I would never associate fictional steam locomotive Thomas the Tank Engine with comedy, so when Ant-Man director Peyton Reed decided to opt instead for no ordinary train set in the films climax, I was both intrigued and optimistic.
I would never describe myself as ardent fan of Marvel Universe. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to like about them (X-men, Thor, Iron Man), but equally there is much that makes me want to reach for a medicine cabinet, pop Prozac and sink into a world of adult colouring books (Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Punisher). Excessive film running time is a particular bug bear – we’re talking pop-culture not The Ten Commandments.
For instance, the original cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron was over 3 hours! I can only assume Joss Whedon’s ego was such that he couldn’t relinquish a second of his masterpiece! The end running time was still a overly long 2 hours 22 minutes, but we can thank Marvel’s verbal battles with Whedon for that. However, what we lost in running time, we certainly lost in characterisation, replaced instead with bombastic Marvel studio-pleasing action.
At just under 2 hours (a sigh of relief), Ant-Man is a very pleasant surprise.
I knew little or nothing about Ant-Man (the clue was in the name!), but I was soon sucked into his shrunken formicidae adventures. In particular, the second half: fast-paced, plenty of laughs (though lacking the smart mouth of Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man), action packed scenes and surprisingly good CGI (check out Douglas’ youthful looks).
Paul Rudd as the tiny superhero and co-star Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym his inventor mentor give terrific performances. Less said about the Rudd’s flaccid romance with a scientist called Hope (Evangeline Lilly) the better, and the supervillain (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket) of the flick is often predictable and clichéd.
Overall, a better than average caper with some fine performances and blending an original style that brings something fresh to the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.