Ant-Man

 

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The star and co-scenarist Paul Rudd makes a splash with his smallest role to date.

 

Ant-Man

Entomic hero: Paul Rudd and fellow emmets

  

As the Marvel Comic movies just seem to get bigger and bigger, it’s refreshing to encounter something smaller. Much smaller. Michael Douglas plays Dr Hank Pym, a scientist whose research into molecular physics has found a way to break down the properties governing the laws of molecular resistance, thus enabling stuff to shrink. The potential for the applications of the science are immense – at least, microcosmic. Of course, there are amoral corporate types who see the process as a means to make a lotta, lotta money and Pym, even if played by Michael Douglas, is not in the business of greed. He just needs the right man to fit into the shrinkable superhero apparel he has created. A high-tech suit that can reduce a man to the size of an ant…

 

OK, so you’ll believe a man can crawl, but Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man is not about the computer graphics, although they are predictably awesome. Why the film works so well is that the guy in the suit is played by Paul Rudd. Rudd has been an engaging leading man for twenty years now – since he played Josh in Clueless, back in 1995 – but he has never really broken out big-time. More often than not he’s played the good-looking straight guy in a slew of comedies and now that he’s 46 years of age, he is surely headed for the big time. Here, he plays a petty crook called Scott Lang who, thanks to three years in San Quentin, is denied visiting rights to his adorable daughter, Cassie (the adorable Abby Ryder Fortson). Scott’s ex-wife is now living with a cop (Bobby Cannavale) who refuses to let Cassie’s father anywhere near his house. But Scott will do anything to be reunited with his daughter and Dr Hank Pym happens to know this...

 

One reason that the early scenes work so well is that Paul Rudd wrote them himself (in collaboration with Adam McKay) and so we root for Scott from the get-go. The rest of the movie is scripted by the English filmmakers Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and has a freewheeling style that is both irresistible and somehow disconnected from the more grandiose and pompous offerings from Marvel. In fact, Ant-Man feels like a lot of movies condensed into 117 minutes. Every minute delivers. Perhaps inevitably for a comic-book adaptation there are the tiresome bam-kapow moments, but even these are smarter than most, with Thomas the Tank Engine making a welcome cameo. Above all, it’s a taut, shrewd, exciting, very funny and even a moving entertainment, in which the CGI plays second fiddle to the human interest.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, Anthony Mackie, Wood Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian John Slattery, Hayley Atwell, Martin Donovan, Garrett Morris, Stan Lee, Jordi Mollà, Sebastian Stan.

 

Dir Peyton Reed, Pro Kevin Feige, Screenplay Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd, Ph Russell Carpenter, Pro Des Shepherd Frankel, Ed Dan Lebental and Colby Parker Jr, Music Christophe Beck, Costumes Sammy Sheldon Differ.

 

Marvel Studios-Walt Disney Productions

116 mins. USA. 2015. Rel: 17 July 2015. Cert. 12A.