‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Review: A Fun, Forgettable Sequel

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE

Full disclosure, I wrote this review after I saw the film on opening night back in August, but embarrassingly, I forgot to post it. I am still working through my reviews for The Predator, Venom and A Star is Born, but due to my commitments with both university and work, it’s taking a lot longer than expected. Anyway, onto the review!

Marvel has come under much scrutiny of late, with the extremely controversial firing of Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn still a major issue of debate over a month after his dismissal. Although Gunn’s dismissal is the main controversy of debate at the moment, many fans were furious with Marvel several months prior to it. Furious because Marvel had elected to delay the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp in several major countries around the world, including the UK, by a full month. This has unsurprisingly, affected the film’s box office earnings, with many fans, in an effort to avoid spoilers, watching pirated versions of the film online. Fortunately, I was able to avoid spoilers and was able to go into the film completely unspoiled. As someone who didn’t particularly care for Ant-Man, my anticipation for the sequel was rather low, that was until Avengers: Infinity War. Following the events that transpired in Marvels’s earlier cinematic event, there was a great deal of intrigue as to how Ant-Man and the Wasp would acknowledge Infinity War, if at all. So it must come as a shock to both Disney and Marvel that the film has struggled at the box office (it has still managed to make $465 million at the time of writing).

Ant-Man and the Wasp continues the adventures of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who is approaching the end of his 2-year house arrest sentence after his involvement in the airport showdown in Captain America: Civil War. Scott finds himself putting on the Ant-Man suit again in an effort to rescue Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm, whilst being hunted by the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

Similar to all but one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, there is a major emphasis on fun with Ant-Man and the Wasp. The sense of fun is everywhere in the film. The situations that the characters repeatedly find themselves in are perfectly ridiculous, yet remain small-scale enough to give the film a familiar tone to that of the first film.

Arguably the most important factor of Ant-Man and the Wasp are the performances of stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. The two feel perfectly at home in the MCU and their back and forth is easily one of the most entertaining aspects of the film. Meanwhile, Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston) is given a slightly more fleshed out role, and Forston uses it to create a heartwarming character, and in many ways, Cassie is the heart and soul of the entire film.

Marvel is repeatedly, and justifiably, criticised for having a major problem in crafting well-developed villains. However, Ant-Man and the Wasp has actually succeeded to a certain degree. Hannah John-Kanem’s character Ava Sharp, A.K.A. Ghost, is a relatable and sympathetic character, who is not a villain in the traditional sense. However, she is, like most antagonists in Marvel films, underused. There is a lot of potential with her character, but unfortunately, none of it is fulfilled.

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If there was one thing that was an absolute standout of the original Ant-Man, it was easily the fantastic visual effects. The same can be said for Ant-Man and the Wasp, which boasts some of the MCU’s best visual effects, which is quite an accomplishment. However, the effects are not perfect, as the film enters its third act, and the Quantum Realm is further explored, it becomes painstakingly clear, that the actors are standing in front of green screens.

If I had to pick the best moment of the film, it is without a doubt the brilliant post-credits scenes. The MCU has a history of tantalising post-credits scenes, but Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s might just be the best and most tantalising. I won’t say anything about it, but if you still have not seen the film, go see it just for the first post-credits scene alone. It is not only extremely entertaining, but it provides a major clue regarding the currently untitled Avengers 4.

It is a well-known fact that Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Baby Driver) was supposed to direct Ant-Man, having been in active development with Marvel for 10 years before he was unceremoniously fired (or walked away) from the project, just a few months before principal photography was set to begin. The project was something that Wright had a clear passion for, and his exit from the film was a huge loss. Naturally, Marvel swiftly hired a new director in the form of Peyton Reed (The Break-Up, Yes Man), and while the film was a critical success, Reed’s direction was a main source of criticism. Unfortunately, the same can be said for Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is seriously let down by Reed’s bland direction, that lacks in creativity. It is really a damn shame that Edgar Wright and Marvel failed to find common ground during the development process, as his version would have been a much more creatively impressive film.

There had been much anticipation around Michelle Pfeiffer’s role as Janet Van Dyne, prior to the film’s release. Therefore, its such a disappointment that her entire role boils down to less than 10 minutes of screentime. Her appearance is extremely predictable and lacks any imaginative innovation. The same can be said for the rest of the supporting cast. Not a single character, outside of the main cast, brings anything significant to the film. The most popular characters from the first film, Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian) are nothing but downright annoying in the sequel.

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As mentioned earlier, the film’s primary antagonist, Ava Sharp, isn’t really a villain, and thus, Ant-Man and the Wasp lacks a true antagonist. It could be argued that Walton Goggin’s character, Sonny Burch, is the main villain but he feels as though he belongs in a cartoon, giving how his character is crafted in the script.

The film also has a pacing issue. The film feels significantly longer than its modest two-hour runtime. This is largely due to the often overlong comedic sequences that quickly become tiresome.

Following Avengers: Infinity War, many were left wondering how Ant-Man and the Wasp would handle the fallout of the film, if at all. However, as the film is set before Infinity War, it makes all of the accomplishments and consequences that the characters face feel obsolete. As a result of this, Ant-Man and the Wasp feels like an empty viewing experience, with the exception of the fantastic post-credit sequences.

Additionally, the action sequences are mostly forgettable. When compared to the first film, with the brilliant toy train sequence at its climax, there appears to be a general lack of creativity with the sequel. However, to give credit where its due, there is a highly entertaining sequence featuring The Wasp in a kitchen which shows that there was still that creative spark Reed had when crafting the first film’s action sequences.

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One final issue I have with Ant-Man and the Wasp is that the romance between Scott and Hope still feels ridiculously forced. It is given much more attention in the sequel, something which isn’t exactly hard considering the only attention to the romance in the first film was the revelation at the end, that the pair were hooking up.

