Marvel’s ‘go big or go home’ mentality gets turned around 180 degrees in the new installment of its cinematic universe.

Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a burglar released from the joint and trying to go straight. Soon after, he becomes part of another heist, one that will change his life forever. An evil organization has their eye on the Yellowjacket Suit (a revolutionary piece of equipment intended for miniscule soldiers to topple entire countries) and he must destroy it. This looks like a job for Ant-Man!

Of course, like any comic book genre movie, there are many elements of Ant-Man (2015) that have been done countless times: a scientist determined to rid the world of a secret invention, a reluctant hero who uses his skills for a cause larger than himself, and all that jazz. Tropes go with the territory.

What matters, though, is how these cliches are executed. Is there a unique style or is the movie just bland, like dry toast? The character of Ant-Man himself, I’ll admit, isn’t quite appealing. Why should I care about Scott Lang when Thor and his pals are taking on a whole universe of bad guys/girls?!

While my feelings toward the character haven’t really changed, a few unexpected bits in Ant-Man (2015) were enough to make me recommend the film. The CGI was done well. Rudd befriends insects of all kinds and they look very convincing. A visually compelling climax, involving a toy train, also had the right amount of humor sprinkled in between the action. It helps that action-comedy director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz) was one of Ant-Man’s screenwriters.*

At first I wasn’t sure what kind of tone Ant-Man (2015) was trying to achieve. A light bulb went off as soon as Luis (Michael Pena) began whistling “It’s a Small World”. He is contrasted with the very serious Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly). By now, Douglas can play any role standing on his head. Lily, I’ve been a fan of since she played Kate on ABC’s LOST.

On the whole, Ant-Man (2015) is a very respectable movie given its genre constraints. Michael Douglas’ performance makes up for Paul Rudd not really being action-star material. Moreover, the novelty of Rudd’s CGI ant problems distracts from the absence of a strong, central villain. Even though the origin story of Scott Lang doesn’t have the epic scale of The Avengers (2012), watching a man the size of a bug trying to escape his own bathtub will at least be a hoot on a Friday night.

3/5 stars

By Curtis Parvin 8/4/15

*Footnote: Had the studio gone with Wright’s full draft of the script, this review may have been gushing with the godlike praise Loki is always seeking.

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