US, 2015, 117 minutes, Colour.
Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, T.I., Wood Harris, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Martin Donovan, Anthony Mackie.
Directed by Peyton Reed.
A full confession! This is a realisation that early into Ant-man, this reviewer was believing all the science, accepting that living creatures could be shrunk, that this kind of activity could be credible!
Which leads to say that Ant-man is a very entertaining and enjoyable film.
Marvel comics have a long reputation for their comic strips and comic books in print. In fact, Ant-man was first released in 1963. However, it was the other superheroes who made it earlier to the screen, stories of The Hulk, of Captain America, of Iron Man, of Thor, episodes for all the heroes, many sequels and, of course, The Avengers films.
With due respect to the last Avengers film, The Age of Ultron, Ant-man is far more enjoyable.
In the late 1980s, scientific researcher, Dr Pym, was developing techniques for reducing living creatures. But, it was the time of the Cold War and he was being looked on with some hostility by CIA authorities. He then retired but continued his work, even after his protégé, Darren Cross, took over his company and laboratories.
Present day. Darren Cross has almost succeeded in his shrinking techniques and experiments on creatures, including lambs, until he has success. While he is brilliant at science, he is also a greedy man in love with power and plans to sell his research to the highest bidders, irrespective of their motives and their plans for domination. Dr Pym does not approve. But his daughter, Hope, works with Dr Cross.
Also present day. pleasant burglar, Scott Lang is about to be released from prison, gets fired from his fast food job because of his past, shares an apartment with Luis, a motor-mouth when it comes to telling a story with excessive detail, and two of his friends. Scott is being prevented from seeing his daughter by his ex-wife and her new partner who is a police officer.
These two present-day scenarios then connect, with Scott doing a burglary job in Dr Pym’s house, then becoming a candidate for the experiment for a shrinking man. Dr Pym’s motives are good, wanting to stop Dr Cross and deciding to use his Ant-man to infiltrate and destroy Dr Cross’s experiments – including Cross shrinking himself as Yellowjacket.
Some of the most entertaining scenes are Scott’s training to be an Ant-man, experiencing what it is to be so small and in danger from ordinary situations, like water in the bath becoming a deluge, like exercising mind control over ants and their activities, finding Anthony, a giant ant on whom he could ride to battle. Dr Pym’s daughter had hoped to do battle for her father but he wants to protect her, especially when she learns the story of her mother who was a partner with her husband and gave her life for experiments.
So, this leads to a set up for confrontation between the two Ant-men, Goody and Baddy.
This film is certainly not predictable like the other action hero stories. While Scott, Ant-man, as a criminal background he is something of a hero, but very small, and, while his activities will contribute to saving the world, they are not cataclysmic and apocalyptic like the battles in other Marvel films. And there is a great deal of humour, in the characters, the mannerisms, the deadpan remarks, and the frustrations that Scott experiences during his training.
Often, the film is quite funny.
Of course, there is action in the final confrontations, not always going as might be foreseen, which makes them very enjoyable, a good blend of action and special effects.
The cast should be mentioned by name and praised. Paul Rudd has appeared in many a comedy, with touches of romance. The part of Scott Lang suits him and he makes the most of it with self-deprecation, funny lines, attempts at heroics, motivated by possibilities for seeing his daughter, and rising (no matter how miniature) to the dangerous occasions.
Dr Pym is a very good role for Michael Douglas who carries it off with great aplomb and credibility. Evangeline Lily plays his daughter. Corey Stoll is both smooth and smarmy as well as corporation-evil personified as Dr Cross. Michael Pena has most of the comedy as Luis, his comic reactions to everything (although some solid punches when necessary) along with his two friends, seeming slackers, who nevertheless are essential for the final success.
There is a guest appearance by Anthony Mackie as The Falcon – and, of course, the advice is to remain till the end of the credits to see where this is all leading.
1. Marvel Comics and their reputation? The comic books, popular through many decades? The films? The development of screen heroes to The Avengers?
2. Ant-man and the comics, not pursued for films, yet the links with SHIELD and The Avengers?
3. The adaptation from the comic, characters, the science, heroics, the plot development of shrinking living creatures? Ant-man not as a typical hero? Criminal background? Motivation? Fathers and daughters? Darren Cross as the villain, usurping the role of Dr Pym, buying his company, greed, clients, the build-up to conflict? Confrontation?
4. The serious tone of the film – yet the amount of comedy, the welcome light touch?
5. The special effects, reductions and shrinking is, the situations for small creatures, being crushed? The role of the ants? Anthony? The training, getting into the laboratory, the confrontation, battles and explosions? Living in and out of shrunken situations?
6. The action, ordinary, punches in the jail, the reductions, the dangers, the training and confrontations?
7. The prologue, the 1980s, Dr Pym, the presence of Michael Douglas? His research, discoveries, inventions? The Moscow, the Cold War, the situation? The executives and the confrontations? Mitchell Carson and his hostility, threats, Pym punching him? Dr Pym retiring?
8. The present, Darren Cross and his enterprise, the invitation to Dr Pym, to his daughter? The science and the detailed and technical explanations? The reduction and shrinking? Cross and his experiments, with the lambs – and his final success? Wanting to sell his secrets to world powers? The invitation to Dr Pym and Hope to be present?
9. The introduction to Scott Lang? In jail, the inmates, the punching bout? Leaving? Luis arriving, his comic patter, extraneous detail, missing the point? His friends and their skills? Sharing the apartment? Wanting to visit his daughter, the reaction of his wife, Paxton and his being a policeman, hostility, ousting him, threats?
10. His job in the diner, the boss praising and then firing him? The apartment, sharing, not getting any jobs? Rejections? His decision to accept the challenge of the tip-off? The humorous collage of the chain of communication, everyone speaking with Luis’s voice as he told the story? And the repetition of this technique later in the film?
11. The heist, Scott getting into the compound? Voice communication, security? The safe, opening the safe, the huge safe, the experiment with heat, contraction? Finding the strange suit and taking it?
12. Dr Pym, his visual monitors, watching, controlling? Hope and her taking sides with her father, despite the hostilities and the memories?
13. Dr Pym, communication with Scott, knowing all about him, making the offer, for his daughter’s sake, the parallel with father and daughter relationships? The tests, in the bath…?
14. The dangerous situation, Cross as a character, his experiments, clashes with Dr Pym? Feeling that the doctor had turned against him? With Scott?
15. Scott accepting, for his daughter’s sake, the training, the serious and dangerous elements, the jokes? Anthony as the ants for him to ride? The experiments with mind control? The doctor not wanting Hope to be part of it, her rivalry with Scott?
16. The revelation of the doctor’s story about his wife, sharing his experiments, her risking death, the explanation?
17. The aim to stop Cross, Cross’s success, his becoming the villain, Yellowjacket? The night, the invitation, the representatives of the sales? His previous visit to the doctor’s house, the irony of his knowing everything?
18. The plan, the auditioning of Luis and his friends, the characters, patter, seeming ineptitude? Their getting the job?
19. Getting in, Paxton and the police, the threats? The friends and the van, security, using their wits, taking the police car? Creating diversions?
20. The plan, Luis as security, punching out the guards? Scott and his being able to penetrate the building?
21. The drama of the confrontation, the delegates, Dr Pym punching Mitchell Carson? The shooting, the doctor injured? The rescue and getting him out? The explosives, the timing, the collapse of the building?
22. Paxton, the confrontation with Scott, the car chases, the daughter abducted, the rescue?
23. The confrontation with Yellowjacket, his defeat?
24. The kiss with Hope? His returning to his family, at the meal, welcome?
25. The interlude with The Falcon and memories of Captain America, the references to SHIELD, the credits postscript and the possibilities of Ant-man and his joining with The Avengers?
26. A popular and critical success?