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Monday, July 27, 2015

Ant-Man Mini-Review

Director Peyton Reed packs large themes into a movie about two small men with big hearts in Ant-Man, the latest Marvel Comics summer blockbuster. Starring Michael Douglas (as Hank Pym) and Paul Rudd (as Scott Lang) as two generations of the titular pint-sized, ant-riding superhero, Ant-Man is in some ways a refreshing change of pace for Marvel; Reed shows us some of the building blocks of the present-day Marvel universe with intriguing flashbacks and gives us a smaller-scale story of daring heists and personal redemption. (You could call it Mission: Antpossible.) Unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, this time around there's enough heart in the family backstory of the characters to give us reasons to root for the protagonists. The plot involves a struggle for control over Hank Pym's Pym particles, which can shrink (or expand) the distance between molecules, with all that implies (in the world of comic-book science, anyway). But the real story is about each man becoming the hero their daughters need.

The film does rely on the tired Marvel trope of the hero fighting an opposite number with the same super-powers at the climax, just like Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and so on, but it's nonetheless entertaining and inventive - a scene featuring Thomas the Tank Engine is a surprising highlight. And the film does a credible job of showing the world-changing possibilities of Hank Pym's amazing discovery. Last but not least, Evangeline Lily is delightful as always and I look forward to seeing her play a larger role in future Marvel films.

After the failure of Guardians of the Galaxy and the middling Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man is a return to form for Marvel - a small miracle, if you will. Don't shrink from seeing it.

*Edited to fix embarrassing Keaton-for-Douglas substitution. Thanks, Neil Mackie!


Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

After the city-smashing destruction of Winter Soldier, Man of Steel, and Age of Ultron, how refreshing was it to have the majority of the final fight confined to a child's bedroom?

Earl J. Woods said...

Very refreshing indeed!