Ant-Man and the Wasp - 2018
Director(s): Peyton Reed
Writer(s): Chris McKenna, Erick Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari
Cinematography by: Dante Spinotti
Editor(s): Dan Lebental and Craig Wood
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Hanna John-Kamen, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas
Synopsis: As Scott Lang balances being both a Super Hero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds the Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past (IMDB).
Ant-Man and the Wasp has a lot going for it coming in. For one, it’s the first Marvel movie to feature a female superhero in the title. It’s a sequel to one of the more unique and self-contained stories in the MCU and it’s riding the wave of what I like to call season three’s mid-season finale: Avengers: Infinity War. One of the missing heroes in that installment was our titular Ant-Man, since he was getting his solo movie, and they decided to bill this movie as “what he doing while the world was ending,” and it turns out that he was playing drums and being a great father to his daughter. Oh, and some shenanigans with the Wasp and the quantum realm.
Quick note: I’m not the first or the last one to say this, but they say the word quantum a lot. So, if you are looking for a new movie to create a drinking game around, this one would be particularly dangerous.
The story picks up two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War, in which Scott Lang, played by the evergreen charisma of Paul Rudd, sided against the government and fought alongside Cap. This lead to him taking a plea deal, mentioned in Infinity War, and being under house arrest. This adds some tension between him and the Wasp, played by Evangeline Lilly, since he put her and her father Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, in the radar of the FBI. The main plot is really centered around Wasp and Pym trying to rescue the original Wasp, Pym’s wife from the quantum realm, and they need Scott’s help since he is the only one to ever make it back from that realm.
If you come into this movie with the mindset of it being a comedy, it will work for you. If you come in with the mindset that it will answer questions, have the same stakes or be a complement piece to Infinity War, you will walk away underwhelmed. Luckily, I walked in with the mindset that it’s a comedy and I had a blast. They did lean a little too much of some jokes, the awkward family hugs and the “romantic stares” being interrupted by a cranky Michael Douglas, but overall the movie is very funny. All the characters have great chemistry and they play off each other seamlessly. Michael Peña is hilarious and has one of the funniest sequences of the entire movie with the effects of a “truth” serum. I would watch an entire movie of him narrating events. Paul Rudd is Paul Rudd, and he and his onscreen daughter have a funny and heartwarming relationship.
Director Peyton Reed continues to showcase a great eye for action, particularly when it comes to utilizing Ant-Man and the Wasp’s powers. He uses the shrinking-down effect to his full advantage, creating simple yet complex solutions to what would be a hard fight or car chase if our protagonist couldn’t go tiny. They added an element to the movie where Ant-Man’s suit isn’t fully working, creating multiple scenarios where he has to improvise in both funny and creative ways. One qualm I have with this movie is how dark it looks, almost as if the light source is always behind the actors. I think it’s to hide the CGI better, particularly for the flashback scenes in which they masterfully de-age Douglas and Pfeiffer, but the visuals don’t match the tone and story. This movie should be bright and colorful to match the bright and colorful characters.
The actors are great. Paul Rudd is charming, funny and gives his underdog character warmth to the point that you want a criminal dad just like him. Michael Peña and Randall Park need to be in a lot more movies; their sense of humor and timing are impeccable. Lilly and Douglas build on their characters from the first and add to their growth. My biggest qualm, and it’s not really her fault, is Hanna John-Kamen’s character of Ghost. She is supposed to be the villain, but she really is inconsequential to the plot of the story. Sure, she is the “villain”, but all I cared about was Rudd getting back to his family and Lilly saving her mother. Ghost’s role in the plot was being someone to punch in the face every now and again. Also, Goggins, while he is a wonderful actor, was a random addition to the third act.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun, contained and inconsequential addition to the MCU. While it references movies outside of their world, they could easily remain separate from the other movies and I would be fine with it since all I care about is the interpersonal relationships of the character and not how they fit into the bigger puzzle. Great action, funny situations and charismatic characters drive this movie home for me. Michael Peña is why I love movies.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is currently playing in theaters. Go watch it, it’s fun.
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