LARGER THAN LIFE
I love that the concept of Ant-Man is viable in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When the first film came out in 2015, it did not seem out of place amongst the other films, in terms of strangeness. Prior to it, we had followed the escapades of Tony Stark, a god of Thunder, a radioactive giant, and an American super soldier; a man that can make himself tiny at the press of a button didn’t seem out of the ordinary. The other biggest stand out of the film, before Deadpool, was that it was the most humorous of the Marvel movies at that point. I am happy to say that this sequel is able to fill some very big shoes.
Set two years after the events of Civil War, Scott Lang is enjoying the last days of house arrest with his daughter. He is, however, excommunicated from Hank Pym and his daughter Hope, until Scott reaches out to his former colleagues after receiving a cryptic vision of Hank’s wife who was known to be lost in the quantum realm. Scott is promptly kidnapped by Hope and forced to assist in retrieving her mother if she is alive. With assistance from Luis, played by Michael Pena, the team must battle a greedy, black market tech dealer, a former Shield stealth operative needing a cure for her peculiar ailment, and the ticking clock until our heroes lose their chance to retrieve Mrs. Pym.
This film was a delight: enjoyable, fun, and captured my imagination the visualization of the quantum realm. It felt very much a kin to sci-fi, pulp story of the nineteen-fifties, which gave a particular charm to the film. The goal, being more personal, was a nice refreshment after the universal threat of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. This extends to Ghost, the main antagonist, who is looking to remedy her quantum displacement affecting her body. It was nice to have everyone having steaks in the adventure that were all personal to each antagonist and the protagonist which all revolved around bringing Mrs. Pym back from the quantum realm.
The cast for this film for both returning and new members of the cast were welcome, while other were just present within the film. All welcome return was Luis, played by Michael Pena. The delivery of Luis’s stories was always a highlight of the first film, and it is so in this film as well. Paul Rudd always manages to be charming and likable when he is on screen. Cassie, Lang’s daughter, played by Abby Ryder Fortson, was adorable and was always fun when she interacting with Paul Rudd showing that she was just as clever as her co-star.
However, not all cast members are as memorable. While I respect Laurence Fishburne and Michele Pfeiffer, I do not feel that their presence, while giving the proper gravitas to the role, added anything to the characterization of the roles they were given beyond the star power of their names. While I did love Walton Goggins as black market tech dealer, and he does play the charming, southern gentlemen persona of a villain, but, like Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Pfeiffer, the part could have been played by a number of other top billing actors in the film industry. Some side characters ending up being my favorite in the series like Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park. He was enjoyable to have on screen as Scott Lang’s parole officer, and as a comedic foil to the Paul Rudd.
The film was creative in each scenario that involved the suits, weather it was a fight scene or a means of evasion and traversal. With Scott having disposed of the original suit after the events of Civil War, the new prototype being faulty leads to some pretty hilarious moments such as impersonating an elementary school child, or palpable moments of tension as Scott is nearly killed by drowning near the climax. Let us not forget Hope Pym, as teased at the end of the first film, she finally dawns the Wasp suit and introduces it with a great fight that involves wall running on a flying knife. She shows off her experience in the art of combat, and her skill with the Wasp suit very effectively over Ant-Man as they both battle Ghost. It was a great ride to see what the film did with the established technology of this movie.
The end of the film ends on a high note, with the arms dealer getting his “come up ins”, and Ghost essentially being reformed by the heroes. Mrs. Pym is rescued from her prison, which she has been stuck in for thirty years without food or water, but that is nit-pick. However after all the credits, we are reminded that Infinity War happened, or in the case of this “happening”. Ant-Man and Wasp is running right alongside the events of the third Avengers film. I was left with a pit in my stomach by the time the final credits crawled up the screen, with Scott Lang’s fate left to the unknown.
Overall, this film is a good watch. Kids will certainly enjoy the imaginative adventure, and the family will walk away awaiting for the following film to arrive in the next few years. The comedy and the personal victories of the heroes help to make this film easier for the audience to become more drawn into the plot. It is a perfect follow up to the darkly toned Infinity War with its lighter tone and focus on the comedy helps give this film a lot of appeal. Everyone will have something that they will enjoy about this film in some aspect or another.
What can I say about Ant-Man and The Wasp? It is easier to first say what it is not. It is not a ride on the humor coaster, with ups and downs through highs and lows, an uneven journey punctuated with moments of sudden hilarity. Nor is it a barely connected series of fist pumping action scenes, strung together of the thinnest of plot thread. It is not a showcase for award-winning powerhouse performances, nor is it an occasion for revealing a sage script writer’s profound wisdom through the magic of spoken word.
Ant-Man and The Wasp is a nice little comedy action show with just the right elements in just the right proportions to produce a sweet and easy sort of family-friendly entertainment. It does everything right, but does not really make a lasting impact on the show-going psyche. It is exactly the sort of production which keeps the momentum of the franchise, but does not contribute to the much feared “genre fatigue” which will, eventually, sap the vigor of the series.
The performances were all quite fine, though Michael Douglas seemed to really not want to be there. Paul Rudd’s natural easy going humor matched well with his effortless physicality, but his ability to change persona is found wanting in one critical scene. The real standout performance was drawn out from Laurence Fishburne, who set aside his usual Matrix-breaking “voice of God” presence to show us his previously unknown soft spoken, Low-T intellectual. Watching him portray Bill Foster was like watching a backwards version of The Nutty Professor.
A willful suspension of scientific skepticism is necessary to fully enjoy the movie, and I encourage attendees to accept the given situations with all the scrutiny one would usually squander on a typical episode of Doctor Who. The only peas in the mattress I could complain about is some of the forced and award dialogue used to reference the events of Civil War, to establish the chronology of events, I suppose.
Speaking of which, there is one mid-credit scene for which the audience should remain seated, one which firmly establishes the temporal relationship this episode shares with Infinity War. This one scene is actually the most powerful and impressive moment of the whole film and its suddenness truly shocked and saddened the unspoiled audience attending the early screening I enjoyed. The post-credit stinger is NOT worth waiting around for. SPOILER: It is a big dumb ant playing the drums for no real reason.
Altogether, Ant-man and The Wasp was a good installment in the series, I recommend seeing it and will probably buy the physical Blu-Ray when released.