I saw the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man today. As a rule, I don’t do 3D, so I caught a showing that was plain old 2D. I promise no puns about things being small.
I have to say, after the BIG BOOM BOOM show that was Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man was something of a palette-cleanser, which is suitable for the final film in Phase II of the Marvel Master Plan (mua-ha-ha). It’s a much more personal movie, with only two big fights, and it’s probably the second funniest Marvel movie after Guardians of the Galaxy.
The basic plot, shown in the trailers, is that ex-con Scott Lang takes on the mantle and suit of Ant-Man, and needs to stop the villain from developing a similar technology for military purposes.
You have probably heard that this is a “heist film” and it is structured that way, but first and foremost this is a comedy. Michael Peña steals every scene he’s in, as Scott’s idiotic and over-eager ex-cellmate, and most of the characters in the film know that “ant-man” is a ridiculous idea. And that very self-deprecation is one of the things that makes it work. I liked the character arcs that we saw Hank Pym, his daughter, and Paxton go through, although it did seem like Scott himself was pretty much the same guy he was at the beginning of the film. Which is okay, but in a movie like this a little character growth from the titular character was sort of expected.
The film is firmly tied to the rest of the Marvel universe, moreso than many other films we’ve seen. There are all sorts of call-outs, both subtle and hit-you-over-the-head unsubtle, to things and characters we’ve seen in other films and television shows. And look for a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance by Saturday Night Live alum Garrett Morris driving a car. I don’t know why, but that really made my day.
As might be expected, the effects are so seamlessly well done it’s almost not worth mentioning at this point. But a special call-out to the de-aging effects used on Michael Douglas at the very beginning of the film. It’s like they actually filmed it 25 years ago and just kept it in the can until they were ready to make the rest of the movie. Amazing. And the ants… the ants are filled with personality, if that can be believed. Beautiful to watch on the screen. The shrinking effects are similarly well-done, and you get a real sense of the vertigo-inducing weirdness it must induce to actually be in the ant-man suit.
On the whole, this is quite a worthy entry. It’s no Avengers, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a very funny, very well-put-together film. Definitely better than some of the more strained sequels we’ve been seeing in the MCU lately, and it is well-served by the relative toned-down pyrotechnics.
Also, there are two helpings of schawarma at the end. Make sure you stay through to the very end of the credits.