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Brett Fish

Honey, I shrunk Paul Rudd: Ant-Man review

Marvel, it seems, is not afraid to take chances.

Not since announcing the riskiest proposition of their next superhero movie featuring characters from a single-line-of-dialogue speaking talking tree, a sarcastic racoon, a green-skinned woman to a former WWE wrestler – not to mention headlining this cast with the then relatively unknown ‘Andy Dwyer’ from Parks and Recreation actor, Chris Pratt – have they taken such a brave step as Ant-Man.

Yet we all know what happened when Guardians of the Galaxy blasted into cinemas and up the International Box-Office charts. ‘This is Groot’ could have been the tagline. Mission accomplished.

Guardians of the Galaxy Line-up

But it still leaves you wondering how a studio with benchmark heroes such as Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Captain America would take a risk on a less mainstream character based on a man whose ‘superpower’ is shrinking to the size of a tiny insect.

Perhaps that is why Ant-Man did not pull in the same kind of money that ‘Guardians’ was able to attract. Yet, I walked out of the cinema (too early it seems – make sure you wait for the SECOND post credits snippet!) feeling like it must be a sure fire hit.

VISUALLY BREATH-TAKING

Basically ‘Honey, I shrunk the kids’ for a new generation, Ant-Man has some of the best visuals I have seen in a long time. A death-defying moment for the villain involving a Thomas the tank engine electric train was sadly spoiled by the trailer, but, that aside, the bouncing between size domains seemed to take place effortlessly and with much ‘Wow!’ response from the audience.

Another big question Ant-Man had against it was  with lead actor, Paul Rudd.  Known more for co-starring or guest appearance roles in movies like Anchorman and TV series such as Friends and Parks and Recreation, there was some doubt as to whether he would be able to carry an entire movie. But he does just that mostly by, well, playing Paul Rudd. In a similar way to how Chris Pratt was able to layer an action hero over his snarky wise-cracking Andy Dwyer, Rudd does the same. In a way that has you completely holding thumbs for him the whole way.

Paul Rudd as Ant-Man

But unlike some recent Marvel box-office crushers, such as Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, what Ant-Man really had going for it was heart. In the same way that Guardians wrestled your hearts over to their team of rag-tag misfits, so Ant-Man’s Scott Lang, just desperate to be reconnected with his daughter does the same. Other relationships add to this dynamic such as Hank Pym’s strained relationship with his daughter, Hope, over the mysterious death of his wife, the tension between Hank and his former mentee Darren Cross (who becomes the big bad) and even the complicated dynamic between Scott and Paxton, the police officer Scott keeps butting heads with, who happens to be engaged to Scott’s ex-wife.

A recurring theme in the movie is found in the line, “Become the hero, she already believes you to be” and Hank’s declaration to Scott early on that, “Everybody deserves a second chance.” This is a message that I imagine resonates with every one of us, especially as we take a moment to think back on some actions, thoughts and behaviour in our own lives we are not too proud of.

Hank Pym faces off with Darren Cross

A pivotal point happens between Darren and his former mentor, when he asks him what he had seen in him to take him on as a mentor and he responds, “I saw myself in you.” When he presses further, “But what made you walk away from me?” which is answered with, “I started to see too much of myself in you.”

WHO DO YOU FOLLOW?

It is a healthy thing in life for us to have mentors. People we see some goodness in or some aspect of character that we could use developed in ourselves. But no man or woman is ever going to be perfect in this sense and while it can be helpful to learn and embrace some lessons from the people around us we admire, it can only lead to trouble if we try to become everything they are. Having said that, I believe one man may have been an exception. You can learn more about him by clicking on the link below.

Who will you invest in, in 2016?

As we head towards the end of another year, it is a great opportunity to stop, pause and reflect on the good, bad and ugly of 2015. And then look forward to what we will invest in, in the New Year.

We might tend to do that with regards to habits and the way we spend our time, in terms of thinking about our jobs and whether we are happy there or looking to move on, and maybe even with our money looking at do we need to tighten or can we afford to loosen our belts.

But do we ever do that with people? Do you?

Let me head you towards 2016 with three invitations as far as the people in your life are concerned.

INVEST IN THE WORDS

I write about this one quite a lot because I find it so valuable, but my first invitation is to diversify the people who speak into your life. I am thinking particularly of the books that you read [if you read books] but also if you follow podcasts or blogs and even if you are someone who is a churchgoer and listens to sermons.

Over the last three years I have been intentional in terms of choosing the majority of authors I read to be people who don’t look and sound like me. People of colour has been a big one, especially as I am trying to more deeply and accurately understand the complicated history of my country, South Africa. Women has been another one as they tend to give a very different flavour to men as they often see or experience things differently and the perspective they give enhances and often challenges my own.

I will on occasion read a book by a white, heterosexual, Christian, middle-aged male but only if the topic is really interesting to me – for the most part I have found changing up this perspective has given me a far more balanced view of life.

Another suggestion within this might be to read around a subject you have never read up on before. I realised two years ago that I didn’t know much about the Israel/Palestine conflict at all and it felt important to have some idea. So I chatted to a good friend of mine, Steve, who has visited the country a number of times and since then have read three highly recommended books by him. I’m no expert, but I feel like I’ve broadened my perspective and understanding of the world.

Why not invite friends of yours to recommend their top book by an author of a different gender, race, religion, background to yours and then commit to reading twelve of those books over the next year?

INVEST IN THE RECEIVING

Who speaks into your life? And more importantly, who have you invited to speak into your life? As you head into a new year there might be different parts of your life that could use the benefit of someone who is an expert or who maybe has some experience in that particular aspect. Not all of them may have the time or inclination to help you, but you will never know unless you ask.

If you’re married, then finding an older married couple who you respect and believe to have a strong marriage and asking if they will have dinner with you once a month, might be a hugely life-giving thing to your marriage. This also will be a really great thing to invite even if you are dating or preparing for marriage. As a single person, there might be an older single person who you would relate to in issues of life and love and more and so the same applies.

If you struggle with money, then finding someone who works in that field [as they may be much more passionate about it than you] and ask them if they will mentor you through decisions involving investment, savings, debt relief and how and why you spend your money?

For your spiritual life, do you have a mentor? Have you invited some of your strong friends to hold you accountable in different areas you might be weak or struggle in? Have you given anyone the permission to ask you the really difficult questions?

People tend towards busy and so you may not be able to find all of the people you would like or need to do all of these things [and they can move towards other things like strengthening your gym program, or learning how to service your car or finding someone who will mentor you in food preparation] but as you head into 2016, why not pick some key areas and some people you trust and at least send the invitation.

INVEST IN THE GIVING

This is the one you will have a little more control over. As you look back through 2015, who are the people who you mentored, or cheered on, or taught something, or listened to? Some of you reading this will have a list that is really impressive and maybe already too long and the invitation is NOT for you to overload yourselves with more people?

But if you are reading this and realise that 2015 was a bit lean in terms of people you poured into, then please be more intentional in 2016. What are some of the strengths that you have that others might be interested in?  Or is there someone perhaps a little younger than you, who you might be able to meet up with once a week for a coffee or milkshake and just connect with them and give them a space to share or ask questions.

The opportunities are endless, but it takes intentionality.

All the best as you look to make good people investments in 2016.

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