REVIEW: Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios’ poster for Ant-Man (2015).

The following is a spoiler-free review of Marvel’s Ant-Man (2015).

We’ve reached the final film of Marvel Studios‘ Phase Two – Ant-Man is here. If this sounds like Marvel has gone for one of the most obscure comic books they’ve ever done, then you’re not entirely wrong. The general public wouldn’t be that familiar with the character, but he is not unimportant – his film is much more than a stopgap between Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Captain America 3 – in fact, this origin story is a breath of fresh air for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It’s funny. Ant-Man is an important Marvel character, but here’s the thing – this movie is not about Ant-Man – it is, in fact, about the second Ant-Man. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) isn’t a hero, in fact he’s a burglar. He’s not a lucky guy, per se – but he’s lucky to have his daughter, Cassie. Cassie Lang is his single motivation, and this movie is about a burglar becoming a hero – becoming the hero Cassie deserves, while becoming the person he should be.

While breaking into Hank Pym’s home, who – unbeknownst to Scott – is the original Ant-Man, Scott is surprised to find just the Ant-Man suit. It turns out that Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has been looking for someone like Scott for a while – looking for his successor, essentially. Pym’s former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), wants to militarize the Ant-Man suit – and, obviously, Pym cannot have that.

That is the premise of Marvel’s Ant-Man, and though that may sound somewhat big in scope – it is as personal as it should be. It is about Scott’s relationship with his family, as well as Hank Pym’s relationship with his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily).

This film is not perfect, though. For starters, I thought the beginning of the film could have been tighter – I really felt that the opening ten or fifteen minutes could have used more work. That said, after Scott Lang gets back to his daughter, Cassie, the film starts to run smoothly.

The one thing everyone will want to know is if Marvel has perfected a villain. Most people argue that Marvel has had a tough time crafting good villains for their films. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I really like Loki, Obadiah Stane, and Ultron – and I don’t think it is as serious of a problem as people make it out to be. That said, Darren Cross is not a well-crafted villain in this film. Yellowjacket is a good opponent for Ant-Man, but Darren Cross, as an antagonist, just isn’t crafted well. However, that is not Corey Stoll’s fault. Ever since his performance in House of Cards I’ve thought of him as a good actor, and this is not a bad performance – not at all.

It should not surprise anyone that Michael Douglas gives a good performance in this film. Douglas is one of the best actors of his generation, and having someone like him in a ‘small’ Marvel film is astounding. Like Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Michael Douglas gives gravitas to this film. Douglas is assisted by two very good co-leads, Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily. Lily’s character is perhaps a bit too serious for my liking, but her attitude is of paramount importance to a certain father-daughter subplot.

Also, just like Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, this film makes Paul Rudd a star. Paul Rudd is always a delight to watch on screen, but I was surprised to find out that he was not the funniest part of the film. No, the funniest part of this film is Scott’s good friend Luis. Michael Peña is perfect in this film. Now you might say that no performance is perfect, but I am telling you Michael Peña does everything right in his role as Luis.

Marvel has managed to create a new origin story with a generally unknown character, which is able to find its own special place within the universe while still being connected to the greater Avengers Initiative. It should be commended for its ability to make such a personal story connected to the huge world of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, for this is the first time where just calling the Avengers doesn’t seem like the obvious choice.

Final Score: 7.9 out of 10Marvel’s follow-up to its event film Avengers: Age Of Ultron is a fun, personal, heist film and is perhaps one of the most family friendly Marvel films yet. Ant-Man is a fun origin story, as well as a perfect epilogue for Marvel’s Phase Two.

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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