Jul 6, 2018

[Movies] Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Review

It goes without saying that Avengers: Infinity War is a pretty tough act to follow. Given the epic stakes in that story and all the action, what sort of a movie, even a Marvel movie, can come after that? Apparently, it involves Ant-Man.

The first movie was a bit of a surprise since the stakes were somewhat different, it didn't have strong ties to the other movies and it was really just a lot of fun. Ant-Man and the Wasp tries to follow in those footsteps with this sequel that's full of pseudo-science and good laughs.

This is not to say that this movie is a straight-up comedy or is just plain silly. The first movie helped established that no matter what these are going to have a strong science feel to them because you still have that mad genius Hank Pym at the heart of things. And while Scott Lang is a whole different breed of Ant-Man, the stories manage to be about both of them - and that's where the franchise really shines.

Synopsis: Ant-Man and the Wasp is a 2018 Marvel superhero hero sequel movie directed by Peyton Reed. The screenplay was written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers along with Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari. The movie takes place two years after the events of the first movie.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been serving his time under house arrest for the past two years and freedom is just days away - or at least the relative freedom that the FBI is allowing him. But during this time he has a strange dream involving the Quantum Realm he had almost been trapped in before and what appears to be some sort of a message from Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who had been lost in the Quantum Realm many years ago. Despite the risks, Scott makes contact with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to let them know about the dream but only gets their voicemail.

But it turns out they take his call seriously as they have been spending the past two years developing a Quantum Bridge to send an exploration vessel into that sub-atomic realm and hopefully find Janet. And given the dream coincided with their first attempt to open the bridge, it seems that there's a strong connection now between Scott and Janet. Risking a longer prison sentence he agrees to help them with their plan of finding Janet. But their biggest complication is a thief known as the Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who has the ability to phase through matter. She has her own interests in Pym's quantum technology and comes into conflict with our protagonists.

What I Liked: The sequel plays up to all the great things about the first movie and amped things up even further. Thus we have a lot of size-changing action sequences, comedic use of size-changing abilities and the bonus from Civil War - Ant-Man getting very, very big. Throw in a lot of discussions of quantum mechanics (albeit with very broad brush strokes) and the inevitable need to have Luis (Michael Peña) on another of his narrative rambles and it's all great fun.

But then you have the Wasp who is a heck of a lot more competent as a superhero than Lang was in the first movie. She is not sidekick here - she's on the same level (but realistically better) than Scott in this movie and can be quite the contender in the future should they continue to pursue the potential of her being a superhero.

Side note: the special effects treatment for Ghost was AMAZING and her suit was very, very well-designed. It was faithful to the comic without necessarily looking all silly.

What Could Have Been Better: The side-plot involving the criminal dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) was funny initially but then it dragged on way too long. I don't know why they had to continually contribute to the story when their narrative relevance and usefulness had largely been spent early on. And yet they kept coming back into the picture.

As much as the movie did its best to justify how Ant-Man had stayed out of the events of Infinity War, the fact that the story was largely simultaneous did make it feel rather odd that there was no earlier mention of problems. The initial attack in New York should have gotten some press coverage and for a guy who spent at least 5 hours watching TV every day, Scott never got a whiff of things. If they argument is that the events of the movie took place within the same 3 days that Thanos and his Black Order were active on Earth, it ends up feeling like a bit of a stretch.

TL;DR: Ant-Man and the Wasp is a celebration of the core natures of the comic book characters featured in this movie and delivers a sense of refreshing levity after all the more serious movies. It's far from perfect but it's great entertaining and nice way to celebrate science. Thus the movie gets a good 4 moments that Paul Rudd reminds us he was perfectly cast to play this role out of a possible 5.

PS: There are two bonus scenes in the credits - one serious and one silly. You only really need to stay for the serious one, in my opinion.

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