Ant-Man (2015): The Miniature 3D goes sky high in the hands of Director Peyton Reed and actor Paul Rudd

The latest gift from Marvel Comics departs from the regular Avenger type

By Anirban Lahiri

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Ant-Man, Movie Poster, Director by Peyton Reed
Ant-Man (2015) - By Peyton Reed
Our Rating: 6.5
IMDb Ratings: 7.9
Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
CastPaul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll
Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 117 min
Color: Color

Summary: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Ant-Man stands out from all other Marvel characters for its army of ants, with a shrunk man as their leader. Marvel franchise has presented a plethora of different super heroes to us, for years. The platter includes different breeds of super powers from Hulk and Spiderman to Captain America, Iron Man, X-Men and Ghost rider. The Ant-man is the latest addition to the list. The comic book character was created in 1962. However, the cinema hall debut had to wait for five decades, for some unknown reason.

Just like all other Marvel stories of these days, Ant-Man offers a brilliant experience in 3D. Added to the regular effort, the miniature character of the hero is shot in life-size as well as in shrunk camera. In 3D, there is a concept called Depth Budget. Depth Budget means the totality of the perceived distance between the foreground (FG) and the distant background (BG). 

Paul Rudd as Scot Lang in Ant-Man, Directed by Peyton Reed
Paul Rudd as Scot Lang in Ant-Man
In the early 3D cinema of the 30s, 50s and 70s, the bulk of actions used to occur outside the screen-space. 3D people call that the “theatre space”. Too much theatre space action easily make the viewer dizzy, and the action unenjoyable. Clearly, that is an extreme example of spectacle. We, human beings, go to cinema to enjoy a parallel life, with elements of dreams present. If that becomes too much like dream, or a fantasy zone even beyond dream, it would be irritating.

Depth Budget is dependent on the practical distance between the two camera lenses. For characters in the middle ground, shot with a normal lens (a normal lens captures the image in a way where the perceived distance between characters and background/foreground, or the distance between the character and the camera, matches the distance in reality), this distance (known as the “inter-axial distance) is equal to the distance between our eyes (known as “inter-ocular” distance). If, for some reason, the inter-axial distance is higher than the inter-ocular, the depth would be more. If we want an already far-away background to recede further, the inter-axial distance must be set too high. For example, to give a proper rounded 3D look to the moon, the two cameras may be set miles apart. However, this is a rare situation.

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed
A Still from Peyton Reed's Ant-Man
The other choice the Stereographer (ie, 3D motion picture expert) must make is to decide which distance in the frame should align with the screen depth. That may be any distance in the FG, MG (Middle Ground) or BG. If the BG is set to the screen space, the whole action area would be in front of the screen – precisely what used to be in the early days of 3D. Contemporary filmmakers have learnt from this past mistake. Hence, the nearest distance in the action area is normally kept aligned with screen space, and any farther distance is given depth, beyond the screen area.

In Ant-Man, they shot largely with macro lenses, thus letting the action stand out aesthetically by making both FG and BG blurred. They made the background larger than normal to emphasize the Ant-Man’s diminished size. At the same time, the filmmakers have played with the Depth Budget to evoke intensity of action and immediacy. The result is a tremendously soothing 3D action.

Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym in Ant-Man, director by Peyton Reed
Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym in Ant-Man
Another VFX treat is to find a young Michael Douglas in the character of Dr Hank Pym. This is the Michael Douglas from Wall Street (1987). Lola VFX, the company responsible for all those fantasy creations in Ant-Man, returned the actor to his 40s. We have seen such de-ageing effects in X-Men previously. Here, the polish has reached an unprecedented scale.

Sci-Fi and fantasy aficionados would find Ant-Man relishing. Viewers who do not follow the regular Marvel franchise too religiously would find the film relishing. Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) tapped the mysteries of the black hole and the world beyond the four dimensions. Ant-Man takes it one step further, to the world of quantum space where the known laws of physics do not work. In a clever twist of events, the film prepares its audience for a plausible sequel too.

Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, in Ant-Man, Directed by Peyton Reed
A Still from Peyton Reed's Ant-Man
Besides these innovations in visual storytelling, the basic plot has most of the regular ingredients of an avenger film from the Marvel. A badass hero who is a failure to his own family, an extra-ordinary scientist who wants to save the world, an evil doctor who wants his own kingdom, and the Princess who trains the hero. Only the dragon is absent; but a variety of ants fulfil that lack. An interesting, modern fairy tale that enlightens us about evil ambitions and the conversion factor that sculpts a hero out of an intelligent criminal – that is how Ant-Man works.

The film is definitely better than Captain America, but less thrilling than the last Avengers.

About Author - 

Anirban is a Cinematographer and film teacher. After a marathon teaching of filmmaking for five years in Digital Academy, Mumbai, he is busy writing his own film now. He was with DearCinema during its first phase. Steeped in cultural theory, observation and history, he sees all his work as part of a continuum – critique. Anirban consciously plays the role of a critic while shooting films, teaching, writing stories, and of course while critiquing. His favourite filmmakers are Sergei Eisenstein, Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, Ritwik Ghatak, Satyaji Ray, Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Abbas Kiarostami and Nagisa Oshima, to name a few.

Readers, please feel free to share your views/opinions in the comment box below. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  


Ant-Man (2015) Trailer (YouTube)

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  1. I like the movie. Yes agree! it could have been a much better movie. Great Review and thanks for sharing


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