Ant-Man (Marvel, 2015)
This is probably the geekiest of Marvel movies to date. It’s also one of the best, certainly the best this year.
Scott Lang is an ex-con, jailed for doing a Robin Hood burglary on a big corporation through its computer system. Now he’s out and trying to get visitation rights for his too-cute daughter. But he needs a job, and that’s not going so well.
Enter Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man (yes, I know, who knew?) who is now too old to keep his scientific discoveries about shrinking molecules from evil people. Years ago, Dr. Pym discovered how to shrink even humans, and later hid the technology from defense contractors like Tony Stark (Iron Man, The Avengers.) But Hank’s protégé, Darren Cross, has almost re-created his discovery, so Hank plans to steal it back.
So who does he hire, but ex-con excellent burglar, Scott Lang?
Now, admittedly, setting all of this up made the beginning of the movie a little slow. But it’s complicated. (Marvel plots are always complicated.) Because Hank has an adult daughter, Hope, who is working for his protégé, Darren Cross. And also because Hank uses big words, like protégé.
However, once things start moving, Ant-Man is an extremely entertaining film. First of all, Paul Rudd as Scott is likeable and funny, sort of an American Hugh Grant. He has a lot of learning to be able to shrink and unshrink, which happens fast. The first time he tries it, Scott basically falls to floor from a height of six feet, as he suddenly is the size of an ant.
Oh, and there are ants, too. The kind that crawl around and bite. Dr. Pym has learned how to communicate and control them with an earpiece. In what is the most dweebish and educational superhero movie I’ve ever seen, Hank introduces Scott to Fire Ants, Crazy Ants, Bullet Ants, and Carpenter Ants, all with their amazing abilities.
In a way, ants are like dinosaurs. Kids are fascinated by them. When you add to this a guy who can shrink down and run with them through tunnels, fly on their backs in the air, and train them how to infiltrate buildings, what’s not to like?
Meanwhile, Hank’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) is at odds with her father and has misgivings about working for Darren at Cross Industries. The real beauty of this saga is the way it ties the plot together without getting too serious. If you’re like me, watching a couple of actors in suits fighting gets old really quickly. But in Ant-Man (which is after all a superhero movie) every battle has a twist, such as Scott, miniaturized as Ant-Man, battling a villain on a Thomas the Train set.
Adding further to the humor are Luis, Dave and Kurt, Scott’s buddies from his crime days, who get worked into the story by helping him steal back the Ant-Man technology. These good-natured thieves and their bumbling hijinks are just fun to watch. ( Luis: “I get to be a security guard?” Man: “I’m gonna whistle!” Scott: “No whistling. You’re not going on the Andy Griffith Show!”)
Will Scott ever get to see his daughter again? Will Darren Cross sell the Ant-Man secret to the highest evil bidder and quit being a protégé? Will Hope ever come back home to her father?
Ant-Man is rated PG-13 for a few foul words and the destruction of a Thomas the Train set. Small kids don’t need to see this movie, but kids 10 and up should enjoy it. Even big kids, like me. Use discretion. And enjoy!