Review: Ant-Man

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Paul Rudd is the latest comedic-actor-turned-superhero in Marvel’s latest cinematic outing, Ant-Man.

He plays Scott Lang, an ex-con trying to turn his life around so he can spend more time with his daughter who idolises him. This is a refreshing change from the recent Marvel films which deal with giant armies of murderous robots or legions of aliens or cosmic forces. The stakes in Ant-Man are very small (no pun intended).

Unfortunately the career choices for an ex-burglar are limited, and after getting fired from a milkshake bar he is tempted back for one last ‘job’. A rich man has gone out-of-town and has a safe, the contents of which could change his life.

Once the safe has been cracked all that it contains is a suit. Disappointed, Lang takes it anyway and decides to try it on. Thus starts a new chapter of his life as the Ant-Man.

He is mentored by former Ant-Man, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who, it turns out, had set up the robbery in the first place. Pym has been bought out of his own company by his protegé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) who plans the weaponise the idea of the Ant-Man suit, calling it the Yellowjacket. Pym needs Lang to become Ant-Man to stop Cross before the technology falls into the wrong hands.

The casting is great, Paul Rudd is a great comedic presence, Michael Douglas provides a seasoned performance of a weaker, former hero who is out to protect the world, but also his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who gives a suitably waspish (pun intended) performance.

The supporting cast of Lang’s conspirators, Michael Peña, T.I. and David Dastmalchian provide the comic relief when the plot gets a little tied up. The scenes where fast talking Peña is describing how he has heard about certain jobs through the grapevine are hilarious and reminds you of certain scenes from Spaced.

The fingerprints of Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish’s original script are still there throughout the film and have a distinctness that Wright’s work often has. The problem is that the parts re-written but Rudd and Adam McKay stand out only inasmuch as they don’t ‘pop’ like the bits that seem to have been left in from the original script.

The plot is incredibly complex, with many sub-plots going on and reveals happening , but it doesn’t feel as constrained as the recent Age of Ultron script where everything is happening to set up the next phase of films, leaving very little space for Joss Whedon to tell a coherent story.

Ant-Man is a breath of fresh air in a franchise that is quickly becoming saturated with the same characters teaming up and competing for screen time. It’s nice to have a stand-alone(ish) film that introduces some great new ideas and characters.

Ant-Man may be a bit messy, but it has fun in the process. It’ll be interesting to see how the swathe of new characters slated to be introduced in the coming years will go down, hopefully Marvel will feel like it doesn’t have to rely on throwing in characters from other properties to sell what could be a self-contained movie.

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