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AutoMatters+: “Ant-Man” — The Movie & The Exhibit

"Ant-Man" preview in the Bug’s Life Theater at Disney California Adventure
Paul Rudd stars as "Ant-Man"

The Marvel Universe has grown again — or should I say it has shrunk in the extreme? In an interesting change of direction (down versus up, smaller versus larger, and so forth), “Ant-Man” represents a refreshing change from the long trend towards increasingly epic superhero movies on a larger and larger scale.

The movie’s tag line says it all: “Heroes Don’t Get Any Bigger.” Ant-Man explores the macro world, which is new territory in the Marvel cinematic universe. Its hero — Scott Lang, capably portrayed by comedian Paul Rudd, is not your typical superhero. He is an ex-con and, quite literally, a reluctant superhero. As his Ant-Man character shrinks, his power grows exponentially.

Ant-Man is hardly new to Marvel comics and The Avengers. He first appeared way back in 1962.

“Ant-Man” succeeds on so many levels. Yes, there are plenty of computer-generated, awesome special effects, but they are different. Marvel has created an amazing microscopic world made up of a variety of types of ants that are distinctly different from each other, and controlled by Ant-Man. It is quite possible that you will empathize with some of the ants — one in particular. They have, believe it or not, endearing personalities.

Ant-Man suit

Set in San Francisco, the macro world proves to be a very scary place, full of life-and-death challenges for Ant-Man. Everyday activities like being in a tub (watch out for flowing water and the drain!), on a crowded dance floor (being underfoot is dangerous!), on a carpet with an approaching vacuum cleaner, outdoors in the city at night (automobile traffic is truly scary when you’re ant-sized), or even being in the vicinity of a child’s train set as Thomas the Tank Engine chugs around, all pose death-defying challenges for Ant-Man to overcome. You will love how Ant-Man gets around quickly in this huge world (here’s a hint: scary flight is involved).

Of course there are the villains, who do their very best to squash Ant-Man like the bug that he is. The possibilities seem endless.

There is great comedy here, and it is not necessarily from where you might expect. Yes, Paul Rudd is a comedian, but Ant-Man’s associates add greatly to the humor factor, as they often steal the show. Their antics are hilarious, especially as they interact with the macro-sized Ant-Man. Luis is awesome, and his beat-up old van proves that sometimes keeping it simple is better.

Of course there is a Stan Lee cameo. This would not be a Marvel movie without one.

Michael Douglas masterfully plays Dr. Hank Pym, the brilliant scientist behind the ANT-MAN tech. He is much more concerned with protecting humanity from his tech than by profiting from it. That is his driving motivation in “Ant-Man.”

His relationship with his daughter is strained. She is portrayed by the talented actress Evangeline Lilly — perhaps best known for her role as the endearing Kate on the “Lost” TV series, and hailing from my home province of Alberta, Canada (yes!). She plays a key role in both the development of the Ant-Man character and also in the exposition of the evil, yet charismatic villain — Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (actor Corey Stoll). Cross was once the promising protégé of Dr. Pym.

Entrance to Ant-Man exhibit at Disney California Adventure

The degree of detail in “Ant-Man” is extreme, as can be seen in Ant-Man’s intricately detailed suit. Its appearance is, at first glance, dominated by its wine-colored leather, but it is wired to light up with more than 159 LED lights. It has hundreds of pieces, and a crew is needed to help put it on. The helmet, which includes a respirator, has more than 60 components. The team “constructed 13 Ant-Man suits, 17 helmets, 17 belts, 8 pairs of gloves, 15 backpacks, 6 pairs of shoes, 15 balaclavas and 14 necklaces that go on the balaclava.”

Be sure to stick around for the closing credits — there are not one but two additional scenes.

Disney promotes Marvel films in its Southern California theme parks. For “Ant-Man,” it exhibited an Ant-Man suit, and screened an extended, 4-D preview of the movie. Audience members wore 3-D glasses and experienced physical effects in the specially constructed theater as they watched the preview. Appropriately, that preview was screened in the Bug’s Life Theater in Disney California Adventure.

My bottom line is this: “Ant-Man” is a great, highly entertaining movie. Go see it. And yes, Ant-Man will most certainly return.

I’d like to hear what you think. Please write to AutoMatters@gmail.com with your comments and suggestions. I will write back.

Copyright © 2015 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters+ #394


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