Ant-Man and The Wasp
Ant-Man and the Wasp is another Marvel success, managing to capture the comedic talents of Paul Rudd and surround him with a great ensemble cast. The story is refreshingly small, while the comedy and thrills are large.
Fresh off of the world-ending destruction of Avengers: Infinity War is Ant-Man and the Wasp, Peyton Reed‘s slam-dunk sequel that manages to take advantage of the low-stakes story and terrific ensemble cast. Ant-Man and the Wasp is full of refreshing small-scaled stakes, yet large-sized thrills and enjoyment.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been side-lined and put on house arrest. He’s only a few short days away from his freedom, but some weird quantum realm stuff starts interfering with his dreams, which leads him back into the hands of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly).
Together, the three are trying to locate Hank’s wife, who is believed to still be alive somewhere in the quantum realm. To make matters worse, a mysterious matter-moving person by the name of Ghost is also after their mom, not to mention black market arms dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins).
With the help of an old friend by the name of Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) and Lang’s ragtag band of idiots (T.I., Michael Pena and David Dastmalchian), Ant-Man and the Wasp manages to become a beacon of post-Avengers success for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
My problems with the original Ant-Man had nothing to do with the cast or even the small-stakes. In fact, I enjoyed the fact that the film wasn’t about saving the world and instead about saving a father’s relationship with his daughter. But, the rest of the film felt like an exercise in origins stories and Marvel advertising for what was to come.
Surprisingly and thankfully, Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t suffer from those same problems and instead excels at being a small-stakes, high-thrills type of film.
Director Peyton Reed has clearly learned a thing or two about composing action shots and stringing together one comedic bit after another, without ever derailing the film from its central story.
Ant-Man and the Wasp has a lot going on and to help it move so briskly, Reed has brought in even more characters, while also giving previous characters a bit more to do.
Paul Rudd‘s Scott Lang is again the most likable Marvel character out of probably the entire Cinematic Universe, while Michael Douglas‘ Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly‘s Hope are starting to become even more essential to Rudd’s likability. They provide a counteract to his silliness and it has become a true joy watching them interact.
Michael Pena again steals the show as Lang’s right-hand-man, providing us with yet another hilarious voiceover flashback and also a bit more relevance to the overall success of the film’s story. This time around, Lang’s friends actually service the plot and further his character, versus simply sitting in the background, waiting to pop off a joke.
The introduction of Laurence Fishburne and Walton Goggins to the MCU is welcoming and mostly needed. Fishburne gives his character a lot more to do and to think about than initially expected. I guessed where his character was going to fit in after watching the first few trailers, but I was surprised by the direction throughout the film. There’s more than meets the eye to Fishburne’s character and I hope that we see him again in the MCU.
Walton Goggins might get flack for being one of those “pointless villains”, but it is refreshing watching a Marvel movie where our beloved superheroes aren’t fighting equally powerful bad guys.
Goggins is simply an arms dealer with a crop of mindless henchmen, which might make his character seem less important, but still gives us a chance to watch the “everyday” baddie try to go toe-to-toe with quantum-bending scientists (and Ant-Man).
Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) isn’t really given enough time to truly leave a mark, but her presence does suggest more to come in the future. I’m not sure what future Ant-Man films hold, but I’m sure she’ll come back into the fold eventually.
Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s biggest problems rest with the fact that director Peyton Reed is trying to cram so much into such a short film. He mostly pulls it off, unlike the previous film, but there’s still a small sense of Ant-Man and the Wasp feeling like a more minor Marvel movie, when it has the makings to be just as good as the rest of them.
The visuals on display are truly mind-melting as Lang shrinks and expands to create some of the most memorable fighting sequences in a Marvel film. I’m glad to also announce that the 3D for this film is totally worth it (if you can even find a theater that still supports the format).
Ant-Man and the Wasp is an engaging palate cleanser to Avengers: Infinity War. I mean that in the most positive way. There’s nothing about this film to suggest that it’s mediocre or simply there to follow a large event film. Ant-Man and the Wasp still has a lot going for it, but dropping it immediately after one of the biggest films ever is the smartest move Marvel could have ever made.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is grounded in its approach, focusing on the search for a lost family member, while also giving us enough action and engagement to further us into the MCU. It ties together with enough tightness to call it a must-watch for Marvel fans, yet it has enough slack to branch out and become its own brand of silly and fun. It’s low-stakes, but high-thrills and I don’t care how many times I’ve used that wording!