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Ant-Man: No Small Success

               Ant-Man is the second and final Marvel movie of the year. There was some controversy and worry surrounding the film due to the last minute replacement of its original director Edgar Wright with Peyton Reed. The idea of Wright bringing his eccentric and enticing style to a Marvel film had us all excited and when Reed took over, many lost interest. But we didn’t need to worry as the film was in pretty safe hands after all.
                Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a struggling ex-con having been imprisoned for a major heist he pulled. He’s a good guy but just misguided and his skill for breaking into extremely secure places catches the attention of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who recruits him to be the next Ant-Man (he having been the first) using a suit that can shrink him down to the size of ant, with the power to control ants, and superhuman strength. Pym wants Lang to steal back the technology for the suit which was recreated and adjusted for weaponized use by his former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).
                Rudd really brings the comedy in this film. Marvel’s always been known for its humour but it’s largely just expressed in banter and quipping during action scenes. With Rudd the film just naturally settles into a more comedic tone. Which is why I was surprised when the film attempted to take more of a serious turn. This doesn’t hurt the film in a major way but it does keep it from being as constantly entertaining as say Guardians of the Galaxy. That being said, the film really does distance itself from typical superhero fare taking on more of the structure of a heist film. And despite a somewhat slow start, it eventually does that really well. Rudd is immensely likable as Scott; Douglas is fantastic really making a good argument for why Hank could’ve been the star, his character having a really fascinating background. Evangeline Lilly is fine as his somewhat estranged daughter, and Michael Peña as Scott’s partner in crime is really funny, stealing every moment he’s on screen. I wish that Cross was less explicitly evil. Stoll is a great actor and has fun where he can with the character, but when vaporizes sheep, that’s way too unsubtle. And his role does echo a little too familiarly the first Iron Man film. Same with Bobby Cannavale who plays the cop husband of Scott’s ex-wife (Judy Greer –this is a great year for Judy Greer!). He’s a good actor but is stuck playing a typical jerk.
                The effects in this movie are really good! You feel the impact and the scope every time Scott shrinks down and the focus on atmosphere, action, and sound when in that miniscule size is pretty remarkable. And it’s used to great comic effect. Particularly in the climactic scenes, there are some pretty funny contrasts between the well-executed minute action and its appearance in the full-sized world.
Ant-Man is probably the best heist film I’ve seen since the Ocean’s 11 remake. It manages to be yet another hit in Marvel’s run through some great characters, dazzling effects, and some unexpected Easter eggs to other Marvel films even if it does take some time to get going, doesn’t quite have the level of comedic tone it should, and has an ending that’s a little obvious given something brought up earlier. And despite Douglas’ performance, they really missed the boat by not casting Rick Moranis as Hank Pym: the true father of shrink technology!

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