Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Review of Ant-Man (w/ Sources)

Ant-Man is a MARVEL cinematic universe - based film that was released in 2015. This film involves multiple genres, including the Sci-Fi Thriller genre, Superhero, Action, and Adventure.In the original comic lure and the new movie, a scientist known as Henry "Hank" Pym had found a way to shrink the size and mass of matter. He later found a way to increase the size and mass as well. This was due to the existence of something known as the Pym Particle. With this new found discovery, Hank Pym is capable of superhuman feats, and acts as a superhero under the name of Ant-Man.. The Pym particles originally worked in conjunction with a populated dimension - but, this aspect of the story did not hold in the new movie. Instead, the particles now alter the space within the atoms themselves - this is a much more believable take on the science behind the Ant-Man’s ability to shrink.
Ant-Man is currently an alias donned by Scott Lange. In the movie adaptation, Scott Lange has just finished a short jail sentence, only to find that he is completely unable to hold a job under any circumstances. Meanwhile, an ousted Henry "Hank" Pym works to stop Darren Cross, his former apprentice, from perfecting the same technology that he had used so long ago as a means of changing the world and giving Hydra an upper hand. Hydra would surely use the Pym Particles for evil purposes. Since long-term use of the particles has adverse affects on the user’s health, Hank Pym can no longer act as Ant-Man - he enlists Scott Lang as the new Ant-Man, to stop Cross and Hydra from developing and obtaining their own Pym Particles. Along the way, we learn of Hank's late wife, Janet Van Dyne, and Hope Van Dyne, who may later become the new Wasp in subsequent MARVEL releases. Like many other Sci-Fi Stories in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man presents the conflict of scientific advancement vs. ethics. Hank Pym and Scott Lang are both for keeping Hydra and other government entities from using the Pym Particles, while Cross and Hydra both appear to be in favor of letting the cat out of the bag with this scientific endeavour.
In relation to this, the main conflict becomes the struggle between those individuals of ethic and the corporations and government entities who lack thereof. The Ant-Man story makes use of the tried-and-tired evil-authorities-versus-individuals trope. While this does work in pushing the overarching theme of advancement versus ethics, the overused authority-versus-individual trope acts as a minor slight to the movie's overall creativity, potential, and believability. Plots like this are difficult to see as more than glorified fairytale. It’s very unlikely, and in the end, business and government entities are almost never on the same side - let alone, beat by a washed-up underdog. With that said, the movie itself is still enjoyable, and written well enough to convince viewing audiences to suspend belief for the plot. The science, on the other hand, is spot-on - director Peyton Reed has done well. The story for the movie was a new take on the original, with changes made all around. The changes made were beneficial for making it click with bothcomic book aficionados and viewers who have never even touched a comic book, or seen MARVEL's Avengers in 2012.
Character development is an important aspect of any movie - Ant-Man is no exception. The main characters include:

Henry "Hank" Pym, the discoverer - played by Michael Douglas:
Hank Pym is depicted as a former scientist, who was ousted from his company by his estranged daughter Hope Van Dyne and a former protege Darren Cross. He resigned from S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division - or the CIA on steroids) when they had attempted to, and failed to, recreate the Pym Particles, without his knowledge. He then swore to keep this knowledge from the world for as long as he lived. Years later, when he was horrified to find that his company, Pym Technologies, was attempting to recreate the science behind the Ant-Man. As a result, he turned to a makeshift hitman, who would later become the new Ant-Man.

Being featured recently in the MARVEL movie Captain America: Winter Soldier, Hydra was known as an international organization bent on total domination of the world.At this point, Hydra's recent infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. and fall at the hands of Captain America, the Winter Soldier, and Nick Fury has left S.H.I.E.L.D. in shambles and Hydra in pieces as well. However, they are still around - in fact, they want to buy the YellowJacket from Darren Cross.

Darren Cross, the apprentice - played by Corey Stoll:
Darren was a former protege of Hank Pym at Pym Technologies, and was quite interested in the now - rumoured Pym Particles. Having worked closely beside Pym for much of his career, Cross displayed extraordinary skill and zeal in his work, but soon began to cause Hank Pym worry, due to his obsession with the discontinued research in Pym Particles. Dr.Pym was disturbed because he saw too much of himself in Cross at the time. Darren, along with Pym's estranged daughter Hope Van Dyne, would oust Hank from his own company, allowing Darren to come out as CEO of Pym Tech. He later started project, which was supposed to be a recreation of the Ant-Man technology and science, geared toward use by the government and Hydra.

Scott Lang, the hitman - played by Paul Rudd:
Scott Lang is depicted as a reformed, well-meaning thief and electronics expert. When he wasn't able to make ends meet working on electronics for various clients, Scott turned to a life of crime, and was forced to serve jail time as a result when he was caught - during which he met cell mate Luis. In the 2015 movie rendition of this situation, Scott's wife divorced and remarried to a police man, leaving Scott on his own. Unable to hold a job with a jail record, he once again almost resorts to a life of crime, with Luis giving him details of a possibly lucrative steal - in this case, Hank Pym's Ant-Man suit. Hank Pym purposefully set up the gig as a way of testing Scott while in the Ant-Man suit. This is how Scott Lang starts his career as the new Ant-Man of the MCU.

