The Marvel Money Train rumbles on and I’m not ashamed to admit that I have bought my first class ticket. I'm enjoying the ride and although some films are bumpier than others I am with it until the bitter end or my metaphor completely derails. Before Thor came out I couldn’t get my head around how the character would fit into the Marvel Universe and then it turned out to be one of my favourite films so regardless of how strange a concept is I will always give Marvel the benefit of the doubt.
My problem with Ant-Man was never the concept. It was always the casting. A poor and over played trailer didn’t do anything to increase my enthusiasm.
PLOT: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has just been released from prison and is recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to break into a building and steal the same shrinking technology because, erm, no one likes competition. Scott Lang dons the Ant-Man suit and becomes the hero he was born to be. END PLOT
The first Ant-Man film was always going to be an origin story and although nearly all the major players in The Avengers got one the concept is beginning to feel overdone. The main plotline is nothing more than an elaborate heist to stop Cross (Corey Stall) from selling his legally manufactured weapon for profit in what is now a morally dubious action despite it being hero Tony Stark’s key source of income. I think that Hank Pym secretly hates bald people. The heist involved a band of crooks with the most memorable being Michael Pena who gave the film its biggest laughs. Unfortunately, the overall criminal prowess of Lang’s gang was harder to buy into than the idea of a fully functioning ant army.
The effects were excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed the ant sized action sequences which were all great fun to watch. There was plenty of humour scattered throughout the action and training montages but I found myself playing “Spot the Edgar Wright” sections of the script. The family drama felt unnecessary although Hollywood’s resident wife and mother, Judy Greer is always a welcome addition to any film.
As mentioned above my main concern was the casting of Paul Rudd. Rudd is the actor you cast as the lead man’s best friend who offers witty and slightly drunken advice in a bar and is at his best in very small doses. The first time I saw the trailer I immediately thought that Joel McHale would have been better in the role and I carried this thought with me for months as my dislike of Rudd’s casting and the trailer grew. The dry humour and sarcastic tone would have suited McHale perfectly but I did warm to Rudd in the role although I do not believe for one second that the dude is capable of jumping a garden fence unaided let alone scale a wall. Rudd was passable and by the time the closing credits rolled around I had gotten over my irrational gripe.
Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne was a vital cog in Cross and Pyms’ plans despite doing nothing more strenuous than cross her arms and stare witheringly into space.
Don't worry Evangeline................
The passing reference to her love of karate and then have her suddenly kick ass just made the whole independent woman vibe feel clichéd. The closing credits scene didn’t surprise me at all but I am curious to see how that storyline develops.
It'll soon be over............
Michael Douglas brought some sass to Hank Pym and played the cranky mentor very well; his discrimination against bald people aside.
The weakest link in the cast is Corey Stall. Stall overacts like crazy and is saddled with a wafer-thin villain whose only crime is being a reasonably intelligent yet slightly dickish scientist. In an attempt to make Cross a true villain he literally sends some lambs to the slaughter and grins manically from time to time. This is his only character development. It was a poor offering which was a million miles away from the charismatic Loki or the emotionally conflicted Winter Soldier.
Thankfully Ant-Man was much better than expected and was a solid, if generic, introduction to a new Marvel character. I am not against seeing more of Ant-Man in future films. The references to The Avengers characters scattered throughout the film were appreciated and we got an idea of where Ant-Man is going to slot in to the upcoming Civil War arc. Overall Ant-Man was a decent summer film and gets 7/10 and the second post credit sequence was Marvel’s best to date.
Oops, you've just seen the post credits sequence haven't you?