ANT-MAN (USA/12A/117mins)
Directed by Peyton Reed. Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Forston, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Wood Harris, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery.
THE PLOT:
Just out after three years in San Quentin, Scott Lang (Rudd) is determined to go straight. Besides, as top-of-the-range cat burglars go, Scott is one of the good guys. An Ocean’s 11 kind of smooth criminal, only in it for the fun, and to help rebuild orphanages. Or, in this case, get access again to his beloved young daughter, Cassie (Fortson) – something the cute little tyke’s mum (Greer) isn’t too crazy about. The fact that mum’s new boyfriend (Cannavale) is a cop doesn’t exactly add to the happy families potential.
Still, going straight proves to be a bust for Scott, as his police record nobbles job after job. And so it is that he decides to do just one more job, on the recommendation of his buddy Luis (Pena), hitting a safe that just happens to belong to DNA wizard Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas). Pym has got troubles of his own, having recognised years ago that his breakthrough in shrinking live subjects to the size of an ant might actually be dangerous in the wrong hands. And so the good doctor retired, feigning failure, only to discover that his protege Darren Cross (Stoll) saw lots and lots of dollar signs in those wrong hands.
With Pym’s daughter, Hope (Lilly), going undercover as the increasingly unstable Cross’ righthand babe, the doc has set out to find just the right kind of burglar to steal the data of mass destruction and, hey, help stop the madness. Which is why he made it so easy for Scott to break into his safe. The sly dog.
THE VERDICT: The influence of ousted director Edgar Wright is all over ANT-MAN, the latest in the Marvel monster blockbuster rally to come crashing through our screens. It’s there, naturally enough, in the original screenplay Wright co-wrote with fellow English fanboy Joe Cornish, but, more significantly, it’s there in the inspired comic tone throughout this surprisingly rib-tickling movie.
It’s there when Ant-Man is battling a fellow miniscule superhero inside a plummeting, carouselling briefcase, the inclusion of the world ‘disintegrate’ in their impassioned dialogue triggering a phone’s voice command to reply, ‘Playing The Cure: Disintegration’, with Robert Smith and co. suddenly joining in on the action.
Ant-Man is full of those Royale-with-cheese moments, winks to the camera that lift the curtain slightly for the audience, and lets them see behind the machinations and thus, feel in on the joke. That replacement director Peyton Reed is known largely for comedy – THE BREAK-UP (2006), YES MAN (2008), eh, DOWN WITH LOVE (2003) – is significant. This ain’t no Michael Bay chest-thumper; ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Superhero’ sets out to mix the iconic with the ironic from the very start.
And having the huggable Paul Rudd as Spider-Man’s really little brother helps get that balance just right. I’ve said it before, but, is there anyone in the world who doesn’t like Paul Rudd? Michael Douglas brings his cocked-eyebrow A-game to the table too, whilst standard-issue intellectual hottie Evangeline Lilly is no doubt chuffed to be in a real blockbuster sci-fi contender after 2011’s rusty REAL STEEL.
Whatever about the ugly scenes that may or may not have occurred behind closed doors here – as Wright was told by Marvel that he wasn’t the right stuff after all – the end result is pretty darn wonderful. Which is some achievement when you consider the fact that you’re dealing with a superhero who could be killed with a rolled-up newspaper.
RATING: 4/5
Review by Paul Byrne

Ant-Man Review
Review by Paul Byrne
4.0Pretty darn wonderful
  • filmbuff2011

    Created by Marvel’s own superheroes Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby in 1962, Ant-Man has had a long and torturous transition to the big screen. Originally pitched as early as 2003 by Edgar Wright, just before he hit the big time with Shaun Of The Dead, it was in development for a decade until Wright’s sudden departure from the project in 2014. That Hollywood staple, ‘creative differences’ was cited. However, Marvel are pretty savvy. Last summer’s biggest hit, Guardians Of The Galaxy, was based on a lesser known Marvel property. Could lightning strike twice with Ant-Man? Scott (Paul Rudd) is a con man and petty thief just out of jail. Trying to re-connect with his daughter, he’s approached by scientist Hank (Michael Douglas) to test out a dynamic piece of kit known as the Ant-Man suit. It can shrink a human subject to the size of an ant, but still give the wearer super speed and the strength of a grown man. The suit also gives the wearer the ability to command various types of worker ants. Initially sceptical, Scott goes on a wild ride the first time in the suit. Dropping through the floor, he ends up in a nightclub and is almost stomped. Hank’s tough, no-nonsense daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) trains him up for the mission ahead. For Hank wants Scott to break into his former employer’s laboratories, where Hope’s boss Darren (Corey Stoll) has developed a prototype suit for warfare purposes. Scott reluctantly embraces his inner hero and sets out to pull off the heist with the help of his ant buddies… The title alone sounds slightly ridiculous, but Ant-Man is anything but. Marvel have wisely tapped into the somewhat absurd idea and re-wired it as a fast-moving, action-packed and often hilarious superhero film. Reed keeps the humour just the right side of irreverent – we’re laughing with Ant-Man, rather than at him. A hero can only be as good as the actor playing him though. The casting of Rudd is spot-on. He’s an often under-rated straight man to the funny guy, so here he gets to create his own laughs, while the keeping the character heroic, with his own roguish charm. Douglas and Lilly provide strong support, though Stoll is a little on the bland side – but that’s a small complaint. The superbly designed set pieces, whether on the dance floor, the roof of a car, inside computer servers or even at the Avengers facility, are fun and don’t stretch credibility. Even the big set piece at the end takes place in a child’s bedroom – a tongue-in-cheek touch that works brilliantly, with some great throwaway gags. In a jaded summer of mostly disappointing sequels (particularly Terminator Genisys), Ant-Man is like a breath of fresh air. It’s smart, funny, moves like Ant-Man himself and sets him up as a hero to be reckoned with. Whatever the ‘creative differences’ were with Wright, Reed and Marvel have produced a crowd-pleasing hit that is a resounding success. Stay for the end credits – there are two teasers which are certainly worth waiting for. F-ant-astic. ****

