AM At The Movies: ‘Ant-Man’

Above: Paul Rudd stars in 'Ant-Man'
Above: Paul Rudd stars in 'Ant-Man'

Ant-Man
Starrring:
Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll
Director: Peyton Reed
Run Time: 1 hour 57 minutes

Forget the turmoil that surrounded the production of this film and ignore all the “Marvel’s lowest opening box office draw since The Hulk talk that is floating around the Internet; Ant-Man stands tall next to everything else that has come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so far.

First and foremost, the fact that this movie was originally conceived prior to the MCU become “The MCU!” helps; it’s simplistic and self-contained in a way that the latest phase of projects involving Marvel characters never are. While there are cameos from familair superheroes and references to elements fans of the 12-film collection will get (and some they might not), you can strip out those pieces and still be left with an entertaining, quick-paced flick that holds your attention all the way through the final credits.

Ant-Man is a heist movie. Actually, it’s more of a caper movie dressed up in a superhero’s costume.

Because this is everyone’s cinematic introduction to the character, Ant-Man is very much an origin story, but it benefits from the fact that only the most ardent fans of the comic book are familiar with the material. This isn’t the 47th retelling of Peter Parker getting bit by a radioactive spider and Uncle Ben Watson getting killed (spoiler alert for the next Spiderman reboot); it’s something fresh and fun to sit through, as Michael Douglas’ Dr. Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne bring Rudd’s character, ex-burglar Scott Lang, up to speed on the Ant-Man suit and everything that comes with it.

It’s sarcastic and funny and filled with solid performance, none better than Michael Pena, who plays Lang’s ormer cellmate, Luis. How Pena hasn’t been given a chance to helm a couple dozen different projects yet is inexplicable; he’s tremendous in everything he does and has shown his range over the years, so it’s high time someone gives the man a chance to spread his wings and be the lead in a project.

Rudd shines here as well as his smart aleck charm works exceptionally well as an ex-con looking to go straight that gets roped in to being a superhero.

Because he’s been around for a while and has done the crappy husband / mediocre father thing in a couple Judd Apatow movies (and been “the one she ends up with” in a couple B- romcoms), there was a real possibility that this would feel like watching the guy that couldn’t get both Graham Parker and The Rumour to play his crappy showcase in This is 40 getting out of prison and beating up bad guys, but that wasn’t the case at all. Maybe it’s because he traded in the shaggy mog of hair and “Dad Bod” for something close cropped and a rock solid core, but whatever it is, it worked.

Corey Stoll brings the right amount of “there is something off with that guy” to his portrayal of Pym’s ex-protege Darren Cross and Douglas drops his best performance in years playing the original Ant-Man.

The effects are great, but what’s even better is the expert timing used to break between when things are shrunken down and seeing them as they are in real life. That toy train derailment from the trailer is still cute, but there are a bunch of other cuts in the film that are even better and the team that put them all together (and director Peyton Reed) deserve a round of applause for nailing just about every one of them.

Going forward, Ant-Man is set to appear in the forthcoming third Captain America movie, Civil War, which is currently filming and is set for release on May 6, 2016, and he’ll likely be a part of at least the first half of the Avenger’s Infinity War two-pack as well. He’ll be a refreshing new addition to the ensemble as unlike the rest of the group, Scott Lang isn’t your prototypical alpha male; he’s more the wise ass that stays off to the side and has more fun than everybody else.

Wherever this character goes next, people should want to follow because Ant-Man is excellent and watching him grow is going to be a fun ride.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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