Great things come in Ant-sized Packages
Marvel’s Ant-Man brings Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close and boy, oh, boy, does it finish strong. Not only is Ant-Man the most well-rounded film to date, it may well be Marvel’s most entertaining.
(Don’t worry this review is spoiler-free)
Ant-Man’s story revolves around the central characters of Dr. Hank Pym, the first Ant-Man (played by Michael Douglas) and Scott Lang, a former thief and ex-convict played by Paul Rudd. A series of events lead Pym to recruit Scott and train him to become the new Ant-Man in order to prevent a new breakthrough in technology from falling into the wrong hands. It all sounds like typical superhero fare when reduced to shorthand like that but trust me, the execution is phenomenal.
Michael Douglas does well in portraying Pym as a gruff, tortured genius haunted by the demons of his past. His performance is spot-on and manages to anchor the narrative in terms of the stakes at risk and the emotional weight of the movie’s backstory. Paul Rudd is also brilliantly cast as Scott Lang. Like Pym, Scott also has the weight of his past sins bearing down on him but instead of brooding and sulking about it, he tries to find a way to make it right. In turn, this makes him a much lighter character, perfectly suiting Paul Rudd’s brand of acting. The character is endearing, exuding charm and wit while also showing true heroism despite personal short-comings.
Aiding Hank and Scott is Hope played by Evangeline Lilly who sizzles on every scene she’s in. Sadly though, there’s not a lot for her to do (or not enough, in my opinion) Lily holds her own in a largely male-heavy cast. She effortlessly blends the tough girl demeanor and physicality with the soft feminine side for the role while serving as the film’s emotional center. Corey Stoll plays the main antagonist of the film, Darren Cross, the embittered protege of Hank Pym. For the most part, Stoll gets to flex his acting chops leaping from the confident and charismatic businessman/scientist to spurned former protege desperate for his mentor’s approval. Stoll’s Darren Cross makes for a very convincing and threatening foe despite suffering from the typical Marvel Villain symptoms of lacking character development and limited dimension.
Rounding out the cast is Scott Lang’s crew of sorts: Luis (Michael Pena) Dave (T.I.) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). Dave and Kurt get their chances to shine but Pena’s Luis is phenomenal and steals every scene he comes on. He has the most hilarious parts in the movie and never misses a comedic beat.
Aside from the stellar casting,Ant-Man also succeeds in taking the main plot element (the shrinking and growing) and making it relevant. The film dives head first into the subject matter and really explores the possible effects that shrinking to ant-size could have if harnesssed and weaponized. The results, to be honest, are quite terrifying: untraceable assassinations, unrivaled capabilities in surveillance, espionage and infiltration as well as the effective end of information security and privacy as we know it. Ant-man truly embraces this core mechanic and it shows as their knowledge of it is woven seamlessly into the narrative as well as its cleverly designed action sequences.
The movie’s biggest triumph, however, is that it manages to tell such a straight-forward but multi-faceted story so well on so many levels while staying accessible to the casual fan. On the surface, Ant-man is essentially a clever superhero heist flick but digging deeper, the movie also features an evocative emotional core that is centered on ideas of family and redemption despite flaws and past short-comings. On top of all that, it manages to incorporate itself into the larger MCU while retaining its own distinct identity. That is a testament to not only to the stellar cast but also to screenwriter Edgar Wright’s and Director Peyton Reed’s shared brilliance.
Ant-man is not to be missed, the charming and talented cast, excellent story-telling, pitch-perfect comedy and inspired action sequences come together to tell this tale of heart and heroism.
4.8 Pym Particles out of 5
Raffy Leynes is a geek of all trades (master of fun).He loves videogames, comicbooks, movies, cartoons, wrestling, science and art. Lately, he’s been liking his geekery with a dash of “Indie”. He doesn’t know what the f*ck musings are but he is told he does them on his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.