For a few brief moment it seemed that Marvel’s luck had finally run out with Ant-Man. Unlike most films under the Marvel Studios umbrella, this production has been haunted by doubt and dissension with director Edgar Wright who had reportedly been developing the film for a decade leaving the project. His replacement Peyton Reed, the guy behind comedies such as Yes Man and The Break-Up did not feel like a worthy successor either but guess what? Marvel has done it again and Ant-Man proves that the studio is in fact invincible.
Forced out of his own company by former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits the talents of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a master thief just released from prison. Lang becomes Ant-Man, trained by Pym and armed with a suit that allows him to shrink in size, possess superhuman strength and control an army of ants. The miniature hero must use his new skills to prevent Cross, also known as Yellowjacket, from perfecting the same technology and using it as a weapon for evil.
Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man is a pleasant surprise, it’s a movie that shouldn’t be nearly as good as it is but somehow it is. The film is exciting, entertaining and very funny. It also took me back to the early days of Marvel when everything was not a big, flashy extravaganza (not that that’s a bad thing). Peyton Reed does a more than competent job of taking over as director from Edgar Wright and despite some uneven pacing he does a good job of crafting the film with ample character development, inventive set-pieces and some great comedy. The acting is fantastic. Paul Rudd feels perfectly cast as Scott Lang, the Ant-Man. He brings the perfect amount of charm and charisma needed for the role and he can crack wise like the best of them when he needs to. Michael Douglas does a great job as Hank Pym, his character serves as a father figure to Rudd’s character and his performance really helps the film. However, the most effective performance of the film comes from Michael Pena who steals nearly every scene he’s in as Scott’s latino friend, Luis.
Despite being a fun and enjoyable movie for the most part, Ant-Man does falter and one flaw that seems to be a recurring flaw in Marvel movies is that they just can’t seem to get the villain right. Corey Stoll plays the movie’s big bad in Darren Cross/ Yellowjacket and he while there’s nothing wrong with Stoll’s performance, his character is too much of a one-dimensional and cliched villain. I’m a big fan of Corey Stoll, particularly of his work on House of Card but I just feel he’s wasted here. The pacing is also somewhat inconsistent and the film lacks the energy of something like Guardians of the Galaxy but more than makes up for that in an immensely entertaining final act.
All in all though, Ant-Man is yet another worthy addition to the already stellar Marvel cannon. It’s a movie that exceeds expectations by being a fun, enjoyable and consistently engaging superhero movie. The performances from Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Michael Pena help to elevate the film significantly and even though it’s amicably flawed it’s a great film that ranks as one of Marvel’s best.