By midlandsmovies, Oct 12 2018 01:10PM
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Dir. Peyton Reed
What I was most surprised with in this new instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was that the film was directed by Peyton Reed. By that I mean as the helmer of the first film, Reed replaced Edgar Wright but in some ways his quick editing style aped Wright’s chaotic cutting.
However, whether Reed has tried to infuse his own design from the beginning to give the film some weight – away from the soap opera scale of the earlier film – the movie loses a lot of charm along the way.
In this sequel, Ant-Man Scott Lang (a likeable Paul Rudd) is under house arrest after the events of Civil War but decides to join Hope van Dyne (a feisty Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to try and recover her mother and his wife Janet from the sub-atomic Quantum Realm. But in their quest they cross Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr, a molecular shifting ‘Ghost’ aiming to use their technology to stabilise her body.
The size changing aspect in Ant-Man and the Wasp is pushed to the forefront here. Their laboratory is the major McGuffin that changes hands over and over again when shrunk to the size of a briefcase – and car chases are a fantastic mix of smash-ups as vehicles are shrunk to Micro Machine size. The villain however is a bit of a non-starter and continues Marvel’s interestingly designed but rather dull and forgettable antagonists (see Ronan the Accuser too).
Unfortunately, other than a handful of solid action scenes – Evangeline Lilly’s The Wasp is given a much meatier role and has the best scraps in the movie – the dialogue scenes are filmed in an incredibly flat style with even a hint of sepia-colour grading which really fails to help find the amusing tone of the first. Again, Reed takes his film in his own direction but one that sadly doesn’t really work.
Certainly not “bad” in the traditional sense, I have to admit I was expecting some more “fun” in its delivery so when the trio of Lang, Van Dyne and Pym attempt to retrieve Janet (played with class by the always-dependable Michelle Pfeiffer) I began to think that Ant-Man and The Wasp were secondary characters. The film seemed to hint upon a much more interesting plot focusing on Douglas and Pfeiffer’s story. These legends were never going to be the stars of Marvel’s kid-friendly Hollywood blockbuster but their performances give the film heart, gravitas and wit.
Laurence Fishburne moves from DC to Marvel to show up as another antagonist of sorts – again, as part of Hank’s tumultuous history and not Scott’s – and their dynamic and opposing moralities about developing technology were another highlight. Rudd and Lily’s chemistry is solid and I’ve always been an advocate for a bit more ‘love’ in the Marvel Universe. So their platonic AND romantic relationship adds a feisty layer that also gives their crises some heft when danger approaches.
The visual effects are of course top notch. I’d go so far to say that the Michael Douglas de-aging in the first Ant-Man may be one of the best CGI creations of all time. And although high-quality effects are quite standard for Marvel at this point – Black Panther's rubbery characters aside – the size shifting aspects ensure there’s a little bit more creativity when things get dicey for our heroes.
Away from that action though, I could label the film easily forgettable and, at times, certainly a little bland. With there being talk of a film set within Hank’s past, that was the film that this film left me wanting to see. And so this tale felt like a set up to that far more complex story. Therefore it sadly ends up sitting in the trivial middle ground of the MCU alongside Dr. Strange and Thor: The Dark World.
In the end the movie goes for mammoth but throwaway thrills over small-scale drama with a tone that moves away from its predecessor to become another plain entry into the Marvel cannon.