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Ant-Man - Review


Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT may boast the world’s smallest superhero but Marvel’s Ant-Man is big on fun and ingenuity.

Making a mockery (yet again) of rumours of a troubled production and creative fatigue within the superhero genre, this introduces a potential new franchise with the same kind of subversive energy that made last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy such a runaway success.

The plot follows cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he is recruited by ageing scientist Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to steal a formula designed to shrink men to the size of insects with super-human strength in a bid to create a new super army.

Pym was the man responsible for creating the formula in the first place and now holds the key to preventing it from falling into the wrong hands, while Lang is seeking a shot at redemption and the chance to become a hero to his adoring young daughter.

What follows conforms to a lot of the traits that comic book movies hold dear (responsibility, family values, good vs evil) but is delivered in a manner that somehow feels fresh.

A large part of the thanks for this must therefore go to Edgar Wright, whose initial idea and script (he was also once on board to direct) remains largely intact – and to whom, along with Joe Cornish, Marvel remain indebted.

But there’s also a lot of credit due to Paul Rudd, who creates a suitably charismatic new superhero in Lang (he also helped to re-write the script), and to director Peyton Reed, who stepped into the fray following Wright’s departure and pulls off a genuinely impressive job.

The mix of comedy, drama and action is mostly just right, with the lighter touch proving a master-stroke when compared to heavier Marvel vehicles such as The Avengers. The decision to use a heist movie construct also pays off, helping to make the film seem less of an origins story (which it also is) and more of a genre movie within itself, as well as allowing the whole ensemble to shine.

Hence, aside from Rudd’s hugely endearing Lang (who exhibits the right mix of bravado and vulnerability), Douglas is great value as the wise, mentor-like Pym, Evangeline Lily has plenty to do as Pym’s daughter (combining feisty determination with daughterly frustration) and Michael Pena is a blast as one of Lang’s former prison buddies turned new accomplice.

Even the final third, when most Marvel movies descend into a celebration of CGI carnage, benefits from a smaller approach (and one retained from Wright’s original vision). The decision to host the final smack-down in a little girl’s bedroom provides the opportunity for Reed to deliver some genuinely inspired sight gags without leaving any nagging sense of forgotten collateral damage.

There’s also a couple of winning, crowd-pleasing nods to the wider Marvel universe (with one Avengers character getting a nice sequence) as well as two credits stings (one mid, the other post) that certainly wet the appetite for future instalments to come.

There are minor niggles, of course, and the odd moment where audiences may be left to ponder how much different (and even more innovative) things could have been had Wright remained on board. Corey Stoll’s villain, for instance, is pretty one dimensional, while some of the more family-orientated scenes occasionally feel over-cooked.

But in the main, Ant-Man is a genuine blast – a breezy mix of genres that delivers on many levels while successfully setting up a new franchise. You could even describe it as the near-perfect ant-idote to some of the genre’s own bigger, more destruction focused efforts!

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 117mins
UK Release Date: July 17, 2015