Marvel’s “Ant-Man” is a superhero film for the underdog. The film follows ex-con man Scott Lang, who finds himself down on his luck after being released from San Quentin prison. Comedian Paul Rudd plays Scott flawlessly, who after being fired from Baskin-Robbins gets himself roped into one last big score in an effort to get back into his young daughter’s life. Instead of finding money or jewels, Scott and his rag tag group of friends; Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (TI) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian) come across a peculiar looking leather suit. Things quickly spiral out of control when the gang inadvertently finds themselves involved in a power struggle and corporate espionage between major conglomerates, PYM Industries and Cross Technologies.Admittedly I’m not a huge Marvel enthusiast, so when I first heard about Ant-Man, I thought it sounded like a retelling of “A Bug’s Life” for adults. Nonetheless, the film really surprised me. First and foremost, Rudd and Peña are comedic gold. Peña’s genius is consistently overlooked and underrated, so it was a ton of fun to watch him in his element. Throughout the film, Rudd and Peña ebbed and flowed with the same witty, dark, humor that director Peyton Reed has captured perfectly in some of his prior films. Coming from the same team that produced last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Ant-Man” had a familiar feeling to it because there was no Asgard, nor any other mythical place to serve as a distraction.
“Ant-Man’s” special effects are jaw dropping. I’m certainly not a gal who loves insects, but even in the film’s most absurd moments, the ants feel real and look extremely life-like. The most visually arresting component of the film is the way it captures Scott’s point of view when he’s shrunken in size. There is one bathroom scene in particular that was simply, visually delicious.
Michael Douglas is fine as Dr. Hank Pym (the man who Scott steals from) but the real talent on camera is Corey Stoll as Dr. Darren Cross. Stoll is able to really embody the crazed, maniacal, instability of his villainous character. As I watched him, I found myself wishing that DC Comics had chosen him to play Lex Luther in “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
The one thing that disappointed me a great deal about “Ant-Man” was the thin romance between Scott and Dr. Pym’s daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Their relationship felt forced and jumbled. I was annoyed that Marvel reduced Lily’s character to simply Scott’s love interest. It was wholly unnecessary, trite and frankly quite dull. Speaking of women, why does Judy Greer (who plays Scott’s ex-wife) play the same role in every film? I just saw her in “Jurassic World” and frankly her character was a bit one-dimensional for my taste.
On another note, if you’re not one for insects, the copious amounts of them in the film can get kind of icky.
Additionally, “Ant-Man” boasts some familiar faces. Even though he plays a cop, it was nice to see the severely underused Wood Harris on screen. I’d assumed that I was going to have to wait until Thanksgiving to catch him in “Creed,” so it was a real treat to have him pop up in “Ant-Man.” T.I. is also surprisingly decent in his supporting role. And finally, Anthony Mackie appears as Falcon during the film, which hopefully means he will be much more present in next year’s “Captain America: Civil War.”
I’d have to say that “Ant-Man” is probably one of the best films to come out of Marvel as of late. Though there are plenty of Avengers jokes sprinkled throughout, it feels much more like a Paul Rudd film (possibly because he helped write the script) and I’m definitely a Paul Rudd fan. Despite its absurd romantic storyline, and creepy crawlers, “Ant-Man” is a superhero film worth seeing. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in any other Marvel film. Just make sure you stay until the very last credit has rolled; you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t.
“Ant-Man” opens today, Friday, July 17th.
Aramide A Tinubu has her Master’s in Film Studies from Columbia University. She wrote her thesis on Black Girlhood and Parental Loss in Contemporary Black American Cinema. She’s a cinephile, bookworm, blogger, and NYU + Columbia University alum. You can read her blog at: www.chocolategirlinthecity.com or tweet her @midnightrami