. I won't spoil where the film crosses over with other characters, but it does deliver one of the unlikeliest MCU duels we've seen so far.  

The Verdict: 8/10


It’s fast, fresh and funny, and through stripping away the excess fat and keeping things simple, Ant-Man is here to remind us that bigger isn’t always better.

Ant-Man opens in cinemas across Australia on July 16.  This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

10 comments:

  1. Great post. I'm really looking forward to it!

    Can I ask you one thing, though? Any thing wildly inappropriate for a little kid in this one? Anything you remember? Ha. This might be my son's first Marvel flick.

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    1. Thanks! I hope you like it. Depends how 'little' your little kid is I guess - Scott drops the word 'shit' on more than two occasions, so it's your call. The violence is your standard Marvel stuff, nothing grim or disturbing. Oh, there's a little animal testing (on lambs) in there? That could be a little iffy I suppose.

      Other than that, it's very, very funny in a family-friendly way. I had tears in my eyes, and not because it was edgy adult humour. Yeah, I guess it's up to you. I'm not a parent, so I wouldn't know - it's never something that crosses my mind to be honest, which makes answering this questions pretty new and interesting! :)

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    2. I think I'll let 'shit' slide, as his grandmother drops that one daily.

      Thanks for the heads up!

      (Oh, and viewing things through the eyes of a parent? Totally sucks the fun out of just about everything. Wait as long as you can)

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    3. Not a problem! Hope your little one enjoyed it :)

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  2. Great review! Since I saw Falcon in the TV spots, I've gotten a bit more excited for this one. I wasn't so sure before. (I know his part will be small) But I like Rudd. I'll give this a chance.

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    1. Ahh, that sucks! I had no idea it was coming, so it was a cool surprise :)

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  3. Ant-Man is funny, nice to look at, but a little too clichéd at times. As per usual Marvel Studios has put out a film, that is funny, especially with the comedic chops of it's lead actor. The film boasts a talented cast, including the very talented Michael Douglas, and most of the cast members deliver, especially the very talented Michael Douglas. The special effects are good, but that's no surprise, but a big surprise was that most of the characters had good development, and while the villain wasn't a great villain he was serviceable. The one thing I didn't like was that Ant-Man ended having a lot of cliches, and very similar plot to Batman Beyond, the 90s TV show. All in all the Ant-Man is led by good acting, a good story, albeit a little clichéd, and a good sense of humor. While Ant-Man isn't Marvel's best it's still quite entertaining.

    Watch Ant Man Movie Online Free

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  4. Marvel’s Ant-Man is a fun superhero heist flick.

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    1. Could've have put it better myself :)

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