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Film review: Paul Rudd brings heart and laughs to Marvel’s Ant-Man

It’s not often that a superhero film will make you laugh out loud, but this Marvel Comics vehicle will, thanks largely to its lead actor, Paul Rudd, and director Peyton Reed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 July, 2015, 4:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 July, 2015, 1:02pm

Even for a superhero movie, the plot for Ant-Man would appear at first to be ludicrous in the extreme: put on a secret suit, press a button, and shrink to the size of an ant — but with the superhuman strength necessary for saving the world. Cue the nasty run-in with a rat. But in the hands of director Peyton Reed   (Yes Man, The Break-Up), Ant-Man becomes not just a viable film, but an intensely likeable one.

Much of that is because of Paul Rudd, the charismatic and genuinely amiable star of comedies like    This Is 40 and Our Idiot Brother. Here, he plays Scott Lang, a down-on-his-luck electrical engineer fresh out of jail who stumbles across said secret suit and unwittingly becomes the guy designated to save the day.

Rudd is one of those unlikely superhero types, an everyman who wants to do right by his little daughter and ex-wife. He doesn’t have the billions of Tony Stark, or the might of Thor. In the the Marvel comics pantheon, at least the way Ant-Man is introduced to us here, he’s a well-meaning guy looking for a second chance.

Rudd’s natural comedic talent carries him along, a glint in his eye breaking moments of tension. Throughout the film, personalities are one of the best things about this movie, keeping the pacing brisk and fun. The sly references to the Marvel universe and the comparatively restrained big action sequences also thankfully make Ant-Man a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Lang is supported in his mission to save the world from annihilation by  Dr Hank Pym, played with sufficient gravitas by  Michael Douglas. Pym was the creator of the original Ant-Man suit, which he hid away for decades, knowing the havoc it could wreak on the world. But the suit — and its inherent powers — has to come out of hibernation after the devious Darren Cross  (Corey Stoll), a one-time protégé of Pym, creates his own version of the technology for much more dastardly uses.

As with any good superhero film, there’s the customary family drama interwoven into the narrative. Pym is estranged from his daughter Hope  (Evangeline Lilly), who subconsciously blames her father for the death of her mother decades earlier. And Lang has to resurrect himself in the eyes of his former wife  (Judy Greer), who won’t let her ex see their young daughter until he’s cleaned up his act.

It’s not often that a superhero film will make you laugh out loud, but this one does — and frequently at that.  Rudd’s natural ease with throwaway quips and his cohorts’ general incompetence elevate what could have been another grim and gritty contribution to the genre into something altogether more lighthearted and entertaining.

Ant-Man opens on July 16