Ant-Man Review: Judge Him By His Size, Do You?

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It’s been two months since Avengers: Age of Ultron hit theaters and gave audiences everywhere fanboy seizures with its sensory overload. There were no less than 10 superheroes (head on over to Wikipedia and count them) fighting a massive robot army that turned a city into a comet to destroy the world. It was huge, huge, huge and, frankly, not all that different from anything we’ve seen before. The existence of Age of Ultron in the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes Ant-Man feel all the more necessary.

Things are immediately dialed back, the stakes are personal, and the story itself feels different. With all the widely covered behind the scenes drama surrounding the film, Ant-Man being better than a lot of Marvel’s other movies is something of a miracle.

We catch up with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he’s getting out of prison for stealing a corrupt corporation’s money and giving it back to the people. Sure, it’s an obvious way to paint him as hero and a criminal, but the story is quick to also give him a daughter he doesn’t get to see very often, thus driving him to earn money through crimes. Rudd sells what could feel simplistic and forced with a charm and charisma unseen in other superhero movies. He, more so than Falcon, War Machine, or any of the Guardians of the Galaxy, has a personality that would add something significant to the legendary dynamic shared between the core Avengers.

Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) coerces Scott into stealing the Ant-Man suit, which can shrink to the size of an insect while amplifying his strength and speed. From there, Ant-Man becomes a pint-sized heist film, which lets Marvel dive into a lot of storytelling techniques they’ve never tried before. The special effects are up to the task, with many of the film’s action scenes being some of the most innovative of any recent superhero film.

Of course, there’s also the villain, Darren Cross, a.k.a. Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), who unfortunately continues the trend of boring villains in these films. But it hardly ends up mattering. Ant-Man is mostly a comedy, instantly becoming Marvel’s funniest feature. The laughs don’t stop for the climax, even with some pretty high emotional stakes in place. It’s proof that Peyton Reed is a more capable director than some may have thought. The tone may jump around, but it never feels out of place.

It all comes together to make Ant-Man the most pleasant surprise of the summer. We got a very fun, very different origin story as well as some breathless action and pure wonder. This is a state I hope more Marvel movies return to in the future. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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