Ant-Man, Marvel Studios 12th film is unlike anything you've seen from the studio to date. It's fun, energetic, innovative and without question, one of the finest films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Take the wit of Tony Stark and combine that with the power and fight of Captain America and you've got Ant-Man.
The story is not so much an origin as it is a passing of the torch. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), creator of the Ant-Man suit and technology, is no longer able to wear it and finds himself in need of someone to "Break in to some place and steal some stuff". Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an ex-con, is tasked with taking the mantle and becoming not only the man for the job, but the hero that is needed against a threat years in the making. Left to the side is Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) who desperately wants to help but is blocked every step of the way. It's an incredibly well told and balanced story that sucks you in and never lets go.
One of the biggest strengths of Ant-Man is the relationships. The cast has great chemistry together and is showcased by four key relationships; Hank and Hope, Scott and Hank, Hank and Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), and Scott and Cassie Lang (Abby Ryder Fortson).
The father/daughter dynamic of Hank and Hope is fueled by years of, depending on point of view, neglect or protection. It's a fascinating look in to the psychology of how one event (the death of mother and wife, Janet) can alter the realities of these two characters. Watching this unfold over the 2 hour film is emotional, fun and ultimately fulfilling.
Scott and Hank find themselves in a relationship where they need each other to meet their individual end games. Scott wants desperately to be reunited with his daughter Cassie and Hank needs Scott (and his skills) to perform a dangerous heist. Through this relationship they both can get what they want but it does come at a cost. Hank alienates Hope who doesn't understand why Scott is needed and Scott puts his life on the line to make sure the mission is a success at all costs.
Hank and Darren Cross provide the foundation for the overall struggle within the film. Cross sees Pym as a mentor who shut him out. Stoll brings a menacing and truly believable struggle and motivation to the character. Douglas brings a humility to this relationship that only an actor like him can. It's a light touch but carries a lot of weight when needed.
The relationship between Scott and his daughter Cassie was one of the highlights of this film. Early on Scott shows up at her birthday party bringing a gift to which she reacts to by saying "He's so ugly...I love him". That was a beautiful moment that showcases her love for her father and gives us a glimpse at one of the many reasons he's willing to do whatever it takes to be in her life.
While the relationships took center stage in this movie, there was plenty of humor and action to go around as well. Ant-Man is truly a funny movie. Paul Rudd brings a wit that easily rivals that of Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark. I'm really excited to see if these two exchange barbs in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War or Avengers: Infinity War 1 or 2. Coming in as a nice surprise was also humor from Michael Douglas and Michael Pena who plays Luis, long time friend of Lang. Luis is a character that could have quickly become annoying but he didn't so thumbs up to both the screenwriters and Pena.
While the action in Ant-Man is done on a smaller scale it is remarkable to see what they pulled off in this movie. None of it is as over the top as what we've seen in something like Avengers: Age of Ultron but it still packs a hearty punch. What I loved most about the action sequences was that they were inventive and fun. For instance the train sequence we've seen in the trailers and commercials. I love that they took that kind of sensibility to things we've seen hundreds of times and made it fresh by literally shrinking the scale of the set pieces.
With action, humor and heart in spades, go check out Ant-Man if you haven't already. It's a fantastic piece of work that easily deserves a spot in the best of the stand alone Marvel films and possibly the best origin story of the entire MCU.