Ant-Man

I was thinking…

…I am not the biggest proponent of 3D films. I do not see every film I can in that format and in fact wrote a paper about how the 3D movie thing has always been a fad and eventually fizzles out. Our current resurgence is actually the fifth in cinema history and has already lost momentum since it hit its stride in 2009.

That being said, the technology has improved markedly since the early 1980’s when I tried to convince myself I was seeing the shark in Jaws really come out of the screen. And while I am convinced not all films need to be seen in the current 3D format, there are some that benefit from such an advance. Ant-Man is one of them.

Does that mean it is not worth seeing in 2D? Nope, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m simply saying it’s worth the extra three bucks (an IMAX screen doesn’t hurt either) in order to feel more a part of a world that many of us have forgotten existed since we were little kids playing with our army men in the dirt and grass of the backyard.

Ant-Man follows part of the career of brilliant scientist and soldier Hank Pym (Michael DouglasThe Ghost and the Darkness) as he leaves SHIELD in order to protect the world from his discovery of a particle that can shrink a being down to ant-size while retaining the strength of a full-sized man. The military applications are staggering, which is why Pym’s protege Darren Cross (Corey StollSalt) tries to replicate his mentor’s research and results for the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, a convicted Robin Hood-esque thief, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd40 Year-Old Virgin), is released from prison and plans a heist with his old cellmate (Michael Peña–Fury, End of Watch) in order to make enough money to start paying child support for his daughter.

Although the information of the job is vague, Lang joins the heist anyway and, as it turns out, ends up stealing Pym’s original ant-man suit without knowing in the slightest what it is. As Lang has been on Pym’s radar for years, however, the thievery job is not what it seems. Lang ends up joining Pym in order to stop Darren Cross from developing and selling the ant-man tech to the wrong people.

The newest addition to the Marvel Comic Universe family of films, Ant-Man does what none of the other Marvel pictures did: its titular character is played by a man known largely for comedic roles. Although Warner Brothers and Tim Burton did the same thing in 1989 when they selected Michael Keaton to play the role of Batman, this time the comic book hero is not one we are expected to take as seriously. As a matter of fact, director Peyton Reed (Yes Man, The Break-Up), who is known for being a comedic director, gladly pokes fun of the entire Ant-Man premise almost from the word go.

Even though I feel Rudd was not given ample enough opportunity to fully release his dry wit in the picture, the moments of hilarity are still brought to the fore by Michael Peña, whose friend-of-a-friend stories are extremely entertaining. Furthermore, Director Reed and editors Dan Lebental and Colby Parker, Jr. piece together moments of jocularity through clever parallel editing. Bouncing back-and-forth between the human-sized world and ant world reveals numerous self-deprecatingly playful visual jabs.

Which brings us to the visuals themselves. Not often does a big budget film have a section for macrophotography in its credits. And that photographic work is breathtaking. Being as large as we are, it is too easy to forget or perhaps never even realize just how complex, how beautiful and even how frightening the microscopic world is. Ant-Man delves into that world with a decent balance and does what few movies nowadays seem capable of: leave us wanting more.

Only once in the casting did I find myself shaking my head and that was with Judy Greer (Jurassic World, Archer). For ten years she has played–almost exclusively–well, whorish individuals and, for some reason, we’re now supposed to accept her as a paragon of motherly virtue. It’s hard to erase her roles from Two-and-a-Half Men, Archer, Californication, Arrested Development and who knows what else from my mind.

There were also a few moments I felt were wasted opportunities. I will not reveal what those moments were, exactly, for fear of ruining any surprises. But I will say this: keychain.

I was also thinking, although the tagline for the film–“Heroes don’t come any bigger”–works well, I feel they missed out on a great double entendre there. Seems to me, “Size does matter,” would have been a great twist on the old saying.

Oh, and stick around for the credits. There’s another scene halfway through and yet one more at the very end.

That being said, Ant-Man is an entertaining romp, packing humor, heart, action and story into what Hollywood is not ever known for: a tiny package.

Ammo Dump rating:  8 out of 10 crazy ants (yes, they’re a thing)

I’ll talk more about this film and others during my (every once in a while) radio show. Listen in on Fridays on WJBC-AM1230 in Central Illinois. For the rest of the world, listen on WJBC.com or the “iHeartRadio” app on your smart phone. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @ALphaEXray to find out what time of the day I’ll be on.

Ant-Man
Rated PG-13
Run time: 117 minutes

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