Ant-man and Wasp: A Review

Posted: 07/08/2018 in Uncategorized

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Peyton Reed’s sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man delivered and then some. Quick action sequences, trippy and elaborate effects and visuals- check. A sympathetic yet engaging villain- check. Shout outs to the character’s source material with potential for greater expansion? Check and mate. My review follows below.

The film picks up after Civil War with Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) under house arrest for two years .He is nearing the end of his sentence and enjoying a day with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). The segment featuring the two playing a ‘low tech’ game was earnest with lots of heart, which besides a great deal of humor, informs this film series. While the last film saw Scott struggling to recover some form of reputation with the weight of being an ex con, the tone here was lighter with his daugher, ex-wife Maggie  (Judy Greer) and her husband Paxton (Bobby Canavale) now fully supporting him as his freedom nears. Tone is critical to Ant-Man as no matter what direction the writing might take, humor can never be fully bypassed.  In this sequel, however, the writers did swing for the fences including a post credit scene that simply must be seen. There is a final end credit at the very end but it is more of a light codicil.

The film opens with the exposition that while Scott is rebuilding his life, his actions in Germany have highly compromised the lives of Hope Van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). They are essentially on the run for their part in violating the Sokovia Accords. These simple facts illustrate time and again how effortlessly Marvel under Kevin Feige’s guidance maintains its world building, unified story arc mantra. At the core of Hope and Hank’s problems is the discovery that they might yet be able to reach out to the Quantum Realm and rescue her  mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer). A de-aging sequence presents Hope parents as she sees her mother for the last time before the mission which led to her ‘death’. Pfeiffer is a very talented actress and her simple and funny moments with her daughter reinforce the family aspect that frames the entirety of this film.

The Pym/Van Dyne arc intersects the Lang storyline via his having a dream in which he sees younger Janet playing hide n’ seek with Hope. The sci fi aspect then takes over and links all  three characters into a quest. Janet’s predicament, at this point assuming she is still living ties in with the villain of the piece, “Ghost/Ava” (Hannah John-Kamen). Ava’s own story makes her as much  a victim then as a villain. Visuals  for Ghost were superb and for the moment in which she appears before Scott’s old crew alone, the movie earns an abundance of laughs. David Dastmalchian’s Kurt proves that much can be done with a small part. Michael Pena as Luis delivers nothing but gold. The technique of other person rapid fire narrative is abbreviated in this run but he too makes a great deal out of a supporting role.

Walton Goggins’ Sonny Burch did not reinvent the wheel but did present a fun enough side story villain. Goggins’ as always appears to be having a terrific time and this does translate well on screen.

Ultimately Ghost’s path meteorically clashes with the heroes’ effort to bring back Janet Van Dyne. The presence of Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) presents the bridge that connects both the Pyms/Van Dynes and their foe. The movie openly gives a shout out to this character’s  (Foster) heroic source material. Ghost’s characterization while exceedingly different from the source material…fits organically and draws all acts together into one massive piece. A shout out to the MCU’s central government agency and its role in her back story occurs seamlessly.

The Quantum realm is given a deeper delve and the results are superior both visually and for eventual emotional delivery. Visuals in this film raise the bar including extrapolating the shrinking/growing aspects of both Wasp and Ant-Man. The end product with the duo is far more refined. Lilly’s Hope/Wasp is given a huge push in this run and her ascension to full blown hero is not forced. All fight scenes featuring her are as good as anything Marvel has ever put out on small or big screen. Lilly has put in the work and has earned her place at Marvel’s table as a lead character. Her acting chops get a due work out in all her scenes with Scott Lang. The chemistry between the two is undeniable and the simple moments including a later moment featuring Scott’s daughter are earnestly delivered. A third installment should be a no- brainer.

This sequel to Ant-Man maintains the already highly raised bar set by Marvel. This film presents an insular story that readily reminds us that its central characters are part of a much larger universe. Ant Man and Wasp is simply outstanding and well worth your time.

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