Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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The first Marvel film to follow on from the creature that was Avengers: Infinity War; Antman & the Wasp is a refreshing break from all the serious super nonsense we have had to endure these past years. Does it still give us a psychotic, over-the-top villain? Yes. Does it still have way too much made-up Marvel science? Hell yes. And does it still have the equivalent of the national population of ants in Easter Eggs? That’s a yes. But who cares? We’ve got Michael Pena ranting on about truth serum and Michael Douglas looking clever whilst talking about Pym particles. What’s not to love?

When the 2015 Antman film was first released, Marvel was already in their stride, only two films away from the fan hyped Civil War and just one film after the box office smashing Avengers: Age of Ultron. Before this film, no previous adaptations of the tiny hero had been successful on making their way onto the big screen. But this all changed when Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Hot Fuzz) teamed up with comedian Joe Cornish to write the screen play for their upcoming movie. In addition to this, Peyton Reed took the helm as director resulting in one of Marvel’s wittiest, funniest, and best flicks. But why am I telling you this? After all, if you wanted to know about the last movie’s history, you could’ve just looked at what’s written on Wikipedia… Well, to put this film in proportion, you need to understand what was riding on this much anticipated sequel.

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lily looking serious as Ant-man and the Wasp.

We begin with Scott Lang (a consistently great Paul Rudd) relaxing into his house arrest lifestyle with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Rider Fortson). After the events of Civil War, Lang has lost all contact with his friend and mentor Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas with glasses) as well as his girlfriend Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily with a larger role) as a result of doing Superhero stuff with ‘Cap’ and co. This has grounded him to his home and has restricted him from ever wearing the ‘Antman’ suit again. That should be the end of the movie, right? Not so fast. Lang is reunited with Pym and Hope when he starts to have weird dreams about Hank’s presumed dead wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) which leads both Hank and Hope to believe that she is still alive. After some explanation about quantum entanglements, (I’m not afraid to admit that I did doze off at that point) we finally get introduced to our headline villain. Cue cliche Marvel action sequences with both Antman and the Wasp coupled with inspirational music by Christophe Beck…

Our main antagonist in this movie is Ghost (Hannah John-Karmen), who puts our heroes through their paces by means of teleporting through walls and other commonplace villainous stuff. She seems a little one sided for most of the film but towards the final act she is given some more depth. However  Ghost is given a back story which is dense enough to give some realistic motivations for ‘taking over the world or whatever’ as Michael Pena so perfectly puts, so her flaws as a villain are somewhat cancelled out. She’s a pretty good villain as the Marvel universe goes and the time pressure of her (spoiler alert) imminent death adds a nice extra layer to keep pushing the plot forwards.

One of the strongest things this film has going for it is its spectacular action sequences. With both Marvel and DC now pumping out endless scenes of blood-shed, it’s nice to finally see a bit more creativity when it comes to killing off goons; from knocking them out via enlarged salt cellars, to the spectacle of seeing them taken down by Antman and the Wasp whilst they effortlessly change from minuscule sizes to incredible ones, I think it is fair to say that this film has perhaps some of the best visual effects of any superhero film of this generation.

The visual effects in this movie are still as enjoyable as ever

I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that I hadn’t given a shoutout to the trio of performances by Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, and T.I.Harris. Their roles are somewhat diminished from the first movie but their chemistry is so great that it hardly matters, and they do fantasticly in the time they are given. I would’ve payed the ticket price alone just to watch Luis’ face as he realises that the cars in a Hot-wheels case are actual cars. I would have even payed extra simply to re-watch the scenes of the three of them talk about truth serum for five minutes.

Lastly, how does it fare against the original? Answer: it doesn’t quite hit the highs of Antman’s 2015 release, but there is plenty to be enjoyed here. What holds it back is its plot, as here it seems too similar to that of other superhero films with an evil villain battling against our hero to obtain a valuable resource. Yes, this is also the plot of Antman, but in that film it interestingly turned into a heist movie whereas here, in Antman and the Wasp, it’s back to the usual superhero method of getting what they want – eg, breaking down doors and blowing everything up.

This is a return to form for Marvel, which embellishes the action of the original and turns up the gags. Not only will you leave this sequel holding ants in highest esteem, but you might also learn a thing or too about fictional Marvel science. Not quite as good as the original due to a more overloaded plot, but when the standards are this high, it doesn’t really matter.

On a side note, can Marvel stop using war in their titles? Isn’t it about time for Avengers: Age of Humanitarian Work or Captain America: Civil Feelings between all The Avengers? You might try to say that these films would be boring, but then again, watching extra 73 being blasted into oblivion for 20 films doesn’t exactly pass for entertainment…