*The last paragraph expresses short analysis* Ant-Man - not Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, Darkman, Sandman, Vectorman, Omega Man, or Hugh Jackman - tells the tale of a burglar, Scott Lang played by Paul Rudd, who is way too skilled at what he does. One day he is caught in theft, then is hired by legendary scientist, Hank Pym played by Michael Douglas, to become the Ant-Man. The Ant-Man is the wearer of a highly sophisticated, break-through piece of technology that allows its wearer to shrink themselves while increasing their density/strength so they can kick butt. That way, our protagonist can fight evil and all that jazz. . . Actually, not really. "I want you to break into a place and steal some shit.", says Hank Pym to Scott Lang. From there on out we are lead on a heist movie with the likes of the lovely Evangeline Lilly, the droll Michael Pena against the evil overlord Yellow Jacket played by Corey Stoll.
So does this film fall on its face as many hope it would due to the falling out between Edgar Wright and Marvel Studios/Kevin Feige? If you don't know what I'm talking about, this video by Beyond the Trailer's Grace Randolph is quite informative.
Surprisingly, this film works. Not as well as it might have albeit, but it works nonetheless. What really saves Ant-Man is the casting. Paul Rudd was the perfect choice as the lead of the film. He balances the tightrope act of being hilarious while still showing dramatic depth to be believable. I might not go as far as to say that this performance is the next Chris Pratt's Star Lord, but it comes really close. Paul Rudd really is what drives this forward through its quirky premise and dialogue that just wouldn't have worked with a lesser actor.
Michael Douglas playing the veteran/mentor of the film is another reason Ant-Man works so well. He is there to provide the gravitas that simply wouldn't have been there without him. His chemistry with Paul Rudd is impressive. We completely buy the relationship between two people from entirely different worlds connected by similar goals. Both have issues with their families, but are trying to rekindle/strenthen relationships. I could go on to mention Michael Peña and Evangeline Lilly who are also solid, but it really is Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas who are what's special about the film. They bring a maturity and sincerity to the story that otherwise wouldn't have been there.
Part of this simply comes from the way the story is structured. There is an intimacy to the script. It isn't a world trotting blockbuster extravaganza we've seen before. Instead we hone into a couple characters and, for all intents and purpose, one location. Because of this, we get a chance to see a more intimate development of one the most fascinating powers in the MCU. Ant-Man's powers, let's be honest, are a little bit incredibly cheesy. That being said, with the right visuals, and the way the film embraces its own quirkiness - it generally works really well. Scott Lang's interaction with his insect counterparts provides that light hearted fun as well as brilliantly constructed visuals.
The film isn't perfect though. Sure, I could go on to state pacing issues, excessive cheesiness, and a plot that is too simplistic; but none of those are cringe worthy. What is though, is Corey Stoll as Yellow Jacket, our villain. Once again, we don't have to look past the baddie to see the biggest problems with most Marvel Movies. Yellow Jacket is a weak villain. Sure his fight scenes are cool enough, but the dialogue and overacting for the most part from Corey Stoll just becomes frustrating. There doesn't appear to be much depth to the script or his character. To be fair he has one or two good acting moments and they at least in certain scenes try to flesh him out more, but in the end we are just given a stereotypical antagonist who is a weak plot device.
A weak villain and a few small issues aside, Ant-Man is one of the funnest movies this year. It really is a breath of fresh air to have a super-hero film that is a little more intimate study of a couple character than an all out war for the fate of all mankind. Paul Rudd is hilarious and brilliantly brings depth to a character I hope many of us will love for a long time to come. Michael Douglas, of course, is also great and provides that emotional weight and sincerity to scenarios that otherwise could have been too far-fetched to be emotionally invested in. Let's not also forget the supporting actors, including but not limited to Michael Peña and Evangeline Lilly, as they ground the film in its quirky yet sincere style. All of this is embellished by some beautifully executed special effects and creative visuals which provide much of the humor and joy for the film. That is to say Ant-Man is worth seeing in theatres on the biggest possible screen, which is more than I can say for most blockbusters out there.
Personal Preference: 4/5
Critical Analysis: 3.75/5