NO WRIGHT, NO McKAY, NO PROBLEM
Note: The following review is SPOILER FREE!
It’s almost impossible to discuss Ant-Man without mentioning the creative troubles that have plagued it since its beginnings as one of Marvel’s Phase One movies. Originally, the film was to debut before the first Avengers with A-list director Edgar Wright at the helm. However, after Wright left the project due to “creative differences,” Marvel went through a slew of other directors including Anchorman’s Adam McKay before finally going forward with Peyton Reed. With a shifting creative team and a relatively unknown property, all eyes were on Ant-Man to see if this would be Marvel’s first flop.
In short, it is not. Despite its troubled beginnings, Ant-Man is one of Marvel’s best origin films in years, with tons of humor, heart and a lot of excellent action. Ant-Man follows the story of Hank Pym, a scientist who discovered the size-changing Pym Particle in the ‘60s and has been trying to hide it from the world ever since. However, when his former student Darren Cross discovers the technology, he and his daughter recruit ex-con Scott Lang to become Ant-Man and take the particle out of Cross’s hands. Michael Douglas is fantastic as Hank Pym, and he steals every scene he’s in, giving Pym a good nature but a tortured soul. Likewise, Paul Rudd turns in good work as the wise-cracking Scott Lang, and Michael Peña provides some excellent comic relief. Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll round out the cast as Hope Pym and Darren Cross, respectively, and prove that Ant-Man has one of Marvel’s best casts to date.
It’s in the relationship between Hank, Scott and Hope that the film really shines, with the emotional beats always landing right as the characters look for redemption. The action scenes are nothing to scoff at either, with Ant-Man’s changing size looking like it was ripped straight from the comics. Once Scott shrinks down, director Peyton Reed is able to do some wonderfully inventive things, including a great final battle which has Edgar Wright’s thumbprints all over it, but nevertheless proves worthy of the price of admission alone.
The film does stumble in a few places. A few early sequences drag on a little too long, and while Corey Stoll does his best to breathe life into Darren Cross/Yellowjacket, he goes from 0 to villain far too quickly and spends much of the film doing generic villain things. While book readers probably won’t mind, as the character’s backstory is intact, casual audiences will likely find him one of Marvel’s worst villains. Evangeline Lilly also does fine work as Hope Pym, but it is puzzling why she doesn’t get to do more in the film, as her character is constantly shown as more capable than Lang. Fan-favorite character Wasp also seems to have drawn the short straw, relegated to only a handful of scenes.
Ant-Man is a lighter, smaller scale Marvel film, and a great palette cleanser to the world-threatening spectacle of Age of Ultron. While it’s far from perfect, Ant-Man is a solid addition to the MCU, with a great cast and inventive action scenes. By focusing on a smaller cast and conflict, Ant-Man is able to focus more on what matters, and does it in style.
Did ‘Ant-Man’ meet your expectations? Do you wish Edgar Wright had stayed on? Tweet me @MaxMielecki. Also, be sure to follow us @YouNerded.
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