Film: Ant-Man – family and character first
At this point Marvel Studios can slap its name in front of a solo film led by a sentient piece of pasta and still guarantee a banging at the box office. So it is no surprise that the Paul Rudd led Ant-Man is doing good business worldwide.
There were wholesale worries that Ant-Man would lose its unique selling point after losing its visionary director Edgar Wright, the man behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, mere weeks before filming. But it does seem that Marvel is a machine that can replace its small gears with efficiency and quality without a moments notice.
Ant-Man has a lot going for it. It manages to position itself in a tiny pocket in the larger Marvel shared cinematic universe and still give us a story with gravity and emotion. Unlike Avengers: Age of Ultron the threat is not the world being destroyed by a flying city but rather a families being torn apart.
The film is very good at making the connection between characters feel real to a point were more empathy is felt in Ant-Man than any Marvel movie ever. I laughed more with Ant-Man than I did with Ted 2. It had top-notch visual effects and a likeable leading man in Paul Rudd.
But Michael Douglas as Hank Pym and Michael Pena steal the show. Douglas, like Anthony Hopkins and Robert Redford before him, enters the MCU with ease and sophistication and makes the character of Pym his own, his grizzled and gravely voice is perfect for mentoring the lost and without-cause Scott Lang and his arc with Evangeline Lilly’s Hope may be the film’s most impactful emotional connection.
Pena may not be a trained and trusted comedian but his childish smile and delivery is thoroughly on point. Of the film’s three biggest laughs, Pena has two. Much of his comedy is also to do with his waffle eating heist crew and that speaks volumes for this film’s best assets; characters.
Of course the film is not perfect. The start is jumbled and meshed together in a bid to lead towards a more rounded conclusion. The villain, as is the case with most Marvel movies, is generic, boring and uninteresting. And sometimes the comedy could have been left at home in favour of a more real reaction from characters.
But I enjoyed it more than Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man is a superhero not because he controls Ants to put sugar cubes in teacups and shrinks at the press of a button but because he can take that otherworldly threat and minimise it to a familial level.
The film is also chock full of references to the Marvel phases ahead of us and has two very important post credit sequences that not only bode well for the status of female superheroes in the MCU but also for Captain America: Civil War.
Score – B-