Review: Ant-Man

Ant Man poserStarring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll

Directed by Peyton Reed

Scott Lang – professional burglar (not robber) – is given a shot at redemption. A very, very, very small shot…

Let’s get one thing out of the way straightaway – not being the world’s greatest fan of Edgar Wright’s movies, I don’t share the massive heartbreak that seems to have struck fandom about this film. Sure, Wright’s version would have been different, but Peyton Reed’s take is what we have in cinemas – and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

After the angst and country-smashing of Age of Ultron (an aspect that’s the object of one of the sharper digs at the wider Marvel Universe), Ant-Man winds up Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a caper movie that reworks many of the beats of the first Iron Man film, but does it with its own style. There’s far more overt humour in this even than in Guardians of the Galaxy, but, as with that offbeat Marvel movie, when the stakes are raised, there’s no doubting the tension. Avoid spoilers if you can so that some of the neat left-turns come as a surprise.

There are clever links to the rest of the MCU, from an opening flashback featuring some familiar faces, to appearances by and mentions of many other characters and organisations – but never in such a way that it would throw non-True Believers out of the film. (Equally, the post-credits sting – not the one mid-credits but the one at the very end – is very much moving the MCU overarching story forward…)

Ant MenPaul Rudd is excellent as Scott Lang, and interacts well with both Michael Douglas as first Ant-Man Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly as his daughter Hope. Lilly has one of the stronger arcs of the film, and I’m delighted that she signed a multi-movie contract. Corey Stoll is a world away from the tortured hero of The Strain as Darren Cross – who might as well have “I am going to be bad guy” tattooed on his forehead in his very first appearance; subtlety is not the watchword of this character. As Cassie Lang, Abby Ryder Fortson carries on her appealing shtick from The Whispers, managing never to become too much of a screen brat. Michael Pena’s Luis also stays just the right side of irritating – there’s just one gag involving the heist team that outstays its welcome, given everything else that is happening around it. Stan Lee, of course, makes his cameo (you have to suspect that they’ve shot a block of these to drop into the Phase 3 films!).

As far as the production goes, Christophe Beck’s music is typical of the film’s balancing act between Marvel superheroics and a heist movie, and the 3D is put to good use, providing depth of field more than throwing items out into the audience’s faces.

Verdict: It may not have the Wow! factor of some of the earlier Marvel films, but Ant-Man is a terrific addition to the canon. Well worth seeing on the big screen, and ideally in 3D. 8/10

Paul Simpson

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