For some reason I find the very idea of an Ant-Man faintly ludicrous. This is silly I know.
Surely I should feel the same way about so many of the fantastical characters who populate the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet Ant-Man just somehow seemed a tiny bit pointless (emphasis on the "tiny").
On-going production issues, the disappointing loss of original writer/director Edgar Wright, and the fact the trailers failed to even slightly pique my interest, meant I literally dragged myself somewhat ungratefully into the cinema for the screening.
The movie itself however? I'm thrilled to report that a cracking fun script, some inspired leftfield casting and a point-blank refusal to take itself too seriously made for a surprisingly enjoyable few hours in the cinema.
Paul Rudd is Ant-Man, but before he stole the Ant-Man suit he was simply Scott Lang, ex-con and fabled cat burglar.
More a Robin Hood figure than an actual bad man, he has all the requisite skills required for a very special kind of heist, and Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) needs him.
Pym invented the Ant-Man suit, a suit which shrinks a man to the size of an ant, of course. The possibilities for such technology are endless, and dangerous in the wrong hands. And when those wrong hands are attached to the body of Pym's power-hungry former protégé, it's time for Ant-Man to intervene.
Scott, on the other hand, while keen to save the world and all that, more wants to simply be the father he has always wanted to be to his young daughter Cassie. He's hoping by doing the former, he will also achieve the latter.
Ant-Man will also spar with a potential love interest. Hank's feisty daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) has major daddy issues but helps prep Scott for the big heist as she works through those.
So, rather refreshingly, this is more a heist caper than a superhero tale. Ant-Man's former dodgy cohorts enter the fray to help out their friend, this trio a constant source of joy to me, spearheaded by a stand-out comic performance from actor Michael Peña. Together this motley crew will do all they can to defeat the bad guys, encountering some other Marvel-lous characters on the way.
As far as the special effects go, no real disappointment here, as I was never really sold on the ants anyway. The flying and shrinking sequences are great, and particularly so in 3D. The timely comedic interventions take the edge off the whole concept's silliness.
Rudd raised a few eyebrows when announced, but his casting is right on the button - just one of an ensemble of oftentimes off-beat and most excellent choices. Small in stature, Ant-Man is also small scale on a cinematic level, and I say that as a compliment.
This feels like Marvel's most intimate film to date, and wrapped in the kind of fun that Guardians of the Galaxy delivered in spades. Great for the kids, with parents in tow, Ant-Man is a welcome winter watch.
Ant-Man:: Director: Peyton Reed:: Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Judy Greer, Corey Stoll, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Bobby Cannavale:: Rating: PG - Violence & coarse language:: Running Time: 117 minutes:: Release Date: July 16, 2015