Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Walton Goggins
I finally got round to watching Ant-Man and the Wasp a good week back, just the one month after the rest of the world. I knew about the end credit scenes, because frankly, I couldn’t wait to see how they interconnected this with the events of Avengers: Infinity War and so I succumbed to reading about them on the internet. They had to do it following Scott Lang’s non-involvement and I have to say that I was pleased and relieved that Disney/Marvel didn’t intrude upon the actual films plot with any Thanos related incidents.
This had to be a more street level, more intimate affair, focusing on Scott Lang, Hope Van Dyme and Hank Pym. I’ve always enjoyed that element to the MCU over the years. Their ability to jump from cosmic scale events to fighting a corrupt businessman with itchy fingers and a propensity for turning up at just the right time. That last bit is directly connected to this film, admittedly, but we’ve seen it time and again, in the in the other standalone films. Be it the ragtag group of terrorists in Iron Man, Yellowjacket, Aldrich Killian, or more recently, Killmonger.
Thankfully, it is more street level. It begins with the focus on Scott Lang, post Civil War. He’s under house arrest and he unwillingly gets stolen away by Hope (Evangeline Lily) and Hank (Michael Douglas), as they try to save Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who’s apparently alive and still trapped in the quantum realm. There’s two main antagonists and a minor, comedic one. Primarily, we’ve got Ghost/Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), weaving through doors and walls, trying her damnedest to steal Pym’s latest invention for herself, a portal to the quantum realm.
Why does she want it? Well, her father is Elihas, a former partner of Hank, who killed himself and his wife, during a quantum experiment. This left Ava in a permanent state of agonising pain, with her body tearing itself apart, again and again. She wants Hank’s lab to extract quantum energy, in the hope of it curing her, with the help of Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), another disenfranchised ex-partner of Pym. Which would be perfectly fine and dandy, if it wasn’t for Janet being trapped within and the danger of her being killed by such an excursion.
The second antagonist, is a wiry, snake of man called Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). He’s an opportunistic, low level criminal and more of a traditional villain. His main objective for the entirety of the film is fairly simple. He also wants the Pym lab for his own and endeavours to sell it onto the black market for monetary gain. I described him as being similar to the Beni character from ‘The Mummy’ in that he’s full of misguided cockiness, but does have a propensity for arriving on the scene at the right time, much to the chagrin of Scott and Hope, who he taunts frequently. Ava is a relatable antagonist, with a semblance of humanity. Sonny, is a little annoying bitch.
Thirdly, you have Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), an FBI or some kind of law enforcement officer who makes regular trips to the Lang household to make sure Scott is maintaining his house arrest. He’s not a proper antagonist as such, but he’s a thorn in the side of Ant-Man, who often has to leave more important matters to dash back and keep up the facade of ignorance to the forty foot plus superhero wading through water in the Ant-Man suit, which is definitely not him. No way. Woo brings some much needed comedic relief along with the usual suspects of Luis (Michael Peña), a family pet sized ant and even Lang himself.
The humour is fantastic, incidentally, and very reminiscent of the first film. It’s reminiscent of just about every MCU film in existence. They know how to blend all the different elements together to create a perfect tonal stew. Paul Rudd is no stranger to that genre too and he’s got the gift of comedic timing and hilarious line delivery. From the “Hank I would never do that to you, I respect you too much” to the “I don’t think you got the gist of the game” quip to Hope. He’s a very likeable, loveable even, goofball. Luis also brings the comedy with his antics and even a certain Mr. Douglas has his moments too with a few one liners.
The story is pretty simplistic throughout really, I pretty much nailed it all in one sentence earlier, but that’s absolutely fine for a film like this. It doesn’t need a complicated, convoluted plot to work. It gave me exactly what I wanted with the relatable, great characters we love returning, slick and quick paced action, more of Pym’s cool shrinking technology, more great humour and stunning visuals. But more importantly, the aforementioned human level antagonists and story. It was a great change of pace, it was escapism, and for me at least, an improvement on the original. That’s no mean feat either, because that was one of my favourite standalone MCU films.
My only gripe for this film was the bone headed decision from the Disney executives to delay its release in the U.K. by a month. Ok, fair enough, the World Cup was on and that can have ramifications for the box office performances. That seemed to have overlooked the fact that three of the four countries that make up the U.K. weren’t even in the tournament though. There’s little appetite in Scotland to watch England coasting to a semi-final. Watching Ant-Man would’ve been the perfect remedy. That’s before you even mention that a large part of the core demographic probably doesn’t even follow football.
It was a mistake for me and it’s came back to bite them in the arse because it’s not doing too great at the box office regardless. A large proportion will have watched a pirated copy, which is criminal, particularly for a film of this ilk. But it’s also understandable too. Nobody wants to be waiting a month longer to see a blockbuster release like this. If it was the United States getting that treatment then there’d be riots. That being said, I think the fact my biggest criticism isn’t even about anything within the film itself will speak volumes.
It’s another highly enjoyable ride from Disney/Marvel. They’ve nailed the formula at this stage, they know what fans want and they bring their A game every time now. It’s a more than worthy addition to the collection. Of course, I’m biased because I love Paul Rudd and the Ant-Man character, but it’s a highly recommended watch.