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Ant-Man Review


Let’s start off by by addressing the British, incredibly talented elephant in the room: Edgar Wright. We all know about his very public departure last year, the director was attached to bring Ant-Man to the big screen, and had been since 2006 after embarking on writing the script with Joe Cornish three years earlier. But with Marvel Studios deciding the character would play a bigger part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the two parted ways, and Peyton Reed came on board to fill the vacant directors chair. Really, it’s something that happens in Hollywood every single day, but with the particular sphere of fandom the movie exists in (and how fervent Wright’s fan base is), where every little detail is pounced upon and dissected to within an inch of its life, it blew up, and became a huge piece of news. But now that Ant-Man is finally here, we have to remember that while we all wanted to see Edgar Wright’s take on the character, we aren’t getting it, and to go into the movie comparing what could have been to what is, would do it a disservice as Reed has delivered an incredibly fun and endlessly entertaining entry into the MCU.

Opening with a flashback that really illustrates the movies importance in the grand scheme of things, and brings back a forgotten actor from the early days of the universe (one year before Captain America: Civil War reinstates William Hurt’s Thunderbolt Ross), no time is wasted to introducing us to our hero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief (he prefers burglar) with a heart of gold, whose fresh out of prison and wants to forget the past so he can start his life over again. But when he discovers the size changing Ant-Man suit, he’s brought in by the suit’s creator, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangaline Lily), to pull off a daring, super powered heist on Pym’s former protege Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who is close to replicating Pym’s revolutionary technology for his own nefarious ends.

At first glance, Ant-Man may seem like more of the same we get from almost every superhero movie out there. But to Reed’s credit, he has taken the familiar and spun it very different ways, imbuing Ant-Man with an easy going, charming style all its own. While the stakes are high, the movie is incredibly playful in its approach, and has an awful lot of its fun with the concept, never ever taking itself too seriously. It’s refreshing palate cleanser for fans of Marvel’s gargantuan universe after the heavy events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, and for those just looking for a fun time at the cinema, it ticks every box. Marvel Studio’s current approach to building the MCU we’ve seen in recent movies is still there, but feels a lot more organic this time round, and doesn’t slow down proceedings one bit. Which is a good thing, because once Ant-Man gets going, it doesn’t feel like it stops. The story just barrels its way towards to the crowd pleasing finale, and the script by Wright, Cornish, Rudd, and Adam McKay is full of little humourous touches (Lang’s crew of hapless criminals never fail to entertain, and the question everyone asks with every solo Marvel movie, why don’t they call the Avengers, is answered wonderfully) and several laugh out moments that will leave you with a huge smile on your face.

As fun as the story is, at times it hits a few snags, especially towards the end, as it twists itself, and credibility, to solely get beats and plot points in place in a way that feels particularly heavy handed. And a few plot points are signposted badly. But these are only minor niggles when the journey is so entertaining. The shrinking effects lead to some visually impressive set pieces as Lang switches between normal sized and ant sized in matter of seconds, using fire ants as rafts and hopping on the back of a flying ant he has lovingly named Anthony, are shot through with an unbelievable amount of energy. The highlights start early on, especially in the training montage heavy second act with a sequence involving a familiar face that could very well become everyone’s new favourite MCU moment. The heist at the movies centre is incredibly well realised, featuring some really novel uses of the character’s gimmick, and leads to a finale that thankfully eschews the Marvel formula of two huge armies fighting each other, but still delivers something spectacular (including a fight in a suitcase that features a fantastic Siri joke). Admittedly, it’s attempt to do something to make it standout even more, while a visual feast, goes on a tad too long, and robs these final scenes of their breakneck pace.

While Lang’s character and back story may be a well worn cliche, right down to a daughter he would do anything for, Rudd imbues him with a certain, easy going charm, and his every man attitude to the fantastic events that swirl around him is a refreshing change from the usual stoic and stalwart heroes we’ve seen time and time again. Douglas doesn’t really break a sweat as the kindly mentor, but he does seem to be having fun with the character, especially in his interactions with Lang. Lily makes for a good bad ass female, and while she doesn’t have an awful lot to do, the development of her relationship with her father is well played and we are at least left with the promise of a bigger role for Hope in future instalments. When it comes to Darren Cross, he falls into the same trap of other Marvel villains, that they don’t have much development beyond being the bad guy. An attempt to explain Cross’ mania is incredibly awkward, but Stoll does a good job with what he has, and is a fun bad guy at the end of the day.

Ant-Man, while well and truly a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is packed full of so much charm and personality that helps it stand out on its own, and delivers a wonderfully entertaining and effortlessly fun superhero romp.

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The Movie Bit: Ant-Man Review
Ant-Man Review
The Movie Bit
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