In the end, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun but ultimately forgettable sequel that provides a lot of laughs but lacks in well-crafted action set pieces and characters.

Rating: 6.6/10

 

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ moves to August because of the World Cup!?

This is just going to be an extremely short post (it’s basically a rant) based on the news that just angered millions of Brits.

So despite the love that the world has for Marvel right now, following the release of the highly acclaimed Avengers: Infinity War, it seems that the love is not mutual on Marvel’s part, as they just announced that the next film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) would be releasing in the UK later than expected, a whole month later. Originally scheduled to be released on the July 6th, the sequel to Ant-Man will now be released here in the UK on August 3rd, whilst for the majority of the world, it remains July 6th.

It’s bad enough that the film has been pushed so far back from the rest of the world, but what makes it frankly insulting is the reason behind this move: the FIFA World Cup. Hosted every four years, the greatest sporting event in history returns, this time in Russia, as 32 national sides compete for the greatest trophy in the entire sport of football. It is so popular that Marvel is afraid that the entire population will be so captivated by the month-long event, that no-one will go out to see their film. Now I love football as much as the next guy but considering Scotland didn’t even qualify, and watching England get humiliated will only last about a week, as they’ll be knocked out in the group stages, I have no personal interest in the tournament. You’d think that Marvel would want to capitalise on the World Cup by advertising it during matches, to grab the attention of fans, who would perhaps go see the film once the match has ended. Apparently not.

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There’s also the fact that not every Brit likes or even cares about football. People who would much rather sit down in a cinema, watching their favourite characters on the big screen, are being forced to wait a full month longer than the entire world (except China probably). This also brings up the fact that in today’s society, through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, information is shared instantaneously, meaning that we will have to try to do the imaginable: survive a full month without being spoiled. It’s incredibly likely that fans will be spoiled sometime between the worldwide and UK releases, which could quite possibly kill much anticipation for the film. As a result of it, fewer people will feel the need to part with their hard-earned cash to go see a film which they know every single thing about.

It’s safe to say that the decision to delay Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s UK release by a full month, is not only insulting to UK fans of the MCU but a decision that could greatly backfire on the studio in terms of their financial gain, as well as their reputation here in the UK.

‘Ant-Man’ Throwback Review: The One That Is Overrated

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Originally scheduled to be directed by Edgar Wright, (who had spent ten years developing the film), before he stepped away from the project over good old “creative differences” with Marvel and was subsequently replaced by Peyton Reed. The film seemed to have a lot of issues right from the start with the directorial chang-up pushing production back drastically, giving the crew an undesirable small window to shoot and edit the entire film. This on top of the fact that veteran comedic actor Paul Rudd’s casting as the protagonist had drawn some ire from fans, all pointed to the very real potential that Ant-Man would be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first flop.

Ant-Man tells the story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a middle-aged professional criminal who is recruited by renowned scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to assist in a heist.

It’s not surprising that Rudd’s casting drew so much ire from fans as they just couldn’t picture the Anchorman star with a six-pack. Rudd has made a career through the genre of comedy and the idea of him playing a superhero was (and on some level still is) ridiculous. However, he proves to be a great piece of casting, utilising his traditional comedic talents and buffed up physique to craft a believable and fun hero. He doesn’t feel out-of-place in a cinematic universe filled with stars that were seemingly born to play their roles. Also, Michael Douglas gives an extremely fun performance as the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym. The standout performance is arguably Michael Peña as lowlife thief Luis. He is the primary source of comedic relief and steals every scene he is in.

It should come as no surprise that a film based on a character who shrinks down to the size of an ant is heavily reliant on CGI. Many MCU films are criticised for their uneven CGI, however, Ant-Man remains one of the most technically brilliant films within the MCU, as it’s CGI is consistently impressive.

As for the humour, the reception to it really ends up being based on personal definitions of comedy. Although Peña’s Luis is often praised as the highlight of the film, he will also irritate some viewers who simply do not appreciate the style of humour that he represents. For me, however, he is quite possibly the funniest character within the MCU and it’s just a shame he wasn’t in the film more.

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Ant-Man is no different from the majority of MCU films in the villains’ department as the antagonist, Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) is pathetically weak. He might just be the most forgettable MCU villain. His portrayal as a psychopath is unbelievable and it doesn’t help the character’s longevity that Stoll’s hammy performance makes Cross come across as embarrassing rather than intimidating. Despite the fact that many fans are frustrated with Marvel’s standard of killing off villains at the end of each film, it’s probably a good thing that Cross bites it at the end of the film.

The film follows the typical Marvel formula making it a predictable, clichéd and rather hollow experience. There’s nothing particularly memorable about the film except the production issues it faced.

Lastly, as a huge fan of LOST, I was disappointed to see Evangeline Lilly’s role as Hope van Dyne is surprisingly restricted. She is the typical female character that helps the male characters but does nothing significant herself. She doesn’t exactly give a strong performance either and her chemistry with Paul Rudd is almost non-existent which makes the relationship that is suddenly revealed at the end of the film that much more frustrating, as it is totally unearned. It is clear from both the title of the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the marketing so far that she will have a more prominent role, and I remain hopeful that she will deliver a performance that is on par with the performances she gave week in and week out on LOST.

Ultimately, Ant-Man is a mixed-bag within the MCU. Paul Rudd proves that the fans are not always right, as he doesn’t feel out-of-place within the blockbuster franchise. It shocks me that the film boasts a solid 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, beating other MCU films such as Captain America: The First Avenger and Avengers: Age of Ultron. For me, Ant-Man is a fun yet vastly overrated piece of popcorn entertainment, which was clearly rushed following a troubled production.

Rating: 6.4/10