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Ant-Man: Marvel Expands its Universe by Going Small.

July 22, 2015

Ant-Man movie posters

Antman may fit into the larger Marvel cinematic universe but it still stands out as a singular experience. It is a weird little hybrid that feels part Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hott Fuzz), Adam McKay (Anchorman), Paul Rudd and Marvel. It has several star turns and has just enough action, character and Avenger moments to satisfy most fanboys. I appreciate that it actually made the theaters intact after the directing changes, rewrites and fact that it is about Ant-Man.

What I love most about Ant-Man is that it focuses on a small scale origin story. It tells the story of burglar Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) pulling off a heist. It is a small stakes movie in a Marvel Universe full of apocalypse, property destruction and large green men smashing stuff. The villain in Ant-Man is a petulant protege who is angry his mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) didn’t share his technology with him. So, he decides to sell the tiny technology to Hydra and nobody wants tiny Germans running around. So, Pym trains Lang to handle the Ant-Man suit and from there we get giant ants, face punches and Michael Pena stealing the show.

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The action is beautifully augmented with the best 3D I’ve seen since Hugo, Avatar, Life of Pi and Jackass 3D. Tiny 3D trains are destroyed and a school for ants (small scale model) is blown to smithereens. The 3D world is awesome and I sat in the theater with my jaw agape loving every second of the tiny carnage. It is not everyday you see a tiny man running through an exploding architecture model while another tiny fellow shoots laser beams at him.

Ant-Man is a nice film about a nice man who has to become great. Paul Rudd is back in Clueless likable mode and he carries this film on his now bulked up shoulders. I love that Scott Lang understands the situation and that Pym treats him as an expendable. He has a daughter he wants to provide for and he takes the training, fights and ant riding in stride. The situation is bigger (and smaller) than him and Rudd adds appropriate awe, humor and sarcasm to the role.

Rudd isn’t forced to carry the show as he is joined by a fantastic crew of supporting characters. After stealing comedic scenes in 30 Minutes or Less and Observe and Report I’m glad the producers let Michael Pena go full crazy. His Ant-Man character may be underwritten but Pena shines in the best friend role and I hope it propels him into the mainstream. He has been great for a long time and after End of Watch and Fury he has proven he can do anything. Check out this 30 Minutes or Less clip and you will love the character immediately.

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Ant-Man expands the Marvel universe by making it smaller. It creates likable characters who will play an important part in the upcoming Avenger and Captain America films. I hope that Marvel continues to realize that likable characters are the main draw. Guardians of the Galaxy exploded because of the core crew and Robert Downey Jr. started a revolution by simply being himself. All the carnage doesn’t matter if you are not invested in the people battling the evil robots.

Ant-Man is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe and I will gladly continue to shell out my money for further Ant exploits.

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