It's A Small World For An Ant-Man
Scott Lang would do anything to go straight and provide for his daughter. Someone else, though, has other plans for him in Ant-Man. Scott (Paul Rudd) went to prison for breaking into a company, hacked into their servers, and issued refunds to a number of the customers they knowingly gouged. On his release, he tried getting a job using an alias, but lost it when the employer learned the truth. He lives at a cheap hotel with his old crew. Luis (Michael Pena) is talkative but tough. Dave (Tip "TI" Harris) also provides help, as well as the driving. Kurt (David Dastmalchian) is a Russian-born computer hacker. Once Scott loses his job, Luis convinces Scott to do another B & E with them. Even though Luis talks of money on this job, he only finds a suit that looks appropriate for motorcycle riding. When he goes to return the suit, Scott gets arrested by Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), the fiancee of Scott's ex-wife, Maggie (Judy Greer), who has sought sole custody of the Lang daughter.
This whole scenario fell into the plan of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a scientist who had years earlier developed the technology to shrink a man, which also gives the user super strength. He refused, though, to sell the technology to SHIELD, concerned about the misuse of the ant suit. Pym instead built his own technology company, only to be voted out of the company by its board of directors. His one-time protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) now heads his old company, and is engaged to Pym's daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Cross has been experimenting with his own variation of the Ant-Man technology called Yellowjacket. Once perfected, Cross has a buyer, which concerns Pym. Posing as a lawyer, Pym visits Scott at his cell with the suit and teaches him some of the suit's tricks, which allow him to escape. With help from Hope, who shares her father's concerns, and Hank, Scott learns to control the suit, as well as the ants who will help Scott with Pym's plan. Cross invites his old mentor to the debut of Yellowjacket, which gives him and Hope an idea to use Scott to stop Yellowjacket from happening.
Ant-Man, like Guardians Of The Galaxy, shows a lighter side of Marvel's roster of heroes. Scott, like Peter Quill, knows a life of crime. Both make an effort to distance themselves from a life of crime, but find their criminal background necessary to face an adversary looking to change things for the worse. The story, though, has a big similarity to the first two Iron Man movies, where Tony Stark had to face a guy with a similar suit. Scott is definitely not as charismatic as Tony Stark. Peyton Reed, whose credits include helming Bring It On, Down With Love, and Yes Man, is the director of credit, having replaced Edgar Wright, whose work on the script with his collaborator, Joe Cornish, remained. Marvel and Wright may not have seen their way through a film together, but Reed delivers a pleasing, but unexceptional, movie. Ant-Man is the most undistinguished Marvel entry since Kenneth Branagh made the 2011 Thor movie a bit Shakespearian. Scott Lang, despite script credit for star Rudd, is a typical ex-con with problems typical of a man who's paid his prison debt. That only changes once he meets Hank. Sometimes, once that meeting occurs, Scott has fun with the learning process, such as fighting and flirting with Hope and showing off to Luis and his crew. I also like Ant-Man's encounter with Falcon (Anthony Mackie) at Stark Industries headquarters. Scott Lang may have his moments with miniaturization, but he's no Peter Quill or Tony Stark in terms of personality.
Rudd does a decent job as the title character, but Pena delivers the best performance as Luis. He's the chatterbox of Scott's crew, and it's his storytelling that gets Scott excited about the job that leads to Scott's real job. Once he convinces Scott, viewers get to see the real value of Luis. He's a great storyteller, but he's an even greater muscle when Hope gets Luis a pass to work security at the Yellowjacket debut. Stoll makes a strong menace as Darren Cross, making sure his business has nothing but yes men. His arrogance knows no bounds. Douglas is good as the quiet and reserved Dr. Pym, who knew the day for Ant-Man would come, and trusted his own judgment to unleash it. The technology he developed is something that caused a rift between himself and Hope, who was sent away to school, and became involved with Hank. Lilly is fine as someone going through a healing process with her father while she helps Scott hone his skills as a fighter and as a lead ant. She also manages to keep her project secret from Darren. Cannavale does fine work as well as Paxton, who faces a dilemma serving the best interests of justice as the movie's main conflict reaches its head. In addition to Mackie, other Marvel veterans returning for cameo appearances include Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), John Slattery (Howard Stark), Sebastian Stan (Winter Soldier), and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers). Stan Lee has his cameo as a bartender. As always, viewers should remain with the film until the very end.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as viewers can see onscreen, has heroes of all shapes and sizes. In Ant-Man, Scott Lang gains power by shrinking to the size of an ant and leading his colony into battle. Lang had had his moment as a modern-day Robin Hood, and wanted to put that past behind him. Others, though, didn't want the old Scott to go away forever. He led a crew that committed a crime for the right reason. He gets an unusual second chance that takes him places few ever get to go. Once again, Scott Lang leads a crew of merry men - as well as many special insects.
On a scale of one to four stars, I give Ant-Man three stars. A big hero in a small package.