Ant-Man and the Wasp

Posted: August 18, 2018 in Film reviews
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Directed by Peyton Reed. Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly,  Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins and Michelle Pfeiffer.

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Ok, we’re going to need a really big can of insect repellent!

After former criminal Scott Lang (Rudd) fought alongside Captain America in Civil War, he was placed under house arrest and forced to give up his super heroic alter ego as Ant-Man. Meanwhile the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym (Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Lily) are now wanted fugitives and have gone on the run with their miniaturisation technology, determined to rescue Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Pfeiffer), who’s been trapped in the quantum realm for 30 years.

When Scott receives a message he believes comes from Janet, he contacts his former associates and they reluctantly enlist his help in trying to rescue Janet, but their work is complicated by the machinations of a black market tech dealer named Sonny (Goggins) and a mysterious masked figure known as Ghost (John-Kamen) who can phase through solid matter and who has her own reasons for wanting to locate Janet van Dyne.

Luckily Ant-Man isn’t alone, Hope has her own suit and as the Wasp she can do everything Ant-Man can (but with wings!)

Ant-Man was a film that succeeded inspite itself. The loss of Edgar Wright during production and the lacklustre trailer hadn’t inspired much confidence in me, but it turned out to be a fun ride and, in a world of ever more epic Marvel films, the smaller, more intimate scale helped it stand out.

Now in the year that’s given us Black Panther and then Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp provides a refreshingly lightweight and smaller scale antidote to city smashing, planet hopping and more superheroes than you can shake a stick at.

Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t epic in scale, but that’s kinda the point, and part of the reason behind Marvel’s success is their ability to shuffle the pack. After Infinity War the last thing we needed was something deep and meaningful, and dark. Instead what we get is light and fun, and it may well be better than the first one.

Once again the core of its success is down to casting. Scott Rudd’s comic timing works wonders, whether he’s in the suit or out of it, and he works well with whoever he’s paired with, whether it’s Lily or Peña, but even with Randall Park’s scene stealing FBI agent. In particular he and Abby Ryder Fortson, returning as Scott’s daughter Cassie, have great chemistry, and at times this is more a father/daughter comedy than a big budget superhero film—and that’s just fine.

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Lily again impresses as Hope. When Hank revealed the Wasp suit at the end of the first one Hope said; “It’s about damn time” and that’s a phrase that works on two levels, both for the character and in the wider Marvel universe. It did seem a trifle odd that Hope, tough resourceful, intelligent, brave, was passed over in place of Hank giving the suit to Scott. Sure, it makes sense from the perspective of Hank’s fear of losing his daughter the same way he lost his wife, but it still irked a little. Now Hope is a hero in her own right, and for the first time a female superhero gets her name in the title of a Marvel film. Ok, it’s a shame Black Widow didn’t beat her to the punch, but still, no complaints from me because Lily is awesome. She and Rudd make a good team, and an equal one. This is less Batman and Robin than Batman and Batman.

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“Of course, I’d be more than happy to steal the film.”

Of course in many ways the standout star of the first film was Michael Peña as Scott’s old cellmate Luis, and Peña picks up where he left off. He’s a genuine joy to watch, and it doesn’t even feel that contrived to get him into the story either.

 

5b3faca370e29130008b4b6d-750-501Douglas is always good, and Fishburne adds to the gravitas as an old colleague of Hanks. It’s always good to see Pfeiffer, though its shame she isn’t given more screen time. Kamen-John does a good job as Ghost, a “villain” we can sympathise with. Goggins does his best with a fairly thin role. But hey this is a film where even Luis’s buddies and Sonny’s henchmen get their moments.

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Just like playing with a toy boat in the bath

The film’s exceptionally well-paced, and the effects are great, and as with the first film, the filmmakers are again incredibly imaginative when it comes to shrinking things down or blowing them up to giant size, without ever quite hitting the heights of that child’s bedroom/Thomas the Tank Engine fight from the first one, but that’s a minor quibble.

Yes, the word quantum is overused, and it overdoes the technobabble at times, and you can’t help but feel this is going to feed into the sequel to Infinity War (especially given the mid credits scene at the end) but if you can set this to one side what you’re left with is a fun, exciting film with an engaging cast and more laughs than most so called comedies.

It might be smaller in scale than most Marvel films, but just like Ant-Man himself, this is a film quite capable of scaling itself up when it needs to.

More Ant-Man please, and definitely more Wasp!

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“Be honest, does my bum look big in this?”

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