Ant-Man is an inevitable blockbuster, but is it one worth seeing?
The Marvel Studios movie, in theaters Friday, brings a small but mighty superhero to the big screen. Armed with the ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) agrees to help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his Ant-Man suit from a new generation of looming threats. Together, they try to pull off a heist that will save the world. Scott isn't a stereotypical hero, like Chris Evans' Captain America. So why is an ex-con given such a big responsibility? For those who aren't familiar with the comic book character, he has quite the backstory.
So as not to spoil anything, you'll have to see to find out.
Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, Ant-Man's cast also includes Bobby Cannavale as Paxton; David Dastmalchian as Kurt; Judy Greer as Maggie; Wood Harris as Gale; Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne; Michael Peña as Luis; Corey Stoll as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket; and rapper T.I. as Dave.
The movie is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.
The common complaint in nearly every review: Edgar Wright, who was originally attached to direct the movie and still maintains a screenwriting credit, might have done a better job at the helm than Reed did.
Here's what critics have to say about Ant-Man:
• "Playful in unexpected ways and graced with a genuinely off-center sense of humor, Ant-Man...is light on its feet the way the standard-issue Marvel behemoths never are. It's got a vintage science fiction feel and a climactic scene in which Thomas the Tank Engine rather than a crowd of interstellar invaders plays a major part. Business as usual this is not," The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan writes of the director's "engaging" effort. "You can't have a good Ant-Man movie without a good Ant-Man, and in the genial and charming everyman Paul Rudd, the filmmakers have done it right."
• The Wrap's Alonso Duralde calls Reed's film "exceedingly pedestrian," arguing that it "serves up jokes that don't land and thrills that don't thrill." Unlike other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he says, it doesn't "provide enough dazzle camouflage to cover its tracks." The sidekicks are "grating" and love story is lame. "While the climactic battle spawns a memorable sight gag or two, the emotional stakes are never such that the eventual big showdown will have anyone gripping their armrests," Duralde writes.
• Calling Ant-Man Marvel Studios' "most distinctive solo character yet," USA Today's Brian Truitt says he's "got heart and is as Avengers-ready as anyone." There are problems with the movie, of course. Reed "trades constant wanton action for universal gags," he writes, and the film is tonally "a little all over the place. At times, it's a quirky comedy, heist film, trippy sci-fi project and family drama, never able to really blend everything in a cohesive fashion. That said, when it's on its game, Ant-Man does some of the best stuff ever in a Marvel movie." Rudd has "sarcasm, heroism and gravitas down pat" and is a "great on-screen match for Douglas." Lilly, meanwhile, "has such a grasp on the character that everybody wanting a Black Widow movie is going to be yearning for a Hope film, guaranteed."
• "For moviegoers whose knowledge of the Marvel universe doesn't extend to its second-tier pantheon of superheroes, the thought of a microscopic do-gooder in a microscopic suit and mask may sound a bit, well, ridiculous. Neither super nor particularly heroic," Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty writes. "Watching Paul Rudd, reduced to the size of a dust mite, zipping around with his six-legged army of mind-controlled insects and sneaking into tight, top-secret spots, it suddenly makes sense why being tiny might be as advantageous as being the size of the Hulk." The main issue Nashawaty has is its length. "It's a Marvel movie, which means it runs on far too long," he writes. That said, the film "is proof that no matter how silly some ideas sound at first, good things often do come in small packages."
• "The Marvel Cinematic Universe can be an awfully big, noisy and repetitive place to spend your time and money, but at its best, it can also allow for humor, whimsy and lightness of spirit—all qualities that come into play in Ant-Man, a winningly modest addition to the ever-expanding Disney/Marvel family," Variety's Justin Chang writes, adding that "it feels like a bit of a tonic next to this summer's more bloated offerings." He praises Rudd's "charming performance as the nicest, most boy-next-door cat burglar imaginable" and notes that Stoll, "always a charismatic supporting player, brings a marvelous tech-bro swagger" to his role. The "most memorable turn," however, comes from Peña. He "comes across as one infectiously happy dude who seems thrilled to have stumbled into a superhero movie."
• The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy writes that while "the story dynamics are fundamentally silly and the family stuff, with its parallel father-daughter melodrama, is elemental button-pushing, a good cast led by a winning Paul Rudd puts the nonsense over in reasonably disarming fashion." In addition to having Rudd playing the lead character, he explains, "having an actor of Douglas' caliber on board lends the film some gravitas to balance the humor, but it's the comedy that prevails in a project that is, in a historical sense, integral to the Marvel map of the world but also seems rather on the margins of it."
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