Ant-Man. The Best Science Fiction Film This Summer (So Far).

This past weekend was a good one for me. Not only did I get to read and finish Ernest Cline’s latest book, Armada, I also got to see Marvel’s latest film offering, Ant-Man (2015).

Ant-Man (2015) theatrical release poster © Walt Disney Studios.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard about Marvel filming Ant-Man I was confused. I knew nothing about the character and couldn’t see how this film would fit into the overall scope of what Marvel was trying to do. I wasn’t expecting much, but was I ever wrong.

Much like last summer’s Guardian’s of the Galaxy, Ant-Man is a funny, charming and brilliantly composed and acted film. Ant-Man takes the trouble to develop it’s characters and uses CGI FX as a tool to tell the story and not a crutch to help it limp to the finish.

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Ant-Man (2015).

Paul Rudd plays the title character of Ant-Man/Scott Lang, a talented burglar with a sense of moral justice. After getting out of prison all Scott wants to do is work and pay his child support so he can see his daughter Cassie. Of course being an ex-con he’s not given much opportunity to go straight. He’s finally forced to take a burglary job in order to try and see his daughter. Fortunately, or unfortunately, he burgles the home former S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Hank Pym, wonderfully portrayed by Michael Douglas.

Pym is the creator of the Pym particle and the Ant-Man suit and… well I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the surprises.

While Ant-Man is perhaps technically a superhero film, I think if falls more squarely in the realm of science fiction. For me, a story that involves a scientist that creates a previously unknown particle and a suit to harness that particle is clearly science fiction. It’s how the science is used that lends itself to the superhero genre.

Paul Rudd, as Scott Lang, is immanently charming and endearing from the first moments he appears on screen. You like him and you want him to succeed. Rudd’s ability to make us feel this way is something that more actors should study. It’s a quality that has been all but lost in acting in Hollywood today.

Michael Douglas looking like Hank Pym from the film Ant-Man (2015).

Then we have Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. Michael Douglas has a given us a wide variety of excellent characters over the years, and while he could have given a half hearted performance and still done well enough, he gives us a very smart, charming and completely believable Hank Pym. Hank Pym is a man trying his best to protect the ones he loves, namely his daughter Hope van Dyne played by Evangeline Lilly, the best he knows how. He’s older, wiser, and tired of the games, but he’s not going to give up, ever.

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne in Ant-Man (2105).

And while most of the story revolves around the trio of Rudd, Douglas, and Lilly, the supporting cast are terrific in their respective roles. Each one provides something that adds to the film and never steal focus from the story.

Bobby Cannavale is the perfect over protective step father and husband to Lang’s daughter and ex-wife. Perhaps a little let down is the lack of screen time for Lang’s ex-wife, played by Judy Greer, who I’ve always found to be a great addition to almost any film she’s in. Then there’s the biggest surprise in the supporting cast, Michael Peña, who plays Lang’s former cell mate Luis, a fast talking and lovable rogue.

I may be overly enthusiastic about Ant-Man, but in a summer of films that have been either depressing, lacklustre, or plain bad, Ant-Man is a point of brilliance that the director, Peyton Reed, the scriptwriters, and the entire cast should take extreme pride in their accomplishment. I will be returning to the cinema soon to see it again.

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