The Smallest Big Movie of the Year – A Closer Look into Ant-Man

With $130 million on its budget, Ant-Man doesn’t even come close to Avengers: Age of Ultron’s whopping $280 million. Still, it is a pretty ginormous amount of money, and the question is: Is the budget worth the contents of the film?

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The answer to that question is yes. A big, solid yes.

Ant-Man had met a few obstacles during its development phase, having the original director attached to the project, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) left over creative differences. But the show must go on, and the project went through development after Peyton Reed (Yes Man) was announced to helm the movie as the new director.

Actor Paul Rudd (Anchorman) headlines the film as the titular character Ant-Man aka Scott Lang, a former convict sent to San Quentin for his burglary. Having a previous sheet as a sophisticated thief, Scott catches the eye of scientist Hank Pym in a time of crisis while his former protégé, Darren Cross, is up to no good with a revived technology Pym has created in the past. Said technology is, of course, the Pym Particles, which allows its subject to shrink into the size of an ant—hence the name.

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The first thing I noticed about this film is that unlike most other Marvel movies (discluding Guardians of the Galaxy), it has a strong comedic sense delivered neatly by Rudd, Michael Peña, T.I., and Wood Harris as the heist crew of the movie. The fact that they’re taking a comedic approach to a movie that otherwise would have come across awkward and forced due to the unusual trait of the hero character is highly commendable. I mean, look at Captain America. Look at Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk. What do they have in common? They all can easily kick your butt all the way to the moon and back if they want to. But a dude who can shrink? What badass thing could he possibly do?

Scott Lang's heist crew.

Scott Lang’s heist crew.

Those are the questions that are most often asked by audience who, prior to the announcement of the film, has had no knowledge of the comic books. I love how Ant-Man played with the understandable doubt of new viewers by showing just as much butt-kicking as comedic elements in the trailers, thus inviting people to come see the movie with a different sort of vibe.

Despite having comical qualities, Ant-Man cannot be compared with Guardians of the Galaxy. The vibes of the two films are completely different, the types of the funny moments offered in both films having their own unique trait. Ant-Man promises a gajillion scenes that unite an entire cinema studio in laughter and cheers. With Paul Rudd helming the main character, the scenes are delivered with the sort of ease you can only get from a seasoned comedy star that is Rudd. Look forward to so many different golden comedy moments in the film. Guaranteed a few laughs or more, even if you enter the cinema with a frown on your face. When you walk out, you’ll only have a smile.

(left-right) Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas.

(left-right) Evangeline Lilly, Paul Rudd, and Michael Douglas.

The heart of the movie is represented by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas; Wonder Boys, Behind the Candelabra) and his estranged daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly; Lost, The Hobbit) who come back together to solve the main crisis of the film. Hope strives for the approval of her father who hasn’t been the same since the departure of Hope’s mother, Janet Van Dyne. She wants to wear Hank’s old suit herself, but her wish is rebuffed by Hank who prefers to turn to Scott for help instead. Their relationship is portrayed beautifully by Douglas and Lilly, and while it is shown as sharp, cold, and entirely mechanical at the beginning, there is a treat waiting as the film progresses that will put the two closer together as father and daughter.

As has been said a few times over, comedy is a big chunk of the film—but the filmmakers haven’t let the element become the only defining trait. Backed up by a solid plotline and relatively fast pace, there isn’t a single moment where you’ll be tempted to doze off. Each execution is made just right, without having seen as forced to fit the pacing of the film. The hype is strong with this one.

One of the strongest contras when Scott Lang was first announced to be the titular Ant-Man is the one that goes, “The first Ant-Man has to be Hank Pym.” Well, explanations are due in this film, ones that will satisfy those having that contra (including myself, before I saw the film) with just a little bit more satisfaction and treat previously unimaginable to me. The explanation as to why Scott Lang is Ant-Man is pulled off nicely, and I end up having no objection whatsoever (except maybe to see a little bit more of Jan, because she is Wasp and I love the character to bits).

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Darren Cross in the Yellowjacket suit.

The character of Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket may not be as well-developed as Loki (but seriously, who can compete with Loki? The dude has his own fandom within the fandom) or Red Skull, but he is a tough enough challenge for Scott Lang and co. to beat. I mean, he is a super-genius whose brain has apparently been compromised by years of researching the Pym Particles without proper protection. He spent years under Hank Pym’s tutelage, but Hank pushed him away after he sensed that his mentor was hiding something from him. Now hell-bent on wrapping his hand around his former mentor’s secrets and prove his worth, he will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants.

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Corey Stoll portrays Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket.

The cast deliver an overall exceptional performance in the film, but major kudos goes to Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas, portraying the primary characters, for weaving a strong and entirely believable dynamics between the three. Scott Lang as the outsider has to deal with the already awkward relationship between Hope and Hank, and amid the brief period they have before their eventual confrontation with Darren Cross, the character developments are extremely entertaining and satisfiable to watch.

Honorary mention goes to Michael Peña who steals, without exception, every scene he is in. Portraying Scott Lang’s former cellmate and current roommate Luis, every comedic line and act he delivers is always spot on and elicits just the right amount of laughter from the audience—funny enough to be thoroughly enjoyed, but not too much as to distract the audience from the point of the scenes.

Michael Peña delivers an outstanding performance as Luis, Scott Lang's cellmate-turned-roommate.

Michael Peña delivers an outstanding performance as Luis, Scott Lang’s cellmate-turned-roommate.

As with every other Marvel film, Ant-Man serves a lovely array of CG scenes. I especially love how they choose to display Scott’s experience being as tiny as an ant, neatly showcasing how the world suddenly seems so big and every little thing suddenly becomes a potential threat. The scenes involving the army of ants are a delight to watch, as well as the smooth transitions between the Ant-Man’s often rapid switches from being small to being normal-sized. The way the fight scenes are staged, using seemingly simple everyday objects as a mock-up or children’s toys as settings, is incredibly clever and, once again, I have to commend how the filmmakers managed to inject comedic elements into action scenes without them becoming too much to be enjoyed.

Keep an eye out for Easter Eggs. Many of those are to be expected in Ant-Man, and if you’ve seen at least Avengers: Age of Ultron prior to this one, you’d surely be able to catch them. Look forward to a considerably lengthy cameo that’ll keep you at the edge of your seat and a few brief ones that are just as thrilling.

One mid-credits scene and one post-credits scene are featured. I screeched during the first one, and flat-out screamed at the second one. One word of advice: Make sure you stay until the very end.

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All-in-all, Ant-Man is completely worth the $130 million and 117 minutes of your time. Take your family with you, go with your friends—hell, go alone if you please, and you’ll still have the same amount of well-deserved, well-delivered laughter from this movie.

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