By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
'Ant-Man' scores big with comedy, creativity
Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang/Ant-Man in "Ant-Man." - photo by Josh Terry
"Ant-Man" is this years "Guardians of the Galaxy." It focuses on a peripheral, wisecracking member of the Marvel Universe, adding a generous dose of humor to its superhero action.

Given the high standard of the big 2014 summer hit, "Ant-Man" has its work cut out for it. It probably wont attain the level of "Guardians" in terms of ticket sales (or soundtrack sales), but its a lot of fun and definitely earns its club membership.

After a quick opening prologue, viewers meet Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), an ex-con who is trying to put his burglary skills away for good so he can be a part of his young daughters life. Jobs are hard to come by in a rough economy, but theyre that much harder to score when you have a record, and Scott is on the verge of re-entering his old life when he gets recruited by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).

Pym is a brilliant scientist with a conscience. Years earlier, he perfected a shrinking formula that various interested parties (including S.H.I.E.L.D.) wanted to militarize. Instead, he walked away and watched as his protg Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) developed it. Now Pym needs Scott to help him stop Cross short of the miniature goal line.

The plan involves a special suit that allows its occupant to shrink down to the size of an insect, while amplifying his strength at the same time. There are also several armies of real ants at Ant-Mans disposal, as well as the reluctant help of Pyms daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

In a lot of ways, its the typical superhero formula. Roll out the heros origin story, plug in an obligatory bad guy and let them fight it out in the third act. But "Ant-Man" plays with the formula just enough to keep things interesting through the final credits.

(Speaking of which, be sure to stick around for a pair of bonus scenes that are well worth the wait.)

For one, the humor really works. (Having Edgar Wright of "Shaun of the Dead" fame co-pen the screenplay certainly helps.) Director Peyton Reed lays the jokes on thick, but never so much that they become distracting. The humor even manages to make connections to the greater Marvel Universe with lots of fun results.

More importantly, the shrinking dynamic makes the final showdown between Ant-Man and Cross much more compelling than the average building smashing showdown. Theres a certain degree of wackiness to Ant-Mans mayhem that will keep audiences from zoning out and focused on the final outcome.

Ant-Man also has a good heart. Rudd does an excellent job of emoting a sketchy character who is trying to be a better person. In fact, most of the Marvel movies have been relatively family friendly, but "Ant-Man," in particular, feels like a movie you could take the kids to see.

"Ant-Man" isnt a perfect film. It has its logic gaps, and some audiences might be annoyed at the cartoonish, stereotypical depictions of Scotts ex-con crew. But some effective humor, skillful writing and strong visual effects add up to a surprisingly fun summer movie, even if its the dwarf planet Pluto to Marvels ever-expanding solar system.

"Ant-Man" is rated PG-13 for action violence and some profanity.
Sign up for our E-Newsletters