Director: Peyton Reed
Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas
3 (out of 5) Globes
The Marvel number “Ant-Man” ends with a rush — not the half-hearted but still silly coda or the obligatory two separate, semi-comprehensible post-credit scenes only nerds could understand. It’s the climax — a dizzying, playful, joke-strewn dervish that finds the film truly, finally finding its own goofy voice. It arrives after a long, bloody battle to be more than a cookie cutter Marvel entry, a fight so gory the production lost its original director, Edgar Wright, about a month before shooting commenced. (He was replaced by the underrated Peyton Reed, he of "Bring It On" and "Down with Love.") He was too singular for what is now an assembly line, cranking out interlocking comic book movies with interchangeable iconic superheroes and interchangeable, decidedly non-iconic baddies.
You can see traces of Wright pop up here and there, like landmines, disrupting what would have likely been the company’s least distinctive product, albeit based on a distinctive, oddball, deep-cut title. Paul Rudd is Scott Lang, the handsomest con there ever was, who gets out of prison — for a semi-noble deed, natch — and soon finds himself in possession of a mysterious, retro-looking suit. When he puts it on, he discovers he can dramatically shrink in size. It was the creation of a tech whiz, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who realized that if miniaturized suits became militarized they’d be as ethically slippery as drones are now. Sure enough, one of his former proteges, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is on the brink of creating his own version, which Hank wants Scott to destroy for humanity’s sake.
This is refreshingly simple for a Marvel plot. They’re not battling for a dumb MacGuffin but for something with clear real-world consequences. (That said, will Hank destroy his own, equally dangerous suit? No, because the Marvels ultimately believe that benevolent dictators like him can be trusted.) It’s still a bumpy ride, a struggle to be personable while conforming to corporate protocol. It has bullet-headed character actor Corey Stoll as the villain, but his motivations are vague. It has a tough female lead (Evangeline Lily), but she’s always pushed to the sidelines and will be reduced to a romantic interest. It wants to be both business as usual and a kind of outsider, renegade member of the crew. At one point Scott even symbolically infiltrates the Avengers complex, sabotaging it with his own special, weird powers.