Film Review – Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Infinity War rocked the world a few months ago, changing the landscape in superhero films, expanding what was possible within this subset of films that is slowly becoming a genre of its own. You always need a palette cleanser after such a film, however. There’s only so much you can do to up the ante in every MCU movie. Ant-Man and the Wasp, the latest movie from Marvel, does just that, blending humor and wacky technology for a relaxing, pleasant time at the theater.
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Peyton Reed
Written By: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, T.I., David Dastmalchian, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, and Michelle Pfeiffer
After being put on house arrest for his role in the German airport fight between many, many heroes a few years back, Scott Lang (Rudd) finds himself without an outlet for hero-like activities, losing touch with Hope (Lilly) and Dr. Pym (Douglas) a while back.
But when Scott starts to have bizarre visions of Hope’s mom who was lost in the quantum zone long ago, Scott is thrust back into action to help Hope and Dr. Pym create some new technology to possibly bring her back, but people like Ava (John-Kamen) and Sonny (Goggins) won’t make that very easy.
You saw Infinity War. Everyone saw Infinity War (the film has made over $2 billion and counting thus far in its theatrical run). But in case you’ve been living in a bunker somewhere, cut off from the world and its regular phenomena (in which case I must thank you from the bottom of my heart for making MovieBabble one of your first reads since your reemergence back into society), I’ll spare you from the details.
But, Infinity War had a rather large fallout, which made even more eyes dart to Ant-Man and the Wasp. Would the film answer some of the more pressing questions to come out of the biggest team-up superhero film of all-time?
Marvel was smart to place Ant-Man and the Wasp after Infinity War. The film is obviously more modestly budgeted than other superhero outings. It’s never going to make a run at the $1 billion mark. Still, the implications of Infinity War have more eyes turned to this surprise sequel. It wouldn’t shock me if it overperformed passed box office predictions. The ripple effects of Infinity War will be felt for years, but Ant-Man and the Wasp’s success might be the first sign of its power over popular culture.
Paul Rudd is Still a National Treasure
You love Paul Rudd. I love Paul Rudd. We all love Paul Rudd! He’s arguably the best scamp in Hollywood today. His disposition is so damn charming, you can’t help but fall in love with him.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is wise to coast off of Rudd’s likability — it’s a pretty easy thing to do. From a comedic standpoint, Rudd is the center of it all, deflating intentionally over-serious or verbose sequences with a simple wink and smirk. Like the first Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly is clearly the more skilled and intelligent person between the two of them, and Rudd knows that too. His suit doesn’t work perfectly, his seemingly well-natured actions backfire, and he even struggles to be a good parent to his adorable daughter. But then he smiles or offers a quick quip, and you immediately love him.
His humor works as the perfect reality check. When everything appears a tad too serious, Rudd quickly jumps in to change that; he acts as a supporting character in his own movie. The balance allows the wonderful Evangeline Lilly to shine while still allowing Rudd to do what he does best: quip like there’s no tomorrow.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a Breath of Fresh Air…
Sometimes, it’s a bit tiring to see the universe on the verge of collapsing in every single superhero movie. There’s only so many ways to build tension in that manner. Although some of it isn’t as developed as I would have liked, it’s charming to see a car chase as a massive set piece in a Marvel movie.
Brad Peyton and Co. add little, intricate details to each fight, choreographing fun ways for the heroes to change size and wreak havoc on baddies. When I remember Ant-Man and the Wasp, I’ll think of its fun little quirks, both from the characters and the situations. It’s suitably small-scale, relying on zaniness and intelligent stupidity to continue the magic.
…But It Feels Unremarkable
But, in its reliance on smaller scale thrills, the entire film is somewhat forgettable. That does not mean that Ant-Man and the Wasp is unremarkable because it lacks a $250 million budget and an absurd spectacle that requires that it is seen in IMAX. Ant-Man and the Wasp simply struggles to innovate.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is similar to one of the lesser Phase One MCU films. It’s extremely competent in basically every way, but it includes nothing spectacular. The jokes are good, but they never reach their gut-busting potential. The action is fun, but it’s not much of a step up from the original Ant-Man. And this is the MCU, so you know that there’s a villain problem (just when you thought they were righting the ship with figures like Killmonger and Thanos).
Amazing thrills are possible from these characters. Except, everything is entirely too familiar in the end. I find myself having trouble talking about it in great detail. Yes, it’s a fun ride, yet it should be a little more than that.
Though it struggles to feel like a memorable piece of entertainment, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a very serviceable — and fun — entry into the Marvel canon. Filled with hilarious moments from the charming Paul Rudd, what Ant-Man and the Wasp lacks in pure spectacle it makes up for with great humor and inventive action set pieces that keep finding different ways to add a needed bit of delightfulness to it all.
Not every superhero movie can have end of the world stakes (nor should they all), and Ant-Man understands its places in the grand scheme of things for Marvel.
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