Review - 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'
I went into Ant-Man and the Wasp with a big question mark over my head. I enjoyed the first Ant-Man as a clever and amusing little trifle, but I didn't know how much of my enjoyment came from either of the two directors contributing to the project. There was a concern lingering in my mind that perhaps the first Ant-Man was good because all of the groundwork had been laid by Edgar Wright, only for Peyton Reed to swoop in and capitalize on. Well, Ant-Man and the Wasp is very much cut from the same cloth as the first film, but from what was once sharp, is now beginning to dull.
Ant-Man and the Wasp picks up two years after Civil War left off. Scott Lang is on house arrest for his un-authorized involvement in the airport battle between various Avengers. When Scott gets a sign that Janet Van-Dyne, Hank Pym's wife and the original Wasp, might still be alive in the quantum realm, Hope and Hank re-partner with him to try and extract her.
In almost every area, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an inferior film to the original, but only marginally so, and that's mainly because it doesn't bring anything new to the table. The humor is still there, but the recycling of jokes from the original stifles the film's edge. Though I will say that there is one bit in this film that stands head and shoulders above as the funniest moment in either of the two films. The action is passable, but not quite as creative or colorful as it was in the first movie. Even the plot for this film ends up being clunkier and more implausible than what we got in its predecessor.
Another aspect of this film that comes short is just how cheesy it can be at times. There are so many random coincidences and exposition dumps that are simply there to try and coalesce the plot in a way that makes sense. I get why these moments needed to be there, but they could have been grafted in in a smarter way than they are here.
Thankfully, there is one thing this film does better than the first, and that's in how it handles its emotional beats. This film has heart, and really capitalizes on Scott Lang, Hope Van-Dyne, their relationship between each other and their relationships with the characters around them. The team-up element between Scott and Hope is believable and they have a nice chemistry that serves as a great core to the film. It's also very satisfying to see these two characters looking out for each other in meaningful and believable ways and the film fully portrays them as partners that compliment each other well.
Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang here and his natural comedic timing and charm is one of the main reasons why this film works. I love that Ant-man is sort of the accidental hero who stumbles into every situation un-gracefully and still manages to come out on top. Evangeline Lilly also gets an expanded role here and the film is all the better for it. Seeing her as the Wasp is one of the highlights of this film, in fact, the film's story seems slightly more centered around her arch, and she carries the weight with confidence and conviction. Michael Douglas returns as Hank Pym, and is basically the same as he was in the previous film, but he gets to flex his acting muscles a little bit further here due to the added element of Janet Van-Dyne, his long-lost wife. Speaking of Janet Van-Dyne, who is played by the legendary Michelle Pfeiffer, well, she's not in this much, and that's a shame because the scenes she is in are pretty great and her added dynamic would have added to the film had their been more of it. We also get another hilarious performance from Michael Pena who never misses a comedic beat. Hannah John-Kamen is Ghost, the film's baddie, and she's an interesting character, though I don't think she pushes herself into the upper echelon of marvel villains. Then we have Laurence Fishburne and Walton Goggins, who are both fine, but didn't stand out as particularly memorable characters here.
Peyton Reed's Ant-Man and the Wasp is another one of those second-serving syndromes. You eat one helping of something tasty and immediately reach for some more, but it's not nearly as fulfilling as the first because you know what you're getting this time around. That is not to say that the second serving is not still delicious, it is, but something different would have been better and perhaps more memorable.