Ant-Man must have been a challenge for these filmmakers. The preceding films from the Avengers Universe featured an epic roster of out-of-this-world heroes whose names alone make you tinkle a little: IRON MAN, THOR, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and then there's Ant-Man. (Womp-womp) While die-hard fans of the comics would recognize Ant-Man as an original member of the ensemble, the general audience may be left to wonder WTF?!
Ant-Man, do you even lift, Bro?
The filmmakers must have been aware of this, considering the tongue-in-cheek treatment of the script. With a screenplay largely penned by Shaun of the Dead legend Edgar Wright, and built upon by other great comedic writers, Joe Cornish (Attack the Bock), Adam McKay (Anchorman), and Ant-Man himself Paul Rudd, Ant-Man does indeed do some heavy lifting, delivering one of the funniest, most entertaining, and visually satisfying superhero movies to date.
The ant super-suit is sick. Red and silver with bulging insectoid eyes, it looks like a modern day motocross version of the Japanese monster slayer Ultraman. As soon as he hits the shrink button, you are sucked into a world so awesome you have no choice but to brace yourself and see where the ride takes you. Stan Lee wanted to make this movie in the 80's but ironically Disney, the production company behind today's Ant-Man, already had a shrinking movie of its own in the works. While "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" was amazing in its time, I couldn't be happier that they waited for the movie effects of today to let Ant- Man zip this way and that, from our world to the minuscule one and back. Coincidentally an ant saved the kids from a giant scorpion in that Rick Moranis classic, and in Ant-Man the ants also play a major role in saving the day. That's right. His power is not only to shrink to the size of an ant, but also to control an army of them. In that respect, this movie is unlike any superhero movie you've ever seen.
The Pym Particle, created by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has the ability to shrink a living human being. Think of the possibilities! Microsurgery, mobility, and of course, warfare! The latter makes Dr. Pym realize just how dangerous this technology really is and he decides to cease research and development altogether. Years pass, and the existence of this technology is reduced to a myth. What Dr. Pym didn't know is that his own assistant Darren Cross (Corey Stoll, House of Cards) had been obsessing over this myth and has been trying to replicate this technology on his own. Stoll has a unique ability to make you sympathize for his character at times, but can also be straight up scary.
Dr. Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly, Lost) know they have to stop Cross but keep butting heads. Hope is a badass, but Pym refuses to let her get involved, which reveals some deeper, more serious daddy issues. Their only hope is Scott Lang (Paul Rudd, my man crush), an ex-convict who was a professional burglar, not a robber because Lang insists that implies physical violence, and he's not about that life. To pull off the job, Lang enlists his original heist crew, played by David Dastmalchian, Rapper T.I., and Michael Peña, who offers some of the most hilarious scenes in the movie. What ensues is an adventure, a comedy, an action movie and a heist rolled into one Little Debbie oatmeal cookie crumb of elephantine excitement and pure elation. If you haven't noticed, I like this movie.
Close friends may say I am biased because it stars Paul Rudd, whom I have been enamored with ever since Clueless. When Cher realized she was in love with Josh, I too realized Paul Rudd is my number one man crush. Let me close this by taking a moment to acknowledge how perfect Paul Rudd is in the role of Scott Lang/Ant-Man. He is a master at self-deprecating humor, as seen in movies like "I Love You, Man" and "Knocked Up" and his role as Mike Hannigan on "Friends." This is a necessity when you see how Ant-Man may have somewhat of a Napoleon Complex when he inevitably has to measure up against the mighty Avengers. Paul Rudd has shown his chops as a dramatic actor in movies like "The Shape of Things" and "Admission," and again here in Ant- Man as an estranged father, who wants nothing more than to spend more time with his daughter Cassie. While elements of his various roles can be seen in Ant-Man this was nothing like anything Paul Rudd has ever done before, and he pulled it off.
His dedication can be seen not only in the moment that reveals his handsomely chiseled abs. In preparation for the role, Paul Rudd bought an ant farm to study. Even after he finished shooting, he decided to keep it. Just when you thought you couldn't fall in love with Paul Rudd any further. On the week the movie was released, Paul Rudd earned a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and deservedly so. Somehow it's not the star that immortalizes him in film history. It's his stellar performance in Ant-Man, the movie that will shrink and find its way into your heart and stay there forever.
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