A NEW superhero is launched for the Marvel cinematic universe within the form of Paul Rudd in Ant-Man, an unexpectedly entertaining actioner that represents an improvement on the previous Marvel feature, Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The unlikely Rudd plays Scott Lang, an unconventional character who is released from prison after three years for robbery and determined to go straight his daughter. Unable to hold work and treated as an outcast by his ex-wife and her cop husband who prevent him from having a relationship with his daughter, he reluctantly agrees to a heist organized charismatic housemate Luis (Michael Pena).
It is there he stumbles upon a costume that is much more than just a motorcycle outfit he describes. He steals it but upon trying it on after, is immediately shrunk into the size of an ant, barely able to escape drowning in a bath or being sucked into a vacuum cleaner. When reaching normal size, he is arrested when he returns the outfit, only to learn that the heist and his eventual arrest was a plan to get him into contact with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).
After escaping from prison, Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) train the reluctant Lang in a bid to prevent an evil conspiracy that places society in grave danger at the hands of Pym’s former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
Recent action films such as the aforementioned Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland and Mad Max: Fury Road failed due to a lack of character satisfaction and enough energy that was placed from the start. This however manages to do that with unusual but ultimately successful casting choices of whom are not associated with this particular type of genre.
Douglas is a welcome look in the film as the pre-credits sequence shows a younger version of him establishing his stance as a character whose decisions will prove central to the film’s plotline. The modern version we see for the rest of him is a mentor figure that demonstrates a likability viewpoint and a suitability for Douglas playing this type of role.
Rudd, who is pretty much associated with his appearances in various romantic comedies is a surprise choice and one could not be blamed for displaying scepticism over his lead in this kind of film. It is clear he is not setting out to win an Oscar yet he brings likability to the character and his interpretation of criminal-fighting-to-turn-straight is one of sympathy, while his play of reluctant fighter is easy enough to win over.
Stoll, who is quickly undergoing a habit for portraying unlikable characters, gets some good scenes as the evil Cross including one where his ruthlessness is displayed when a co-worker’s opposition is greeted by vaporization and what’s left of him flushed down a toilet. Pena in particular makes for good company as Scott’s ambitious partner-in-crime whose energetic lifestyle serves him as the fun factor for the film.
As the climactic action sequence goes, there is a sense that it is moderately overlong and plainly predictable, but due to an energetic direction there is no denying that the entertainment methods have been delivered.
A scenario set in Avengers HQ where a suspicious Falcon (Anthony Mackie) engages in combat with Ant-Man who has not yet achieved his status is also a witty and delightful scene to see. This shows that if treated with the right balance, Ant-Man can prove to be a welcome addition to any future Avengers films.
It is true that the film has its fair shares of cliché-ridden storylines, ranging from the discovery that the man raising Scott’s daughter is a cop (Bobby Cannavale) to the notion of Cross’s protégé turned maniac relationship with Pym. But because the characters and their respective motivations and determinations make for good viewing, this again can be forgiven due to its suited storytelling for what the film is.
In the end, Ant-Man surprises thanks mainly to its blend of well-detailed characters and ultimately succeeds where the Iron Man and Captain America films have failed; being a standalone feature that is good.