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Ant-Man (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 3, 2020



ANT-MAN (2015)

Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Anthony Mackie, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Wood Harris, David Dastmalchian, Abby Ryder Fortson, Martin Donovan, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Garrett Morris, Gregg Turkington, Jean Louisa Kelly, Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan and Stan Lee.

Screenplay by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd.

Directed by Peyton Reed.

Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.  117 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

The Marvel Comics film universe is huge, but it has been expanding so quickly that eventually it was inevitable that they would run out of the A-list heroes.  Most of the classic names are already out there, for better or worse – Spiderman, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The X-Men – leaving the studio to ponder how to keep the movies going organically.

That is probably why in the past year Marvel has been delving into some of their more quirky niche characters.  First came Guardians of the Galaxy, a comic book team which had completely slipped under the radar of all but the most fanatical of fan-boys.  Now comes Ant-Man, a character who is less obscure than the Guardians, but still is far from most people’s go-to superhero.

However Ant-Man’s main super-power is one that people have been imagining for generations – the ability to shrink to the size of an ant.  This basic idea has been toyed with many times in Hollywood, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man, Fantastic Voyage, and the Honey I Shrunk The Kids! movies.

His other power – the ability to mentally control armies of hundreds and thousands of ants – is a little more ridiculous looking cinematically, but overall Ant-Man is one of the better recent Marvel projects, certainly better than the overrated Guardians.  And it’s nice that for a change a Marvel movie does not climax with a giant flying ship crashing to the Earth.

In fact, in most ways Ant-Man is more down to Earth than the other Marvel films, a more modest story and thrills, and the film is likeably slapdash due to this… uhhh… smaller scale.

Also unlike most Marvel superheroes, who tend to be lovable misfit teenagers, brooding misfit scientists, wisecracking misfit tycoons and athletes, honorable misfit soldiers, or whatever, Ant-Man starts his origin story on the other side as an actual criminal.  (Though, of course, a lovable misfit one.)  As the film starts, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is getting out of San Quentin for a three year stint for cat burglary.

He falls in with his old gang, the incredibly good-natured Luis (a scene-stealing Michael Peña) and co-horts (Tip “T.I.” Harris and David Dastmalchian).  They expect for Scott to slip right back into his criminal ways, but Scott is determined to stay on the straight and narrow for his adorable moppet of a daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), who his ex-wife (Judy Greer) is dragging her feet on letting him see.  To add insult to injury, his ex is now living with a cop (Bobby Cannavale) who helped to put him away in the first place.

Scott quickly realizes that it’s tough out there for a gangsta, even getting shot down for minimum wage jobs because of his record.  So at his lowest point, he agrees to do one last big job, breaking into the safe of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the founder of a multi-national scientific conglomerate.  However, when he finally gets in to the huge old safe, all that is in there is a mysterious old costume, which he takes so that it won’t be a complete waste.

What Scott didn’t know was that the whole crime was a set-up.  Dr. Pym wanted to take the suit, which he had created 50 years earlier and had the power to shrink the wearer to the size of an ant, while giving him super power and super speed, just like ants themselves have, in comparison to their size.  Dr. Pym had been Ant-Man years earlier, but eventually realized that the suit was too dangerous to get in the wrong hands, so he never shared its secrets.  Now his former protégée, who ended up stealing his company, was on his way to unlocking the secrets, so Dr. Pym needed someone to make sure that did not happen.

His daughter (Evangeline Lilly in a bob cut) wanted to take over wearing the suit, but Dr. Pym insisted on teaching Scott, leading to the normal trial and error period as he learned how to use his newfound powers.  This leads to some fun and interesting special effects sequences, like a fight on top of a train which turns out to be a Thomas the Tank Engine toy, as well as some wonderfully amusing cutbacks where these wild fights are shown from the perspective of our own size.

It leads to the most purely fun and easily accessible Marvel film since the first Iron Man.  It’s nice to know that the creators of Marvel world realize that not everything has to be end of the world heroics.  Sometimes it’s fun for the heroes to just relax and have a little adventure.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: November 27, 2015.

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