[WARNING: This review contains spoilers. Turn back now if you haven’t seen the movie!] (Also – sorry about how late this review is!!)
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is a sequel to Ant-Man (2015). In the film, Scott Lang (Ant-Man) joins up with Hope van Dyne (the Wasp) to search for Janet van Dyne, Hope’s mother, who is lost in the mysterious micro-dimension known as the Quantum Realm.
I like the original Ant-Man quite a bit; it’s an fun movie, but it’s certainly not one of the best that Marvel has to offer. It’s an okay film, and one that I never have any incentive to revisit. Ant-Man himself, on the other hand, is one of the best characters in the MCU. He’s funny, charming, and heroic, and I always enjoy seeing him on-screen, regardless of what movie he’s in. His appearance in Captain America: Civil War was wonderful, and I look forward to seeing him in future MCU installments. As always, Scott Lang is a wonderful character in this movie, and Paul Rudd nails every comedic beat. However, he’s not enough to salvage the wheel-spinning mess that is Ant-Man and the Wasp. Despite the hot-streak that Marvel has been on recently, this movie is one of the weakest entries in the MCU, and is a significant step down from the amazing quality of the recent Marvel flicks. I didn’t hate it, and it certainly isn’t a terrible movie, but the entire thing feels completely pointless, and I left the theater feeling like I didn’t need to see it.
To start out with a positive, the action in this movie is good. There are some very fun sequences, including a standout setpiece in which the Wasp takes out a group of criminals all by herself. There’s a lot of creative shrinking and growing involved in these sequences, and I love when ordinary objects become gigantic or tiny, adding an extra level of creativity. The choreography, just like the first film, is great, but there are some awkward editing moments that make the action look a little jumbled. Those moments are definitely few and far between, though, and 90% of the action is very entertaining.
Despite the occasionally diverting sequences, the Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s story leaves a lot to be desired; it’s extremely bloated, and has an overabundance of characters who, frankly, I didn’t really care for. The finale of the movie is very large-scale, yet nothing happening feels important or relevant aside from the whole “let’s get Janet van Dyne back” subplot. Ghost is an fine character, but she does not need to be in this movie. She basically just shows up to cause a burst of action and then leaves. Her motivations are clear, though, unlike most Marvel villains; she is in consant pain from an experiment gone wrong and wants it to stop. Laurence Fishburne’s character Bill Foster is completely unnecessary, despite his rivalry with Hank Pym being interesting. Having Ghost and Bill Foster as the sort-of enemies wasn’t enough for this movie, though; it had to throw in a group of thieves AND the FBI, both of whom are looking for Pym’s technology and/or Ant-Man. The story in the first Ant-Man was remarkably simple, which is why that movie works. This one just feels like a whirlwind of unnecessary characters without any real payoff. I do, however, love the Wasp; she’s extremely likable and badass, and Evangeline Lilly does a great job.
The movie partially redeems its plot with its jokes; it’s very funny. There is definitely some humor that doesn’t land, though, and I felt like some jokes that had the potential to be gut-bustingly funny are a bit squandered. It may not be the funniest Marvel movie ever made, but there are plenty of laughs to be had.
Another major issue I have with this movie is its portrayal of the Quantum Realm. Based on all of the marketing, I assumed that we would get a further exploration of the realm, and that we would get some explanation as to what it actually is. The movie does go deeper into this concept than the original Ant-Man, but it still barely explains how it functions. For example: at the end of the movie, how does Janet have telepathic and healing abilities all of a sudden? I guess the implication is that the Quantum Realm somehow alters your biological makeup, giving you superpowers, but we presumably have to wait till they make another movie to get a full explanation, which is frustrating. I would have greatly preferred a wacky adventure in which Hope, Scott, and Hank all went down into the quantum realm and discovered what was down there. The movie that we got is padded with too much meaningless fluff, making it an unfulfilling experience.
Like I said, this movie certainly isn’t bad, and is plenty enjoyable if you’re a Marvel fun. I just feel like I didn’t get much out of it, and I hope Marvel goes back to basics when they inevitably make a third film. Despite the movie’s issues, I do love Scott and Hope as characters, and I can’t wait to see them in future movies. I just feel like the story surrounding them could have been better.
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