Director: Peyton Reed
Major Players: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Carey Stoll
Out Of Five: 4.5
As Marvel continued its bid to take over our cinemas – and audiences – last year with the likes of Captain America:The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, an unexpected hit slipped in under the radar during the summer. It was Guardians Of The Galaxy, based on a lesser known story from the Marvel universe. And it looks like it’s happened again this year.
This time the most diminutive of heroes, Ant-Man (released next Friday, 17 July) looks like taking over the mantle for 2015. He’s an unlikely super hero – more of an ant-i-hero, if you like – but the film is quite simply a blast!
Cat burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is just out of prison and wants to go straight for the sake of his daughter. But it’s not so easy and he’s soon tempted to break into a mansion. It doesn’t go quite according to plan because the safe that’s supposed to be full of money only contains a strange suit. It turns out to have mysterious powers and he soon finds himself working with its creator, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), to prevent those powers being used for the wrong reasons. Because they mean a man can shrink to the size of an ant and come back again.
Rudd has been quoted as saying that he never envisaged himself in a Marvel film because he just didn’t see himself as a super hero. He is, however, perfect for this one, and not just because his character doesn’t see himself that way either. Rudd’s affable, everyman quality is spot on, and the role brings his comic timing to the fore as well, because there are plenty of laughs, both verbal and visual. Unlike Guardians Of The Galaxy, there’s none of the knowing winks at the camera: the laughs are played very straight here. And it works a treat.
It has to be said that some of the gags are priceless, especially the visual ones. The one involving a kid’s train set pulled by Thomas The Tank Engine is a sheer joy, even if it does start out looking like a parody of the most famous scene from The Wrong Trousers. The only thing I’ll tell you is that the ending, which makes fabulous use of Thomas, is a gem. As this is Marvel, there’s some in-jokes as well. Like a cameo appearance from Falcon (Antony Mackie) who’s protecting Avengers HQ when Ant-Man drops in. He doesn’t fare too well against the new guy’s ability to change his size and makes it very clear to his controller that he doesn’t want Captain America to know what happened. And before you ask, yes, Stan Lee makes his usual cameo appearance.
But what really makes Ant-Man stand out is the way it uses 3-D. At the screening I attended, Peyton Reed introduced the film by saying that it was designed to be made and seen in 3-D. And it really shows. We’re shown the world through Ant-Man’s eyes once he’s shrunk and we see it in amazing detail – even down to the actual size of the plug (1½ inches) in the bath when he shrinks for the first time. We get a crystal clear idea of how tiny he is and how frightening an ordinary bath can be when the tap’s turned on. Experiencing the world according to Ant-Man is a real eye-opener – running through carpet tufts or grass – as is the way he leads his army of ants, winged ones included. Just watch how they turn themselves into a raft to carry him through some water pipes. It’s sharp, exciting and technically brilliant.
So if I liked it that much – and I did – why haven’t I given it that rare accolade of a full five? It’s simple. His daughter was just too cutesy for words: she’d even lost her front teeth just to make her even more icky. That said, she was my only reservation about the story and the film as whole.
Ant-Man isn’t just huge fun, it’s absolutely irresistible and I can’t believe it won’t be a massive hit. And if you usually avoid seeing films in 3-D, make sure you do get the glasses for this one. It was literally made for it and it’s most definitely worth it. Just enjoy.
Ant-Man is released around the UK on Friday, 17 July and is also reviewed on the latest edition of Talking Pictures.