Are the summer months really almost coming to a close? After weeks of slam-bang-crash-smash action movies, are we really entering a cooler, more thoughtful period, focusing on cerebral dramas and historical epics? Yeah, there’s that–but don’t kid yourself–James Bond and Luke Skywalker are on the way too! So why not enter the fray once more, during these dog days of August, to witness the wrap-up of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And with “Avengers: Age of Ultron” going so BIG, back when the season first got kicking, MCU seemed to figure it was time to elect for small. It worked. The diminutive superhero “Ant-Man” makes a sizable impression.
When “good guy” thief Scott Lang (a delightful Paul Rudd) gets released from prison, after serving time for a Robin Hood-like crime, he almost immediately gets sucked into pulling off a heist with his friend, Luis (a very funny and charming, Michael Pena), and their limited “gang”. A daring safe-cracking robbery soon brings Lang into the company of the brilliant physicist, Hank Pym (Oscar-winner Michael Douglas, having a blast). And it seems Pym had long ago developed a special “suit” that could shrink him down to miniscule size. In almost no time at all, the unemployed, ex-con, divorced father, Scott Lang is “reborn” as Ant-Man. And evil Pym protegé Darren Cross (a fine Corey Stoll) will battle Scott–as the Yellowjacket.
Following in the footsteps of last summer’s massive hit, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “Ant-Man” remembers to be off-beat and humorous…with its tongue firmly planted in cheek. It was the way to go after the May release of the more “serious-minded”. “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Yes, “Ant-Man” occasionally drifts into formula, and the relationship dynamics are standard old hat, but Peyton Reed handles his directing duties with just the right lite touch. Hey, there’s even a surprise visit from one of the mighty Avengers (I’m not telling who)! But you know what really had me grinning from ear-to-ear? The wonderful cameo from “Saturday Night Live” royalty, Garrett Morris. I’ll bet most of the audience missed the significance, but I applaud the filmmakers for their awareness. This critic spotted it immediately, and it helped make “Ant-Man” a whole lot of fun.