Ant-Man (2015) – reviewed by George

A really good, really different super-hero movie. Paul Rudd is one of my favorite actors, always seeming self-effacing, but always rising to meet whatever challenges are presented. He seems that way even in his comedies. With that as his usual persona, he is perfect for the role of Scott Lang, small-time heist artist, who is out of prison but cannot find a job – until he omits his criminal record on an application.
The movie starts in 1989 with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) walking in on Howard Stark (John Slattery), Michael Carson (Martin Donovan), and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). He has just retrieved their failed attempt to duplicate his discovery, and he accuses them of stealing his research, punches Carson, and leaves. All four actors look middle-aged, but Douglas and Donavan look younger than they are, Atwell looks older, and Slattery looks about the same. In the present Scott is about to be released from prison – his three-year sentence has been served. He is greeted by Luis (Michael Pena, who steals almost every scene he is in) who has come to drive him home to San Francisco, and to offer him a sofa to sleep on and a chance at a quick heist that looks profitable. Scott accepts the sofa but refuses the heist. He wants to stay out of trouble and reunite with his daughter, and he expects to get a job quickly – after all, he has a Master’s in electrical engineering. Cut to Scott in ball-cap with logo, saying, “Welcome to Baskin-Robbins”, and the customer he is dealing with is an idiot. This dialogue exchange is one of many comic moments, which really distinguish this film from most supper-hero tales. Immediately there is another comic bit when he gets fired for not saying he had been in prison. This may not sound funny, but it is. When he gets home to Luis’s place, he meets Kurt and Dave (David Dastmalchian and Tip “T.I.”Harris) – the three of them are prepping the “perfect Scott Lang mark”; they have gotten a tip about a retired millionaire living off his golden parachute, who is about to leave town for a while. Scott says no way.
Dr. Pym arrives at EMX, where he is met by his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), the current owner of the business. Michael Carson is there as well, and Cross has asked his guests to attend a presentation at which he will unveil Yellowjacket, the new look of war: thousands of tiny men in waspish attire, made possible by a process (the one Pym would not share at the beginning of the film) which reduces the space between atoms, so not only shrinks things (or people) but also makes them much denser; the blow from an insect man would be fantastically hard. We learn that Hope is Pym’s inside woman when she tells him that Cross is still unable to shrink a live subject, and only a few scenes later we will see him knowingly use it as we learn what it does to a live subject. She tells Pym to just give her the suit and let her finish “all this”. Pym indicates he has other choices. Cut to Scott arriving at his daughter’s birthday party. He apologies to Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and says he did not know when the party was to start. Cassie says “It was on the invitation.” And her new step-dad Paxton (Bobby Canavale) says, “He didn’t get an invitation, (turns to Scott) but here you are.” Cassie runs to tell her mom that daddy’s here, and Paxton, who is a cop, adds, “You haven’t paid a dime of child support. Do you realize I could arrest you?” Cassie rushes back to say that mom Maggie (Judy Greer) “.. is so happy you’re here, she choked on her drink!”
So when Scott arrives back at Luis’s and says, “Tell me about that tip.” we are not surprised. When they get to the address the house looks like a really good bet to have lots of good stuff, but looks are deceiving. The heist is very complicated, showing how smart Scott really is, but all they get is what Scott calls “an old motorcycle suit”.
At this point you’re not even close to the halfway point of the movie, so you can look forward to lots of action and comedy.
The movie was directed by Peyton Reed, with a a Screenplay by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish and Adam McKay & Paul Rudd, from a Story by Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish. The really wonderful Visual Effects are by Luma Pictures.
And there’s an appearance by Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie).

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