The latest instalment in the Marvel Movie pantheon was originally set up by director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and many thought the focus would be on the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, the scientist who created the formula and was the leading Marvel science guy before Tony Stark swooped in and took the mantle.
After various creative differences Wright left the project (he and Joe Cornish still retain screenplay credits alongside star Paul Rudd and Anchorman scribe Adam McKay) and Bring it On director Peyton Reed stepped in.
What we have now is a probably a very different beast to the one Wright envisioned. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) still features heavily but is now retired and estranged from his daughter Hope (Lilly) who works alongside Pym’s protege Darren Cross (Stoll) at the lab where Pym first made the incredible shrinking formula.
Cross is nefarious and sinister from the off and it transpires using the formula to construct a weapon of mass destruction that he intends on selling to the highest bidder.
Scott Lang (Rudd) is a recently released Robin Hood type burglar who, through a series of neat plot devices, is recruited by his pals (a winning Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, Tip ‘T.I’ Harris) to work on a job. Unbeknown to our loveable rogues the ‘job’ has been set up by Hank to recruit Scott’s services.
From here Scott learns the history of Ant-Man and soon becomes Hank’s protege. It also transpires that Hope is working as a double agent, feeding back info to her father in a bid to thwart Cross’s evil plan. There is a sub-plot involving Hope’s frustration at not being allowed to jump in the Ant-Man suit that is quickly (and rather too quickly) pushed aside mid-way through.
From here we have a series of very funny (and occasionally) ingenious sequences where Scott learns to control the suit and become the man he’s destined to be.
Rudd is entirely charming and handles the action scenes with aplomb. He generates a nice camaraderie with Douglas (who appears to having the time of his life) and believable chemistry with Lilly.
Where the film fall short is with the bad guy — Stoll, a usually fine actor — comes across as a petulant brat rather than a super brain capable of taking down the world. He never feels like an actual threat to any of the good guys rendering the film devoid of any real tension.
Lilly is also underused — wandering around angrily with a serious hair cut but never actually getting to do anything. If you stay for the closing credits there is an indication of more to come from her should we get a sequel.
Overall Ant-Man is great fun — polished, efficient, funny and a great night out. It just won’t trouble The Avengers as a great movie.
Ant-Man is the story of ex-convict Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) after he is recruited by Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to become the Ant-Man and save the world from Darren Cross’ (Corey Stoll) Yellowjacket programme, which looks set to create an army of minuscule soldiers.
Scott Lang is an expert thief, given the incredible ability to shrink to the size of an ant by Dr Pym’s “Pym particle”. Using these skills (and a little help from his insect buddies) Scott must break into Pym Tech to steal the Yellowjacket suit and formula, which seeks to weaponise this shrink capability.
Ant-Man is largely entertaining and humorous throughout; it is probably the funniest of the Marvel movies. Paul Rudd is fantastic as the hero, bringing his charm and comedic grace to the character, making him instantly likeable.
Michael Pena also provides much of the humour, often stealing the limelight from Rudd. He regales us with stories through flashback in which the actors lip-sync to Pena’s voice, which is innovative and hilarious.
As with many of the films within the Marvel franchise, there are not enough interesting roles for women in Ant-Man.
Don’t get me wrong Evangeline Lily is great but I thought her character was largely wasted. She is sidelined to make room for Rudd’s character to embody the Ant-Man suit despite her superior knowledge of the tech. This, we are told, is to protect her life as well as her double-agent identity from Cross.
That’s it. The only other women in this film are Scott Lang’s ex-wife and daughter, meaning that the film does not pass the now renowned Bechdel Test; something of a travesty to my mind in the 21st century.
I have no doubt that Lily’s character will be back and I have my fingers crossed that Captain Marvel will give female characters the platform they deserve to prove they can drive the Marvel machine as well as any man.
Overall Ant-Man was filled with fun and some big laughs with superb action to boot. I have no doubt of the success of this film proving that good things do indeed come in small packages.
Ant-Man will be released on July 17th.