The short: 3.5/5 ✦. A hilariously fun addition to the MCU, and fairly reminiscent of the first Iron-Man.
Disclaimer time! I am not a comics person, and thus have no knowledge of that world beyond what has been translated into film and television. Batman: The Animated Series is my all-time favorite “comic book” TV series, and for movies, I adore Tobey MacGuire’s Spiderman. Right now, the box office is hot for Marvel, and I’ve seen every installment of the MCU since Iron-Man and loved all of them. They’re smart, funny, and explosive in characters and action sequences. So I’m not judging Ant-Man by any criteria beyond basic good film-work and how it relates to the rest of the series.
Having said that, I do admit to having not been terribly excited to see this, especially since many of my friends and other people whose opinion I respect weren’t optimistic, either. (I wanted a Black Widow movie, dang it!) Even as of this writing, many people are predicting an eventual bomb, no matter how much money it took in opening weekend. But then, those people probably haven’t seen it yet, because it’s actually pretty gosh darn good.
Scott Lang is a criminal, but a good one, both in terms of skill and M.O. – he only takes down those who deserve it. You’re already rooting for him from the beginning, and though he’s not really a bad guy, you like him in the same way you like the roguish Tony Stark. Though The Avengers and Age of Ultron have taken superhero movies to blockbuster proportions, Ant-Man returns to the smaller scale (ha, no pun intended) of Iron-Man or Incredible Hulk. It’s all very centralized around one city, one mission, one character, though Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne are equally developed as Scott, almost to the point of an ensemble. The story manages to create a feasible background and motivation for the eventual Ant-Man without becoming cliché, and his acceptance of the role works quite well for his personality. Despite being mildly predictable, it ties in nicely with the rest of the MCU and sets up the remainder of the series without being lost in the continuity shuffle.
It’s also really, really funny. Paul Rudd is charming and awkward without overdoing it, and Evangeline Lilly proves to be more than the token “strong female character.” Michael Peña arguably steals the show, though, with his hilarious “I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows this guy’s cousin” scenes and ceaseless positive cadence. Corey Stoll totally hammed it up as villain Darren Cross – like, chewing the scenery with Yorick’s skull hammery. It was a little off-putting at times, but since I think that was kinda the point, it mostly just ended up being amusing.
What really amazed me was the level of detail put into the “shrinking” sequences. The light is distorted, the sound is thundering, and there’s even little dust particles floating around the air! In one scene where a tiny Ant-Man crashes onto a coffee table, you can see for a brief second fingerprints on the glass! The SFX team really showed their work with this film, and even though obviously a suspension of disbelief must be used for the science of it all (especially the quantum realm, which was admittedly fascinating), it feels quite realistic. Though I hate ants crawling around on my kitchen counters, I liked the focus on how important they are to Ant-Man and his team (though some mention that most worker ants are female would’ve been nice, since not many people are aware of that fact – I do love me some trivia), and that there are multiple species with various skills was pretty cool. Also liked how they were an effective weapon, because literally no one likes ants crawling on them.
Overall, Ant-Man was fun, funny, fairly unique, and pretty awesome. See it if you can!
What did you think of the movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Header image courtesy of Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures.