You've seen one Marvel film, you've seen them all...right? I've heard a LOT of negativity going into the production of Ant-Man. Fans of Edgar Wright will likely hate everything about the movie going in because he left the production and they're die-hard Edgar Wright fans. Casual fans of the Marvel universe might not care about a movie called Ant-Man. Really? He has the powers of ants? He can control ants? He's the size of the ant? Yet, we're all amped up at the prospect of a movie called Spider-Man. Whether you are interested in this film or not, one thing you can say is that Marvel doesn't fail often with their films. I was heavily interested in this film, mostly due to Paul Rudd's involvement. I'm a big fan of Paul Rudd, since his Clueless days, so I was feeling pretty good about the entertainment value of this film, so let's dig in!
The movie begins in the past, 1989 to be exact. We get to see Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, and Hank Pym meeting inside a S.H.I.E.L.D. conference room discussing various covert things. We learn that Pym has retired from the superhero gig and ultimately resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. We fast forward to Scott Lang getting released from prison for "burglaring" from a very profitable company, though he'll explain that he was giving refunds to customers because the company was over-charging. Things move rather quickly, as we find out that he's been estranged from his daughter while in prison for three years, he's behind on his child support payments, and his ex-wife won't let him see his daughter until he gets his life in order. He has difficulty finding work as he's a felon and this forces him to take another heist job to make ends meet. Meanwhile, at Pym Technologies, we see that the new man in charge, Darren Cross has plans to make the suit that Pym had originally designed and hidden away. This suit will be a weapon for the military, to make an army unstoppable and undetectable, and he's willing to sell to the highest bidder (SPOILER: Hydra gets involved). His only problem is, he cannot figure out how to shrink a person without turning them into a small puddle of pink goo.
From that point on in the movie we're thrown into this huge event involving a heist, corporate sabotage, an encounter with an Avenger, and some pretty intense training sequences. The movie is a family film, a comedy, a heist film, and a superhero film wrapped into one. It was a lot of fun to watch. The humor is provided beautifully by Paul Rudd and his team of criminals. Chief among them is Michael Peña. Peña is brilliant as Scott Lang's former cellmate in prison. He gives Lang a place to stay, and provides some of the best scenes of the film. Michael Douglas as Hank Pym is a perfect choice. We see this already retired veteran of the hero game as someone who is haunted by his choices. He has lost his wife, he's distant from his daughter because of it, and he's clearly distraught about having to put another man into his position. But in this case, he's admittedly chosen a man who is better than himself. Evangeline Lilly plays Pym's daughter and trains Lang to be able to fight and communicate with the ants and we get teased that she has a bigger role to come in the future.
Ant-Man felt very much like the first Iron Man film. It had the wonder and spectacle of a man who can shrink down and run with ants and you BUY IT! The SFX were amazing, and the CGI was flawless. The visual effects didn't remove you from the film. You weren't watching the movie thinking "well duh, that's all CGI" you watched it and believed a man could shrink down to that size. This film felt so self contained but at the same time was fully part of the much much larger MCU with many comments referring to the Avengers, and events outside of their little world (pun intended).
Our villain, Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket. He has this menace about him, this underlying genius within that makes you think he's always a step ahead, while he's proven to be a step behind at each pass while he's trying to recreate the Ant-Man suit. Once he dons the Yellowjacket suit, you fully see just exactly how evil this man is and how much his mind has been corrupted by the transformation process. He goes as far as to threaten Lang's adorable daughter in the final sequence of the film.
Basically, Ant-Man is for everyone. This is a great family film, a great action film, a hilarious comedy, and another amazing piece of the MCU puzzle. The two cut scenes really progress the film into the MCU larger picture as well, one of which bridges the gap between Ant-Man and the next film in the series Captain America: Civil War. Paul Rudd pulls off the reluctant hero perfectly, and gives you someone you can really get behind as a rookie superhero ready to stand alongside the likes of Iron Man and Captain America.