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Movie Night – 'Ant-Man' is small superhero with big screen impact (July 22, 2015 issue)

The most recent entrant into the infinitely expanding database of comic book/superhero movies is small in stature, but large on entertainment. “Ant-Man” is not your typical superhero story. He doesn’t turn into a giant, invincible, green killing machine or shoot lasers out of his eyes or even fly. Instead, with the help of a super-suit, he pushes a button and shrinks to the size of an ant. His superpower is that he can become super small.
Our hero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), is getting out of prison. He was a modern-day Robin Hood, stealing millions from a millionaire crook and returning it to the ordinary people to whom it rightfully belonged. A cool crime, but still, a crime. The only person to greet him as he emerges into the light of his first free day is his former cellmate, Luis (Michael Peña).
Despite constant nagging from Luis, Scott refuses to consider returning to a life of crime. Scott has a daughter and wants to be there for her, to help raise her. He can’t do that from a prison cell. The problem for Scott is that it’s hard for an ex-con to get a job. Without a job he can’t pay child support and without paying child support he can’t see his daughter.
Left with no other option, Scott breaks into a house at the insistence of Luis. Unbeknownst to Scott, the house is owned by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Dr. Pym had previously been a scientist for S.H.I.E.L.D. but quit when he realized how dangerous his work could be in the wrong hands. Dr. Pym created the Pym Particle, which allows him to shrink matter. It works for inanimate objects without any glitches, but only works for living organisms if they are protected in something like a special suit.
Seeing nothing else of any value, Scott steals the suit and receives quite a surprise later when he tries on the suit and pushes the shrinking button. Freaked out, Scott returns the suit to the Pym residence only to be arrested for breaking into the house again, this time returning the suit. Dr. Pym agrees to help Scott with his legal woes if Scott will agree to become the Ant-Man.
Dr. Pym needs someone to infiltrate his former company and sabotage the shrinking suits and research before it falls into the wrong hands. More to save himself from prison and to be able to see his daughter than to become a hero, Scott agreed to become the Ant-Man.
“Ant-Man” has a vibe similar to that of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Scott is almost an anti-hero. No matter how hard he tries to do the right thing, he keeps finding himself in trouble with the law. Scott isn’t interested in stopping the evil Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll), but he will do whatever it takes to be a part of his daughter’s life. He is a hero by default.
Like the other Marvel movies, “Ant-Man” is filled with laughs. The humor is more sarcastic than bumbling. Picture Tony Stark without unlimited confidence or billions of dollars and you have Scott Lang. However, Michael Peña steals several scenes as the dimwitted sidekick to Ant-Man.
“Ant-Man” does have originality going for it. The superhero is the size of an ant and he controls ant armies. It’s different than a movie about a demi-god from another dimension or a flying man of steel, and that’s a good thing. Rather than going big, the movie goes small, microscopically small. The use of the miniscule world of Ant-Man is inventive and eye-opening and the filmmakers make good use of that aspect of the story.
Michael Douglas makes a surprising return to the big screen as a major character in the movie. After seeing his performance in “Ant-Man” it’s safe to say that Michael Douglas is back. He seemed to be in his old form and could begin garnering significant roles again in the near future.
“Ant-Man” is funny, creative, and entertaining. It’s not the best superhero movie ever, but for fans of the genre, “Ant-Man” is a must-see.
Grade: B+
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.