MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Ant-Man’ Is One Of Marvel’s Best


Film: Ant-Man
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly
Directed by: Peyton Reed

Fear not, everyone. The reign of Marvel as the leader in modern summer entertainment is far from over.

Everyone knew from the very beginning that the third phase of Marvel’s beloved cinematic universe would need to undergo a serious evolution in order to keep moviegoers engaged, and in response to that demand the studio has pulled off something just short of magical with Ant-Man. Not quite as serious as the Avengers films, but also not so light-hearted that it overlooks the key emotional beats needed to make superhero films work, the Paul Rudd-led feature is the first of its kind for Marvel. Unlike Iron Man or Captain America, the studio has taken on the challenge of making people cheer for a hero most have never seen, and they somehow managed to pull it off with brilliant execution.

Scott Lang is not the person you would likely expect to see headlining a Marvel film. He’s a former burglar who, after being released from prison, is doing everything in his power to remain on the straight and narrow. The reason for this is due to Scott’s daughter, whom he has not been able to see grow as he’s been behind bars. He wants to be the hero she already thinks he is, and so he does his best to play by the rules of society, despite the fact that doing so makes him feel almost subhuman. There is no love in our society for former convicts—even those with a master’s degree in engineering—and before long the cold shoulder of the world leads Scott to reconsider his former career in crime.

What Scott doesn’t realize, and what the audience doesn’t know, is that he has been under surveillance by Hank Pym, world renowned scientist, since his initial arrest. Pym seems to view Scott as some kind of modern Robin Hood, and the fact that he’s passionate about seeing everyone treated fairly appeals to Pym (who also happens to have a soft spot for humanity). Eventually the two meet, though not under the most ideal of circumstances, and slowly they form a bond that will change both of their lives forever.

I won’t spoil the fun of how Ant-Man came to be, or how Scott learns to harness the power the suit provides, but suffice to say the middle of this film plays like any origin story you’ve seen before, albeit slightly more comedic. That is due in part to the presence of Rudd, as well as the script by Edgar Wright, but it’s also something that feels almost inherent in the story of Ant-Man himself. In order to believe something as preposterous as a suit that gives whoever is wearing it the power to shrink to the size of an ant we must also be able to laugh at it. Otherwise, the story comes across too serious for its own good, and you end up making the audience laugh at times when you want them to feel the emotional weight of a particular scene. By embracing the silliness of the story, Marvel is able to make us feel for Scott, which in turn gives us a reason to care about his mission.

Speaking of the story, beyond becoming Ant-Man Lang must also stop Darren Cross, a former intern of Pym, from selling a suit with similar powers to an evil corporation planning to build an army of ant-men to fight battles around the world. While that idea may sound good in theory, Lang and Pym recognize that the presence of such a suit in the general public would result in utter chaos, and they spend the first two acts of the film trying to plan the perfect heist to prevent the suit from being shared. There’s also some side stories about Lang’s friends, whom he recruits to help with the mission, as well as Pym’s daughter, Hope, but it’s all present for the purpose of building to the film’s downright amazing third act.

Paul Rudd is not an actor many would likely pick to lead a superhero film, but the ridiculousness of Ant-Man plays well with the screen veteran’s knack for knowing how to make every good moment into something great. Whether he’s adding a punchline to a scene ripe with humor, or grounding the film’s more over-the-top action sequences with relatable reactions, Rudd carries this movie without breaking a sweat. That said, the support he receives from Michael Douglas, Bobby Cannavale, Corey Stoll (another odd, yet fitting choice), Evangeline Lilly and Michael Pena certainly doesn’t hurt either.

I know there are many in this world who have started to tire of Marvel’s seemingly endless cinematic universe, but Ant-Man is proof there is still a lot of new and exciting genre territory to be discovered. For the first time since the original Iron Man the studio has found a way to deliver an altogether surprising, yet fitting chapter of development for their ongoing saga that is unlike anything else they have produced. If this is a sign of what moviegoers can expect from the studio’s long-awaited ‘phase three’ slate of films, then I think it’s safe to say fans have nothing to worry about. Ant-Man is a hit.


Review written byJames Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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