Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lily, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Pena, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Anthony Mackie, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastalmachian
Run Time: 117 mins
‘Ant-Man’ is the latest addition to the critically acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe, a more stripped-back production after the visual effect fest (and in my opinion, a huge disappointment) that was ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. With a very troubled production that has spanned a staggering 8 years, it is a miracle that the film has finally made it onto cinema screens. The project was originally meant to be directed by the acclaimed and very talented Edgar Wright but last year just before filming started, he dropped out citing creative differences and Marvel very quickly found his replacement in comedic director Peyton Reed to quickly pick up the pieces. The only title Wright has to the film is a writing credit. With all this in mind, it would be easy to say that the film was going to be Marvel’s first dud – a troubled production that ultimately ended up being a last minute botch. However, Marvel has proved again and again otherwise – take last year’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ for example. Many people were sure it was going to flop but it ended up not only being successful but one of Marvel’s very best.
‘Ant-Man’ is an excellent and entertaining character-driven film that has a warm heart and innovative action sequences. Wright’s input is incredibly obvious and is all for the better and the casting is near perfect. The storyline is fun and the pacing is spot-on as well. However, one cannot stop themselves from unpacking the film when watching it to distinguish all of Edgar Wright’s directorial traits in it and ultimately ponder what Wright’s finished film would have been like. However what has remained is very, very promising and Marvel have another series to their name and rightly so.
Edgar Wright’s and Joe Cornish’s script is amazing – it has just the right blend of humour and storyline and this really shines in the finished film. Even though after Wright’s departure, ‘Anchorman’ director Adam McKay was brought in to rewrite the script, the finished product is incredible. However scripts need to be transformed onto the screen and the casting for the film is perfect. Paul Rudd was born to play the role of Scott Lang / Ant-Man and is as good as Robert Downey Jr who plays Tony Stark / Iron Man. Michael Douglas is also very competent as the former Ant-Man, Hank Pym and he clearly has enjoyed playing the part. Corey Stoll takes on the film’s villain, Yellowjacket and is very sinister in the role and ranks as one of the best villains to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is not a particularly high standard as there have been many weak ones. Granted, the character doesn’t have the best motive, but Stoll’s performance is very gleeful and sinister. Evangeline Lilly rounds out the main cast as Hope van Dyne and whilst she isn’t given a lot to work with, she plays the role well. In supporting roles, the main stand-out is Michael Pena who plays Lang’s sidekick, Luis and he brings a comedic edge to the film. There’s nothing really much to say about the rest of the cast other than they gel well, but what’s really promising to see here is the introduction of other Avengers in small scenes, just enough to connect them all together in different solo outings and in this case, Anthony Mackie returns as Falcon who has a wonderful small action scene with Ant-Man. I hope Marvel continue to use this in future films as it really works here.
The action sequences here are top-notch and the scenes where Ant-Man shrinks are enthralling yet playful and this culminates in a climactic final battle which is one of Marvel’s very best due to its clever use of size and proportion. The score by Christophe Beck is also very memorable and is not only a career best for him but also one of Marvel’s very best scores – a character actually has a theme song for once!
What separates ‘Ant-Man’ apart from the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that Ant-Man actually has a purpose. The film successfully pulls on the heart strings as Scott Lang is a character who just wants to get his daughter back and the audience are reminded of this constantly during Ant-Man’s battles. All the other Avengers do not have a purpose and this allows Ant-Man to soar above the rest of them.
Overall, ‘Ant-Man’ is against all the odds, a resounding success and despite Wright leaving the project, the exact amount of what his creative input has remained. The film has a very warm heart and the action sequences are enthralling and inventive. Paul Rudd makes the character his own. However one can’t escape the thought of what Edgar Wright’s vision would have been but what Marvel and Peyton Reed have been able to do in a year is tremendous. ‘Ant-Man’ is one of Marvel’s very best and rightly so. Bring on the sequel!