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Review: Ant-Man

Ros Hull

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world. imdb

 

A welcome addition to the Marvel Universe, part of Phase 2 of their (so far obscenely successful) plan for world domination, this film is just like its lead actor – funny, charming and believable.

It is classic, just classic, comic book adventure (none of your DC angst here) with slick, modern touches that bring the story up to date – and that, gentle readers, is the insidious power of Marvel.

Marvel is like the flip side of the Hydra coin. Yes, Hydra – the evil organisation that is the nemesis of the Avengers et al – in that new movies constantly sprout up. Each a little different to the last, each with its own audience. Want Wagnerian heroics and tragedy? Norse god of thunder is your man. Want scientific trickery? Millionaire genius Tony Stark. Want something lighter, funnier and sort of comfortable? Ant-Man is the hero for you.

Marvel is a studio (albeit one now owned by Disney), not just a franchise and that is what gives them real muscle. They have almost 80 years of good, bad and near genius originality in their comics to pick heroes from and writers beating on the door to adapt them for the screen. The best directors for the sort of hero being portrayed are cherry-picked from a vast pool of talent. The Shakespearian Kenneth Branagh for Thor (still, in my opinion, the meatiest story and therefore maybe the best of all the Marvel movies). The crazy James Gunn for the very out-there, retro feeling Guardians of the Galaxy (no wait, this one is my favourite).

And the British director Peyton Reed for Ant-Man. He directs comedies with sting – Yes Man, The Break-Up, Bring it On – and one of the best high concept comedies of all time Down With Love (look it up). So this film is a fine mix of fun and fear, sight gags and flat-out action.

All the CGI is so incredible I stopped noticing it almost immediately. I was very happily watching a tiny man galloping along with ants, riding one like a flying horse and shrinking and growing in an instant. And it all seemed right and quite real. The mask didn’t slip – and I just love that. When I watch a movie I want to be taken out of myself for a couple of hours and even though I held no great hope for the littlest Marvel hero, turns out he delivered.

The film has a sort of ‘dad’ aura about it. Not just because being a father and behaving as a father are central to the story but because Paul Rudd always gives me a sense of being an ordinary guy next door, the sort of bloke who will make dad jokes the minute he has kids to make them to – an approachable, even attainable hero. Although he must have been to the ‘Marvel Farm’ where they grow Norse gods out of Summer Bay residents because, well, watch Evangeline Lily’s face – I’m with her!

The story is really enjoyable and the actors are all a good fit for their roles. I loved Scott Lang’s gang of ex-cons, particularly Michael Péna and I didn’t even dislike Michael Douglas (I usually do).

So the film widely tipped to be the first mis-step by Marvel actually turns out to be a really enjoyable trip to the movies.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

  • Michelle B

    I went in with fairly low expectations and I was really impressed. It didn’t take itself seriously and it was great fun. The actors all looked like they had a ball making it, which made it even more fun. Some great sight gags in there too.

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