Cert 12A | ★★★☆☆
Ant-Man is an entertaining but largely forgettable romp set on the peripheries of the rapidly expanding Marvel universe.
It follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an earnest ex-con who accidentally steals a suit that can shrink him to the size of an ant (it also allows him to talk to ants). He’s confronted by a villain so minor I can’t actually remember his name; it’s all very small-scale (no pun intended). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: a chance to re-examine the Marvel universe from a different perspective is not unwelcome. But what could have added a fresh new dimension to Disney’s superhero division feels more like padding in-between the big box-office antics of the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
It’s essentially a high-tech caper movie – a heist lies at its heart – and it gives a knowing wink to films like Mission: Impossible (one scene has Lang dangling from a wire attached to his waist).
Rudd is likeable but slightly wasted in a role that casts him as the straight-man to Michael Peña’s lovable petty-criminal. The supporting cast, including Michael Douglas as Ant-Man Snr, work well enough with what they are given, which isn’t a great deal.
That much of the CGI-heavy action takes place in a photo-fit futuristic science lab seems like a wasted opportunity: Ant-Man is at its best when it’s out in the real-world. There’s a simple pleasure in seeing every-day objects from a new perspective: the first time Scott shrinks to ant-size, for instance, is also the most memorable: he falls between the floorboards into a house party filled with deadly platform heels. And the climactic fight scene – surely the one used in the initial Ant-Man pitch to the Disney big-wigs – involves a joyous scrap in a literal toy box, in which Thomas the Tank Engine is a deadly presence.
If it sounds like fun, that’s because it is. But Marvel has set the bar high, and this movie too often feels underpowered.