Ant-Man review: Little hero big on the action
Although its ambitions are grander than the incredible shrinking hero of the title, the latest franchise in the cluttered Marvel Comic universe is refreshingly modest compared to the computer-generated bombast of The Avengers.
The script, initially penned by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, and then revised by Adam McKay and Paul Rudd when Peyton Reed replaced Wright in the director's chair, leans heavily on deadpan humour.
Reed's boisterous action adventure is anchored by a winning lead performance from Rudd, who made his mark as Phoebe's boyfriend in the sitcom Friends.
When Rudd's unlikely hero is invited to become Ant-Man and save the world, his considered response is: "I think our first move should be calling The Avengers." Sensible. Cat burglar Scott Lang (Rudd) is released from San Quentin Penitentiary and resolves to go straight for the sake of his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).
He shares an apartment with former cellmate Luis (Michael Pena) but struggles to find gainful employment.
Desperate to pay child support to his despairing ex-wife, Scott agrees to one lucrative heist set up by Luis and two pals. Unfortunately, the robbery lands Scott in a police cell, under the glare of Maggie's new beau, Detective Paxton).
Inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) offers Scott a way out if he agrees to don a superhero outfit, which shrinks the wearer at the touch of a button.
Ant-Man mines a rich vein of humour to underscore the high-speed acrobatics.
The 3D format is only noticeable when Scott activates the suit and seemingly benign household features, like a running tap, become life-or-death obstacles a la Honey I Shrunk The Kids.