Scott Lang’s backstory of having turned to a life of petty crime to support his family when his expertise in electronics couldn’t afford him enough to take care of his family is one that some people could resonate with who have lost jobs before, and weren’t able to support themselves - whether they turned to a life of crime is another topic. It made Ant-Man more humanly relatable. But the cinematic timeline that Ant-Man is involved with will be vastly different from what any comic book readers have seen so far - Ant-Man is no longer the prodigal genius and mad-scientist he once was since Hank is no longer the one in the suit. Instead, this version of Ant-Man is a well-meaning father and an after-the-fact heroic role model.

Ant-Man's costume department is the same one that works on the rest of the MARVEL Cinematic Universe. As such, the theme of composite fabrics, with leather and metallic gadgets interspersed throughout is quite prevalent. In this case, though, the Ant-Man suit now has a steam-punk biker outfit feel. The visual effects and cinematography of Ant-Man were spectacular, ranging from the normal human-oriented scenes to the heavily-augmented action sequences. It was filmed with IMAX 3D, and it graphics were provided by the prestigious ILM company - known for its involvement in numerous hits, such as the Terminator franchise, MARVEL's Avengers, Star Wars, and even the Transformers. The main visual appeal for this film was seeing the macro scenes in comparison to the micro scenes - scenes filmed in the real world, in comparison to the generated microscopic world that Ant-Man supposedly sees when he shrinks to incredibly small sizes. Seeing that Ant-Man spends a great deal of time in the world of micro, these scenes were key to creating a captivating environment for the viewers' eyes to explore during the movie. These scenes were artfully done, with a rich mixture of scientifically-believable detail and creativity from the art department.

Even the action sequences are works of art. The scene featuring Ant-Man and YellowJacket fighting, shrunk, in a briefcase was quite enjoyable, with their lasers-based weapons of choice sending bright colour across the battlefield and illuminating the inside of the briefcase in a way that gave the scene a completely different feel from what was expected. Instead of seeming like a cramped room, the briefcase suddenly became a strategic landscape and minefield, with small, non-obtrusive, explosions adding to the sense of danger, rather than drowning out the fight at hand. The macro world had decent sequences as well - during their infiltration of Pym Technologies, the Ant-Man was being chased by armed gunmen. In this scene, a crucial element is observed - a switch between the macro and micro worlds. When Ant-Man goes to take on the gunmen, he runs at them and proceeds to shrink, drastically changing the view from multiple gunmen versus a suited man in a room, to the edge of the lead gunman's pistol which acts as a dangerous ledge. Ant-Man then uses his size-augmented superhuman strength to force the gunmen into capitulation, but not before switching to a different landscape - a scaled city model of the Pym Tech. building and surrounding structures. As the delicate model took gunfire from the spooked gunmen, the land around Ant-Man became a full out war zone, giving the scene a new take altogether. Creativity in this interaction between the macro and micro was well played and kept in sync throughout the length of the scene, from the first gunshot to the final scene as Pym Tech. is destroyed by a mysterious implosion, resembling that of a small black hole. Balance was key, and balance was observed.

The film itself also sported some fitting comedy and James Bond - style action snippets in some cases. When Hank Pym is introduced to the new Pym Laboratories, managed and run by Darren Cross, the viewers get to see some old scenes of the original Ant-Man - Hank Pym - in action during various missions and classified escapades. In the words of Darren Cross himself, “Imagine a soldier the size of an insect, the ultimate secret weapon...” These golden years for the Ant-Man were somewhat like watching an old James Bond movie, to a limited extent. Even the original opening sequence that was planned for the movie was supposed to be like a James Bond movie - it was later scrapped. In terms of comedy, here’s how part of Scott and Hank planning to remove Yellow Jacket from the equation went down:

Scott Lang: "My days of breaking into places and stealing [crap] are over! What do you need me to do?"

Hank Pym: "...I want you to break into a place and steal some [crap]."

Scott Lang: "...makes sense."

The movie is speckled with light-hearted laughs and gags for audiences of all ages, and caters to the wide viewership quite effectively. Luis's character, played by Michael Peña, added comic relief to the film. In a hilarious scene, YellowJacket can be clearly seen, being run over by Thomas the Train while fighting Ant-Man in Scott Lang’s daughter’s bedroom. The film had other instances of gags as well, including a certain scene involving an oversized ant becoming Scott's wife's new family pet - I won't mention anymore than that, to avoid spoilers. The film's more down-to-Earth retelling of the original story can be appreciated by both avid comic book readers and those new to the superhero genre who haven't even heard of the Avengers, or the star team member Ant-Man. The movie also has other MARVEL character cameos, possibly attracting fans of other superheroes to the theaters in the process - effective move. In connection to this strategy, Ant-Man is also linked to the rest of the MCU during a post-credit scene that displays the heroes Falcon, Captain America, and the Winter Soldier. Ant-Man is now linked with the Avengers superhero team that was featured in the 2012 Avengers and 2015 Avengers: Age of Ultron films from the same MCU. Ant-Man is now part of a larger context. The sound science behind this film, along with its connection to other successful MARVEL films in the MCU really helps in pushing the movie from obscurity to fame. I would strongly suggest watching this movie - it is definitely worth the runtime.

1) Ant-Man. Dir. Peyton Reed. Perf. Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Corey Stoll. Marvel Studios, 2015. Film.

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6) Harris, Rob. "Ant-Man Was Originally "Almost Like A Bond Movie"?!" 23 July 2015. Web. 11 Sept. 2015. <,manual>.

7) Keyes, Rob. "‘Ant-Man': The Potential Problem With Pym Particles." Screen Rant. Screen Rant, 22 June 2015. Web. 11 Sept. 2015. <>.

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