For the uninitiated, he’s a man who can shrink to ant size.
And become an Ant-Man.
So, he effectively becomes an ant.
Thus becoming the Ant-Man.
I’m sorry, I haven’t followed many of the Marvel comics, and I’m still trying to come to terms with the premise of this superhero. I know it sounds crazy; I can watch a man turn into a big green monster when he gets a bit angry, but give me a man who shrinks to ant size and I start questioning the ‘realism’ of it.
But realism has never been the hallmark of Marvel’s rise to cinematic behemoth. They have, first and foremost, aimed to provide moviegoers with heart-pumping action and gut-aching laughs, while giving comic book fans the chance to see the moments that shaped their childhood transform into moving, real-life action.
In this sense Marvel has, unsurprisingly, succeeded yet again.
Perhaps an effective way to sum up the film’s tone is to consider the man at its centre, Paul Rudd. Rudd was one of the four screenplay writers for this film, so it’s no surprise he is perfect for the type of film Ant-Man turns out to be. Like many films throughout Rudd’s career, there’s constant humour with hints of emotional depth sprinkled throughout. Add a superhero costume and a big budget, and you effectively get a supersized Paul Rudd movie (I’ll let you find the irony in that sentence).
While the budget is grand, it’s spent wisely, perhaps more so than any other Marvel film to date. The special effects are convincing as always, but a far more thoughtful use of them is evident. You are truly enthralled by the dilemmas of Ant-Man, a Thomas the Tank Engine play set representing a bigger threat than anyone could ever imagine.
There’s a scene involving atomic theory near the end I won’t spoil, except to say it was the best special effects sequence of the entire Marvel filmography thus far.
The story is, surprisingly given the interconnected universe Marvel has built, relatively self-contained. Yes, there are certainly moments of crossover (one Avenger in particular making a bite-sized appearance), but the story is not the usual save-the-world tale. Instead, it qualifies as a heist film. This allows the time usually spent building up other franchises to be reallocated to the main characters in this story, and it works like a charm. Evangeline Lilly’s character in particular (Hope van Dyne) has a fully-fledged and believable arc.
Having said this, Marvel has never been fantastic (apart from Loki and hopefully Thanos) when it comes to development of its villains, and though Corey Stoll does the best with what he’s given, his character is relatively one-dimensional throughout the film.
As mentioned at the start of this review, the premise of the character is, even by superhero standards, fairly ridiculous. Thankfully, Marvel has somehow managed to work this to their advantage. Rather than avoiding the implausibility of its premise, it’s embraced; many fight scenes throughout the film cut from the miniature size combatants to the hilariously dead silent environment around them.
Surprisingly, the humour is the film’s weak point, at least for the first half of the film. It’s definitely a film that gets better the longer it goes, and the jokes in the second half got far heartier reception than those at the outset (Michael Pena’s ‘Luis’ in particular an example of this).
Extending to the film overall, some sections of its opening could easily have been left on the cutting room floor, Director Peyton Reed’s reluctance to do so resulting in a film slightly excessive in length at 117 minutes.
Overall, Ant-Man is yet another fantastic, albeit slightly overlong addition to Marvel’s astonishingly expansive and successful universe, with superb special effects and some laugh out loud moments. It’s relatively independent when compared to other Marvel films, but the last five to ten minutes really begin to fledge out the character’s role in the greater world. Thankfully, we’ll be seeing a lot more (or nothing at all depending on the size he chooses) of him.