Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Film Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp

Even when they are phoning it in, Ant-Man and The Wasp proves Marvel can deliver a fun lark.

After siding with a fugitive Steve Rogers in 2016's Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds himself under house arrest and the watchful eye of the FBI.

With limited visitation rights to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and unable to leave the house, Lang's tenure is near its end when old allies Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) come a calling. Hank and Hope need Scott's help rescuing their long-lost wife and mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm, and with a mysterious enemy called Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) nipping at their heels, time is of the essence.

In contrast to the vast cosmic scope of Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp scales back and tells a story that is decidedly smaller, if you'll pardon the horrifyingly obvious pun. While Thanos wanted to wipe half of existence from well, existence, Ant-Man and The Wasp's antagonist, who has the ability to faze through walls, is driven by self-preservation rather than genocide. The stuff at stake is smaller too; will the FBI catch Scott breaking his house arrest? Will Hope and Hank be reunited with Janet? Will Luis (Michael Pena) and his small business score a big client? Will Scott get to play happy families with Cassie once again?

That's not to say that's a bad thing either; the beauty of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its ability to tell stories of varying speeds and sizes. Like its predecessor, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a refreshing change of pace from the cataclysmic Avengers movies. It's oh so slight and is essentially one big 'chase the MacGuffin' sequence during the second and third acts. The adventure zig-zags back and forth across San Francisco, with said MacGuffin tossed around like a hot potato. The highlights are an extended car chase and a kitchen scuffle (pictured above) where The Wasp gets down to business.

Rudd and Lilly are an insatiable pairing that radiate charisma. As a founding Avenger in the comics, the latter's promotion to co-lead is long overdue, and Lilly further underscores this by making this movie her own. Rudd is the same loveable dork that we've come to love, but some of the choices made with his character in this movie felt like a retread of similar beats from the first one. But as a dynamic duo, the kicking ass and witty banter works really well between Rudd and Lilly.

This thrill-a-minute pace helps disguise some of the film's weaker aspects, chief among which is Ant-Man and The Wasp's reliance on characters spouting techno babble ad nauseam. It doesn't matter how much talent you pack into a film when the script is so weighed down by chit-chat about quantum tunnels, neurological imprinting and the like.

Plus, and this is often a hallmark of the sequel, it does have a lot of plot to cover and the ballooning cast – which grows to include Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Randall Park and the aforementioned Pfeiffer – does detract from the film having a singular focus. As fun as they are, I didn't care much for Luis and his business, which is essentially a nothing D-plot that pops up every now and again.

That said, the humour, of which there is A LOT, is goofy and leans into the inherent silliness of a man who can shrink to the size of an ant. You want wacky action sequences where cars and trucks are reduced to dinky Matchbox toys? You got it. How about a set piece where a seagull threatens to eat the hero? It has that too. What about a giant man-sized ant taking a bath and playing the drums? You're in luck! This whimsy helps dispel some of the clunkiness that comes with the more complex sci-fi elements.

The Verdict: 7/10

Another fun and throwaway jaunt for Marvel's tiniest heroes. What it lacks in depth and character growth it makes up for in colourful action and witty banter. As Marvel films go, this is as safe and as steady as it gets.

Ant-Man and The Wasp is in cinemas across Australia now.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. We se this movie the same. Fun and witty but nothing with immense depth. It was a nice change of pace after the much heavier Infinity War.



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