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Ant-Man and the Wasp

By | July 6th, 2018
Posted in Movies, Reviews | % Comments

Are two insects better the one? Read this spoiler-free review to find out.

I was not particularly expecting Ant-Man and the Wasp. The first film, from which this one inherits not only the cast (likable, but underutilized) but journeyman comedy director Peyton Reed as well, showed a lot potential but suffered from a particularly saggy middle chapter. This sequel, which brings Evangeline Lilly to the fore as the Wasp, avoids the most glaring issues of its predecessor by picking up steam quickly and not really stopping: this feature is full of double-crosses, chases, heists and counter-heists.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang is under house arrest, counting out the last week of before he can join civil society and new security business run by his former cellmate Luis. But thing conspire to keep Lang away from normality as Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne kidnap him for another “one last job” despite neither of them liking him very much (turns out running away without telling to fight the Avengers makes people cross). Once the McGuffins are established, two pieces of Pym-tech which can be used to solve a mystery from the first film, it’s set piece after set piece as the two titular superheroes fight to keep them away from menacing black-market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins, playing it on the broad side) as well as mysterious phasing super villain called The Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen, who is really undeserved by the script). Despite the title grumpy dad-character Hank Pym is gets the same amount of screen time as the main due, though calling it “Ant-man and the Wasp and Ant-Dad” would probably be a bit too much. Meanwhile Scott Lang’s ex-con pals also get biffed-up roles, though thankfully not so much that the joke wears thin.

The first thing that I liked about this feature is the way the powers are utilized within fight scenes: both the heroic duo and the main villain have abilities that are more about avoiding being hit than they are about causing mass-destruction and it brings a blessed sense of difference to the mostly uniform-looking actions scenes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the good stuff is, unfortunately, in the trailer but it is still a delight to see the Wasp dogging bullets and knives as she shifts not only her size but that of various objects while tearing down a kitchen. There’s also a nicely kinetic car-chase which involves multiply parties switching vehicles, and vehicle sizes. While I found the ghost not really well written it is a very cool looking design and there’s a nice creepy affect to everything she does.

The less interesting parts of the action take place in quantum realm, which had the potential for offering something quite interesting but end-up looking like the bits someone shaved off the Doctor Strange movie when they decided the CGI wasn’t up to snuff. It’s almost like there’s another, completely different in tone, movie that was bolted right on top this Paul Rudd vehicle.

Speaking of Rudd, if this movie this movie works it does so by leaning heavily on his natural charm. It’s hard to believe this man is almost fifty – there’s a youngish Tom Hanks likability to his mere presence and even jokes that really shouldn’t work, there’s an extended scene dedicated to one CGI enchanted gag that comes out of nowhere and drags for five minutes, somehow does. Everything he does, playing with his daughter, trying to make peace with angry Hank Pym, bluffing his way around the FBI agent that monitors him (Randell Park as Jimmy Woo, also great) just has charm to it. I spent the first film asking myself if he was the one major player in which the marvel-casting department faltered but turned out to be more of a case of the film not quite knowing what to do with him. The problems, my dear Marvel fans, are not in the stars but in the script.

When the full stakes and motivations are revealed near the middle of thing my first thought was “this could all been avoided if the people in the film, who all know each other, just set down and had a chat.” and I waited for the rest of the film to give me some reason as to why this chat hasn’t occurred but nothing happened. This whole sorry mess could have been quite easily avoided. This rather deflates the whole of the movie, plot-wise. The script tries to solve this issue my making Hank Pym into an even bigger asshole than the first film but considering the stakes involved this is simply too much. I can’t really explain it farther without entering spoiler territory but trust me that this is the most glaring issue of this film.

The other problem lies in the editing department: not so much within single scenes, which all work well even with multiply characters of different statures filling-up the screen, but rather in transitions between scenes: several times characters snatch the McGuffins away and then simply appear in another locations with no hint that anybody gave chase after them – baffling when a good third of the movie is about people stealing stuff from other people who stole it from them. As I wrote before – there’s a sense of them bolting two tonally different movies together and trusting the ol’ Marvel Magic to keep the whole thing from falling apart.

And the annoying thing is that it does. Despite the script issues and the editing issues Ant-Man and the Wasp works. It’s dumb fun, which is one of these things that sounds easy in theory but so many summer blockbusters fail even at that basic level that I end up cheering when someone provides a pleasant enough two hours to escape into from the burning summer heat. This is nothing more, and nothing less, than a fun ride.

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Tom Shapira

Writes for Multiversity, Sequart and Alilon. Author - "Curing the Postmodern Blues." Israel's number 1 comics critic. Number 347 globally. he / him.


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