Ant-Man, the 12th addition to the Marvel canon is also the conclusion to the largely successful ‘Phase Two’ of the franchise. ‘Phase Three’ begins with Captain America: Civil War next year and honestly, Marvel couldn’t find a better movie to flag off the next phase in the superhero marathon. In fact, I’d say that ‘marathon’ is obsolete, with over ten films coming in the next five years. To put it simply, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on its way to become the Wal-Mart of superhero fandom. And yet, if Ant-Man is any indication, Marvel still has some surprises up its sleeves and, it has little to do with city-leveling antics and a clutter of CGI.
Ant-Man is the story of Hank Pym, a scientist working part-time with S.H.I.E.L.D who develops a suit and the technology enabling the person to shrink in size and somehow, multiply in strength (As confounding as that sounds, trust me, the science is weirder). Anyways, the technology is buried because apparently, the Starks (Stark Sr. here) have always been gunning for remote-controlling the war. It is only years later, when the aforementioned scientist’s estranged protégé closes in on the technology that action is sought. Enter, Scott Lang, played by the always-affable Paul Rudd who must, to put it in Pym’s mighty words, be the hero his daughter already thinks he is.
WOOS: The best thing about Ant-Man is how un-Marvel it is. Going into Phase Three, one would expect the new film to be a laser show of CGI and things blowing up. Instead, unlike recent self-serious Marvel films like Iron Man 3 and to a certain degree, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man has a decidedly irreverent tone, more in line with the spirit of Marvel’s fantastic Guardians of the Galaxy. It is everything a comic-book origin story should be, channeling the wit and the tongue-in-cheek humor of the first Iron Man way back in 2008. By embracing the very concept of superhuman strength in a miniature form in all its silliness, Ant-Man revels in its absurdity and gives the perfect popcorn entertainment.
Also, unlike the larger Marvel Universe, the stakes are decidedly lower, which is why the film’s first major action sequence begins in a bathtub and ends in a little kid’s bedroom. And it really works, giving way to an immensely entertaining, and highly original and inventive third act which culminates around a Thomas the Tank Engine Train set.
The acting is pretty good too. Rudd, best known for being Phoebe’s husband on FRIENDS and for crushing on his step-sister in Clueless is all-charm and anchors this film on his always dependable shoulders. Michael Douglas as Hank Pym is great too, although I do wish the film had more scenes of him breaking noses. Michael Peña is hilarious, and has the best lines in the film.
MEHS: All praise aside, Ant-Man is not a film without bugs (Pardon the pun). As with most Marvel films, Ant-Man is predictable to a fault and does not surprise the audience with the direction where the story is headed (Even though the absurdist premise is, as always a hoot), which is why it doesn’t upend the superhero genre as I expected it to. Also, as with most origin stories, the exposition here is very heavy-handed, especially early on with most of dialogue sounding very trite. The special effects, though pretty good are not as great as it was supposed to be. In fact, I was more impressed by the 3-D in the Star Wars teaser they previewed before the film.
VERDICT: *drumroll please* Ant-Man takes its silly, absurdist premise of a superhero, the size of the ant and embraces it to produce pretty good results. It’s neither as funny as Guardians of the Galaxy, nor even as good and thrilling as Captain America: Winter Soldier, but it is a pretty serviceable film which has handy doses of charm, humor and above all, heart. Ant-Man is proof, that city-wide destruction is not a pre-requisite to a superhero film and that sometimes, superheroes do indeed come in small packages. Well done, Marvel. You have made me more excited for Captain America: Civil War, than I already was.
I give it a 3.5/5
P.S: Do sit around for the post-credits sequence (both of them). Don’t worry. You can thank me later.