As Marvel superheroes go, Ant-Man doesn’t seem very high in the pantheon. It’s all a bit confusing: He’s tiny but as powerful as a full-grown man. At times he expands to normal size, and then he’s tiny again, bouncing through storm drains and air shafts, dodging rats and cars and people’s feet. Size matters when it comes to superheroes, and Ant-Man, at least for me, is at least one size too many.
Now that I’ve cleared my throat, I admit that “Ant-Man,” starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, the genial ex-con who ends up as the shape-shifty Marvel marvel, is fairly good fun, especially around the edges, when it’s not bogged down in exposition. (My favorite moment comes during a high-tech break-in, when one of Ant-Man’s human-size helpmates, well-played by Michael Peña, sings a few bars from “It’s a Small World After All.”)
Rudd is a good choice to play this hero because his derring-do is made to seem both suspenseful and risible. His nemesis, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), the renegade protégé of good-guy scientist Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas), creator of the clandestine Pym Particle that gives rise to Ant-Man, is a standard-issue baldheaded meanie, which by contrast somehow makes Ant-Man’s exploits seem even loopier.
I wish the film had gone even further into loopiness. Like Ant-Man, the film, directed by Peyton Reed, comes in two sizes – it’s sometimes big on laughs but often small on risk-taking. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.)