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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 20, 2015

Ant-Man Review: Engaging Origin Story Of Another Marvel Superhero

'ANT-MAN' is the latest addition in Marvel's ever growing cinematic universe. Both the very first Ant-Man of Marvel Comics, Hank Pym who originally created Ultron, and Scott Lang, an ex-convict who tries his best to maintain a good relationship with his little daughter and was created in 1979, are present in the first big movie version of "Ant-Man", a shrinking man who can communicate with ants.

The movie starts in 1989 with Hank Pym, a genius inventor who has found a way to shrink people (played by Michael Douglas who is made to look much younger with the help of computer wizardry) through what is called the Pym particle. He resigns from the company he has founded when he found out that some unscrupulous people want to exploit his invention for evil purposes.

Cut to the present. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has just been released from prison for burglary. He now wants to go straight for the sake of his daughter, Cassie (Abbie Fortson), but it's hard to land a job when you're an ex-con and also when your ex-wife (Judy Greer) and her current husband cop (Bobby Cannavale) are hostile to you.

His friends convince Scott to do one more job. They burglarize the house of someone very rich but all they get from the safe in its basement is a weird-looking suit. It turns out that this suit was the one invented by Hank Pym years ago and it makes whoever is wearing it shrink into the size of an ant.

Pym has actually just set everything up to recruit Scott to work for him to steal the Yellow Jacket of Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), a former protege of Pym who stole his technique in shrinking people and used it on the Yellow Jacket. He is now about to sell it to some greedy folks in a company called Hydra (does that sound familiar?), with the assistance of Hope (Evangeline Lilly), Pym's own daughter who's estranged from her dad.

Since this is an origin story, the movie is somewhat like the first "Iron Man" movie. We get a lot of screen time showing Scott being trained on how to use the Ant suit, like learning how to leap through a key hole. He also has to learn how to communicate with ants, like teaching them how to carry sugar cubes into a cup of coffee.

Along the way, we meet other characters from the Marvel cinematic universe that allows the introduction of various in-jokes to Marvel fans, like Scott's encounter with Falcon in the Avengers HQ. To help him steal the Yellow Jacket, Scott also has to ask the help of his goofy friends (who Pym calls "wombats"), led by the scene stealing Michael Pena, and a whole battalion of telepathically controlled ants.

Of course, the idea of someone shrinking in size is not new. We've seen it before in "The Incredible Shrinking Man", "Fantastic Voyage" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids". But the CGI special effects used in the small but powerful Ant-Man is the most impressive of all. The differing sizes of Ant-Man exposes him to a world of various sizes and his scenes with ants is certainly a bit surreal. We also enjoyed the climactic fight between two miniaturized characters in an out of control Thomas the Train that seems huge and dangerous to them but is wittily later revealed to be just a toy train falling over a table top.

Director Peyton Reed ("Bring It On") makes the movie more riveting with the two sets of father and daughter relationship that give depth to the story. Scott wants to be reunited with Cassie, while Pym wants to win back his estranged daughter Hope after her mom died in a mission years ago. Hope wants to wear the Ant-Man suit for herself, but you have to wait for Scott's explanation about this.

And also, don't leave the theater right away as something else will be shown during the end credits regarding this matter, a teaser indicating that there will surely be a sequel.

Paul Rudd has been acting since the early 90s doing mostly forgettable movies and TV shows. Now, at 46, he finally achieves stardom in "Ant-Man", making his character witty and engaging. Even if "Ant-Man" has yet to be shown, he has already started recreating the same role in another coming Marvel movie, the latest sequel to "Captain America" to be released next year. Michael Douglas seems having a lot of fun in his role while Corey Stoll is also effective as the villain Darren Cross.