Thomas the Tank Engine upstages ‘Ant-Man’

Corey Stoll, left, and Evangeline Lilly play Darren Cross and Hope Van Dyne, respectively.
Corey Stoll, left, and Evangeline Lilly play Darren Cross and Hope Van Dyne, respectively. AP

Marvel sends in the B-Team for “Ant-Man.” Yes, yes, I know. “Ant-Man” is one of the founding members of the Avengers, and consequently is quite a Big Deal in the Marvel universe. But the Ant-Man in “Ant-Man” isn’t that Ant-Man.

That Ant-Man is Hank Pym, big-brained super-scientist creator of the Pym Particle that allows a man to instantaneously shrink down to the size of a ... see character’s name.

He’s in the movie, all right, played by a goateed Michael Douglas. But he’s old and has hung up the character’s signature Ant suit. The guy who inherits that suit is Scott Lang (Paul Rudd, all stubbly). And he’s, well, let him run down his list of particulars (per the “Ant-Man Prelude” comic): “I was a failed criminal, a convict and a terrible husband.” A loving dad, though, and willing to do anything to redeem himself in the eyes of his cutie-pie young daughter Cassie (Abbie Ryder Fortson, gooeyly sweet).

Recruited by Pym to battle a bald baddie named Darren Cross (Corey Stoll, smarmy and smirking), Lang dons the shrink suit, gets real small and goes running and flying with swarms of CG ants to thwart the nefarious schemes of Cross, who wants to use Pym’s invention to weaponize insects for evil purposes.

Rudd’s Lang is a nice — though pretty ineffectual — fellow out of the suit, and in the early going rather a bumbler to boot. Gets belted around and roundly scorned by Pym’s judgmental daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly, her stare disapproving, her hair severely styled).

The characterizations are tissue-thin and are characterized by lots of blather. Pym hectors Lang to be the hero his daughter imagines him to be. Pym and Hope bicker a bunch over Pym’s failures as a father. For thrills, there are immense amounts of busy stunt work by those CG ants.

Look, let’s put it this way: When your most memorable character turns out to be Thomas the Tank Engine, featured in two hilarious scenes, you know your picture about a tiny little superhero has big, big problems.


1/2 out of 5

Cast: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll and Thomas the Tank Engine

Director: Peyton Reed

Running time: 2:00

Rated: PG-13; some sci-fi action violence