Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hours 57 min.
Our content ratings (1-10); Violence 3; Language 1; Sex 8/Nudity 2.
Our star rating (1-5): 4
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.
The origin of this Marvel superhero involves a heart-warming father-little daughter tale in which the-just-out of prison Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has difficulty finding and holding a job—until Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the scientist who has developed a secret shrinking serum entices him to become Ant-Man. The scientist wants to send him against an industrialist Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who wants to use the serum to develop an unbeatable army of tiny super soldiers. Years earlier Pym had cut off relations with Cross and hidden away his shrinking serum because he foresaw that it would be misused for military purposes.
Scott wants desperately to reconnect with Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), but ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and second husband Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) order him out of their house because they doubt his ability to leave his days of cat burglarizing behind. This proves to be the case because of Scott’s criminal record, even a fast-food manager letting him go when he discovers Scott’s past. His ex-cellmate Luis (Michael Pena), who has been bedding and boarding his friend, talks him into joining with him and a couple of friends in burglarizing a safe that they are certain must contain a lot of money.
Without going into the interesting details, this leads to Scott’s connection with Dr. Pym, who persuades him to don his Ant-Man suit so that he can enter the high security laboratory of Darren Cross, a former protégé who has been attempting to duplicate Pym’s particle research and create a tiny army capable of outfighting more conventional soldiers. It seems that Pym hs been able to increase the strength of a person in proportion to reduction in the size, hence the term Ant-Man. Before he can go on his mission, Scott must endure an arduous training session under the tutelage of Pym’s unapproving daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who believes she should be the one to don the suit. Scott must not only learn how to dive through key holes and through the cracks under doors, but also to communicate mentally with four species of ants. One of them is a flying ant that will become his air-borne transport.
There have been shrinking human films before, such as The Incredible Shrinking Man and the series of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but this one, with its theme of a father seeking redemption for the sake of his daughter appeals to the heart in a unique way, thanks to Rudd’s fine acting. The many humorous scenes and well crafted repartee add much to the proceedings, with Michael Pena almost stealing the scenes blessed with his presence. But he is not in the following exchange wherein Dr. Pym first meets Scott: “Scott, I’ve been watching you for a while,” Pym says. “You’re different. I believe everyone deserves a shot at redemption. Do you?” Scott responds, “Absolutely. My days of breaking into places and stealing stuff are over. What do you want me to do?” “I want you to break into a place and steal some stuff.”
Also the film’s special effects really are spectacular. The film’s special effects really are spectacular. A good example of the latter is Scott’s escape from drowning in a bathtub when the faucet is turned on. The wall of water bearing down on him looks like a tsunami. The effects of The Incredible Shrinking Man were quite good, but since the 1950s there has been an enormous leap in film technology that, when joined to a heart-warming story such as Scott’s, makes for a memorable experience.
Not being a Marvel Comic fan, I cannot say how this fits into their much ballyhooed plans for a new phase in their complex universe. For me, especially as one who is attracted by stories of redemption, the film stands up well on its own.
This film, with a set of discussion questions, will be in the September issue of VP.