The Little Engine That Could Run You Over

tobacco Knights presents

Installment 12: Ant-Man

2015 Directed by Peyton Reed

I feel like the bar keeps getting raised as the MCU series trudges forward. Not necessarily in topping the previous installment in bombastic over-the-top action (save that for just The Avengers series), but in overall movie quality and enjoyment. How “good” the movie is, in the World According to Twitter. And for the most part, I think they’re pulling it off.

You could start to sense the expectations of greatness by the time The Avengers finally culminated and made it to the big screen. A lot was expected of Whedon and company, and they pretty much delivered. Then the second Thor installment came along and it was actually really good, there was just a lot they tried to do in a limited amount of screen time. Then The Winter Soldier came along and really knocked it out of the park, causing even the higher-brow critics to take notice and admit to its quality. Then the surprise greatness of Guardians! Then mother-effen Ultron and all its promotion and build-up….

So by the time Ant-Man made its way to theaters, I think the gen-pop of the MCU fandom had come to expect great movies from the Marvel creators at the very least, regardless of what particular hero is driving the vehicle. A lot of pressure to put on a film given the rather obscure central character, to be played by an unassuming buddy-picture everyman. As high as the bar had been raised, it seemed a long-shot for any real chance at satisfying the fans and making any money. The tepid box office returns of the much-hyped Ultron a few months earlier only added to the pressure and hopes for Ant-Man’s success. So when it opened and positive reviews immediately began being posted, you could almost feel that the expectations of the fan base had lit a fire under the filmmakers’ butts and pushed them a little harder to deliver a satisfying product.

I liked Ant-Man a lot. Paul Rudd ended up being a really good choice for the leading role, and the storyline and the way the filmmakers delivered it was pretty good. There were a few things here and there that I could have done without, particularly the exaggerated emotional triangle between Michael Douglas’s Pym, his daughter Lilly, and departed wife Janet. But the best thing was Michael Pena as the hilarious side-kick, and his chatter-box flashback stories that stole every scene they were a part of. This guy can be in every movie from now on and I won’t complain. There have been some good Tontos in the MCU so far, but Pena’s Luis by far takes the cake. And Corey Stoll and his perfectly bald big head makes for a great creepy and intimidating antagonist. But enough can’t be said for Rudd, who worked out great, not just for the heroic title role, but I think he’ll eventually be a great fit into the rest of the Avengers ensemble.

The One Thing: The best thing about this film was the underlying Little-Engine-That-Could feeling that seemed to permeate the whole thing. Not just in the obvious correlation with the diminutive title character, but the underdog position the whole enterprise seemed to have from the get-go, and embrace, beginning with Marvel’s choice for the potentially under-whelming Ant-Man as its next installment, and choosing guy-next-door Rudd for the main role. And the film didn’t try to take on too much. There were interactions with the rest of the MCU, but for the most part it kept to itself and was its own story. It seemed more to set up the opportunity for the MCU to come to it in future installments, not vice versa. And the technology/SFX and the way they relate to the title character, the way he uses them, and their look on screen, was the best it’s been since Iron Man. I didn’t expect the whole shrinking/enlarging ploy to be such an integral device of his fighting style, but that took it to another level, and was dazzling on screen. It will definitely be a cool (and unique!) addition to the conglomerate fight scenes involving all of the Avengers simultaneously if we ever get to see that.

For what has now become the way over-anticipated post-credit epilogues, these were pretty good. And, like the movie, they were poignant to the characters of this film first and foremost, with a bit of the outside MCU seeping in. The revealing of the Wasp suit was cool, and brought the plotline of Pym and his daughter that we’d just watched full circle. And the final glimpse of Falcon with Cap and Bucky… I’m ready for Civil War!

Just Blowing Smoke: Certainly with pun intended, the Nub Connecticut packs a huge punch in a small package. If you’ve never smoked one – beware. What looks like a 20-minute quickie actually smokes just as long as a full length Churchill, with the same amount of wallop. I don’t know how they do it, but the makers of this little spark plug roll a more densely packed filler that makes for a slower burn. And it’s not just a gimmick – the Nub is a great smoke, especially the Connecticut and the Cameroon. And the price matches their size more than their quality – under $7 and pretty easy to find. Again though, watch out if you’re an amateur smoker. I smoked the diminutive yet full-bodied Nub Habano the first time I came across this brand, thinking I’d get a quick puff before dinner. A half hour later I was laid out with a washcloth on my forehead asking God to make the dizziness go away….

To read The Nerdling’s review of Ant-Man click here.

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About UberApe

UberApe inhabits a forested area of Dallas, TX. His favorite pastimes are movies, cigars, hockey, and climbing over balconies of tall buildings.

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