Well that was better than I expected. A standard Marvel romp far surpassing your average Hollywood romp, Ant-Man is definitely a treat.
While watching the trailers for Peyton Reed's Ant-Man I was somewhat interested and slightly put off at the same time. I saw some creative potential for this character but also a lot of familiar story beats I'd already seen in previous Marvel outings. However, I went in with lowered expectations and came out pleasantly surprised. Some people were expecting this to be Marvel's first true failure, and I have to admit I was kind of on that fence, but thankfully they managed to pull it off quite nicely.
The plot is refreshingly simple: retired scientist/slash superhero Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) recruits seasoned cat-burglar Scott Lang to help him retrieve a piece of technology from Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), a bitter former protege of Hank's who wishes to exploit his research. To do this, Pym gives Scott the Ant-Man suit, a state of the art piece of equipment enabling the wearer to alter his/her size while also possessing superhuman strength. Aiding the pair is the feisty and highly skilled Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily), Hank's estranged daughter and Cross's business partner.
First of all, this is clearly an Edgar Wright script; the efficient, fast paced storytelling and off the wall visual humour are classic authorial traits of his. Had he been given the chance to direct I think Ant-Man would have had much more of a stylistic edge to it, although his influence still shines through and works to the film's advantage. Peyton Reed's direction doesn't quite have the same artistic flair, but gets the job done nonetheless. The action sequences are exciting and well staged, but the film's greatest strength is its sense of fun. They do a lot with the shrinking angle and like most Marvel films they aren't afraid to really push the fantastical element of this universe. It's no Guardians of the Galaxy, but it's still pretty entertaining stuff and ties in well with the rest of the MCU.
The cast are mostly superb; Michael Douglas is the perfect choice to play an aged Hank Pym and Paul Rudd does a terrific job as his newfound apprentice Scott Lang. Rudd's sharp charisma and quiet vulnerability make him a strong leading man able to bring a lot of energy to the proceedings. While the chemistry between Rudd and Lily isn't the film's strongest aspect, there are one or two rather touching moments between her and Douglas as the father/daughter arc plays out.
If Ant-Man has one major weakness, it's the villain. In my opinion, Darren Cross doesn't seem much more than an Obadiah Stane knockoff. His Yellowjacket suit has a pretty cool design, but aside from that the character is just bland and underdeveloped. Unfortunately, this has been a recurring theme in many of Marvel's big screen projects and I really think it's time for them to up their game when it comes to the baddies. Not that they haven't had some good ones (Loki and Ronan certainly stand out), but we need to see more.
So in a nutshell, is this Marvel's best entry? No. But go in with the right mindset, and you'll have a really fun time.