Marvel’s twelfth film Ant-Man stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, an ex-con recruited to carry out an act of industrial espionage in a super-hero variation on Ocean’s 11.
1. What is it about?
Scott Lang, recently released from prison for a “Robin Hood” act of burglary, can’t find a job. His former cellmate, Luis (Michael Peña, hilariously stealing every scene he’s in) has a hot tip that results in Lang getting hired to help scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) steal back his shrinking technology from his former protegé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). The operation requires Lang to use Pym’s tech to become the new Ant-Man, shrinking to insect-size and commanding armies of ants. Pym’s estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) joins the effort along with a couple of Luis’ criminal associates, Kurt (Dave Dastmalchian) and Dave (T.I.).
2. Will I like it?
If you liked Guardians of the Galaxy and Iron Man, you’ll probably like Ant-Man; it hits some of the same notes, though it actually owes more to classic heist movies, specifically the trope of having a team of specialized agents who each carry out a particular part of the mission; in this case, some of the “agents” are colonies of ants, chosen for their particular skills.
3. Will my kids like it?
Yes. It’s very funny, but it’s also an action film, and the action is all rooted in relationships and emotion, presented at a level that children can understand. Lang needs a job so that he can see his daughter; Hank wants to prevent people from turning his technology into a weapon; Hope wants to prove herself to her dad; Cross wants to impress his former mentor; Luis wants to take care of his crew. Kids will understand what’s at stake and why it matters. It also has the best riff on the old “fight on top of a speeding train” gimmick since Wallace & Gromit.
4. When is a good time for a bathroom break?
As is usually the case, the “training montage” is your best bet. After Scott successfully jumps through the keyhole, there’s an extended sequence where he learns to fight, control the ants, and use his shrinking power effectively. It’s a reasonably long and very entertaining sequence with no exposition, dialogue, or plot development that you need to see in order to make sense of the movie.
5. Is the rating appropriate?
Very much so. It’s rated PG-13 “for sci-fi action violence.” There are some good fight sequences, but no blood. Younger viewers might be bothered by the fact that a major fight takes place in a child’s bedroom, putting her in danger. There is repeated use of the S-word, but no F-bombs, and no sexual innuendo or nudity.
6. How faithful to the comics is it?
As with all Marvel movies, the important notes are there, but storylines are tightened up and streamlined, making the films a separate universe. In this case, all the ill-advised history involving Hank Pym’s mental issues and domestic violence are left out, though it’s hinted that the Ant-Man technology can cause mental deterioration and “took a toll on him.” Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp and Pym’s wife, is deceased in this version, with their daughter eager to assume her mother’s heroic role despite her father’s objections.
7. How’s the CGI?
It’s pretty great. The shrinking effects, the ant’s-eye view of the world, and especially the swarms of ants who assist the hero, are all photo-realistic and effectively support the action.
8. Is the 3D worth it?
I think so. The preview screening I saw was in 2D, but it was obvious that several scenes would be spectacular in 3D, most obviously the scene where Lang first shrinks and finds himself in a bathtub with the water on. Watch the YouTube clip below and you can imagine how well this scene would play in 3D; there are many more that are just as good.
9. Does it tie in to the other Marvel Movies?
Yes. In the opening scene, it’s revealed that Hank Pym was a part of S.H.I.E.L.D. along with Howard Stark (John Slattery) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell); later, when Pym explains what he wants Scott to do, Scott’s immediate reaction is to suggest calling the Avengers. There are other connections, but they would be spoilers. I think it’s a pretty sure bet Ant-Man will show up in the next Captain America film.
10. Do I need to stay to the end of the credits?
Yep. There are two scenes; one after the “star” credits, and another after the long list of technical credits. The first seems to suggest something that will show up in a sequel, the second relates to the rest of the Marvel universe and other films.