However, we can’t stop ourselves from loving it.
Not only did it share a similar premise to 1989’s “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids”, some people even think that this film may end up being as ridiculous as “Cicak Man”, a Malaysian comedy-superhero film that features almost 40% CGI footage. We cringed at that comparison too but sadly, that’s what I heard from people who weren’t aware of this Marvel character.
2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was once deemed one of the “riskiest” projects at Marvel Studios, but it had one of the year’s biggest openings under James Gunn‘s belt. Its surprise success proved that unconventional superhero movies can still appeal to mainstream audiences, provided that it offered fun and some sort of escapism.
The same can be said of “Ant-Man”.
The movie is basically about a man who can shrink down to the size of an ant with exponentially growing power when he wears a suit invented by a scientific genius with a Ph.D in biochemistry. He’s not just any man though; he’s a skilled thief who tried to steal the suit from the inventor, but was offered to keep it instead, provided that he only uses it to uphold the law. With the help of the inventor and his daughter, he must save the world from the genius’ former apprentice who tries to crack the formula behind his shrinking suit and destroy the world.
The man in question is Scott Lang, a character portrayed by the ’90s heartthrob, Paul Rudd. A former systems engineer at VistaCorp, Scott was forced to turn to crime to support his family. Known as the modern-day Robin Hood, he was arrested for stealing nearly $4 million from his employer and funneling the money back to its customers. The film opens with a bang, as we see him getting into a one-on-one fight with a man in the jail. That is, of course, until we realise that it was just a friendly match as Scott was being released from the San Quentin prison after 3 years of a 5-year sentence.
The opening sequence helps set the tone for the film because what follows after is just a slew of ludicrously funny moments that did not seem out of place at all. Some people might feel a little sceptical about Paul Rudd playing a superhero, especially since the actor is best known for his comedy roles. However, he proves nay-sayers wrong with his groundbreaking performance that is so convincing and hilarious at the same time. Michael Peña also constantly steals every scene he’s in through his role as Scott’s friend Luis. David Dastmalchian and Tip “T.I.” Harris are also surprisingly decent in their supporting roles as Scott’s partners-in-crime.
One of the themes that I loved in the story was the father/daughter issues that are prevalent throughout the entire movie. Unlike any other Marvel superheroes, Scott is a good thief whose notoriety is motivated by his needs to reunite with his estranged young daughter, whom he calls “peanut”. Dr. Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) observes him and decides to orchestrate a scenario where Scott could break into his house to steal his money for child support, but ends up stealing his shrinking suit. This brings Scott into Pym’s world where he is given a second chance for redemption by helping Pym steal the Yellowjacket technology from Darren Cross (played by Corey Stoll), Pym’s former apprentice who kicked him out of his own company Pym Tech.
Hank could have given this heist job to his daughter, Hope van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lily), who works at Pym Tech for Cross. However, they have not been at good terms ever since Hank lost his wife, Janet. The feeling of rejection and the tragic loss Hope experienced only makes her feel more disappointed at her dad for letting Scott don the Ant-Man suit instead. They did resolve their issues towards the end of the film, but given Rudd’s comedic nature, those touching family moments are sort of “ruined” by some irrelevant yet hilarious one-liners.
Similar to “Guardians of the Galaxy”, this Peyton Reed-directed film features some of the most stunning visual components when Scott’s shrunken in size. There is a scene that is so trippy that it almost felt like I wasn’t watching a Marvel film. That particular scene also made me feel more excited about “Doctor Strange“, an upcoming Marvel superhero movie that is directed by Scott Derrickson.
Edgar Wright did not direct “Ant-Man”, but his visual comedy chops are apparent throughout the film. He is, after all, the man who proposed to bring “Ant-Man” to the big screen 12 years ago. The film is also largely based on a script he co-wrote with his writing partner Joe Cornish, with multiple rewrites by Rudd, Pena, and Adam McKay. When there’s a film about shrinking technologies, you can most certainly expect Wright to insert some sequences where random things shrunk down or enlarged in size.
Research was also done to perfectly illustrate Scott’s point of view when he’s shrunken in size to lead his armies of ants. Reed used both practical and CG techniques to create action sequences to adapt the ever-changing perspectives. The shift helped creates a really impressive movie-watching experience as it really feels like we were in the middle of the action too.
All in all, this movie is a pure superhero comedy gem that comes in a small package. While it’s not the best Marvel film to date, I must say that it is still definitely more enjoyable and funnier than this year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron“. Speaking of “Avengers”, a number of Marvel characters that have appeared in the past Marvel films will also pop up in the movie. “Ant-Man” creator Stan Lee was, of course, featured in the movie for another hilarious cameo appearance. I was surprised to see American filmmaker-actress Anna Akana in the film too.
“Ant-Man” is currently slated for release on 16th July 2015.