Throughout the years, the major movie studios have consistently released big budget films trying to outdo each other. Incorporating more complicated plot lines and more impressive special effects, it has gotten to the point where we must ask ourselves whether bigger is actually better. Then a film like Marvel’s ANT-MAN enters the multiplexes and we get our answer. Marvel’s ANT-MAN is a basic heist film whose strength comes from its simplicity. It grounds itself in a very simple structure and is better off because of it. There is no need for massive amounts of destruction to keep the audience interested, because the filmmakers have enough confidence in the story, characters and humor to know that they don’t have to distract the moviegoers with an overabundance of elaborate effects to still entertain them. This is why ANT-MAN has turned out to be one of the better superhero films that Marvel has ever produced. Continue reading for more of our spoiler-free ANT-MAN review.
ANT-MAN tells the story of ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who, after being released from prison, must try to get his life back on track. This includes doing everything he can to prove himself to his ex-wife so that she will allow him to become a part of his daughter’s life again. Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) enters the picture and convinces Lang to put on a super-powered Ant-Man suit, which will allow him to shrink down in size and increase in strength. He wants Lang to use his expertise as a thief to help stop the evil Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from selling his similarly powered “Yellowjacket” suit to the wrong people. As the Ant-Man, Lang must learn to embrace his inner hero in order to help pull off a heist that could ultimately save the world.
The film itself maintains a very the lighthearted feel and may actually be one of the funnier movies in the Marvel Universe. The writers (Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd) add the right amount of humor into the script to balance out an idea that could have very easily come off as ridiculous. After all, it’s about a man shrinking down to a miniature size and bonding with a colony of ants. Fortunately, the combination of solid writing, perfect comic timing and interesting performances give the movie the exact tone needed for the audience to easily accept what they’re watching without question.
The true strength of the script comes from the way the characters are written. They are given real dimension and it’s their relationships with each other that drives them forward on their mission. Whether its Lang’s struggle to be a part of his daughter’s life again or Dr. Pym’s estranged relationship with his own daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), the characters in the film are all given some real emotional conflicts to deal with as the story unfolds. This makes us not only care about the main story line, but also the people whom we follow on the journey through it.
Paul Rudd, who seems to be an odd casting choice to play a superhero, gives a solid performance as Scott Lang. He brings an everyman quality to the role, making his character easy to relate to. Having a comedy background, Rudd is also able to bring a certain amount of humor to the film, which adds to the lighthearted feel that director Peyton Reed has created.
The rest of the cast is very strong as well. Michael Douglas gives an effective performance as Lang’s mentor Dr. Pym. He again proves why he is one of our finest actors as he makes his very first appearance in a superhero movie and successfully adapts to the tone of the film. It is Michael Peña though that stands out as the scene-stealer. Playing one of Lang’s buddies and a former cellmate, Peña’s comedic delivery is as good as it can possibly be and will have audiences laughing out loud throughout the entire length of the film.
Having well-developed character stories and some well-placed laughs may help keep the audience invested, but we can’t ignore the incredible special effects and action set pieces that make up a portion of the finished production. After all, this is a superhero movie and you can’t have a film in this genre that doesn’t have its share of action and effects. The filmmakers play it smart though and don’t let these elements get out of hand and take over. They are mainly used to serve the story and characters, as well as add to the fun of everything else that is already going on. There aren’t any long scenes of city’s being destroyed as the lives of thousands lie in the balance just so we can see cool visual.
The design of the ants and the miniature world in which they inhabit are quite effective. The director and his team of special effects artists do an incredible job in making sure everything looks amazing, while also taking great care to assure that the ants themselves come off as real characters and don’t just fade away into the background. I especially like the character of Antony, an ant that is given an emotional bond with our main character, which is very similar to the relationship The Lone Ranger had with his horse Silver.
With movie theaters being filled with so many large-scale special effects movies, it is refreshing to see that a smaller story like ANT-MAN can actually entertain us without forgetting about the importance of the characters. The special effects are still present, but they don’t distract away from what’s important. Also, the plot is simple and won’t exhaust the audience. Instead, it allows them to sit back, relax and enjoy the story as it unfolds in front of them. That being said, I will officially go on the record and state that ANT-MAN is, in my opinion, one of best films in the Marvel Universe.