Time to recover from Infinity War with a fun, light-hearted family movie about two of the world’s most disgusting insects!
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas
Music By: Christophe Beck
Rated PG-13 (for frequent punching and occasional language)
Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, is nearing the end of his two-year house arrest sentence for his part in Captain America’s Civil War shenanigans. He gets an unexpected house call from Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne, who want his help in an attempt to rescue Hope’s mother from the Quantum Realm, where she’s been stuck for about 30 years. They plan to accomplish this using a shiny new bit of magic Pym tech, but a ghostly figure with the power to phase through objects has other plans for the device. Scott and Hope (newly outfitted with a wasp-themed shrinking suit) have to team up to stop Ghost’s schemes and rescue Janet, all without getting caught by the FBI or Scott’s over-zealous parole officers.
This movie is pretty much what you’d expect from an Ant-Man sequel. It’s full of fun action, goofy science, comedic moments (mostly courtesy of lovable ex-cons Luis and friends) and some heartwarming family relationships. Like its predecessor, it feels designed to be a bit of a breather after an epic, mostly serious Avengers movie. I had a lot of fun with it, but it was also the first Marvel movie in quite a while that didn’t amaze me with its quality and creativity.
And yet, I can’t say it didn’t fulfill my expectations. I wanted basically two things from this movie: lots of Wasp action and more creative uses of Pym’s size-changing tech (I felt the first movie was less imaginative on that score than it could have been). And I got plenty of both. Wasp definitely earns her co-star credit with Ant-Man, getting just as much screentime as he does and driving the plot in a much more significant way. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get quite as much character development as I would have liked. Just like the last female-focused superhero movie of the summer, this one seems afraid to give its heroine any major flaws or challenges to overcome. It’s less annoying here than it was in The Incredibles 2, though, because anything’s an improvement over Hope’s role as a glorified extra in the last movie. And it’s a lot of fun to see her and Scott working together in their matching suits. I’m a sucker for a good superhero teamup scene.
We also get to see a lot more of what Pym particles are capable of in this movie. Both Scott and Hope have gotten much better at weaponising rapid changes in size, whether it’s by shrinking down to dodge a punch or growing a Pez dispenser big enough to stop a car. And, of course, Giant-Man makes another welcome appearance. The movie is packed with cool fight scenes and car chases, trips to the ever-trippy Quantum Realm, and a variety of stunts achieved by variously-sized ants. If you’re looking for an afternoon of sheer goofy fun, this movie delivers pretty much everything you could hope for.
But if you’re looking for anything more than that, you’ll be disappointed. Ant-Man and the Wasp seems far more interested in delivering action and laughs than it is in giving its characters anything like a compelling story arc. For the most part, this movie doesn’t build on its predecessor’s character development at all. Scott is still a good dad, Hank Pym is still a bad dad (and husband) trying to redeem himself, and Hope is still a super-competent fighter and ant-whisperer. I still find Cassie adorable, and I still don’t buy the romantic connection between Scott and Hope. Nothing changes in this movie in terms of the characters and their relationships. As a result, even though the plot is essentially about bringing a loved one back from the dead, the story has surprisingly little emotional weight.
Ghost remedies that slightly. She’s everything a villain should be: legitimately threatening, with a sympathetic motivation and a shot at redemption that still don’t negate her evil actions. And unlike our protagonists, she does have a bit of a character arc over the course of the movie. Its effect is lessened a bit by the ending, which resolves her storyline with one of the more ridiculous deus ex machinas I’ve seen in a blockbuster movie, but I was on board up until then.
The movie’s secondary villain, Generic Evil Businessman #7, is so forgettable I’m not even completely sure why he was in the movie. He contributes nothing except excuses for a funny scene involving Luis and truth serum, and a car chase towards the end. Both those scenes are good, but I feel they could have been achieved in a way that didn’t involve giving tons of screentime to the most boring Marvel villain since the prosthetic elf in Thor: The Dark World.
I was also slightly disappointed by this movie’s use of the Quantum Realm. Mainly because it makes no sense. A Marvel movie is generally the last place I would expect to find scientific accuracy, but this movie takes the goofiness to another level. Just about everything in the plot is resolved by never-before-seen magical powers that are supplied by the Quantum Realm in ways the movie doesn’t even attempt to explain. Yes, I know, that’s how comic book science works most of the time, but when it comes to resolving a major plot point, I like the explanation to consist of a little more than a pseudo-scientific name beginning with the word “quantum.”
Overall, this is a fun, light-hearted summer movie that goes well with popcorn and is suitable for kids (as long as they don’t have insect phobias). After the last six or seven masterpieces of blockbuster cinema, I guess I’ve just come to expect a little more than that from Marvel.
Come on, Captain Marvel. Please live up to the hype.