Friday, July 17, 2015

'Ant-Man' Gives the Marvel Cinematic Universe a Tiny Hero with Giant Contributions

Stepping down from the epic scale of its previous two offerings – Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron – Marvel’s newest movie is Ant-Man, the studio’s first solo superhero origin movie since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.  However, Ant-Man’s heist element, sense of fun, captivating cast performances, and dynamic storytelling elevates it from being merely a typical superhero origin movie.  And as far as being a superhero origin movie is concerned, Ant-Man is Marvel’s best since Iron Man.

Ant-Man introduces us to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a former engineer and burglar, who has just been recently released from prison.  He is recruited by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man, to succeed him as well as aid him in stopping his former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), from his desire to perfect and use the same shrinking technology of Ant-Man for his own evil purposes.  As Pym and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) train him in becoming a proper Ant-Man, Scott embraces the opportunity for redemption and rises up to the challenge of being a hero.

I enjoyed Ant-Man a lot.  It has a lot of clever ideas, and carries them out rather well.  It has an ample amount of funny moments.  The execution and shots of its actions scenes are beautiful.  Its connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s major components work really, really well; they turn out to be sensible instead of just being needless servicing.  The adorability, heart, and depth that it attempts to generate resonate with sincerity and appeal.  And the excitement I got from its mid-credits scene was the greatest I’ve ever had from a Marvel mid-/post-credits scene since Tony Stark showed up in The Incredible Hulk.

I love the cast of this movie.  Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lilly are phenomenal.  It’s apparent from Rudd’s performance that he is living in the moment and loves every second of being a superhero in the MCU.  He is so into his character.  The charisma and likability of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang are comparable to that of Robert Downey, Jr.’s first outing as Tony Stark in Iron Man.  (I really like his portrayal as Scott Lang/Ant-Man that I now think the character should move up in my list for size-manipulators in fiction.)

Michael Douglas played the heck out of Hank Pym; every scene he’s in has been thoroughly compelling.  And Ant-Man is the movie that made an Evangeline Lilly fan out of me.  Can’t wait to see her as (SPOILERS?) the MCU’s version of the Wasp.  Moreover, the trio of Michael Peña, David Dastmalchian , and Tip “T.I.” Harris – playing the members of Lang’s heist team – who I initially thought out of place and unnecessary to the movie, have surprisingly enjoyable presence (especially Peña).

Ant-Man does have its share of bumps.  But considering the fact that it has to deal with the problem of having initial director Edgar Wright leaving mid-production (due to creative differences with Marvel), this movie not turning to be worse is a fine achievement.  Replacement director Peyton Reed did a fantastic job in molding the project into the delightful finished product it has become.

It’s intriguing to wonder how the movie could have turned out in the hands of Wright.  But it’s not as if this movie is devoid of Edgar Wright.  His fingerprints are still apparent in this movie.

Ant-Man is definitely one of this year’s best.  I think, at this point, it’s sitting within the top 4.  Not only that, but Ant-Man could probably be within my top 6 most favorite Marvel Studios films of all time.  That’s how great I think this movie is.

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