Time to Remember
I must admit, as a child I was never that into Marvel comics. Oops, did I just commit heresy? Maybe it was because I had limited exposure to Marvel comics but I was always more of a DC kind of fan. I wasn't super obsessive with it (I collected more MAD magazines than anything) but I did have a sizeable collection of Superman and JLA comics that my father blithely gave away immediately upon my moving out of the house . (Yes, I was/still am a little bitter.)
So when Marvel started producing their own movies (after the very successful Spiderman series and X-man franchise which I enjoyed immensely despite both series part threes being overblown messes) with the release of Ironman, I fell hard for the MCU. Maybe it is due to the lack of connection to the source material as a child (and so the changing of events and timelines and characters don't bother me) but I love the Marvel Studios interpretation and connections to their beloved characters. The comics themselves have consistently been re-booted and re-imagined over their glorious history and now the big screen versions have done the same.
Sorry, I digressed. This is supposed to be about Antman- the latest addition to the MCU canon which cements my allegiance to Marvel. (Sorry DC but you are a bit of a downer. Still like ya, but can't you lighten up a little??) At this point I am sure you have read countless reviews and are well aware of the plot but here is my summary nonetheless. Scot Lang is a charming ex-con fresh out of prison trying to start a new life on the up and up so he can have a relationship with his daughter. After being fired from Baskin Robbins for lying about his criminal past and unable to find employment elsewhere , he is talked into doing a seemingly easy heist involving a safe at the private residence of retired inventor Hank Pym. Instead of finding riches inside the safe, he finds a strange looking bodysuit with a helmet which he takes. The suit possesses the power to shrink its owner to the size of...well, an ant. Later he finds out that the heist was set up by Pym himself in the hopes of performing pint sized corporate sabotage on the company that Pym created and was summarily ousted from by his maniacal protégé Darren Cross, who has been working on a suit of his own in hopes of selling it for nefarious reasons.
Okay, on paper this all seems a little silly, but give in to willing suspension of dis-belief and go on this fantastical macro journey. Mostly these days I am severely underwhelmed by over abundant CGI , but the visuals in this film are stupendous. A trip to the bath tub and down the drain are thrilling and visceral. Running through thick shag carpet relative to the size of redwoods- stunning. But all this would be just empty eye candy were it not for the engaging cast. Paul Rudd as Lang (I have always been a fan) is charming and witty but keeps the smarm common to previous roles down to a minimum. You are rooting for him because his main drive at heroism is his desire to be a father to his soon to be estranged daughter. Michael Douglas as Pym is equally strong his desire to protect his daughter (played by Evangiline Lilly, who just gets better and better post Lost) from the fate of his lost wife. Michael Pena steals every scene he is in as Langs fast talking ex-con bunk mate with a predilection for cubism and fine wines. I want to see more of Pena! Give this man a lead! Corey Stoll as Cross is the only one who fumbles at all but that is mostly due to the script dropping the ball and giving a clearer reason for his sudden trip to crazy-town. (yes, there is a reference to his formula for Pyms Particles making him cray-cray, but that seemed a little tacked on.)
Funnily enough, the "smaller" story fits the material perfectly. No cities destroyed, no grand finale where many human lives are at risk, just a thrilling battle in a girls bedroom involving Thomas the Train. The movie makers have a sense of humor about what they are doing and it helps bringing out the humanity in this ridiculous setup. Also, it features the cutest cinematic ants since Disney's A Bugs Life. Plus it throws in enough MCU references and cameos (Agent Carter! Howard Stark! The Falcon!) that connects the worlds of previous films which some would call cynical money grubbing (just setups for future films for bottom dollar) but I personally think it enriches the material. I like the idea that it is the same world, the same universe. And that despite bad things happening in this world, good always prevails. Usually, with a sense of humor.
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