Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Movie Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018)

Director: Peyton Reed
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Hank Pym and his daughter Hope van Dyne break Scott Lang out of house arrest and build a new machine to help in retrieving Hope's mom/Hank's wife from the Quantum Realm. However, a woman with the ability to phase through solid objects known as Ghost has her own plan for Hank's new machine and will stop at nothing to get it.

"Trying to help people isn't dumb." (Image Source)
THANK GOD we can put the much more intense "Avengers: Infinity War" on the back-burner and enjoy the comedic stylings of Scott Lang and co. for a couple of hours before we return to the fetal position we were left in post-snap. "Ant-Man and The Wasp" is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Peyton Reed returns to the director's chair for this follow-up to his previous MCU effort, the original "Ant-Man." Though this is the follow-up to Marvel's shocking epic, the story actually takes place in between the events of "Captain America: Civil War" and "Avengers: Infinity War." Since helping Captain American in Germany, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), aka Ant-Man's actions have landed him under a two-year hour arrest. Meanwhile, Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are on the run from the Feds. They have been trying to build a machine to enter the Quantum Realm to retrieve Jess (Michelle Pfieffer), Hank's wife and Hope's mother. Hank and Hope need Scott for the task and break him out of house arrest two days before it is supposed to end. While retrieving the final piece of tech for their device, the trio run into a woman they dub Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who can phase through matter and wants Hank's machine for her own purposes. Now, as Ant-Man and The Wasp, Scott & Hope must face off against Ghost while avoiding the Feds and a bothersome black market tech dealer named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who seems to be putting a thorn in their side at every turn.
"Quantum technology is the new future." (Image Source)
All of Marvel's films have some level of humor and light-hearted fun to them, but they do range on a scale of themes from light and fluffy to more serious social explorations. The "Ant-Man" movies have always been among the lightest and fluffiest in the MCU. They are fun summer popcorn flicks with minimal stakes and no major social implications or messages. Paul Rudd is the perfect actor for the bouncy tone of the "Ant-Man" films. His style of comedy works tremendously here, and he is so damn charming that watching him do his very natural thing is quite enjoyable. Evangeline Lilly has shown the ability to be a complete badass when it comes to her action scenes. Though she kicked major butt in the first film, she doubles down in this sequel and shows that she deserves a top spot right alongside Ant-Man. Wasp and Ant-Man make a fantastic duo, and though their action sequences are impressive, we wish there had been more of them that weren't shown in the trailer. Michael Peña gets some funny moments in this sequel as well. He shines as Luis, Rudd's comedy sidekick extraordinaire. Michael Douglas as Hank Pym sets up some great banter which in a way makes him the Abbott to Rudd's Costello. He's serious most of the time, as anyone who lost their wife in the Quantum Realm would be if they suddenly heard a message from them after 30 years, but Douglas can definitely hold his own with the wise-cracks.

As for the antagonist of the story, Ghost is a more of a "gray area" villain. Peyton Reed, his team of writers, and Hannah John-Kamen do a great job of helping the audience understand where she is coming from. This makes us sympathize with her problem and understand her actions. The best villains are the ones that can convince the audience they are "in the right" from their point of view and that their cause is just. The head honchos at Marvel are starting to get the picture and have made several excellent villains in the last few MCU movies. On the other hand, Sonny Burch is more of a single-layered plot device. He only exists to give the heroes someone to fight other than Ghost. He is the one who fights purely for profit while everyone else fights with purpose. As a villain and as far as the plot is concerned, Burch is disposable, which is a damn shame because that seems to have become Walton Goggins' career path as of late, and he deserves much, much more. That being said, Burch is not entirely unnecessary as he and his goons provide most of the action-driven moments in the film. Speaking of those action moments, once again, they are well choreographed and move with a zippy, energetic pace with a lot of the size-changing-shenanigans that we have come to expect from this series. One last note we have to mention is Marvel's absolutely stellar de-aging technology. It has gotten so good that it looks like we took a time machine back to the 70's to see a snapshot of the actors' pasts coming alive on screen. The de-aged characters are always so cool looking.
"Doctor Pym, you're like the smartest genius I know." (Image Source)
In the end, though it may not pack quite the emotional punch of some other Marvel films, "Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a fun, fast-paced, energetic ride. Sometimes, and especially post-"Infinity War," audiences need a little levity to get them invested back in the swing of things.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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