Film review: Paul Rudd, spectacle make Ant-Man worth price of admission


By Ben Lash

Including Ant-Man, there have been about a dozen movies taking place within the same Marvel Universe since Iron Man, directed by Jon Favreau, back in 2008. 

With the overall story surrounding all the characters and the visual style of each film being essentially the same, it’s not overstepping bounds for people to consider all of these films as sequels, based on characters that have, for the most part, already been recreated in cinematic form from comic-book form in the past.

However, millions of fans are not taking to the streets or YouTube protesting this rapid production of Marvel films. The reason? I believe that starting with Iron Man, directors like Jon Favreau have been able to figure out some kind of formula with movie production in both writing and visual style that has made these films not just acceptable, but very enjoyable. 

While the range of this formula has started to see strain in more recent years, elements of its success can still be experienced in the Peyton Reed-directed Ant-Man, which was released on July 17.

The plot follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a skilled burglar recently released from prison after serving time for (you guessed it) burglary. Struggling to support himself with his ex-con status, Scott finds it difficult to resist the urge to continue his criminal career of burglary. 

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    He eventually succumbs to the pressure, and reunites with his old friend and partner in crime, Luis (Michael Peña), to take part in one more job to get himself on his feet financially. 

    When the job results in him burgling a suit with the technology to shrink a man to the size of an ant, all while maintaining the same degree of strength one would have in their full size, Scott is contacted by the suit’s creator, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hank then convinces Scott to help him steal the same technology from his former protégé, Darren Cross, who intends to use it for military purposes.

    Recent Marvel movies have a reputation of mixing spectacular action and drama with frequent wit and humor. When it was released that the lead actor of Ant-Man was to be Rudd, who is known for his work in comedies such as Knocked Up (2007) and I Love You, Man (2009), the public fully expected comedy and humor. 

    The film delivers satisfyingly, much thanks to the style of acting that Rudd is known for. It is clear that for many of the scenes, Rudd performs his lines with a level of improvisation, which has been used successfully in previous films, especially when working with frequent co-star, Jason Segel.

    However, it is not Segel, nor any other well-known actor, that Rudd is able to bounce wit and humor off of in Ant-Man. Instead, audiences can enjoy a somewhat comedic debut performance from Michael Peña. 

    Peña has been known in the past for more serious roles in films like End of Watch (2012) and Fury (2014). But a good deal of the laughs in Ant-Man that don’t come from Rudd are from Peña’s performance, including his long and drawn-out recounting of how he came to hear very small and compact bits of information.

    Visually, the film stands out rather well. As expected, literal ants play a huge role. And whether you’re seeing Scott ride a giant carpenter ant (lovingly named Antony) or seeing swarms of fire ants swarming across floors and walls, there are few scenes without them. 

    If bugs make you squeamish, be warned before walking into this movie. The film tries to make some of them seem more lovable than others, but there’s still nothing like seeing a gigantic swarm of well-animated ants crawling over someone on the big screen.

    The fight scenes between the Ant-Man and the movie’s main antagonist are spectacular as well. It’s thrilling to see a minuscule Ant-Man jumping from small piece of debris to small piece of debris as a slightly out-of-focused and full-sized villain takes up the background, firing lasers at the hero.

    You shouldn’t watch this movie expecting a deep plot. The family drama between Scott and his daughter, as well as Hank and his daughter provides some depth to get you involved in the plot, although some of the roles aren’t executed as well as others. 

    But if you’re looking for witty dialogue with editing/special effects similar to those enjoyed in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), this film is well-worth the ticket. 

    Click here to read Ben’s review of Trainwreck.

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