Peyton Reed (Yes Man, The Break Up, Bring It On) directs the latest modern Marvel superhero film “Ant-Man” where hero and mentor save the world. Small size means big power here as a special suit changes the distance between atoms for unprecedented changes in density and strength.
Of course, a power-hungry antagonist wants to use this technology for evil and profit, so intentions and moral lines become very clear as villains infiltrate in an era with “too much surveillance.”
Paul Rudd stars as Scott Lang a very capable thief who adjusts to his new-found abilities for some predictably humorous moments and appealing character development. “That was a lot scarier a minute ago,” Scott says while he encounters one of several extraordinary situations.
Scott only mentions his masters in electrical engineering, but definitely shows his physical prowess, agility, and intelligence early in the film to establish credibility.
Michael Douglas co-stars as Dr. Hank Pym, a very important person in the Marvel character universe who also has a VIP daughter, Hope, played by Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit film series).
Hank even has a particle named after him and remains a strong-willed scientist with good morals and tough resolve. Hank forms a unique partnership with Scott with Hope as a key component to Hank’s objective.
This objective includes an amazing plot sequence at a corporate building. Filmmakers could have stretched this impressive event for even more impact, but keep it short for an incredible effective and emotional tone instead of a more logistical/situational feel.
Hank also has a unique relationship with the eventual antagonist Darren Cross, played by Corey Stoll (Non-Stop, Netflix’s House of Cards), who is a very intelligent adversary.
Scott’s wife, Maggie, played by Judy Greer, and daughter Cassie, played by Abby Ryder Fortson, suffer from his checkered past. Maggie is currently with Paxton, played by Bobby Cannavale (Chef), a law enforcement officer who predictably factors into the main plot.
Scott’s long time collaborator Luis, well played by Michael Peña (Crash, Fury), now participates in criminal activities with Kurt, a computer expert played by David Dastmalchian (The Dark Knight), and Dave, played by musician T.I.
This crew provides some comic relief and admirable heroics, especially in an evacuation scene involving Luis.
S.H.I.E.L.D. origins also play an important part in the story, especially Mitchell Carson, played by Marin Donovan. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as one of the founding S.H.I.E.L.D. members Peggy Carter.
John Slattery returns to portray the elder Howard Stark (first time since the 2010 Iron Man 2). Dominic Cooper played the younger Howard Stark in the 2011 Captain America: The First Avenger as well as the current Agent Carter TV series, which stars Atwell.
The film keeps a good balance without stressing the business/corporate side too much – a common component in many recent Marvel film installments. Scott’s unique journey as a leader provides unique appeal.
Hank expertly explains special conditions like the “quantum realm” and demands attention from characters and audiences solely based on his abilities and inventions.
Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) dropped out as director, but co-wrote the script with Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) with Adam McKay (Anchorman) and Rudd also contributing to the script.
Christophe Becke (Frozen) provides the musical score and co-creator Stan Lee makes his standard cameo near the end.
Audiences may recognize a special cab driver cameo from a Saturday Night Live alum and a Marvel hero who recently appeared in the previous Marvel film Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ant-Man also mentions recent events in the previous Ultron film.
Recommended (*** out of four stars) and rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence. Be sure to stay for two special sequences during the ending credits. The last one leads into the next Marvel universe film, Captain America: Civil War, which will release on May 6, 2016.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler