Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp


Choosing to release this film two months after Avengers: Infinity War was not a good move. Mainly because Ant-Man is one of the lamest heroes in the Marvel Universe, and his first movie only worked because of the humor angle. I mean, come on; it was hard to not enjoy all the shrinking/enlarging madness, right? Despite all that, what Ant-Man is up to is probably one of the last things on most people's minds at this point. And yet here we are. 

In this film, Scott Lang/Ant-Man is on house arrest because of the events of Captain America: Civil War. And as such, he hasn't really had any contact with Hank Pym or his daughter Hope. But that changes when the Pyms discover there might be a way to bring back Hank's long-lost wife from the Quantum Realm (the place you go when you "shrink between the molecules" in this universe... which basically means if you didn't see the first movie, don't bother with this one). And Scott will be needed for that. But this time, Hope will also be suiting up into action as the Wasp--which is basically the same thing as Ant-Man, only with wings and some weird blasters with vague abilities. 

Anyways, so Scott and the Pyms set out to bring Hank's wife back. However, someone else--a "villain" by the name of Ghost--wants the technology as well to fix her weird unstable condition, which involves... well... ghosting through things. And for some reason, some non-super-powered normal criminal guy played by Walton Goggins wants the tech too, because... uh... you know, I'd already forgotten why before the movie was even over. 

This movie is admittedly pretty enjoyable; they take the best parts of the last movie and use them heavily. Which is to say, all the humor, plus all the shrinking/enlarging action. The latter caps off with a quite fun car chase involving a car that is constantly shrinking and then enlarging back to its normal size. In other words, the best thing about the movie is once again not even really Ant-Man (or the Wasp)--it's just the epic applications of the technology that allows Ant-Man to exist. Between stuff like that and just the often-hilarious dialogue, it's difficult to not enjoy the movie.

With that said, this movie is pretty doggone pointless. It doesn't really contribute hardly anything to the Marvel Cinematic Universe plot-wise; and when they're making us sit through as many movies as they are, that's a problem. If this movie (and its predecessor) stood completely on its own apart from any cinematic universe, I would probably be more forgiving. But I want this movie to mean something, and it really doesn't. Aside from a mid-credits scene which ties the movie to Infinity War, the only critical plot thing that happens here is the retrieval of Hank Pym's wife, which really isn't a good enough excuse by itself for this movie to exist. 

And then there's the problem with some of the characterization. Ant-Man often feels less like a character (except for the scenes with his daughter) than he just feels like Paul Rudd running around in a suit. And furthermore, Scott himself isn't allowed much room for progression; he's still a bit of a screw-up that is constantly being told by Hank and Hope "Shut up, Scott!" or "Darn it, Scott!" (The latter is more often said in less polite terms.) That heavy dose of deprecation gets annoying after a while. And while the Wasp and her actress Evangeline Lilly fare better than last time, it's not enough to bring this movie out of low-tier MCU material. 

Ant-Man and the Wasp will certainly make you laugh a lot. It's hard to not enjoy. But it's also hard to not shake the feeling that it's pretty pointless; and really, that mid-credits scene I mentioned earlier only exacerbates that. This movie doesn't really mean anything. It's a weak attempt to tide us over until Infinity War Part 2. And while it's impressive how Marvel continues to make even their low-tier material above average, I still think it's fair to expect that when they're putting out as many movies as they are these days, that all the movies *mean* something. This is basically one of those episodes of a TV show that you enjoy quite a bit but is still kind of filler. Even in a cinematic universe like this, this still isn't a TV show. Filler "movies" shouldn't exist. But then we wouldn't have a scene where a bug-sized car changes back to normal size while driving under a normal-sized car, thus sending the other normal-sized car flying. So you can see that I'm slightly conflicted here. 

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