The most truly offbeat comic book movie in quite some time. Ant-Man didn’t hit a home run for me, it has its draggy segments, but there is goofy humor, kookiness and an unpretentious wow factor anytime our reluctant superhero (Paul Rudd), who is Scott Lang by day, goes miniaturized. Probably intended, it borrows and builds upon ideas that were used by the 1989 kid’s adventure “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” This Marvel production also isn’t a headache to watch like its other recent titles. “Ant-Man” doesn’t have much theme or significance really, but it’s mindless fun.
We have an unlikely dope turned superhero with Lang, a feckless jailbird trying to reform so he can get visiting rights to his adoring pre-teen daughter. There’s enough time for a jokey sequence with him as a hapless Baskin-Robbins employee that ends with his boss a little too admiring of him being an ex-con. Or telepathic ants delivering sugar cubes to a cup of tea. Goodness. Special effects are actually used in a summer blockbuster to charm and make us laugh instead of smack us with pseudo-thrills, that’s rare.
Most of Lang’s time is spent with crackpot scientist Hank Lym (Michael Douglas) and his corporate executive-type daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), after they have courted him to be their Ant-Man which Lang concedes to become since it’s his most convenient option at the moment. Together, they must stop megalomaniac Darren Cross (Corey Stoll, who uses his bald head and evil grin to intimidating effect), who takes Hank’s research so he can develop miniaturized militarized weapons, called Yellowjackets. It’s a blockbuster movie given that Cross’ whole scheme is corrupt. And another given that an Ant-Man and Yellowjacket will duke it out in a childrens’ train set climax that’s dazzling and funny at the same time.
I suppose a few days after seeing it I have a fondness now for the modesty of this production. By going relatively lesser-key, this is the most unexpectedly radical of all Marvel offerings. Not a super-blast, but refreshing that it’s not trying to be. I only wish Rudd didn’t so often come off lame and toothless. Where’s his eager-beaver attitude this time out?
Note: There are Avengers name-dropping and a couple Avengers cameos.
117 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
COMIC BOOK MOVIE / MINDLESS FUN / BLOCKBUSTER WEEKEND