The box office has belonged to Marvel for the past two years. With the timing of Ant-Man and the Wasp coming on the heels of Infinity War it is clear that even Kevin Feige felt like the audience needed a palate cleanser, and that is exactly what was delivered. Peyton Reed’s second installment in the Ant-Man franchise is an enjoyable movie experience on a much smaller scale. While it is not without its flaws, it was nice to be able to take a deep breath and enjoy the 20th installment to the MCU after the emotional bludgeoning that Avengers: Infinity War provided.
Set two years after the events of Civil War, we find Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) out of prison and under house arrest where he is dealing with the fallout of his past actions. Under the eye of FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randal Park) Lang attempts to get his back, forbidden from having any contact with any wanted criminals including Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). When Scott starts experiencing the residual effects of his time in the Quantum Realm, he is compelled to reach out to his former associates once again. Lang then is forced once again to consider the consequences of his actions, and how they affect those closest to him. Meanwhile, Hope and Hank are attracting attention for their continued work with all things “quantum” from some unsavory characters including black market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and mysterious new foe, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).
The female characters carry this movie. Whether it’s Hope Van Dyne, Janet Van Dyne, or even Cassie Lang it is the women of Ant-Man and the Wasp that make this movie work. For her part, Evangeline Lilly nails the role of Hope Van Dyne. She is the yin to Paul Rudd’s impossibly charming yang. Likewise, scene-stealer Abby Ryder Fortson does an incredible job as Lang’s emotional compass in her portrayal of Cassie Lang. And for the sake of not spoiling any of the plot, trust me when I say that Michelle Pfeiffer and Hannah John-Kamen drive certain parts of the movie.
Peyton Reed also did a nice job of mixing the humor, drama, and action of this film. While he did lean too heavilyon the comedy at times, it is always nice to be reminded that what you are watching on-screen is absurd, and that people shrinking or growing to different sizes is as entertaining as it is ridiculous.
What Doesn’t Work:
While I might be in the minority, I too often found myself thinking that Ant-Man is a bad superhero. That’s not to say that the concept of Ant-Man is bad, but that Scott Lang is just bad at being a superhero. In the first film, it was clear that Lang had some skill as a burglar, safe-cracker, and knew his way around computer systems. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, he could not seem to get out of his own way. For most of the movie Lang was constantly doing the wrong thing, was not understanding what was going on around him most of the time, did not know how to work his own suit, and basically was just getting in the way of other people. Again, the character gets a pass because he was portrayed by Paul Rudd, but you will often find yourself thinking (correctly) that maybe The Wasp should have been the first name on the poster. In one scene, Hope and Scott are talking about Scott leaving for Germany to help Steve Rogers. Hope then mentions that she was never asked to come, to which a complete stranger next to me asked aloud, “why didn’t they ask her?” Needless to say, I didn’t have a good answer. In addition to Lang and his bumbling, the third act of the film takes on a bit of a Keystone Cops, Three Stooges feel to it. Lang’s associates (played once again by Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, and T.I.) have their moments, but you eventually find yourself rolling your eyes at some of the “wocka wocka” style jokes.
“Should I See This?”
Yes. At some point I have to stop nitpicking this movie and see it for what it is. It is a full-on large popcorn with extra butter type of movie that you will leave you with a smile on your face. While it places itself in the bottom half of the MCU pantheon, that does not mean it is a bad movie. It fits snugly between much more hard-hitting stories and let’s you have fun watching a Marvel movie once again. I think we all needed that after the heartbreak of Infinity War.
Simply put; it’s not too big, not too small and is exactly Marvel fans needed.
WHAT ABOUT THE SCENES AFTER THE MOVIE?
There are two. Mid and post credits. Stay for both…obviously.