Ant-Man and the Wasp Movie Review

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been on a hot streak as of late.  In one year’s time, they produced GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 2, SPIDER-MAN HOMECOMING, THOR: RAGNAROK, BLACK PANTHER and what I consider a crowning achievement with AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (THOR: RAGNAROK is top five worthy as well).  Obviously, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP have some rather “large” shoes to fill.  But the film by nature is a much lighter, easy-going, more family-centric superhero compared to all the dark, albeit still funny, end-of-the-world drama we’ve come to know. While I’m sure the excitement from INFINITY WAR will possibly boost some added intrigue and ‘ant’icipation (as it did with me), ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is ultimately a weaker installment within the MCU.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man already has odds stacked against it as one of the less popular superheroes. However, Paul Rudd brings a charm, humor, and compassion to the character, that if nothing else is downright likable. Without him, I’m not sure the film keeps it’s head above water. Michael Pena as Scott’s best friend and business partner is also a comedic high point for the first film and it’s no different this time around.

Just so you’re not questioning it the whole time, I think it’s essential to understand before going into ANT-MAN AND THE WASP that it takes place before the events in INFINITY WAR. Scott Lang (Rudd) is on house arrest from his little 2016 Civil War battle helping Captain America (or who Scott likes to call, “Cap”).  He’s a few short days from completing his 2-year sentence and will soon have the ability to again spend outside time with his darling daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).  It’s important to note that his ex-wife and her husband played by Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale are once again an absolute delight. The family dynamic of Scott’s life deliver some of Marvel’s sweetest moments.  It’s also a nice change from the rest of the childless superheroes in the MCU and reinforces a good reason why Ant-Man and Hawkeye might be absent from Infinity War.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

While they also aren’t too happy about Scott skipping town to make a public appearance with Cap in Civil War, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) need Scott’s help to save their wife and mother (Michelle Pheiffer) from the quantum realm.  There’s a couple of competing bad guys who want all the technology.  A black market criminal Sonny Burch (played by the always highly energized Walter Goggins) and a somewhat cool and sympathetic, but still lackluster Ghost villain (Hannah John-Kamen) that can move through walls, objects, and all matter.

Because our heroes are trying to rescue a character we have little connection toward, the stakes are far less dire or import’ant’ and have little impact to the audience. We care more about the small subplot of Scott tirelessly working not to bumble his house arrest. The conversation is highly scientific as Scott even points out, the word “quantum” is thrown around quite freely.  While I can appreciate the film’s acknowledgement of this fact and that it’s the first Marvel film with a female character in the title giving The Wasp more screen time as a team, it doesn’t quite prevent the film from dragging during certain scenes.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Peyton Reed returns to the directing chair and doesn’t offer anything terribly unique in vision.  He’s a safe director that doesn’t color outside the lines giving us a fairly television quality approach to the film.  Much like his previous comedic films, YES MAN and BRING IT ON, Reed relies on the actors and humor to sell the movie. But without any tension for the light humor to release from, it feels less powerful. There are a handful of shrinking and enlarging gags with a couple of strong action sequences resizing buildings and cars that make for some enjoyable scenes.

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is a nice movie with some genuinely fun, funny, and a few heart-warming moments.   Much like the first, the second film is decent enough in a light, mildly charming way, but it really misses the opportunity to build on what’s been established and set itself apart from the genre. As always, stick around for the credit sequence, you might find it slightly more signific’ant’ to the larger Marvel story.

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