Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Peyton Reed

That Ant-Man and The Wasp manages to be a self-contained caper, much like the first outing three years ago, is both a credit and an albatross to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It's understandable that following the "heavier" material tackled in Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel would want to put something out which was a little more knockabout and which only very loosely fed in to the ongoing threads.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review

However, the danger is that Ant-Man (and, by extension, The Wasp) is becoming the outlier of the franchise, a film series where the stakes never quite feel high enough, and the levity is almost derailing.

As a self-contained piece, the return of Paul Rudd's comedic chops as Scott Lang is semi-welcome, but there's a feeling early on the film is trying a little too hard to flex said muscles.

In the latest, Lang is still under house arrest following his escapades in Civil War - and consequently, Hank Pym (Douglas, in a beefed up supporting role) and his daughter Hope (Lilly, easily this film's MVP) are on the run from the authorities.

But when Lang experiences visions of the Quantum Realm and somehow connects with Pym's long-lost wife Janet (Pfeiffer, in an ethereal role), the two's worlds collide once again. With Hope desperate to see her mother, and Pym keen to reunite with his wife, they team up to try and break on through to the other side.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review

However, their plans are thrown into jeopardy when a new threat (with echoes of the Winter Soldier) emerges...

It's interesting that Ant-Man and The Wasp demotes its titular hero to almost a supporting role in his own film, with Rudd definitively sidelined by Lilly's new heroine taking the lead.

And it's a most welcome touch in this cautionary tale of the Father / Daughter relationships, that even ties in with elements of the "Freak of the Week" early vibe of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Lilly leads most of the action scenes with such undeniable chutzpah that not even the overuse of deliberate pop-culture references to the 90s can derail. (Ant-Man and The Wasp perversely holds off from mentioning any time line to avoid the Infinity War question throughout).

It's a move Marvel have been too slow making, and Lilly seizes every opportunity to shine, imbuing her Hope with the fragility that's needed and the inspirational leading heroine that's been sorely lacking in the MCU for way too long.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review

Equally, the film's commitment to beefing up Douglas' role and giving Pym stakes is welcome, even if it comes at the cost of Rudd's own involvement in proceedings. IT's rare for older actors to be given such beefy roles, and Douglas (and to a lesser extent, Pfeiffer) grab them with gusto.

If Ant-Man and The Wasp is guilty of anything, it's that its central self-contained plot is entangled in sci-fi bunkum (one character even remarks that they're just throwing Quantum in front of everything) and feels slighter than anything proffered up before.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Film Review

Sure, Ant-Man and The Wasp is solid enough, popcorn fare, gleefully executed by all and with crisp action sequences, but its charm only goes skin deep to feeling you're invested in the stakes. (And, whisper it, parts of it feel like a repetition of the origin story of the first in terms of antagonists, some action sequences.) It's slight, knockabout cinema, that shrinks its hero to a supporting role, but does wonders for female representation in a franchise that's been woefully short of taking the lead.

Marvel need to handle Scott Lang carefully in future, because otherwise, they risk turning Ant-Man into the minute character of its namesake - and that genuinely would be a crying shame.

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