Film review: Ant-Man

18:30 21 July 2015

MARVEL

MARVEL'S ANT-MAN. Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal/Marvel 2014

? Marvel 2014

Marvel’s teeny superhero is silly skillful fun, says Michael Joyce.

Dustin Hoffman has been busy complaining that films are in their worst condition ever, without any decent roles for actors. As such, comic book movies are almost the only game in town. Still, chuffed as Rudd must have been to hear he was going to be a superhero, he may have had to force the smile a little when he found out which one. Not all superheroes are created equal and if you’re going to be one of the hyphenated ones, Ant-man is definitely a distant last.

He’s a big deal among the comic fraternity but for the rest of us this feels like the barrel being scraped. Scott Lang’s big ability is that he can get small. But not on his own, he has to wear a gimp suit built by genius scientist Hank Pym (Douglas.) His subsidiary skill is that he can control ants and get them to help him, thanks to another Pym invention. Shrinkage and insect communication: what disparate fields Dr Pym chose to specialize in.

Ant-man had been shaping up as Marvel’s first miss-step. First they fired director Edgar (Shaun of the Dead) Wright after he’d spent eight years, developing it and then they released some distinctly underwhelming trailers. In fact Ant-man is everything that you like about Marvel movies: that beautifully inclusive balance of comedy and drama with special effects that are impressive but not the whole point of the film.

And releasing it after Age of Ultron was a master stroke. Everything was getting so cluttered and joyless in that film, bogged down by its convoluted multi-strand plot and multi-platform revenue streams. Marvel films were becoming extended trailers for themselves. Ant-man though is simply enjoyment, a single story with little connection to the bigger pictures. It is silly but skillful. During the climax there are two really wizard sight gags involving Thomas the Tank Engine. Both of them bring the house down but also they are the perfect expression of the character – they wouldn’t fit in any film. You may not particularly need an Ant-man movie in your life but this is as good an Ant-man movie as you could wish for.

For longer reviews, a look at Self/Less and the Roy Andersson Collection on Blu-ray go to halfmanhalfcritic.weebly.com

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