An elegANTly told origin story
In 1962 Ant-Man made his comic book introduction – a brilliant scientist who invented a substance which allowed him to shrink size. Specifically to size of Ant (get it?!?) Along with his girlfriend, known as Wasp, they became a crime fighting duo who utilised their ability to shrink to the sizes of insects. In 1963 they were established as founding members of that little known superhero team, the Avengers. The chances are that this is all new information to you, for Ant-Man as a comic book series was not particularly popular. In fact he was not successful enough to even warrant his own series until relatively recently, mainly making appearances in ensembles as opposed to solo adventures. The first you probably knew of Ant-Man was when the promo campaign started for this movie. You probably snorted, scoffed on your popcorn and sniggered at the ridiculousness thinking, ‘First Ironman, then Star-Lord now…Ant-Man!?!’ You may have laughed at one or two of the gags in the trailer and remained uncertain about the film. Don’t be fooled by his name, for in his cinematic debut Ant-Man confounds all expectations and proves that size is not everything. He may be small but this movie is gigantic in scope, laughs and pathos. In what could be viewed as its most outlandish adaptation yet, Marvel studios have created its most human movie yet.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a thief who has just been realised from a three year prison sentence. Struggling to find employment due to his checkered past and consequently unable to pay child support for his daughter he is a man desperate for a second chance at life. This is when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) enters his life, a biophysicist who left the laboratory he founded under less than friendly-circumstances. Hank discovered a set of subatomic particles that made it possible to transform to the size of an ant, which his board members wanted to use for less than altruistic purposes. This, along with the mysterious disappearance of his wife, led to his estrangement from his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) Years after his quitting Pym technologies Hank needs Scott’s ‘unique set of skills’ to prevent his former-protégée turned possible evil genius Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) from using Hank’s research to create America’s next military weapon. Scott must learn to use the ants, his own inner strength and skill-set, to plot the ultimate heist to save the earth.
This narrative is typical origin-movie stuff – a hero is given a call to arms, has an assistant who provides him with the help he needs and must defeat a villain who poses a mass threat – and in this manner may be Marvel’s most conventional narrative yet but it is also its most sublime. The sequences where Scott is ant-sized are superb, harking back to 50s sci-fi b-movies but with far better SFX. This is one of the few films that is released in 3d and is really worth watching in 3d. The humour along the journey is well-pitched and at times provides proper belly-laughs. If you found Avengers: Age of Ultron to be too dour then Ant-Man is your antidote. Paul Rudd’s Scott is pitched in the same manner as Chris Pratt’s Star Lord in Guardians of The Galaxy – the most unlikely of heroes can still be noble of heart and funny of tongue. A few of the quips made get lost in the action, but this is just a reason to re-watch the film. Although Edgar Wright left the film prior to filming, there are a few Wright touches here. Scott’s best friend Luis (Micheal Pena) is a scene-stealer and his flash-back narratives are told in Hot Fuzz stylee-editing to great effect.
Whilst the film is not perfect, with slightly too much of its running time spent on exposition and a few obvious twists, it is still an entertaining thrill-ride which suggests fantastic things to come. It’s an immensely likeable film with an equally likeable hero, proving that good things can come in small packages.