Going small delivers big
– Proving that big things can come in tiny packages, Marvel’s “Ant-Man “amplifies the comic sensibilities of films like “The Avengers” and “Iron-Man” and makes a superhero film that if it weren’t for the obviously expensive special effects feels like a genre-busting B-movie comedy of giant proportions. Predictably, much of “Ant-Man’s” laugh factor relies on the lovable goofball charm of its lead Paul Rudd (Is there anyone who doesn’t like this actor?) but surprisingly Rudd doesn’t need to carry the weight of the film’s likeability on his digitally shrunken shoulders.
Rudd is Scott Lang, a well-intentioned engineering-degreed cat burglar just coming off a prison sentence in San Quentin where he vows to stay straight so he be a good father for his young daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson). Finding it hard as an ex-con to get and keep a job, he agrees to help some of his homies (one of them, Michael Peña particularly hilarious) with one final heist – which of course will backfire but also put him in position to help an aging scientist Dr. Hank Pym (fantastically well-cast Michael Douglas) realize the sub-atomic superpowers of his dreams.
There’s the requisite players in all this, including the obvious villain (hard charging Corey Stoll from “House of Cards”) the doubting sidekick/potential sweetheart (“Lost’s” Evangeline Lilly) and the ex-wife who is moving on (Judy Greer) and her prickly cop boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale). So while “Ant-Man” contains all the basics of an origin story including the important backstory element (brilliantly developed here) – director Peyton Reed and team of screenwriters play it all with a wonderfully light hand as if the film were an extended- length sit-com.
For all its humor, however, “Ant-Man” is by no means a slouch in the visual effects department, using the latest technology to ingeniously create a miniature world that is breathtakingly detailed and provides non-stop thrills as well as a fun “Avengers” connected sub-plot. A final-scene toy train battle offers a refreshing laugh-out loud coda instead of the normal “universe-is-at-stake” self-seriousness that dominates this genre.
“Ant-Man” will likely do well at the box-office and will no doubt spawn some sequels, and that’s a little bit sad because this first installment is a sweet film that doesn’t need embellishment. So, enjoy it until Marvel tries to prove that in the film industry bigger is always better. ‘Ant-Man” proves, if nothing else, that isn’t always the case— a little “Ant-Man” goes a long way and might be the biggest surprise of the summer.
Rated PG-13 (For sci-fi violence).