Movie Review: Marvel’s Ant-Man
To say that Ant-Man has gone through it’s fair share of public opinion before it finally debuted in theaters is nothing, to say the least. Being in development since 2006 (originally planned to debut in one of Marvel’s first two phases of their cinematic universes), it’s gone through a fair share of shake-ups normally seen in Hollywood but not to fanboys who have become so attached to Marvel’s brand.
When Edgar Wright (director of the beloved Cornetto trilogy as well as the quickly-rising-to-cult-status flick Scott Pilgrim vs the World) left the project citing creative differences, both comic book and fellow film geeks everywhere went up in arms. Given how long Wright was attached the project, even shooting that test footage for the film in 2012 and debuting it to raves at Comic-Con, the backlash was pretty understandable. Then Patrick Wilson followed Wright out the door due to “scheduling issues” and panic ensued. Would this be Marvel’s first disaster?
I’m very happy to say that Ant-Man succeeds by being the funniest Marvel film to date, while still maintaining Wright’s DNA (his writing credit remains along with his co-writer Joe Cornish). I mean, they really bring the funny in this film. Not that it wasn’t expected, but goddamn was it welcomed. Paul Rudd pulling double duties as screenwriter (he polished Wright’s script with his Anchorman director, Adam McKay) and leading role here has to be mentioned as it’s so apparent how he’s the glue that really pulled the film together after Wright’s exit.
Ironically, Rudd plays it straight for the most part as Scott Lang… a criminal released from prison who’s trying to go straight in order to get visitation rights from his daughter. It’s a great element added to the film since it also mirrors Hank Pym’s story arc in being Ant-Man and missing out on his daughter’s life, driving the theme home about securing your legacy. The supporting cast is also more than game to keep the funny up without Rudd, with Michael Peña (showing that his role in Observe and Report was no fluke) absolutely stealing the show as the funniest performance in the film. Let’s not even talk about Corey Stoll (points to you if you’re a House of Cards fan) but the man is born to play an asshole and I mean that in the most positive of ways. Also, you gotta love how Marvel keeps adding actors of pedigree (Michael Douglas, Robert Redford, Jeff Bridges, etc.) to fill the rich (pre)Iron-Man history of their cinematic universe. It’s like they go for broke getting these guys and still give them some great scenery to chew…. definitely something that stuck out in Winter Soldier and here as well.
While it’s easy to note how fucking funny the film is, I have to talk about Director Peyton Reed. When he was announced to replace Wright, critics and fans alike were ready to write him off as being the biggest detractor of the film. But he directs this film with such deft, kinetic energy… it’s as if this film was bottling up inside of him for his whole career. He does a phenomenal job hailing the action, which are the most inventive sequences of Marvel’s catalogue thus far. The film culminates with a third-act showdown that’s so damn awesome, you forget that Marvel used to drop the ball on those.
For most of it’s runtime, it doesn’t even feel like a Marvel movie at times (something it shares with the other “weird but brilliantly executed” Marvel flick, Guardians Of The Galaxy), which really helps this film stand apart from the rest of the pack. It’s one of the slickest Marvel movies to date, with a lot of that surprisingly owed to Reed’s careful direction (HOLLYWOOD, GIVE THIS MAN ANOTHER ACTION FILM) and Rudd/McKay’s polish. Seriously, hats off to Marvel for World War Z-ing their way out of this one.
P.S. As for the film’s references to it’s own place in the MCU, let’s just say that a) the tags during the end credits of this film had me geeking out SO HARD, that I think it’s the BEST ones that Marvel has put together by far and b) I still feel like a child when I see any of the Avengers interact with each other… and you’re in for a hell of a treat if you’ve been avoiding the marketing for this film.
Check Out Ant-Man in theaters starting today