Ant-Man & the Wasp Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Riding the high wave of the Avengers: Infinity War, this MCU follow-up is a much smaller, contained, heist sequel to the great first Ant-Man blockbuster.
Genre: Action / Comedy / Sci-Fi
Director: Peyton Reed
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Abby Ryder Fortson, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Randall Park & Michelle Pfeiffer.
Run Time: 118 min.
US Release: 06 July 2018
UK Release: 02 August 2018
German Release: 26 July 2018
Following the action-pack and heart-breaking ending of Infinity War, this smaller scaled marvel flick has gigantic footsteps to fill. Naturally, it will not manage to satisfy the hype left by the huge Avengers epos, though in all fairness, it isn’t right to expect a large-scale follow-up from a sequel concerning the tiniest Avenger. In fact, it doesn’t do that! What we obtain is a fun superhero blockbuster, which is much more limited to its own small bubble, inside the vast MCU universe, and rightly so! Is it good? Meh, it has its moments but it does miss a lot of beats along the way.
Taking place after the events of Civil War, Scott Lang has been put under house arrest, given what transpired at the Berlin Airport. As Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym reenter his life with a new urgent mission, Scott has to make a choice; stay put to keep his family life intact, or sacrifice everything to save Hope’s mother.
The script, written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, as well as Paul Rudd himself, returns to the heist-flick formula, expanding it by adding a bigger threat, just like a criminal syndicate that is after Pym’s quantum technology. It also incorporates slight romantic-comedic threads, which feel misplaced most of the time. Acknowledging the incident of the third Captain America, it ignores the happenings of Infinity War, as it plays in parallel to those events.
Let's begin with the screenplay’s positives! For one, it is very light in tone, a perfect counter-balance to the dark, depressing atmosphere in which Avengers 3 ended. It is designed as a simple, easily digestible, entertaining premise, and it does mostly succeed in doing so! Then there is the last act, which contains an exciting car chase through San Francisco that is a little reminiscent of the pursuit scenes in The Italian Job.
Nevertheless, the story isn’t as strong as the first one, which has a lot to do with how our main hero is presented. What made Ant-Man so appealing, was Scott Lang as a person; trying to juggle his criminal past with his family duties. All of that is pushed aside for comedic slapstick moments on Scott’s behalf, displaying him like a bumbling idiot, which aren’t funny. It also re-uses a lot of ideas from its predecessor, making specific scenarios feel unnecessarily repetitive. Finally, it includes plot conveniences for the story to make sense.
The dialogues are also lacking in quality when compared to the original. The humour is amped up, throwing jokes to all sides, with only a minimum landing. Then there is the issue, that a lot of conversations are used to dump exposition, instead of letting the audiences figure out things for themselves.
Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang, a.k.a the hero Ant-Man, however, he is absolutely sidelined in this movie. Inexcusable is the fact that he seems to have been retconned as a clumsy fool, which stands in complete contrast to his tech-savvy personality of the first feature. His best moments are when he spends time with his daughter, portraying him as a caring father. Rudd gives, as always, a likeable performance as the underdog of superheroes. Unfortunately, he is the bud of many jokes here.
Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne, a.k.a. Wasp, builds well on the character’s frustration from the predecessor, as Hank is overly protective of his daughter. Lilly gives a delightful rendition of her persona, selling her combat scenes. That said, Hope is not always painted in a good light, at times coming off as extremely mean. Her relationship with Scott is something of a retread, as it recycles a lot of plot points we already saw. Michael Douglas returns as Hank Pym and Michelle Pfeiffer was cast as Janet van Dyne but is wasted.
Hannah John-Kamen is cast as Ava Starr, also known as Ghost. An antagonist with special skills, who tries to steal certain technology from Pym, due to a past occurrence that shaped her upbringing. Sadly, she isn’t given enough depth. Walton Goggins plays the secondary villain Sonny Burch, a one-dimensional baddy, used as cannon fodder for our heroes.
Laurence Fishburne is brought in to play Bill Foster, who in the comics is Goliath. Here he is a former colleague of Pym, now an adversary. Finally, we have Michael Peña who returns as Luis, adding a lot of the working comedy.
Cinematographically, it contains the typical squeaky clean Marvel Studios look. The colours are strong, without being overly saturated. The production design looks extravagant, containing complex camera work. The action segments are fun, including an intricate chase scene through San Franciso. Hand-to-hand combat is acrobatically fluid, elevated through the use of different realms of size, as Scott plus Hope use shrinking and expanding technology, to defeat their adversaries.
The special effects are solid, using CG models of the suited-up heroes when in tiny mode. It is thanks to that computer-animated trickery, that the action segments look as exhilarating as they are. The de-ageing sequences look fantastic, while the effects of Ghost’s power are done using shutter speed effects! Concerning the costumes, Ghost’s is the most intriguing, looking spooky.
The music is once again composed by Christophe Beck, who refines his main theme from Ant-Man, digitising a lot of it to underline the spoofy segments with Scott. He also composed a new track, specifically for Hope as Wasp.
Verdict: Peyton Reed’s sequel to the fun, light-hearted Ant-Man, is sadly a big step down. This might have to do with the fact, that the first film used Edgar Wright’s original script as a blueprint. Unfortunately, the narrative of this second chapter feels mostly like filler. The focal point about the Quantum Realm and Janet van Dyne, only makes it into the last act, with an occurrence that is never explained! Michelle Pfeiffer is completely wasted, as is Walton Goggins, who plays a generic gangster with no real motivation. The lead Scott, played once again by the brilliant Paul Rudd, is retconned as a blundering halfwit and sidelined to introduce Hope as the hero Wasp. The antagonist Ghost is intriguing, yet isn’t fleshed out enough. The action is fantastic, the effects are strong. The music reuses the soundtrack from its predecessor. All in all, a 6.0 out of 10.
What are your thoughts on Ant-Man & the Wasp? Have you seen it yet? Leave a comment below, to let me know if you agree with my review. Thank you as always for reading!