Big ad­ven­ture for lit­tle hero

Paul Rudd is the diminu­tive star of Marvel’s latest fran­chise

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

Ant-Man Cer­tifi­cate 12A Stars Paul Rudd, Michael Dou­glas, Evan­ge­line Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Pena, David Dast­malchian, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Bobby Can­navale, Abby Ry­der Fort­son, Judy Greer

ALTHOUGH its am­bi­tions are grander than the in­cred­i­ble shrink­ing hero of the ti­tle, the latest fran­chise in the clut­tered Marvel Comic uni­verse is re­fresh­ingly mod­est com­pared to the com­put­er­gen­er­ated bom­bast of The Avengers.

The script, ini­tially penned by Edgar Wright and Joe Cor­nish, and was re­vised by Adam McKay and Paul Rudd when Pey­ton Reed re­placed Wright in the di­rec­tor’s chair, leans heav­ily on dead­pan hu­mour.

That chang­ing of the film­mak­ing guard in 2014 hasn’t neg­a­tively im­pacted on Ant-Man.

Reed’s bois­ter­ous ac­tion ad­ven­ture is an­chored by a win­ning lead per­for­mance from Rudd, who made his mark as Phoebe’s boyfriend in the sit­com Friends.

Here, the ac­tor flexes his comic mus­cles as well as his abs and pecs, which are flaunted in an oblig­a­tory scene of top­less­ness to prove he hit the gym for the role.

When Rudd’s un­likely hero is in­vited to be­come Ant-Man and save the world, his con­sid­ered re­sponse is: “I think our first move should be call­ing The Avengers.” Sen­si­ble. Cat bur­glar Scott Lang (Rudd) is re­leased from San Quentin Pen­i­ten­tiary and re­solves to go straight for the sake of his daugh­ter Cassie (Abby Ry­der Fort­son).

He shares an apart­ment with for­mer cell­mate Luis (Michael Pena), but strug­gles to find gain­ful em­ploy­ment.

Des­per­ate to pay child sup­port to his de­spair­ing ex-wife Mag­gie (Judy Greer), Scott agrees to one lu­cra­tive heist set up by Luis and two pals (David Dast­malchian, Tip “T.I.” Harris).

Un­for­tu­nately, the rob­bery lands Scott in a po­lice cell, un­der the glare of Mag­gie’s new beau, De­tec­tive Pax­ton (Bobby Can­navale).

In­ven­tor Hank Pym (Michael Dou­glas) of­fers Scott a way out if he agrees to don a su­per­hero out­fit, which shrinks the wearer at the touch of a but­ton.

Aided by Hank’s feisty daugh­ter (Evan­ge­line Lilly), Scott mas­ters the suit and learns to mind-con­trol four species of ants. Hu­mans and in­sects take on Hank’s for­mer pro­tege, Dar­ren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has repli­cated the Ant-Man tech­nol­ogy for his Yel­lowjacket suit, which he in­tends to sell to the high­est bid­der: Hy­dra.

Ant-Man mines a rich vein of hu­mour to un­der­score the high­speed ac­ro­bat­ics.

The 3D for­mat is only no­tice­able when Scott ac­ti­vates the suit and seem­ingly be­nign house­hold fea­tures, like a run­ning tap, be­come life-or-death ob­sta­cles a la Honey I Shrunk The Kids.

Di­rec­tor Reed has great fun jux­ta­pos­ing per­spec­tives, es­pe­cially in a show­down on a child’s train set that is thrilling close-up, with car­riages crash­ing off tracks, but laugh­ably pedes­trian when wit­nessed ac­tual size.

Rudd in­vests his re­formed do-gooder with charm and chutz­pah, and Dou­glas and Lilly pro­vide solid sup­port as the feud­ing fa­ther-daugh­ter dy­namic des­tined for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

“This isn’t some cute tech­nol­ogy like the Iron Man suit,” Hank tells Scott about his in­ven­tion.

Per­haps not, but this first salvo of Ant-Man is al­most as en­ter­tain­ing.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) pre­pares to suit up and shrink down

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