Plot: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is fresh out prison and while his crimes were more retribution than selfish actions, his criminal record has proven to be an obstacle to a fresh start. He has immense skills and a top shelf education, but with a lack of options and a desperate need for income, he turns back to crime. But the heist seems to be a bust and instead of sweet loot, Lang finds a mysterious costume and decides to grab it, out of spite and curiosity. When he tries it in, he finds himself shrunk to the size of an ant and in serious danger, as a simple shower is like a flood and he barely survives. As it turns out, the suit belongs to reclusive scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and the heist was all part of an elaborate hoax. But what kind of plan does Pym have in mind and can Lang rise to the challenge?
Entertainment Value: As frequent readers likely know, I am not a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite my great affection for the source comic books. That being said, I had a lot of fun and Ant-Man and while it is sometimes derailed by the Marvel machine, it winds up as a brisk, enjoyable superhero movie. The narrative is much tighter than most Marvel movies, with minimal bloat and it never feels drawn out, though some scenes are very forced. This is the case with the Falcon scenes, an obvious and heavy handed attempt to weave Ant-Man into the larger franchise narrative. If this was done in ways that enhanced Ant-Man and progressed the overall series, it would be fine, but neither of those things happen here. Even so, the rest of the movie is great fun and actually feels like a comic book adventure, which few Marvel movies have been able to deliver to this point. The humor works and feels organic, while the action scenes are fun and memorable. The emotional beats are passable at best, but handled better than most of the series, without question. A fun, well crafted superhero movie that actually feels like a superhero movie, not just a generic action movie that happens to involve some superheroes.
I was surprised when Paul Rudd was announced as the lead here, but the material suits his style and he is more than capable. The movie is also smart to keep his demands low, so he doesn’t have to show much depth or range, just turn in his usual light, likable performance. While some roles would require more to work, his costars shoulder the more dramatic moments, so Rudd just has to do what he does best, which proves to be a good fit for Ant-Man. Michael Douglas has a prominent role and brings some gravitas to the otherwise lightweight narrative, though the CGI used to de-age him in flashbacks is hilariously bad. But he brings his usual terrific performance and even nails the comedic flairs, impressive work and he elevates the entire movie. Evangeline Lilly is quite good as well, while Martin Donovan, Judy Greer, and Bobby Cannavale also appear, while Anthony Mackie has a regrettable cameo in the scenes that clumsily try to connect Ant-Man to the rest of the Marvel franchise. I had a good time with Ant-Man and I’d rank it as one of the better entires in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.