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‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ (review by Benn Robbins)

Produced by Kevin Feige, Stephen Broussard
Written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers,
Paul Rudd & Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari

Directed by Peyton Reed
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly,
Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale,
Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian,
Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder-Fortson,
Randall Park, with Michelle Pfeiffer, with
Laurence Fishburne, and Michael Douglas

 

The twentieth film in the tenth year of the extremely popular and financial juggernaut that is the the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp, picks up in the aftermath of 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

That was seven films ago and a lot has happened since then. In case you were in a coma or just need a gentle reminder. Here is a very short recap what has happened in the interim.

Here we go…

WARNING: 2 YEARS OF SPOILERS AHEAD

  • Scarlet Witch blew up a building.
  • The Sokovia Accords.
  • T’Chaka, the King of Wakanda is killed when the UN gets bombed.
  • T’Challa becomes the King of Wakanda and its protector, Black Panther.
  • Tony finds out The Winter Soldier killed Tony Stark’s parents.
  • And Captain America knew about it.
  • The various Avengers take sides, #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan.
  • Captain America and Iron Man have a messy divorce, splintering The Avengers.
  • Dr. Stephen Strange shatters his hands but learns how to control the Time Infinity Gem.
  • Peter Quill finds, fights and kills his dad with a little help from his friends.
  • Groot is a crappy angsty teen.
  • Spider-Man gets a suit upgrade, a hot aunt, and then defeats The Vulture.
  • Thor discovers Loki wasn’t dead, finds out he has a sister, loses his hammer, battles the Hulk, kills his sister, loses his world.
  • WAKANDA FOREVER!!!
  • Thanos goes on a treasure hunt.
  • *SNAP*
  • *WOOSH*
  • Half the population of the universe disappears.
  • Thanos watches the sun rise.

But, for now, forget ALL THAT HAPPENED.

Lets rewind two years and that is where we find our wise-cracking hero, Scott Lang, Ant-Man, under house arrest after breaking the Sokovia Accords by assisting Captain America clear the name of The Winter Soldier

He is also now estranged from Hank Pym and his daughter, Hope Van Dyne because he stole the Ant-Man suit in order to join Cap. They have not spoken since then.

During that time Pym and Hope have been working on a quantum field tunnel to help rescue Pym’s wife, Janet. You hopefully remember that she was lost there over thirty years ago during an successful, yet tragic final mission, with Pym when he donned the Ant-Man mantle. Come to find out they require Scott’s help in the form of information he holds in his brain in order for this to succeed. Needless to say, his house arrest is short lived. When a mysterious person, that can phase in and out of our reality, interrupts their rescue plan they must race against time to utilize the small window of time to save Janet Van Dyne before she is lost forever in the Quantum Realm.

Returning to helm Ant Man and the Wasp is writer/director, Peyton Reed. He delivers a fun and adequate sequel to his 2015 successful first outing.

I am not sure if I just had really high hopes or this film, or if it is because the first act fell flat for me, but this one was really slow to hook me. Where the original was “Wham bam, thank you Stan!” right from the gate, this one takes a lot of time to gain speed. Perhaps it was the fact that SO MUCH has happened since the first one and I am still reeling from the aftermath of Infinity War, but there was a lot of exposition to tell me what has been happening since the last film and Civil War.

I would also postulate that this film also suffers from no real villain or antagonist, at least one that is a genuine threat other then time. There is no real clear cut danger.

Hank and Hope are against the clock to save Janet. Scott’s time in house arrest before he can see his daughter is almost over, so all he can do is wait. Hank and Hope have to get Scott back to this house before the feds realize he is missing.

The phasing lady, known as Ghost, is running out of time before she disappears. To say she is the antagonist is really a stretch. She is really a McGuffin of a villain. Turns out that Hank’s former assistant, Dr. Bill Foster played by Laurence Fishburn is trying to “fix” Ghost aka Ava before she disappears forever but they need Hank’s Quantum tunnel to do so, possibly killing Janet in the process. She became this way when the government weaponized some of Pym’s research after he quit S.H.I.E.L.D. and she was a project to create a stealth assassin. The side effect of that is disappearing forever.

Then there is Walter Goggins as slimy black market arms dealer, Sonny Burch. He is such a cookie cutter of a caricature bad guy he should have had a 1920’s handlebar mustache to twirl. Marvel comic readers will know Burch as Tony Stark’s corporate nemesis of Cross Technological Enterprises. Here he is just a sleazy paint-by-numbers bad guy with an FBI contact. I think this film suffers from the “too many villains and not enough villainy” problem a lot of sequels fall prey to.

Burch seems slipshod thrown in when he is really not needed and they should have spent more more time developing and dealing with Ghost/Ava. She was a really interesting character. By having her and Foster, tie into Hank Pym’s very mysterious past it would have helped them flesh that out why he is such an insufferable, cranky old fart. I’m sure he was always that way but at least we could have delved into how that effected his past and his past relationships. In the end the writers didn’t know what to really do with Burch or Ghost and it effected the editing and pacing of the film. Making it choppy at times and uneven.

I know this seems like I didn’t like the film. I definitely liked it.

I just didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. Like I said; Higher then reasonable expectations. I think that is why I am more critical of this film then usual.

In the lexicon of Marvel Cinematic Universe films goes it is upper mid range of quality as the sequels goes. Definitely not as successful as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but comparable to Guardians 2 and Thor Ragnarok. 

I definitely will be seeing this again as it is still a fun and funny as heck addition to the MCU. The sight gags are great and of course, Scott’s three partners in crime, Luis, Dave and Kurt are back. Now they are his partners in business; a private security business called X-CONs. It is great seeing Pfeiffer as Janet and finally seeing what Scott was up to while Thanos was wiping out half the MCU and how the events of Infinity War impacts Ant Man and his compadres.

 

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