Ant-Man And The Wasp

Director    Peyton Reed
Starring    Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas
Release    3 AUG (UK)    Certificate 12A
Ant-Man And The Wasp Movie Review


Grade B+

Matt Looker

18th July 2018

How do you follow an epic tragedy in which the world’s biggest A-list stars traverse the universe facing the most dire of movie stakes? How do you continue after the bummer-cliffhanger of seeing an all-powerful despot succeed in his plan to mercilessly wipe out half of the entire universe? You bring the LOLs! It serves as welcome respite, but essentially Marvel has followed its most consequential movie with its least.

Setting this film before Thanos executes his finger jazz-click allows director Peyton Reed to give us another fun-filled escapade completely unburdened by the larger MCU events that are still literally lingering in the air. But while this is a clear strategic move for Marvel, this film ends up overcompensating with its charm offensive. It may, for example, make sense after spending so much time with the Mad Titan of Avengers: Infinity War to dial back the big bad threat in this movie, but someone probably should have still made sure there was an actual villain left over.

The nearest thing we get to a baddie is a mysterious antagonist called Ghost, whose special abilities include phasing through solid objects and putting up visually impressive fights. But when her motives are established, she becomes a sympathetic character, and there’s an undeniable sense throughout the rest of the movie that everyone would all stop roundhouse-kicking each other if they just took the time to have a little bit of a chat.

"But wait! It looks like we might have some things in comm-"

Instead the stakes come from inherent dangers within the film’s set-up. Having established after the events of the first film that it might be possible to rescue his wife from the Quantum Realm, Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym concocts a plan to track and retrieve her, despite the many dangers that come from travelling to an infinitesimally small, acid-soaked technicolour wasteland.

Meanwhile, Paul Rudd’s Scott is coming to the end of his two-year term under house arrest, but gets drawn into Hank and Hope’s plan, forcing him to ditch his ankle bracelet and risk being found outside by the FBI and get sent back to prison for 20 years.

If they sound like relatively low risks, that’s because, in the grand scheme of things, they are - this sequel often has as much substance as Ghost’s incorporeal form. But, to counter, it also doubles down on the first film’s sense of family, and in particular of parental love; Scott doesn’t want to risk losing access to his daughter just as much as Evangeline Lilly’s Hope will do anything to bring back the mother she hasn’t seen for 30 years. So where there’s a lack of stakes, there’s plenty of heart, and it’s needed too, because this is what grounds the film in what is - and this is obviously the main takeaway from the film - a total laughfest.

Oversized everyday objects are never not funny

Following in the same vein as the first Ant-Man, this sequel is an absolute riot of expensive CGI silly gags and daft dialogue. Randall Park adds extra inanity as the incompetent, socially awkward FBI agent gunning for Rudd’s Scott Lang, and Walton Goggins brings an additional dimension of fun as the sleazebag criminal pursuing his own greedy motives and ending up hopelessly out of his depth.

This sequel doesn't do much that’s particularly fresh or removed from its predecessor, but it also doesn’t rely too much on copying its same big laughs
Otherwise, this sequel doesn’t do much that’s particularly fresh or removed from its predecessor, but it also doesn’t rely too much on copying its same big laughs. There’s no real-time cutaway to the ‘dink’ of a derailed toy train, and Michael Peña’s riffing flashbacks occur only once here... and it’s easily the best one of the lot.

In fact, Peña’s stuttering, semi-improvisational dialogue steals the film yet again, and it’s through his reactions and Paul Rudd’s goofiest character moments that this film really comes alive. And that’s saying something in a film filled with glorious visuals, incredibly inventive action sequences and lots of charm. Basically, show me Paul Rudd acting the fool, and nothing else in your movie matters to me.

One day, we will be friends and I’ll just WhatsApp him asking him what he’s up to and he’ll reply "nothing much" and I’ll say "yeah, me neither" and we’ll decide to just hang out doing nothing together, chilling on the sofa watching TV and then maybe go out and grab a drink in the evening but it won’t be a big deal and there’ll be no awkwardness or pressure, because that’s how great and easy our friendship will be. One day.

So this is a brilliantly entertaining adventure that switches between giant-sized funnies and small-but-powerful sight gags. There’s still no getting away from the fact though that this is just a movie palate cleanser, and as such it’s ultimately going to be as forgettable as all the nonsense pseudo science that gets spouted throughout almost every scene ("do you guys just put the word 'quantum' in front of everything?" asks Scott at one point).

And with this Wasp packing one hell of a devastating mid-credits sting, everyone knows that we’re all just biding our time until we can rejoin the Infinity War aftermath.

Additional observations:
- One thing that is never broached in this movie: why is the shrinking tech never used on the bad guys? If the villain is being such an a-hole, why bother engaging in fisticuffs, why not just shrink them to the size of a pea, put them in a jar and crack off for an early lunch?
- Marvel movies really do flow better when you're not waiting for a guy from a whole other franchise to do a cameo.
- Michelle Pfeiffer does not get much to do in this movie, I'm sad to say. Maybe we'll see her in action in the next movie: Ant-Man and The Wasp and also The Original Wasp.

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