THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Originally scheduled to be directed by Edgar Wright, (who had spent ten years developing the film), before he stepped away from the project over good old “creative differences” with Marvel and was subsequently replaced by Peyton Reed. The film seemed to have a lot of issues right from the start with the directorial chang-up pushing production back drastically, giving the crew an undesirable small window to shoot and edit the entire film. This on top of the fact that veteran comedic actor Paul Rudd’s casting as the protagonist had drawn some ire from fans, all pointed to the very real potential that Ant-Man would be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first flop.
Ant-Man tells the story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a middle-aged professional criminal who is recruited by renowned scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to assist in a heist.
It’s not surprising that Rudd’s casting drew so much ire from fans as they just couldn’t picture the Anchorman star with a six-pack. Rudd has made a career through the genre of comedy and the idea of him playing a superhero was (and on some level still is) ridiculous. However, he proves to be a great piece of casting, utilising his traditional comedic talents and buffed up physique to craft a believable and fun hero. He doesn’t feel out-of-place in a cinematic universe filled with stars that were seemingly born to play their roles. Also, Michael Douglas gives an extremely fun performance as the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. The standout performance is arguably Michael Peña as lowlife thief Luis. He is the primary source of comedic relief and steals every scene he is in.
It should come as no surprise that a film based on a character who shrinks down to the size of an ant is heavily reliant on CGI. Many MCU films are criticised for their uneven CGI, however, Ant-Man remains one of the most technically brilliant films within the MCU, as it’s CGI is consistently impressive.
As for the humour, the reception to it really ends up being based on personal definitions of comedy. Although Peña’s Luis is often praised as the highlight of the film, he will also irritate some viewers who simply do not appreciate the style of humour that he represents. For me, however, he is quite possibly the funniest character within the MCU and it’s just a shame he wasn’t in the film more.
Ant-Man is no different from the majority of MCU films in the villains’ department as the antagonist, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) is pathetically weak. He might just be the most forgettable MCU villain. His portrayal as a psychopath is unbelievable and it doesn’t help the character’s longevity that Stoll’s hammy performance makes Cross come across as embarrassing rather than intimidating. Despite the fact that many fans are frustrated with Marvel’s standard of killing off villains at the end of each film, it’s probably a good thing that Cross bites it at the end of the film.
The film follows the typical Marvel formula making it a predictable, clichéd and rather hollow experience. There’s nothing particularly memorable about the film except the production issues it faced.
Lastly, as a huge fan of LOST, I was disappointed to see Evangeline Lilly’s role as Hope van Dyne is surprisingly restricted. She is the typical female character that helps the male characters but does nothing significant herself. She doesn’t exactly give a strong performance either and her chemistry with Paul Rudd is almost non-existent which makes the relationship that is suddenly revealed at the end of the film that much more frustrating, as it is totally unearned. It is clear from both the title of the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the marketing so far that she will have a more prominent role, and I remain hopeful that she will deliver a performance that is on par with the performances she gave week in and week out on LOST.
Ultimately, Ant-Man is a mixed-bag within the MCU. Paul Rudd proves that the fans are not always right, as he doesn’t feel out-of-place within the blockbuster franchise. It shocks me that the film boasts a solid 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, beating other MCU films such as Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers: Age of Ultron. For me, Ant-Man is a fun yet vastly overrated piece of popcorn entertainment, which was clearly rushed following a troubled production.