Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Anthony Mackie,
The latest Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) comic book adaptation might begin in 1989, but its biggest problem is debuting in 2015. American cinema is so oversaturated with superhero’s it looks more like the candidates running for the Republican primary than unique or original movie making. Still, “Ant-Man” as a stand-alone film isn’t half bad, although it spends a third of its time trying to coordinate and bleed in with the Marvel franchise, featuring an extended cameo with an Avenger. Comedian Paul Rudd (“Role Models”, “I Love You Man”) has finally found a project that will make him more than just “that funny guy” in ambiguously titled comedies. More importantly he also chimed in on the script as one of the four writers, tuning it more towards his strengths as an actor.
Upon being released from prison, Scott Land (Rudd) is determined to turn his life around, starting with being a present father. “Get an apartment, a job, pay child support, and then we will talk about visitation rights,” his ex-wife (Judy Greer) explains. He doesn’t want back in the crime ring, but when he does the math on how long it will take him to get to normal citizen status, it’s too long away from his little girl. An attempt to steal from a “rich old guy” lands Scott the opportunity of a lifetime. Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) has developed a formula that allows the subject to shrink with a special “Ant-Man” suit. Pym needs Scott’s burglary skills to prohibit his predecessor Darren Cross (Stoll) from copying the formula for mass production.
Ant-Man is more entertaining than the last Avengers film simply because it’s something different.
The Marvel films have always had a flair for comedy and never more so than “Ant-Man”, hence a cast of mostly comedians and director Payton Reed (“Bring it On”, “The Break-Up”). The film opens with a lot of Baskin Robbins jokes which are only going to appeal to those who actually might set foot in a Baskin Robbins store (my row was silent, without even a chuckle). There are times where “Ant-Man” feels a lot like 1989’s “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”, as filmmakers have a field day with creating large scale hair follicles, what water would look like to an ant in a bath tub and lots of falling. As with most Marvel/Disney productions, a real sense of danger is never present.
More than any of the other Marvel films outside of the core Avenger standalone films, “Ant-Man” seems desperate to plug into that mammoth box office universe mentioning Hydra, Stark, Shield, etc. Evangeline Lilly’s character Hope van Dyne is interesting since her father Hank Pym treats her much like Marvel treats women in their universe. “I said no!” he barks at her, when she thoroughly proves she has the physical and mental capability beyond Scott Land to wear the suit. She is of course eventually relegated to the love interest which is more than Judy Greer gets in two scenes. Ant-Man is more entertaining than the last Avengers film simply because it’s something different, it’s more satisfying than the majority of the superhero flicks because there isn’t a race to “save the world”. Still it suffers from being one pebble in a large mound of rocks, regardless of its odd and unique shape.
Remember the last time you were ant bitten, odds are you won’t remember this adventure very long either.