I thought Marvel was scraping the bottom of a pretty low barrel when they dusted off Guardians of the Galaxy and turned that into a movie... but Ant-Man?
Then again... Guardians of the Galaxy turned out pretty well.
Oddly enough, so did Ant-Man.
Better than Age of Ultron, certainly. And as far as Marvel solo movies go, I'd put this right up there after Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
The reason it works so well, simply put, are the characters. Paul Rudd hits all of the right notes as Scott Lang/Ant-Man. He brings heart and humor to the character, and is immediately likable and sympathetic. Michael Douglas anchors the film as Hank Pym, bringing a sense of gravitas (and humor as well) to the role, and Evangeline Lilly also does a great job in bringing a strong female presence to the film, and uh... well... she's pretty hot, too.
The only character that doesn't quite work so well is the main villain, until he goes full-tilt crazy during the big fight, but they could have put anyone in the same suit at that point, and it would have worked just as well. But he's less the point of the film, than the journey of Scott Lang, and how all of this fits into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yes, this does fit very neatly into the rest of the MCU, from the opening segment that sets up the film, to the mid and post-credits easter eggs (yes, it's time to sit through the credits all the way through the end again - thanks for nothing, Age of Ultron).
The movie has some great action sequences, and the usual slate of solid special effects, but what really won me over (and the audience I was with) was the humor. There are some genuinely funny moments throughout which keep the mood light, break the tension, and introduce us to some great supporting characters (Michael Peña nearly steals the film). Marvel still understands that, in the end, this is a comic book movie. Yes, comic books can tell serious, dark, dramatic stories, but I'd prefer to actually have fun when I go see a film about people running around in goofy-looking tights. Can't say I'm looking forward to Batman v Superman much, since Warner Bros. has flat-out stated their films are intentionally "edgier" and grounded in "reality". (Apparently, none of them actually saw Green Lantern ).
Ant-Man surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. As a fan, it pushed all of the right buttons - had all of the right cameos, showed us all of the characters we needed to see, teased us about what was next; but it was also just a lot of fun. They managed to take a character that even had a comic book nerd like me scratching my head, and made him not only engaging and likable, but cool. They made his powers cool. They made the ants cool. And as long as you don't think about any of it too much, you'll likely have as much fun as I did.
Marvel is at its best when it focuses on just a few characters at a time. In other words... in the end, Ant-Man succeeds because (and I really apologize for this)... it's a small film.
Ant-Man gets an 8/10.