  • Joseph McCarthy

    It’s official, Marvel can do no wrong. Taking the concept of a hero who gets really, really small, and turning it into one of the most enjoyable films of the year is no mean feat. Considering the tumultuous development process, the fact that this was made at all is an achievement, with four officially credited writers – who (in all likelihood) never wrote in the same room at the same time.
    Paul Rudd is an unlikely super hero who’s just out of prison for a crime most of us would not condemn him for and chosen to inherit the mantle of the Ant-Man by Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, ahead of his estranged daughter, and his first protegee, who only wants to use the technology for personal gain – whatever form it takes.
    Some of the set pieces have been spoiled in trailers, but the biggest laughs are on the big screen and, as always, stay until the end.

  • emerb

    “Ant Man” is the latest superhero released
    from the ever-expanding Marvel family and it’s a rather modest but delightful
    breath of fresh air for this long-running and at times excessive franchise.
    The original director, the ever-stylish and inventive Edgar Wright, departed
    leaving Peyton Reed to fill his big boots. He had an enormous challenge
    ahead of him but has accomplished the task impressively, adding his own
    sense of humour and style to the final product. Starring Paul Rudd as the
    diminutive hero,” Ant Man” is a hilarious heist movie that I found hugely
    enjoyable and entertaining. Similar to “Guardians of The Galaxy”, the
    hero is one of the less established Marvel characters but this doesn’t
    detract from the fun.
    Michael Douglas stars as the inventor, scientist
    and superhero, Dr. Hank Pym, who years ago invented a suit that allows
    people to shrink in size and increase in strength. Deciding that it was
    too dangerous for human use and would cause chaos in the wrong hands, he
    hid it away, denying its existence. Decades later, Pym’s former protégé
    Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) has become a malevolent supervillain who has
    stumbled across the shrinking technology. He is close to replicating it
    for his own evil purposes and passing it over to HYDRA. This was always
    Pym’s worst fear and so, in a race against time, Pym needs somebody willing
    and able to don the suit again and so decides to recruit Scott Lang (Paul
    Rudd) to take on his old persona and powers. Lang is a sweet-natured but
    high-tech thief with a Masters in Electronic engineering who has spent
    time in prison. He has been fired from his job because his prison-record
    became known and is down on his luck, even being kicked out of his daughter’s
    birthday party by his ex-wife (Judy Greer) and her new beau (Bobby Cannavale).
    He needs to find work so Pym has no trouble convincing him to take on the
    mantle of Ant-Man with the aim of breaking into his old lab and stealing
    the research so that he can prevent the rogue scientist from unleashing
    this deadly weapon and carrying out his nefarious plans. Hank’s combative
    daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) is less than impressed and would prefer
    to put on the suit and get the job done herself. The plot is certainly
    original but rather basic with Lang learning to use the size-changing powers,
    cannonball strength and bullet speed (training in his back garden) as well
    as learning to mentally communicate with ants and then going into action
    to infiltrate super-secure facilities.

    The cast has great chemistry and the character humour and witty banter
    is what keeps us interested because the plot itself isn’t particularly
    deep. The affable and ever-winning Paul Rudd brings the film to life and
    is certainly the most endearing superhero to date. Like Chris Pratt from
    “Guardians of the Galaxy”, he is a brilliant character performer with
    a light touch who can breezily pull off humorous moments where he’s his
    own comic relief. The entire cast is very strong and includes Evangeline
    Lilly as Pym’s estranged daughter and the scene-stealing Michael Pena
    as Lang’s excitable former prison buddy and partner in crime. For me,
    some of the best bits are when Lang gets to play off some of these more
    minor characters. I liked that, unlike the other Marvel movies, the story
    is told on a smaller scale – no big ruined cities or noisy falling aircraft
    here. The conflicts are smaller, more localized and more personal. In fact,
    there is a notable “family focus” throughout the film. Lang’s motivation
    is his relationship with his daughter, Pym will do anything protect Hope
    while also determined to stop his surrogate son from destroying the world.

    “Ant-Man” is an extremely likeable and very smart action adventure/science-fiction/superhero
    flick that is guaranteed to keep you engaged. It’s energetic, fast and
    funny and it’s worth noting that the technics are great too. While the
    plot is thin, the concept of characters that can shrink to a tiny size
    but become incredibly strong is quirky and brilliantly imagined here. The
    shift from macro to micro is effective and deftly handled. The film genre
    of human shrinkage and visualizing the world from a different view works
    best when interlaced with humour and that has clearly been the thinking
    here (“Tom Thumb”, “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” et al) – a light-hearted
    approach is the focus from the outset. Some audiences may crave the bigger
    scale but I quite liked this toned down superhero movie. It is unlikely
    to reach the box-office heights of “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” or even
    “Jurassic World” but nonetheless I can see it being a global hit, aided
    by word of mouth and hype and Marvel devotees.

  • emerb

    Sorry that the format of my reviews comes out all funny – i’ve no idea why that is? hope it’s legible!!