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Big Isn't Always Better - 'Ant-Man' - The Review

22/07/2015 09:43 BST | Updated 21/07/2016 10:59 BST

Two years ago I asked Edgar Wright what the tone of Ant-Man would be like.

He was a little cagey naturally, but I had no idea within months he would have left the project and Marvel bosses would be left trying to find a suitable replacement.

However, you don't become one of Hollywood's biggest money spinners without being a dab hand at crisis management, and with a $130m project at stake, it's little wonder they salvaged a decent movie from the wreckage.

The plot is simple: ex-con Scott Lang tries to win his young daughter over by getting a job... but when he's sacked, reverts to type by stealing stuff.

Not the wisest of parental moves for a dad trying to get back on the straight and narrow, especially when his ex is dating a cop and he needs to become Mr Reliable to ensure he can see his own kid.

However, pinching Hank Pym's special miniaturisation suit, and then joining forces with the seasoned superhero means he does get to become the hero we all knew he could be.

Given the chaos caused by Wright's departure from his long cherished film, this could have been a train wreck of a movie, but Peyton Reed does a good job of keeping it on track.

Yes, I am alluding to one of the funniest action scenes of the year involving a toy train which set the tone in the trailer.

Like Pym's dabs in one clever safe cracking bit, Wright's fingerprints can be detected here and there, notably in the engaging gossip scenes which land Lang the job in the first place.

Given Wright's problem with third acts in recent years, it might not be a bad thing that he moved on.

Although Ant-Man does resort to the usual face off finale, here it's handled with a refreshing lightness of touch as the eponymous hero and villainous Yellowjacket clash.

Big isn't always better and given the choice between this and the more obvious Marvel tent pole production Avengers Age of Ultron, there's a chance this will steal your heart instead of that sprawling top heavy epic.

(As any geek will tell you, Pym created Ultron in the comics rather than Tony Stark).

Paul Rudd is a likeable hero, The Strain's Corey Stoll a great villain and solid support comes from Michael Douglas as Pym, the seasoned mentor.

Evangeline Lilly - Pym's feisty daughter Hope - adds "much needed glamour" amid the clever insect set pieces.

At this point, a good friend remarked that I'd used that phrase before. And I hold my hands up, I have. But in a film like this, which is mostly male oriented, it's frustrating that there weren't more female roles.

So many of the Marvel movies, whether it's Iron Man versus Whiplash or any other generic villain, it nearly always comes down to alpha male versus alpha male.

Sadly, it seems we will have to wait until Captain Marvel hits the big screen in a couple of years before one of the biggest movie studios in Hollywood takes a chance and bucks that trend.

(It does seem strange that Scarlett Johannson has proved her worth on the big screen time and again as Black Widow but has yet to land her own standalone movie. Given the underperformance of movies like Supergirl and Elektra, it seems Tinseltown executives are a little wary when it comes to throwing millions of dollars at a female-led superhero flick.)

Back to Ant-Man and while the testosterone heavy antics may be a little generic, the tone is just right. Funny, exciting and irreverent.

Slotting into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's a welcome B movie compared to the A list antics of Iron Man and Captain America.

You'll probably not remember much about it a day later, but it brightened up my grey Sunday a treat.

Hopefully we can expect more from a certain female character revealed in the credit cookie during the inevitable post-2018 sequel, or in one of the assorted pending epics such as Captain America Civil War, or The Avengers Infinity War two-parter.