|UK Release Date||17th July 2015|
|Reviewed||12th August 2015|
Months after my last cinema excursion to see the wonderment that is Mad Max I finally made it to the cinema to see Ant-Man, this can be blamed in equal parts on: work, children and downright laziness. So, a mere one month after it came out (don’t say we aren’t current people. No, really, don’t say it.) here I am reviewing Ant-Man! Despite unwittingly going to a ‘cheap ‘night at my local cinema and my chair being kicked constantly by a group of brainless teenagers I still enjoyed Ant-Man, it was a pleasant surprise - mostly due to Paul Rudd. I love Paul Rudd. I mean, like, I really love Paul Rudd. Top three, definitely. There is some good stuff in it but it’s really down to Paul Rudd. Got that? Good.
So to Ant-Man. It’s 1989, genius inventor/scientist Hank Pym refuses to sell his genius shrinking potion and is forced underground by eveil forces including an aged up Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter. Why is she there? I have no bloody idea, I find the Marvel world extremely comfusing. Anwyay back to the plot, Paul Rudd is Scott Lang an infamous cat burglar with a conscience and a Robin Hood complex whose softer side has seen him banged up for three years in San Quentin. Finally released into the care of best mate and fellow criminal Luis, Scott tries his hardest to go straight so he can see his darling daughter (made more complicated by the fact that her new dad is a cop). After humiliating job after humiliating job (it’s hard out there for a reformed crook) he gets back into being the world’s best cat burgular which means he is then recruited by reclusive Pym to become the Ant-Man and help save the world from Pym’s former protégé turned mad scientist Darren Cross. Will Scott become (cue schmaltz music) THE HERO HIS DAUGHTER ALREADY THINKS HE IS????? I’m probably not ruining anything by saying yes, yes he does.
I have to admit I was not full of excitement to see a movie about a man that controls ants, becomes ant sized or has anything to do with ants in general. However Ant-Man is bigger than that! Ant-Man is a superhero movie in a heist movie. Or a heist movie in a superhero movie. Either way the heist element makes up a pretty sizeable part of the plot and the film is all the better for that. I’m Pretty certain that everyone in the movie going world knows that Edgar Wright was originally supposed to direct and the script was penned by the wonderful pairing of Wright and Joe Cornish. I would have loved to see the movie that would have been the Wright version of this little Marvel oddball but Peyton Reid can’t be overlooked, he’s done a good job here and has at least held onto some of the more indie sensibilities Wright would have put in place. The aforementioned heist elements makes for a pacy and entertaining film. It still has the usual ‘training’ montage but they hold up well here mostly because they are served with a large side order of humour and poking fun at the silliness of it all.
Obviously the most important job Wright did other than putting in a tremendous and quirky script framework was to cast Paul Rudd. Paul Rudd is well just unlike anyone we’ve seen in this kind of role before. Robert Downey Jnr was an unlikely hero but Rudd even more so. Self-depreciating, and SO HANDSOME. Oops sorry, but he is great in this role, his unlikely hero-ness, his sarcasm and his abundant charm just work well and he looks good pulling off the fluidity required to believe Scott is a world-class cat burglar. Rudd is in good company though, Corey Stoll, one of my favourite actors at the moment is outstanding as crazed scientist and nemesis Darren Cross. Stoll uses his physicality brilliantly even though at one point as he strutted across the experimental floor he reminded me of that guy from the Money Supermarket advert who wears the denim hot pants. You know the one…. Evangeline Lily is refreshingly strong and not overtly sexualised as daughter/scientist Hope. Nice to see her wearing clothes appropriate to her character throughout the WHOLE film. Impressive, also depressing that I even have to write that. Michael Pena is genius as sidekick Luis. Very very funny but if you didn’t already know that Pena was a genius then I wash my hands of you. Nice support in the rest including Bobby Cannevale, Anthony Mackie and TI. Of course we must now worship at the alter that is Michael Douglas. Well I gotta hand it to the old boy, he’s pretty damn good in this. Just the right amount of sending up and serious acting. Great stuff.
The film has a decidedly retro feel that serves it well, The Ant-Man suit resembles a 60’s motorbike wheel of death rider (in a good way). Sammy Sheldon has done a great job with the costumes; it's been a while, certainly with a film of this genre where I have been aware of how great everyone looks. There are other retro elements; giant toys and other elements that pop up all just feel a bit like an 80’s movie. It feels like it owes more tonally at times to other shrinking 80’s classics such as Honey I shrank the Kids and Innerspace. There is a warm nostalgic feel to it in general.
There are niggles of course. The ‘be the hero she already thinks you are’ schmaltz frankly got on my tits the amount it was repeated. I did also feel that the daughter card was just wheeled out when needed rather than be an actual integrated part of the story. Also some of the clunky exposition that poor old Lord Douglas had to trot out was truly painful. The ‘love’ element between Scott and Hope although handled in an amusing way also felt shoehorned in like someone in a script meeting at Marvel had insisted that box was ticked. I bet it was Stan Lee, that wily old fox. Likewise there is some sort of Avengers interaction. I have no idea what it was about but there was someone called Falcon who seemed to be in some kind of Iron Man suit. It was entertaining I suppose but actually it just felt like a rather pointless Avengers plug by Marvel. Do the Avengers really still need plugging??? Haven’t they made five gazillion dollars already? How much money does Marvel need? Obviously 6 gazillion dollars or more.
There are so many reasons Ant-Man stands out from some of the dull summer blockbusters. Because it is funny, because it is cool, because it is fun, because it was written by the mighty Cornish and Wright but mostly because it has the simply wonderful Paul Rudd as it’s quirky protagonist. Prerequisite Hollywood schmaltz, ludicrous plot points and exposition aside this superhero outing is cooler than your average cape fare. A big movie with a retro Indie heart, most definitely worth a look.