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Stars: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Abby Ryder Fortson, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, Tip 'T.I.' Harris, Wood Harris, Hayley Atwell, John Slattery, Martin Donovan, Garrett Morris

Director: Peyton Reed

One more Marvel Comics character hits the big screen to join the mega money-making-movie crew that includes Spider-Man, Iron-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and all the other comic book characters battering the box-office, one after the other.

To be fair, this bunch – including the Falcon who flies into the film for added effect – would all look down on Ant-Man. Obviously. His name gives it away – he’s small enough to make friends and allies of scads of ants and other insects, but don’t be fooled – when push comes to shove, he proves he’s another heroic creation from the Stan Lee stable to be reckoned with.

(Incidentally, for what it’s worth which isn’t much, Mr Lee makes his usual appearance in a Marvel movie, this time a barman. Still, you never know – he might just be discovered as a movie actor one day).

The title role goes to Paul Rudd, fresh out of jail and, as he explains to his pals who as usual want him to join in their criminal activities while he would prefer not to, “I’ve go a daughter to take care of”. Which he wants to do is be like a good dad, despite being divorced from Judy Greer.

And so, inevitably, he returns to crime, having been set up (although, of course, he doesn’t realise that) to break into an apparently impregnable safe and steal a strange suit. He succeeds, of course and ends up wearing the suit which transforms him into the eponymous mini-hero, a new and improved (and no longer monochrome, either) Incredible Shrinking Man, as the screenplay (co-written by initially chosen director Edgar Wright who left the project) leaves director Peyton Reed to deliver a cracking comic book adventure.

Urged into action by Michael Douglas, playing the brilliant scientist and creator of the shrinking process that created Ant-Man, Rudd dons the suit and boldly goes to save the world from Douglas’ evil one-time pupil, splendidly played with just the right amount of sneer by Corey Stoll. And, of course, thanks to the shrinking process, Rudd has legions of ants and other insects to carry him through to triumph and prove to his daughter, his ex-wife and her San Francisco policeman boyfriend Bobby Cannavale what a magnificent, if mostly mini, hero he has become.

The special effects are genuinely special but to Reed’s credit, he doesn’t allow movie magic to overwhelm either his actors or his storytelling. Rudd rises splendidly to his shrinking role, while Douglas (transformed into a dark haired, amazingly young-looking character by Oscar-worthy special effects for the opening sequence) does just what his star role requires, when he sports a (real, I assume) wrinkled neck and white hair when playing his age and giving the film just the ideal star appeal it needs.

And, for extra appeal, even Thomas the Tank Engine has a walk-on (ride-on?) on; or, to be more accurate, he goes off the rails in one of the many exciting action sequences on offer.

Even The Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie, turns up for a flying fight with Ant-Man, presumably to remind audiences that this marvellous movie is a Marvel movie, not just an Ant-Man epic.

Only someone who is in a categorically antsy mood could fail to enjoy the rousing comic book entertainment served up so well by all concerned on both sides of the camera. This is a winner and accompanying adults should have as much fun as kids.

(Just one thing worth mentioning perhaps for British audiences. When someone refers to 'David Copperfield’, don’t worry that you might be subjected to a sudden dose of Charles Dickens. Fortunately, the character in question is actually the celebrated American illusionist).

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 14 Jul 2015