While Marvel has enjoyed great cinematic success with its well-known characters, their Guardians of the Galaxy film did well with much lesser-known characters and a sillier feel.  Now Marvel is trying the same with Ant-Man, a superhero movie that's part action, part comedy, part training montage, and part heist.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a thief and electrical engineer who just got out of jail for a, er, noble theft.  He wants to take care of his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), but his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) wants him to get a job, get a place to live, and pay child support first.  And Maggie's fiancee Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) is a detective who thinks Scott is no good.

Scott can't get a job with his criminal record, so he eventually joins his criminal buddies Luis (Michael Pena), Dave (T.I.), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian) on what's supposed to be a perfect job.  After Scott overcomes a number of obstacles, all he finds is "a motorcycle suit" and a helmet.  When he gets curious and tries the suit on, he shrinks down to the size of an ant!  He also hears a voice in the helmet.

The suit is the creation of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who had been the Ant-Man earlier in his life.  Hank created the "Pym particles" that can shrink or enlarge matter -- and he's worried because businessman Darren Cross (Corey Stall) is on the verge of duplicating the Pym particle and using them to power a lethal armor called Yellowjacket -- which Cross will then sell as a weapon.  Hank needs Scott to break in, destroy the data, and steal the Yellowjacket.  Hank trains Scott in using the suit to manage his size, as well as controlling ants and throwing discs that shrink or enlarge what they hit.  And Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Hank's daughter is training Scott to fight despite wanting to go on the mission herself.  She's also pretending to work with Cross -- and has issues with her father, since he never told her what really happened to her mother.

Ant-Man is a lighter superhero movie.  There are plenty of special effects (mainly when we see the ants seem like large beasts) and action (especially at the end), but there's more planning and training through the movie.  Paul Rudd is best known as a comic actor, and he's an excellent choice to helm this movie; Scott Lang's fellow criminals are almost all comic relief.  Ant-Man isn't perfect -- it follows a very straightforward story line, with relatively few surprises -- but it's a simple, likable summer movie.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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