I'm just going to address this first. There's a particular reason why I'm doing a non-spoiler review instead a spoiler review. The reason being that I went to go see Ant-Man today (It hasn't even finished its first full week yet) and the audience was very small. Given that I went on a Wednesday during school/work hours, I didn't expect many people, but for a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film? In its first week? It was pitiful. Now consider the box office numbers: On its opening weekend, Ant-Man raked in the lowest amount of money in the MCU besides The Incredible Hulk. I mean, the numbers wouldn't a problem if it was a bad movie from a bad franchise, but it's a very good movie and within the space of 2 hours, it quickly became my favourite, tying with Guardians of the Galaxy for certain elements, but with its more grounded feel making it slightly more relatable and connected. So I chose to do a non-spoiler review as a call to action. People should go see this film, and here's why:
The cast is fantastic. I had worries that Paul Rudd wouldn't fit in well with the rest of the heroes, and particularly the geniuses, like Robert Downey Jnr and Mark Ruffalo, but he's great in the role. We see a Scott that is tortured, but still happy-go-lucky, much like Chris Pratt's Peter Quill. Scott Lang slowly proves he's worthy as the Ant-Man and it's as much a redemption film as anything else. Michael Douglas is marvellous. We see the volatile and tortured Hank Pym from the comics, while still being funny, especially in scenes with Scott Lang. Of course I originally wanted the original Ant-man (Hank Pym) and Wasp (Janet Van Dyne) to be the main characters, but given the movies place in the MCU, I think Scott Lang works as the Ant-Man. Working off that idea of a Van Dyne appearing, I really liked Evangeline Lilly's Hope Van Dyne. I've never been a fan of the female characters in the cinematic universe. I think the comics do them an injustice, but I think this was very well done. It may come from the fact that the writing of Hope Van Dyne was vastly different to that of her comicbook counterpart Hope Pym, but she was a gem onscreen. She was one of those characters that have muscles but the movie doesn't make a big deal about them. She can play a love interest without seeming like too much of a damsel in distress and without laying it on too thick.
Michael Pena was a show-stealer as Luis. He was so much fun and his scenes alone were better than a lot of comedy movies coming out these days. Cassie Lang was likable and I appreciate the age that they've chosen for her because it's not trying to set up Stature (her comicbook counterpart). It's just putting her in a film in a way that works, not being too busy trying to set up a future character. The rest of Scott's crew (Dave and Kurt) were also very fun, but their combination didn't work nearly as well as Michael Pena and Paul Rudd.
The castmember that really stood out though was the surprisingly good villain that Corey Stoll plays. That's right, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket is a great villain and the idea of one of Ant-Man's comicbook suits being a villain actually works in the film very well without seeming like it's just trying to be different. Darren Cross incorporates the whimsical madness of Loki, the brutality of Grant Ward, the ruthless business mind of Obadiah Stane and the desperation of Calvin Zabo. I expected him to be one of the worse villains in the MCU, but he really stood out, incorporating all the best elements from the best villains in the MCU.
The humour in this film was fantastic. I've seen comedy films with less jokes than this and this was a heist-superhero film. It works so well. It doesn't feel forced, like it's trying to bank on other humourous superhero successes, like Avengers: Age of Ultron did and while it was funny, a lot of the jokes felt quite forced. Ant Man fixes those wrongs with its humour, which isn't afraid to be bold. It also stands out from Guardians of the Galaxy for its more odd and quirky humour, obviously a remainder of Edgar Wright's original product.
The tone was definitely one of the major takeaway points from this film. When the first trailer came out, many a fan that hadn't read the comics said that it was scraping the bottom of the barrel and that Ant-Man was a lame character. To those of us familiar with the comics, we knew what he was capable of, but that didn't stop people from telling us that he sounds like a lame character, some even suggesting that Marvel made him up for the movie. Basically, this movie was the alleged sign that superhero fatigue was setting in, but this movie was the exact opposite. This movie was a refresher. Mainly because it wasn't a superhero film. It was tonally that of a comedy-heist film, which had a superhero in it. This is how superhero films should be made. They should be OTHER types of films, just with superheroes in them, unless you're talking about a film like Avengers.
This movie started off with a bang and just like with Guardians, the tone was set very early on. In fact, even earlier than Guardians. A friend of mine actually mentioned why he thinks the story will be good for the MCU. The reason being because this story fits in better with the MCU than Guardians did, which therefore makes it easier for audiences who enjoyed Ant Man to keep up interest in the MCU. Personally, I enjoyed how the movie universe has become so comicbook-like that there can be casual references to other heroes like they're no big deal. I found that beautiful. It was a very, very fun movie to watch. Another great thing about the movie tonally was that the after credits scenes (going back to both mid and end credit scenes again) were both done very well and actually connected to the movie they were in. This is something we haven't seen in a while and this was also incredibly refreshing, but it didn't shy away from its comicbook origins and there were comicbook references and easter eggs aplenty. In fact, one was so amazingly done, I nearly started clapping in the cinema, but then I realised nobody else got it and I'd just look like that crazy guy clapping at the back for no reason.
Movies (especially comicbook movies) barely surprise me these days and even if they do pull a fast one, it's hardly memorable. Ant Man has a few (while not particularly massive) twists and turns that aren't predicted and are really great. Normally when good, original twists are pulled off in MCU movies, people get angry (eg. Iron Man 3's Mandarin twist). I feel like nobody will have a problem with the original twists on characters we grew up with. We get a different take on Henry's volatile nature, without making him unlikable (we comic fans all know just how badly any non-comic readers would react to that PARTICULAR part of Hank's history). There is real tension. You really worry for these characters as they're put into situations that you're not sure they'll all make it out of in one piece. It's a lot more fun that way. Like, for example, the death in Age of Ultron:
Just in case everyone didn't already know: Quicksilver
...was pretty much made obvious given the casting for Captain America: Civil War. We knew that was coming. In Ant Man, we don't know what to expect because nobody has been confirmed. We were even unsure of whether Wasp would be appearing in the film. We were unsure of whether or not a major character from the Ant Man mythos would be appearing. That was just another factor that made it fun.
I've lumped these two in together because they gel together very well in the film. We have action sequences of Scott shrinking and growing and to do that requires effects. The sequences of him shrinking, where we see the world around him enlarged, are amazingly done. While the first shrinking scene wasn't as well done as the rest, it was still a lot of fun and that fun nature made the effects a lot better. The action sequences were well choreographed and shot, while actually feeling earned by the audience.
All in all, Ant Man was an amazing 10/10 film. I would definitely go see it again and you should all see it as well. It's not getting as much press as it should as it stands out, not as one of the greatest Marvel movies, but a really, really great film on its own.
Please no spoilers in the comments. I'll be putting up a spoiler review tomorrow.