tek's rating: ½

Ant-Man (PG-13)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is the final film of Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It came out in summer 2015, but I didn't see it until December 2016, by which time the first two movies of Phase Three had been released. I hadn't seen them yet when I watched this, but I should also say I hadn't seen the movie that came out before this one, because I couldn't remember which came first (and my internet was out for like a week, so I couldn't check). Anyway... Ant-Man is one of those characters about whom I know very little. I've seen him in the animated Ultimate Avengers movies, and read the first volume of "Ultimates" comic books, but I think the version of the character presented there was somewhat different than the one in this movie. I'm used to thinking of Ant-Man as a scientist named Hank Pym, but... in this movie, he's an old man, who was secretly Ant-Man decades ago, but he now recruits a young man named Scott Lang to become to become the new Ant-Man. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It begins with a brief scene set in 1989, when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. because he doesn't want anyone using a formula he'd developed to shrink people down to the size of bugs, because of the potential military application, I guess. (Which is a bit weird, because apparently he'd been serving as Ant-Man in a military capacity, but whatevs.) The scene was kind of neat because Peggy Carter and Howard Stark were in it, but the most important character in the scene aside from Pym himself was Darren Cross, a former protege of Pym's who had fallen out of Pym's favor because of his (unsuccessful) attempts to replicate Pym's formula, against Pym's wishes.

In the present, we meet Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a former electrical engineer who's just getting out of prison for burglary. He wants to give up his criminal past, get a job, and get his life together, so that his ex-wife, Maggie (Judy Greer), will allow him visitation rights with their young daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson, whom I know from The Whispers). Making things more complicated is the fact that Maggie is now engaged to a cop named Paxton, who doesn't believe Scott can go straight. And it turns out he's right, but not for lack of trying on Scott's part. It's just that no one will hire an ex-con. So he finally agrees to do a burglary job with his old friend Luis. (Incidentally, Luis is one of the funniest things about the movie; he tells the best stories, even if Scott is always annoyed at how many extraneous details the stories contain.) The two of them are joined on their job by a couple of guys named Dave and Kurt.

The job is breaking into the safe of an old man, though they don't know what's inside. When Scott does get inside, he finds the Ant-Man suit that Hank Pym used to use. He has no idea what it is, but he takes it anyway, and later tries it on. He ends up shrinking and being terrified, while also receiving instructions from a voice that comes through his helmet. When he finally returns to normal size, he returns the suit from whence he'd stolen it, and is then confronted by the police and arrested. Then, Pym (whose voice had previously instructed Scott) comes to the jail, posing as Scott's lawyer. He and some ants help Scott escape from jail, using the suit. Thereafter, Pym convinces the reluctant Scott to train to become the new Ant-Man. However, Pym's daughter, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), tries to convince her father that she should be the one to wear the suit. But their relationship is strained because Pym has never revealed to her the truth of how her mother had died, years ago. (It's eventually explained, and while it didn't really surprise me, I'm not going to spoil it.)

Anyway, the reason someone has to become Ant-Man (or Ant-Woman) is because Darren Cross, who now controls the tech company Pym had started after leaving SHIELD, is getting close to finally succeeding in his attempts to replicate the formula, and Pym is desperate to stop him. Despite Hank and Hope's estrangement, she agrees with her father that what Cross is doing is wrong, so she's been acting as a mole within the company, as Cross's most trusted associate. But before Scott can infiltrate the company, he has a lot of training to do, not just in using the suit (which is pretty complicated, and involves a lot of split-second transformations between normal-size and bug-size). He also has to learn to recognize different species of ants, and control them with another device Pym had created. (I had known before seeing the movie that there would be a lot of ants, and I've always hated ants, so I wasn't exactly looking forward to that part of the movie. But they weren't so bad. In fact, Scott rides a flying ant that he names Antony, who I would say is the best ant since Anty from "Honey I Shrunk the Kids.") And even once he's done with his training, he has to steal something Pym needs from what's supposed to be an abandoned building that belonged to Howard Stark, but it turns out to currently be an Avengers base. So Ant-Man has to fight Falcon, while telling him how much he admires him and how sorry he is to be doing this.

Well, eventually Ant-Man has to infiltrate Cross's company, with help from his criminal crew as well as Hank and Hope. And Cross has his own (even more impressively badass) shrinking suit, the Yellowjacket, so... the two of them will have a pretty awesome fight (complete with some brilliantly hilarious touches). And... I guess that's about all I want to say about the plot (and as usual, I've already said too much). But I will mention that there are two bonus scenes, one in the middle of the end credits and one at the end.

Anyway, there are some interesting concepts in the movie, which I would like to have seen further explored. But I suppose that would have taken too much time away from the things that make these movies profitable, or whatever. And I really did like pretty much everything about the movie: the action, the humor, the drama, the special effects, etc. So I can't say I'm disappointed by anything that there wasn't enough of, for my taste. And I look forward to seeing more of these characters in a sequel, or other MCU movies.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe
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Phase One: Iron Man * The Incredible Hulk * Iron Man 2 * Thor * Captain America * The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 * Thor: The Dark World * Captain America: The Winter Soldier * Guardians of the Galaxy * Avengers: Age of Ultron * Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War * Doctor Strange * Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 * Spider-Man: Homecoming * Thor: Ragnarok *
Black Panther * Avengers: Infinity War * Ant-Man and the Wasp * Captain Marvel * Avengers: Endgame * Spider-Man: Far from Home
Phase Four: Black Widow * Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings * Eternals * Spider-Man: No Way Home *
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness * Thor: Love and Thunder * Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Phase Five: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania * Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 * The Marvels
short films: Marvel One-Shots
TV: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. * Agent Carter * Inhumans * Cloak & Dagger
Netflix: Daredevil * Jessica Jones * Luke Cage * Iron Fist * The Defenders * The Punisher
Hulu: Runaways * Helstrom
Disney+ (P4): WandaVision * The Falcon and the Winter Soldier * Loki * What If...? * Hawkeye * Moon Knight * Ms. Marvel * I Am Groot *
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law * Werewolf by Night * Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Disney+ (P5): Secret Invasion * Loki s2 * Echo