Review: ANT-MAN (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Review: ANT-MAN (2015)

ANT-MAN is clunky in places, but provides decent fun as a small-scale superhero caper topped with Paul Rudd's charming performance.

Once upon a time, ANT-MAN was supposed to be Edgar Wright's longtime pet project. Known for his quirky works in "Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy" (2004's SHAUN OF THE DEAD, 2007's HOT FUZZ and 2013's THE WORLD'S END) and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010), Wright seems like the right man for the job to bring the Marvel's second-tier superhero of Ant-Man into a successful cinematic treatment. In fact, I'm really curious to see the amount of creative juice he can do with the character who has the ability to shrink himself into a tiniest size and control an army of ants. But after years of development (which also includes a test footage shot in 2012), Wright subsequently backed out of the project due to creative differences. Personally, it was a pity and the replacement director -- Peyton Reed -- doesn't exactly inspires immediate confidence. Other than his promising feature debut in the cheerleading teen comedy BRING IT ON (2000), his subsequent works were decidedly mixed and his last movie in 2008 -- the Jim Carrey-starred YES MAN -- was a creative disappointment. Fortunately, ANT-MAN marks a decent comeback for Peyton Reed after seven years' hiatus from directing a feature movie.


ANT-MAN stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a cat burglar who is finally out of the prison and vows not to commit crime anymore. All he cares is to make an honest living in order to prove he's a worthy father for his young daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). But the reality is, he has a tough time securing a job because of his prison record. He becomes desperate and ends up helping his best buddy Luis (Michael Pena) to a small heist. However, the heist turns out to be an elaborate setup by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a retired scientist who is looking for the right candidate to take up his mantle as the new Ant-Man, a superhero with a shrinking ability.


Unlike the larger-than-life origin stories from Marvel Cinematic Universe such as IRON MAN (2008), THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (both released in 2011), ANT-MAN is decidedly small in scale. Peyton Reed's direction, in the meantime, is refreshingly old-school that evokes the 1990s-style of comic book adaptation. Although his past directing resume is inconsistent, he still knows his way around when comes to comedy structure. And thankfully, he manages to fulfil the movie's lightweight action-comedy tone with a good sense of humour.

The effect-laden action sequences, especially the one involving Ant-Man's shrinking moments, are both playful and reasonably entertaining to watch for. The shrinking effects alone are impeccably realised, and certainly ranks alongside the like-minded movies such as THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957) and HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS (1989).

Most of the cast here is spot-on perfect. Paul Rudd is instantly likable as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, while Michael Douglas brings necessary gravitas to his old mentor role as Dr. Hank Pym. Evangeline Lilly is fetching as Hank's headstrong daughter, Hope and shares good chemistry with both Douglas and Rudd. Michael Pena almost steals the show with his excellent comic timing as Scott's partner in crime, Luis. Lastly, T.I. and David Dastmalchian -- who both played as part of Scott's crew -- are equally effective as two additional comic relief.


The first moment where Scott suits up as Ant-Man and shrinks himself on the bathtub, before subsequently involved in a series of Rube Goldberg-like situations; and the climactic confrontation between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) atop a table filled with Thomas the Tank Engine train set. Not to forget also, is the two hilarious montages that involves Luis recalling his side of the stories.


While it was understandable that establishing an origin story requires a certain amount of buildup, the plot -- credited to Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd himself -- drags a lot with exposition-heavy scenarios. Surprisingly for a Marvel movie, ANT-MAN is unbelievably talky and could have benefited more with visual storytelling method instead.

Then there's the wasted potential of casting Corey Stoll (TV's House of Cards and The Strain) as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. He may have the menacing look of an out-of-control evil genius, but doesn't registers much as a worthy villain because of his underdeveloped and weakly-motivated character.


ANT-MAN may have been falling short of greatness, but it sure has its moments sufficient enough for a standalone Marvel movie. Likewise, remember not to leave your seat too soon and do stick around for the mid-credit as well as post-credit teasers.

* This review is written courtesy from Walt Disney Malaysia IMAX 3D press screening *

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