Written by Rich Grady
In a summer full of anticipated releases, it would be very easy to overlook Ant-Man. Doing so would be a mistake. Ant-man is, as any true believer knows, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The movie begins with a flashback to 1989. There, thanks to makeup and some digital trickery, we see a younger Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) arguing with Howard Stark, Peggy Carter, and Mitchell Carson. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants the Pym particle (the plot MacGuffin which allows Ant-Man to shrink), and Pym isn’t willing to give it up.
From there, we go to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) being released from prison in the present day. Despite the best of intentions, he winds up back in his old ways (because Baskin-Robins always knows), and in trouble with the law. This brings him to the attention of Dr. Pym, who is looking for a new protégé to follow in the footsteps of the Cold War soldier/spy, the Ant-Man.
The movie is principally a heist movie, keeping in line with the character of the original Scott Lang, and it sets it apart from the other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The stakes are smaller than the fate of the world, but threat is real enough to provide some dramatic tension, and the film maintains a fairly light-hearted tone. In that, it is much closer to Guardians of the Galaxy than the Avengers series; a comic movie that refuses to take itself seriously and benefits greatly thereby. The final show-down between the bad guy Cross/Yellowjacket and Ant-man is a fine balance of drama and whimsy.
As is the case with all of the MCU films, viewers should stay through the credits. There are two scenes in the credit sequence. The first sets up not just the obvious sequel, but cements the tie-in to the rest of the MCU. The second one is a tie-in to a future Avengers/Captain America film, and makes a mid-movie cameo even better.
I saw Ant-man at full price, twice, and was glad of it both times. It did not get bogged down in the training sequence, an origin story, or anything like that. The director simply assumed that the audience was either familiar with the characters, or that they did not overly care about the backstory and history. I wish more superhero films could dispense with 80 minutes of creation story followed by 30 minutes of plot.
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2015 Disney Movie Preview