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article imageReview: ‘Ant-Man’ isn’t your typical big screen superhero Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jul 17, 2015 in Entertainment
While ‘Ant-Man’ fits seamlessly into the Marvel Universe, it doesn’t subscribe to the typical action-driven narrative for which the studio has become known and that’s a good thing.
If there’s something Marvel Studios has proven good at, it’s generating a world in which there is a small degree of separation between characters even though they don’t appear together on screen. The Marvel Universe is an intricately weaved space in which fans can be delighted, but not surprised, when storylines from other movies leak into a new picture. It’s a vital ingredient to their success and all part of the magic that audiences have come to expect. Though Ant-Man is not one of their most popular comic book characters, he is seamlessly incorporated into the thriving realm of admired superheroes while differentiating himself from the pack.
After serving prison time for burglary, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is determined to go straight and earn back the right to see his daughter. But living a regular life is hard when you have a record and are staying on the couch of your former cellmate (Michael Peña). So he agrees to one last job that will get him back on track. Only it doesn’t go as planned and Scott stumbles upon a long kept secret. Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has been hiding potentially dangerous technology that can shrink a man to the size of an insect. But his former protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), has replicated his research and is willing to sell to the highest bidder. Therefore Pym recruits Scott to don the Ant-Man suit, break into the facility and destroy Cross’s project before it’s too late.
Paul Rudd stars in  Ant-Man
Paul Rudd stars in 'Ant-Man'
Like many comic book heroes, Scott’s virtue is not immediately visible. He is a convicted criminal who falls back on bad habits when things get hard. But he’s also in search of redemption and a loving father who would do anything for his daughter. One of the reasons Scott can be effortlessly incorporated into the existing Marvel Universe is he’s incredibly charismatic. He’s sarcastic, flirtatious, easily lightens the mood in any situation and is physically attractive – traits he shares with many of his super-powered counterparts.
Moreover, his storyline is entwined with some of the overarching narratives unfolding in the studio’s world. There are entertaining cameos by Avengers, which provides one of the film’s more amusing action sequences. There are also frequent references to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra with whom Pym has extensive history.
In addition to shrinking to the size of a bug, Ant-Man’s suit provides unbelievable strength for such a small creature. Scott is also trained in fighting techniques to ensure he gets the most out of his superhero powers. Audiences learn early on his abilities expand beyond personal enhancement. Pym’s technology also allows them to communicate with ants that each provide a unique talent from building to transportation. These scenes are some of the movie’s most incredible as Scott commands the obedient insects while being their equivalent in size. There’s also scenes from less microscopic perspectives in which the ants swarm and carry out their missions.
Paul Rudd stars in  Ant-Man
Paul Rudd stars in 'Ant-Man'
And yet in spite of all the seamless integration, this is not your typical Marvel movie. For one, there are very few explosions. And even though Scott gains some hand-to-hand combat skills, the nature of his character is less confrontational and more stealth — hence Pym’s recruitment of a competent cat burglar. As a result, there is a greater focus on the personalities in this picture and they are compelled to be more verbally engaging than many superheroes (not discounting the comedic tone that underlies all the studio’s films). The result is equally enjoyable, but somewhat refreshing.
Once again the casting proves perfect. Rudd is flawless and a welcome addition to the universe. He is one of the main reasons this movie is as much fun as it is thanks to his charming and vulnerable portrayal of the unintentional hero. Douglas more rigidly matches Rudd’s sarcasm, but is definitely the patriarchal figure of the story passing the torch. Evangeline Lilly plays Pym’s resentful daughter who must contend with the annoying double-standard that keeps her on the sidelines (for now), in spite of her obvious qualifications. Still, a sizable share of the humour is delivered by Scott’s felonious associates portrayed by Peña, T.I. and David Dastmalchian. Finally the villains played by Stoll and Martin Donovan are not as over-the-top as others, which makes them more believable in the nefariousness but less captivating.
Minor flaws aside, this is another win for Marvel and fans who will definitely look forward to seeing more Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War — be sure to stay through the credits for teasers of what’s to come.
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Corey Stoll
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