By: Kevin Jordan
This is just getting ridiculous.
There’s a scene in Dogma where Selma Hayek is explaining that nineteen of the top twenty grossing movies were inspired by a muse (her) and the twentieth was because someone sold their soul to the devil. With the amount of success Marvel is having with their films, either they’ve got an army of stripper muses at their headquarters or Satan’s going to need to a new wing at Infernal Studios for all those newly acquired souls.
I remember going into Guardians of the Galaxy with very guarded expectations. I didn’t think there was any chance a movie with such a ridiculous ensemble cast and a trailer with no plot hints whatsoever could possibly be as entertaining as it turned out to be. You’d think I would have learned my lesson after that, but I found myself with the exact same mindset going into Ant-Man. Could you blame me though? They cast Paul Rudd (really) as the lead/superhero in a movie that was seeming dangerously close to being a Honey, I Shrunk the Kids sequel. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, Ant-Man has a pet ant (actually lots of them) that the hero rides. You’re nodding now aren’t you?
As you may have guessed by now, I enjoyed the hell out of Ant-Man. I actually do like Paul Rudd, so I was looking forward to seeing if he could pull off being Ant-Man. The film begins, not with Rudd (Scott Lang), but with a scene from years past showing us a CGI’d Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym) storming out of a meeting with Howard Stark and Agent Carter because Pym didn’t want them abusing his shrinking particle and Marvel wanted to make sure we understood this movie fits into the same universe as the Avengers. Fast forward to present day and we meet Scott Lang (Rudd), a thief being released from prison. We quickly get his background story – divorced dad with a young daughter – then meet his friends (including Michael Pena, who almost steals the entire movie with his brilliance) who want him to pull another burglary with them. As it turns out, they are robbing Pym’s house, which Pym orchestrated in order to convince Lang to become Ant-Man.
Meanwhile, Pym’s old protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), has nearly duplicated Pym’s work and Pym wants to stop him before he can sell it to the bad guys (no points if you guessed Hydra as the bad guys). Pym thinks Lang is the perfect person to steal Cross’ super-suit (the Yellowjacket) because of his burglary skills. That’s it; that’s the plot. Like Guardians of the Galaxy, the plot is simple and straight-forward, it presents a clear goal, and does a good job developing its main characters so that you care what happens to them. They even toss in a good confrontation and clichéd romance in the form of Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who wants to don the ant-man suit herself (and makes a very convincing case as to why). The rest of the film is just Marvel doing what it does best – action mixed with comedy mixed with fun.
I wish I had more to say, but I’m not sure there is anything left to say when it comes to Marvel’s movies (the ones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is). Ant-Man has erased the bland aftertaste from Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Terminator: Genisys and is easily as entertaining as The Avengers: Age of Ultron. The only real question left is if they can save some of their other properties from being destroyed. Spider-Man is on its third Spider-Man and the trailer for the reboot of The Fantastic Four made me think the 2005 Fantastic Four wasn’t all that bad (it really was). I’m sure there’s someone left over there with a soul to sell.
Rating: Worth as much as those three previous reboots I mentioned – combined.