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‘Ant-Man’ brings superhero down to earth

Ant-Man
Marvel Studios
Directed by Peyton Reed
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Judy Greer and Michael Douglas.
Rated PG-13
3 stars

Marvel Film Studios is really good at making movies about larger than life comic book characters. They’ve produced films based on genius inventors, mutant creatures, Norse gods and even an intergalactic star lord. The challenge with their latest film will be to keep audiences interested in a hero that’s a bit more down to earth.
Actually, a lot more down to earth.
“Ant-Man” is a nice change of pace for Marvel. This is a film where the special effects don’t overwhelm the characters and the dialogue tends to favor humor over grand pronouncements. Much of this is due to the casting of Paul Rudd as the central character of Scott Lang (also known as Ant-Man). Rudd is an actor who projects such an easy-going, everyday-dude vibe that he makes this superhero movie into an audience accessible little adventure.
It probably won’t light up the box office like the last few Marvel films, but as Ant-Man himself would tell you, sometimes smaller is better, especially when the film is such a light-and-goofy lark of an adventure.
We first meet our hero as a cat burglar fresh out of prison. He’s trying to go straight, if only for the opportunity to reconnect with his wife (Judy Greer) and daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson). His resolve doesn’t last long, which brings him into contact with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), a reclusive quantum particle researcher who has developed a way to shrink a human being down to the size of, you guessed it, an ant.
He needs the help of an honorable thief looking for a shot at redemption, which makes Scott Lang the perfect candidate to don Pym’s Ant-Man suit.
The special Ant-Man suit shrinks Lang down and also gives him super strength and speed (something about atomic compression) as well as the ability to communicate with and control an army of insect helpers. These aren’t exactly the superpowers that will help save humanity from an alien invasion, which is part of the charm of “Ant-Man.” Lang knows that he can’t measure up to most Marvel superheroes, so his adventure has much more modest expectations.
The same holds true for the movie, which stages its first action sequence in a bathtub and the climax aboard a model train set. It’s still a lot of edge-of-your-seat fun, and at least they won’t have to rebuild a devastated city after Ant-Man wraps up his latest adventure.
This modest adventure allows the characters to relax and have fun with the ridiculous premise. Indeed, “Ant-Man” has the same sense of goofy humor that made “Guardians of the Galaxy” into such a crowd-pleasing hit. After the bombast of the last “Avengers” movie, it’s nice to relax with such an unpretentious and playful hero.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.com.