One of the things that happens when a baby is born is that the parents completely disconnect from the world outside. It was only the past few days where I had the chance to watch Ant-Man even after recording a podcast about the more recent comic series a few months ago. Priorities, I guess.
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Edgar Wright
Starring: Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly
Quick Review: One thing Marvel is doing right with their movies is that even though they are all Super Hero films, they are mostly different genres. Guardians of the Galaxy was a Space Opera. Avengers was a sheer action popcorn flick. Winter Soldier was a spy piece. Ant-Man is a heist picture. Like any good heist picture it features a gang of eccentric characters, a plan that goes right until it goes wrong, and a shrinking suit. I don’t think I would call Ant-Man my favorite Marvel picture, but I would say it is a lot of fun, has a lot of charm and is filled with likable characters that I want to see more of.
Spoilers Lurk Below
Analysis: Possible my favorite thing about Ant-Man is that they know it sounds ridiculous. He’s a guy who shrinks. How is that a threat? A good portion of the movie is explaining why a shrinking suit is a total game changer in the right hands. It makes perfect sense. And yet, despite making that case, the movie never lets itself get too serious and delights in visual gags a shrinking suit presents. The big climactic fight scene incorporates a child’s plastic train set.
This never letting itself go full tilt serious lets the cast really shine. Paul Rudd is great as an unflappable guy. He pretty much has made a career out of it much in the same way that John Cusack is almost always John Cusack. Or, as a better example for this movie, Michael Douglas tends to be serious, driven Michael Douglas. Nothing wrong with any of those. Give them the right role and bam! home-run. Rudd and Douglas are exactly what you would expect and what you want them to be.
On the whole, this is a great cast even if some of them are underused. I could watch a whole film about the partnership of Bobby Cannavale and Wood Harris. And I can’t be the only person excited about more Wasp in the sequel, especially as performed by Evangeline Lilly. I think she brought a real humanity to a role which could have easily tended to much towards a “humorless girl” type. Admittedly, that she was underused is possible the biggest sin of the movie, but it was also a pretty expected one. I’ll be much harsher to her treatment in the sequel. (And, not for nothing, I like that she actually had some muscle definition. I want my heroines to look just as tough as their male counterparts.)
I also liked that we got a villain who seems to have genuine motivation and a plan that is achievable. Even in this modern era of great super movies, many villain plans feel like they would be more at home in the early Silver Age. (Kill all humans! Turn them into mutants! Burn down a city!) Corey Stoll also did an admirable job of bringing a fairly stock villain to reality without camping things up too much.
Still, special huzzahs need to go to Michael Pena. Whenever he was on screen it became the Michael Pena movie and it was glorious.
Wrap Up: This was not a great movie. But it was extremely likable. I get the feeling it will stand up to multiple viewings quite nicely even more so that movies that I like better. (Winter Soldier might be my favorite, but it isn’t really a put-on-and-clean-the-house movie.) I don’t want to damn with faint praise, because it was a lot of fun and totally worth seeing. It just might not throw your hair back.