Movie Review - Ant-Man

This is the funniest Marvel movie yet produced. Every scene is brimming with a great comedic sense and jokes, typically one-liners from the protagonist but all the actors in the main cast got to be funny or contribute in some way to the levity and fun. The special effects are well-done, and the direction embraces and integrates it all well. This film is currently my third favorite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and The Avengers (2012).

Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang, a cat burglar who gets out of San Quentin after serving 3 years and is pressured by his fellow, criminal-friends with whom he lives to pull off another heist. His previous heists had a Robin Hood element to them. This new heist seems more like a selfish job. He's hesitant because his ex-wife who has re-married is demanding he get a legitimate job and his own place if he wants to see and spend time with his daughter Cassie who is probably under ten years old.

Oscar-winner Michael Douglas (Wall Street and Traffic) co-stars as Hank Pym, a scientist and business man who is a guy not unlike Tony Stark. Tony Stark is the alter ego of Iron Man, a super hero who is a brash and cocky inventor inside a mechanical suit that gives him powers like super strength and flight. Hank Pym isn't as cocky, but his mechanical suit also gives him powers.

Hank Pym's suit gives its wearer the ability to shrink down to the literal size of an insect. This gives the wearer super strength and plenty of tactical advantages. Hank Pym used the suit when he was younger to fight, not necessarily crime but war-related dangers. Hank Pym's nickname, while he was doing this, was "Ant-Man."

Now, Hank Pym is getting old and can't be this super hero anymore, so he wants to pass along the suit to a younger person to take on the mantle. There are three potential candidates to become the wearer of the suit. Hank favors one over the others, but the others vie for it in different ways.

Evangeline Lilly (Real Steel and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) co-stars as Hope Pym, the daughter of Hank who is by far the best person to inherit the Ant-Man suit. She's smart and well-trained in every single way. She could possibly take on Black Widow and hold her own. She's very much like Black Widow. She's also loyal to her father and has the same intentions or world-view.

Corey Stoll (House of Cards and The Strain) also co-stars as Darren Cross, the other potential candidate to become the wearer of the suit. He's a scientist and successful, business man too. He was in fact a kind of student of Hank Pym, or at least he says Hank was his mentor, and he rose up to become a key operative at Pym's company. He doesn't have the same intentions or world-view as Hank. Darren sees the Ant-Man suit as the perfect weapon to be used for espionage or war-fare.

Yet, instead of just waiting, Darren decides to build his own suit. His only trouble is that the suit requires a chemical substance to power it, and that chemical is a special formula that Hank designed but won't share with him. Darren obsessively works on replicating that formula and technology.

Hank realizes and fears that Darren will succeed, so Hank plots to destroy his research. The problem that's unspoken is that Hank's plan would also have to include killing Darren because even if his research was destroyed, that would stop him, but would it stop him completely or just supremely delay him? It doesn't seem totally unreasonable that Darren couldn't start from scratch and rebuild the research.

The writers perhaps knew this, and made Darren obviously evil from the jump. It's lazy short-hand. It provides an easy setup for an end-battle that pitts Scott against Darren, but only in a physical sense. The real conflict is between Hank and Darren. Because I love Corey Stoll, I appreciated that conflict more. Stoll going up against Douglas are probably the best acting moments, aside from Douglas' scenes with Lilly.

Douglas is the MVP here. From his presence in the first scene to his appearance in the end-credits scene, Douglas is great and anchors this film amazingly. Whether it's doing comedy or it's being dramatic, Douglas handles it all brilliantly.

Yes, Rudd gets most of the one-liners, but Micheal Peña who plays Scott's best friend, Louis, steals almost all the scenes he has. He also gets some very funny comedic set-pieces where he tells stories relaying what other people say. Director Peyton Reed shows us those other people, but all those people lip-sync to Peña's voice.

This film is mainly a heist film with nods to the other Marvel movies, most especially The Avengers: Age of Ultron. There are also nods to films as formulaic as Mission: Impossible and as weird as Interstellar, but I found this vastly more fun than all those other movies.

Five Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 57 mins. 


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