‘Ant-Man’ packs a mean punch | Inquirer Entertainment

‘Ant-Man’ packs a mean punch

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 03:49 AM July 18, 2015
RUDD. Marvel’s incredible shrinking man has a big heart.

RUDD. Marvel’s incredible shrinking man has a big heart.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been milking the glib and wisecracking superhero formula for all its worth—but, as “Age of Ultron” deftly demonstrated, the law of diminishing returns is catching up to it, and inexorably nibbling at its heels.

Of course, which comic-book geek isn’t thrilled to see an “X-Men”-related Comic-Con “groufie” that has Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) sharing the spotlight with Channing Tatum (Gambit) and Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)?


Surely, “the more, the merrier” appeal of a film like “Dawn of Justice” that features a kryptonite-wielding Batman (Ben Affleck) engaging Superman (Henry Cavill) in a brawl as Wonder Woman (Gail Gadot) looks on is worth its weight in gold—if it trots out more than just the novelty of seeing the iconic trio together.

Noble baddie-bashers


But, just when you think you’ve seen everything there is to see about those noble baddie-bashers, “Ant-Man” draws your attention right back in—and reinvigorates the inner fanboy in you.

To offset the noise and bloated excesses of Marvel’s recent potboilers, director Peyton Reed turns to quirky downsizing and gives Ant-Man potently “relatable” and combustible father-daughter side stories that viewers can root for when the 3.5-millimeter hero isn’t wowing viewers with fantasticating feats and flights of derring-do—this is “Magic Ant XXS!”

Before luring Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) into his crime-busting destiny, quantum-science specialist Hank Pym aka the Silver Age Ant-Man (Michael Douglas) made sure that the beleaguered modern-day Robin Hood is more than the convicted conman he is perceived to be.

Theft, grand larceny

After serving three years in prison for theft and grand larceny, Scott goes through a difficult period reintegrating himself into society. Worse, he’s forbidden to see his baby daughter Cassie, who looks up to him as a hero, without supervision!

Pym shares Lang’s fatherly woes—his daughter, Hope (the sizzling Evangeline Lilly), blames the brilliant scientist for their strained relationship, as well as the mysterious “disappearance” of her mother, Janet van Dyne aka the Wasp, when she was only 7 years old!

More than saving the world from a megalomaniac, Marvel’s incredible shrinking man sees the powerful burgundy-and-black suit and its game-changing weaponry as a chance to earn the loving look in his daughter’s eyes.


Amazing ability

As Ant-Man, Scott enjoys the amazing ability to shrink in scale as his strength increases—and the ability to marshal armies of carpenter, crazy and bullet ants to help him!

To embrace his inner hero, Scott must develop gargantuan levels of patience as he attempts to pull off a heist that requires him to outsmart Sym’s resentful former assistant, evil entrepreneur Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who controls his formidable foe, Yellowjacket—and figure in an inventively staged mano-a-mano against the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) at the Avengers’ compound!

It’s exciting to see Rudd, clad in a bug helmet with metal antennae, shrink-leap through keyholes and order his eusocial hymenopteran colleagues around. —But, you rally behind the 46-year-old actor even more as he cleverly utilizes his character’s ambiguities to make his psychological actions palpably come alive.

‘Ant-whispering’ skills

On Rudd’s able shoulders, more than any gadget or his “ant-whispering” skills, Scott’s best asset is his big heart.

It doesn’t hurt that Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas are onboard to vivify the tension and unresolved issues driving the distant-father and angry-daughter characters they portray so well—especially in the carefully calibrated dramatic sequence that Rudd douses with a glib one-liner and a sly grin.

As superhero stories go, it’s almost inevitable for “Ant-Man” to avoid the pitfalls of repetition—and Michael Peña, relentlessly hamming it up as Lang’s loopy assistant and former ka-kosa, is pinch- and punch-worthy.

More than the endless opportunities for crowd-pleasing spectacle, Reed’s production is most notable for efficiently juggling its enlightening emotional scenes with leavening moments of wisdom—and winking levity!

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TAGS: “Age of Ultron, Channing Tatum, Comics, Deadpool, Gambit, Hugh Jackman, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Paul Rudd, Ryan Reynolds, Wolverine
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