FRED Watch Quickie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
ANT AND WASP BITE BACK!
Welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp…
Kendall Richardson reviewing (2018):
Probably the only saving grace from the devastation of Avengers: Infinity War was the fact we had two Marvel movies on the horizon. March 2019 will see the long-awaited release of Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson in the title role, which will be Marvel Studios’s first female-led superhero movie. In the words of Hope van Dyne, it’s about damn time. Speaking of Hope and her iconic final words in a post credit scene of 2015’s Ant-Man, the time has finally come to see Evangeline Lilly’s character suit up as the titular Wasp, alongside Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang as Ant-Man. And I am so pleased to say the wait was worth it!
The movie begins with Lang almost at the completion of his two-year house arrest. This came following his involvement in the events of Captain America: Civil War, in which he, as the FBI Agent Woo (Randall Park) explains to Lang’s daughter Cassie, ‘went to Germany and drew on the walls with Captain America.’ Of course, though, with Lang approaching his freedom in two days, things had to go pear shaped, and pear shaped they do. Enter strange dreams about the quantum realm and the lost Janet van Dyne, which sees Lang getting dragged back into the fold by Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym, played wonderfully by Michael Douglas, who need Scott’s help in rescuing his wife, the original Wasp.
This is where the movie starts to take a non-traditional approach in relation to its ANT-agonists (yes, I made an ant pun, deal with it). Or, at least, it starts off as traditional, but the more we learn about our villains, in particular Hannah John-Kamen’s Ghost, things definitely become more interesting and less straight forward. John-Kamen does an exceptional job of portraying Ghost’s anger, betrayal, and nothing left to lose-like determination, which makes her a great threat for our heroes. And of course there’s the fact that she is almost unstoppable, given her incredible phase-shifting fighting abilities. Standing alongside Ghost is Lawrence Fishburne’s Dr. Bill Foster, whose presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is easily and very cleverly explained, as are his motivations for siding with Ghost.
The super talented Walton Goggins’s Sonny Burch is also counted amongst the bad guys, but he is more of your one note ‘in it for the money’ type criminals; however he plays the part wonderfully and is a nice foil for Hope and for Scott’s ex con buddies Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip ‘T.I’ Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian). Once again, Peña’s Luis steals the show and might be funnier in this outing than in the first film. There is a particular gag involving ‘truth serum’ that might be the funniest sequence in the whole film.
That’s probably the thing that makes Ant-Man and the Wasp so great, is its easy-going and fun sense of humour. It is exactly the refreshing ray of light that we needed after the bleak universe-ending ride that was Avengers: Infinity War. The action scenes are staged perfectly, and the use of the different sizes our heroes can become is clever and inventive, which keeps the audience engaged the whole time. And because it’s a Marvel movie, the visual effects are on point, particularly when it comes to Ghost and the Quantum Realm.
I only wish Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) could have been in the movie longer, but I imagine she will definitely be returning in any future installments in Phase 4 of the MCU. It was great to see her on screen finally, nonetheless. Before I go, I need to point out one thing: the ending of the movie is in the first post credit scene, so make sure you stick around! Trust me, you won’t want to miss it. Just like you won’t want to miss Ant-Man and the Wasp, an excellent addition to the MCU and a sequel that may even surpass its predecessor! 4 / 5
Wayne Stellini reviewing (2020):
The endearing charm of Paul Rudd elevated the first Ant-Man, and its tone helped distinguish it from its Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) predecessors. Three years on, and this sequel—the twentieth MCU pic overall—sticks to the tried and tested formula.
This works in favour of Ant-Man and the Wasp, as the assorted cartoonish capers and fun action scenes help distract from the incredibly convoluted manner in which elements of the simple plot are explained throughout film. Needless to say, suspension of disbelief is required to get the most out of the experience, but the film is saved by the screenplay’s incredible wit—every gag lands where it should.
Unsurprisingly, the performances are top-rate too, from recurring players to new additions. While there is no mistaking that Ant-Man and the Wasp belongs to Rudd as Ant-Man/Scott Lang, he is supported beautifully by the likes of Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas, as well as the the scene-stealing Michael Peña and the adorable Abby Ryder Fortson. Michelle Pfeiffer bookends the film quite nicely and I hope that her character has more to do in future films. But the best of the new characters is Randall Park’s FBI agent and parole officer Jimmy Woo, who struggles to balance authority and clear admiration for Lang; I always found myself laughing at some point when Park was on screen.
There are more villains than perhaps necessary here and most are engaging enough to be real threats or obstacles to our heroes. However, the role of Ghost/Ava Star is not only underwritten, but Hannah John-Kamen’s performance is disappointingly flat. For a character with such an intriguing backstory, Ghost has the emotional depth of a wet mop… and is just as interesting to watch. This, however, cannot take away for the overwhelming positives of the production.
Visually, Peyton Reed’s film looks fantastic; a combination of strong computer generated effects and Dante Sponotti’s cinematography. So while Ant-Man and the Wasp misses some opportunities, it gets most things right and is an altogether entertaining ride that has a cliffhanger worthy of the old superhero serials. 4 / 5
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, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas.
Director: Peyton Reed | Producers: Kevin Feige, Stephen Broussard | Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari (based on Ant-Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby; Wasp by Stan Lee, Ernie Hart, and Jack Kirby) | Music: Christophe Beck | Cinematographer: Dante Spinotti | Editors: Dan Lebental, Craig Wood
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Kendall Richardson’s review was first published on Thursday, 12 July 2018. It was updated to include Wayne Stellini’s review and the film’s online viewing availability on Thursday, 30 April 2020.
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