Starring Paul Rudd,
Directed by Peyton Reed
Written by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd
Based on characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Runtime 117 mins.
One of the best superhero movies ever.
Little wonder the minutely detailed special effects of Ant-Man impress. But what also gives the flick heft is the vague general familiarity with the material. Comic book fans remember Ant-Man from Marvel, but only barely. And this totally works, because how many times do we have to see the Uncle Ben story retold?
Getting down to specifics, Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, an antihero whose antics include antagonism toward corporate criminals. The story starts off with his just having served a prison sentence for a Robin Hood-type redistribution of stolen money. Living in San Francisco with his pal Luis (Pena), Scott tries to be a part of his daughter’s life with his ex-wife, but can’t get a job commensurate with his degree, and with his record he can’t even keep a job at an ice cream shop.
Meanwhile, one Darren Cross (Stoll), who could stand to see a shrink, has just unveiled new technology based on that of the legendary Ant-Man. Turns out Cross’s mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) did in fact have this technology he always denied, and was in fact the Ant-Man of years past. Even without Pym’s help, Cross angrily found a way to do the same thing. Pym knows Cross must be stopped, but he’s unable to wear the suit himself anymore, and needs the right person to perform the heist that will save the world. That means pretty much anybody except his daughter, Hope (Lilly), because the suit is also dangerous.
The Ant-Man suit looks retro, yet believable. Michael Douglas especially makes the movie work with his own believability. His role compares with Anthony Hopkins as the first Zorro teaching Antonio Banderas, and for no particular reason it comes across as one of the best things Douglas has ever done. Verisimilitude, humor, and originality combine in a story about relationships.
Fighting fascism by denying potential buyers the technology girds the timely story, as does Rudd’s understated performance. But the filmmakers never forget we’re there to see somebody shrink down to the size of an ant, and we get plenty of that.
The Incredible Shrinking Man, Fantastic Voyage, Innerspace, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids all go a long way in tiny-turning terms. But if you really want to get down, Ant is the man.
Stewart Kirby writes for