- Enjoyable, but doesn’t stand a chance compared to Marvel’s last three – Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War
- Simple story without a solid villain
- Less identity than the first film
- Fun, imaginative action and fights
- Too much Peña, too little of John-Kamen and Pfeiffer
- Rudd and Lilly make a good team as Ant-Man and Wasp, but chemistry and relationship are weaker than they could be
There’s no denying that Marvel are on top of their game as of late; let’s think back to their last three films – Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War… These were all huge splashes in cinema, the latter two in particular. Now, after the enormous events of Infinity War, we needed something lighter and more easy-going. Fortunately, we have Ant-Man and the Wasp, a film that is noticeably more relaxing. Still, following such incredible and unique films, this one seems a little too formulaic and small, but nevertheless enjoyable.
Set before Avengers: Infinity War, we catch up with Scott Lang/ Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) happily passing time with his daughter Cassie and friend Luis (Michael Peña) while under house arrest due to his involvement in the events of Captain America: Civil War. With freedom just a few days away, he suddenly has a vision of Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) that prompts him to get in touch with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Although still angry at Scott for getting involved with the Civil War, Hank and Hope welcome him back, hoping that he’ll be able to help them bring Janet back from the Quantum realm, along with ex-SHIELD associate Bill Foster/ Goliath (Laurence Fishburne). However, matters get complicated when Ava/ Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) have other ideas for Pym’s laboratory…
At first I thought it was because we’ve just come from Thanos, but regardless of that it’s still noticeable that there’s a lack of a real villain. Yes, we have Ava/ Ghost and Sonny Burch, but Sonny seems more like a low-key gangster and Ava’s intentions are hardly evil or malevolent. Without a real antagonist, it all seems a lot lighter with lower stakes. After all, as Roger Ebert said, a film is only as good as its villain… Instead, the story focuses more on their search for Janet, with various people getting in the way. But even then it’s not as if the film has a solid identity like the first one; whereas Ant-Man could be described as a heist movie, it’s difficult to say what Ant-Man and the Wasp could be described as – a recue movie…maybe?
Still, although the story may be a little too much on the light side, it’s never boring. There are plenty of laughs (as we’ve come to expect from Marvel) and lots of fun action. The best thing about Ant-Man is the opportunity of having more imaginative action scenes we haven’t seen before. Cars constantly shrinking and growing as they race through San Francisco is the sort of fresh new action we need. What’s best, though, is when the comedy and action come together; last time we had an enormous Thomas the Tank Engine run rampage, this time we have a dangerously large Hello Kitty Pez flying towards the bad guys. And with regards to fighting, if anything the highlight of the action comes from Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp, whose smooth fighting skills beat Scott’s any day and are an absolute blast to watch.
Comedy perhaps goes a little too far with Peña’s Luis, forcing in the same sort of inane jabbering monologues from the first film. If anything, I would prefer less Luis and more from the other members of X-Con. It would have also been better to see more of Fishburne’s Bill Foster and particularly John-Kamen’s Ghost, whose performance was finely balanced between charismatic and likable to manic and desperate. Michelle Pfeiffer, however, is by far the most underused aspect of the film. To have an actress like Pfeiffer in the cast and to only use her sparingly as merely a MacGuffin seems mad, especially when she seems like an absolutely perfect Janet Van Dyne; glamorous, caring and determined. The heart of the film though is still with Hank and the titular duo. As with the first film, Douglas manages to make Hank likable despite his brusque manner. But it’s Rudd and Lilly who carry the film – as you would imagine they should judging from the title. Their banter retains its charm from the first, although it would have benefitted from more chemistry and to explore their relationship more deeply. Still they fight well together, talk well together and make a good team.
I feel quite sorry for director Peyton Reed. There’s no doubt that we needed a breath of fresh air after the intensity of Infinity War – and this is it. In comparison to the recent Marvel films, this one never stood a chance of reaching those heights. Though it seems a little too light and formulaic, lacks a solid villain and should have dreamed bigger (pun intended), Ant-Man and the Wasp is still a decent and enjoyable Marvel film to keep us going until next year.