Some thought that the film would never get made, that the premise was too outlandish even for a comic book movie; after all it is about a hero who shrinks to the size of an ant. But after years of work and development Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man film finally reaches cinemas this month and attempts to put its mark on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Small in stature, Ant-Man unfortunately is also small on delivery, never fully rising above its bizarre foundation, but still manages to supply a few laughs and some fine performances.
Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a recently released convict struggling to find work who reluctantly takes part in a heist to help him support his daughter. The final job throws him into the path of Michael Douglas’ Dr Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, who nominates Lang as his successor and engages his help in taking down his former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who is attempting to turn Pym’s shrinking technology into a fearsome weapon.
There are the usual action scenes, Marvel cameos, and nods to the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe that will no doubt please many. But some of the best scenes in the film are when the characters are left to simply interact with each other away from all the action and CGI. It’s moments like this that Paul Rudd’s affable and self-depreciating charm comes out and that the writing is often at its best. Stoll does a good job in the beginning of conveying the obsessive and unhinged nature of his villain but as the film progresses his performance seems to veer into absurdity.
Douglas is not given much to work with but successfully plays the exasperated mentor to Rudd’s hesitant Ant-Man and the supporting cast, including Evangeline Lilly as Pym’s daughter Hope, do a decent job. Though I could have done without that fake Russian accent from David Dastmalchian. Many of the jokes and comedy hit their mark and drew laughter from the crowd, but not all preformed as well and the film at times felt stilted and lacked a certain flow to it. Of course as this is very much an origins story, and a heist-themed origins story at that, it doesn’t really break much new ground in terms of superhero movies and is much more concerned with having an upbeat, playful tone.
And maybe that was my problem, not the film’s. I have come to expect a certain seriousness and depth to comic book movies, intended for an older audience yet that is not always what the films themselves are aiming towards. Many will be geared to what is more traditionally thought of as the audience of superhero films, younger teenagers and children. I was surrounded by many younger yet delighted people in the theatre and if the aim of cinema is to entertain then this movie certainly seemed to fulfil that for some.
If you are looking for some fun and action then Ant-Man might hit the spot. However, if you are after a more complex kind of superhero, and like me can never really look past all the ants, you might want to save your money.