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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Ant-Man

I missed Ant-Man when it was released last year, so in preparation for the new Captain America film, in which Ant-Man plays a part, I thought I'd catch up on the doings in the Marvel Universe. I'm glad I did, because Ant-Man is a superior superhero movie.

When critics and others talk about the dire new D.C. Universe and compare it to the Marvel, they usually call the Marvel "fun." Much of that was the comparison between Deadpool and Batman v. Superman, but while Deadpool was full of laughs it was also too vulgar for small children. Ant-Man is the perfect compromise. It has a few "shits" just to keep it cool for older kids, but younger kids will really appreciate the action, humor, and a giant Thomas the Tank Engine. There is also, thank goodness, no religious symbolism.

Ant-Man was, in the comics, Hank Pym, but the makers of this film (it was directed by Peyton Reed, who also directed Bring It On) have updated the story. Pym is now an old scientist (Michael Douglas, classing things up considerably), pushed out of his company, while his mentor (Corey Stoll) is trying to figure out the secret Pym has kept for years--the ability to shrink matter yet increase its strength and destiny. We know Stoll will be a villain because he has a shaved head.

When Douglas finds out that Stoll is near achieving the goal, he finds an ex-con (Paul Rudd), who was a whistleblower who stole from his company. Rudd wants to go straight, but is lured back into a job by his friends (most prominently Michael Pena). Turns out that Douglas set the whole thing up, because he wanted Rudd to wear the suit which shrinks him to insect size.

The set up takes a while but is fairly zippy, as I've always liked Rudd and feel he's a naturally likeable and charming performer. We get the old training montage (Douglas' daughter, Evangeline Lilly, is a martial arts master, natch) and soon Rudd has it down pat. Oh, and I forget to mention the ants--not only is Douglas a particle physicist, but he also dabbles in entomology, so much so that he can control ants just by thinking. Soon Rudd is riding a carpenter ant he's named Ant-thony.

From there we have Rudd trying to save the world by stopping Stoll. In between there's a token appearance by an Avenger (Anthony Mackie as Falcon) as a gateway to the Universe, and plenty of exciting action, including a showdown at the end between Stoll, in a Yellowjacket costume, and Rudd, trying to save his daughter.

I liked this film from start to finish, and though the premise is goofy it is handled with the kind of science fiction finesse Marvel is great at (and by that I mean Stan Lee, who has come up with more interesting origin stories that would seem possible, even if many are by gamma rays). We get two stingers at the end, one setting up Lilly as the Wasp, and another with Falcon letting Captain America know about Ant-Man as a possible ally. I'll be seeing that film soon.

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