Ant-man

Flabbergasted

This is Marvel’s smallest movie yet, and that’s a good thing. Ant-man just isn’t the stuff of epic, universal Sturm und Drang. This movie is about a small circle of people trying to solve family dilemmas while stopping a bad guy from selling game-changing technology to even worse people. It’s got plenty of state-of-the-art special effects, but for the most part they’re rather nicely in the background.

Hank Pym was the first Ant-man, a secret US super spy who quit when he found SHIELD trying to copy the shrink-inducing Pym Particle on its own. He’s not right with his daughter Hope because he never could be honest with her about how her mother died. He’s really not right with former protégé Darrin Cross from whom he ultimately withheld the secret of the Pym Particle. He tantalized Cross because “I saw something of myself in you.” He wouldn’t give him that secret, however, because “I finally saw too much.”

Cross repaid Pym by stealing his company. Now he’s about to solve the Pym Particle himself and weaponize it, just as Pym feared SHIELD would do all those years ago. He further intends to sell it to HYDRA for a gazillion dollars. So take that, old man! That drives a reluctant Hope to assist her father in stealing the Cross tech. She’s infuriated, however, when he won’t let her wear the old Ant-man suit that Pym kept. Pym instead seeks out Scott Lang, a down on his luck ex-con electrical engineer who is desperately trying to find enough of a career to win visitation rights with his daughter. Pym needs Lang almost as much as Lang needs Pym, with the equally vital Hope pissed off at both of them. There’s your family dynamic.

Can Pym reconcile with his daughter to salvage the mission?

Can Lang become the hero his daughter wants him to be?

Do we see lots of ants?

Is there a really cool fight with Cross after he dons the shrinking Yellowjacket suit himself?

Yep, yep, yep and yep.

It’s not deep stuff, but it’s done with craft and competence that makes you invest in our heroes. You want them to succeed. Michael Douglass is a nice addition who could play Pym in his sleep at this point. Paul Rudd hits all the one liners he’s required to as Ant-man. There’s an Avengers cameo from the Falcon along with a boat load of top notch small world effects. The final fight between Ant-man and Yellowjacket on a Thomas the Tank Engine set is particularly inspired.

There are a lot worse ways to spend a couple of summer hours than with Ant-man. Marvel remains on a roll in 2015.              

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