Ant-Man and the Wasp Movie Review
The first Ant-Man movie was one of my least favorite Marvel films. I’m a big MCU fan but felt about the original Ant-Man the way my non-MCU fan friends say they feel about the entire franchise. I really wanted to like it but felt like, with the exception of the cute finale, it wasted the fanciful possibilities of Ant Man’s powers. The villain was tedious and uninteresting. None of the characters were interesting above and beyond their actor’s charisma. None of the emotional payoffs were earned and too often it felt like there wasn’t a script for a particular scene but rather the director just pointed the camera at some talented improvisers and said, go. Wrecking the flow and feel of the movie. The trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp didn’t instill me with a lot of confidence going in.
There was what appeared to be some slightly more inspired action sequences if you can quell your CG-cynicism, and then…all of those characters we didn’t really get to know in the last movie. The script is credited to no less than five writers and the movie has the same director as the last. And yet… Ant-Man and the Wasp improve or fix every one of my gripes with the previous film. Hilariously, the only thing that came close to a “beef” for me was with the soundtrack. Especially during some of the longer action sequences, the soundtrack felt a little repetitive and just there to paint over the whole scene for the sake of holding attention.
I was surprised to discover that the film’s score was composed by Christophe Beck, the longest-running composer for my favorite TV show. 101 When last we saw Scott Lang, he’d been jailed for helping Captain America fight the Avengers in Germany. And in Infinity War there’s a quick scene where the characters mention Scott and Hawkeye took a plea deal with the government so they could get back to their families. Ant-Man and the Wasp open with Scott serving out his house arrest.
The movie very quickly reminds us of some of the events from the first film, while retconning a certain actress into them, and then rapidly knocks over the first domino that sets off the plot’s chain of events. From there it never really slows down. There were a few awkward scene bridges that felt kind of dissonant to me. One character runs up to another and shouts exposition purely intended to get us to the next scene, but the film keeps things lively and chugging along. There is a smorgasbord of villains. Too many, really. The ghost who can phase and walk through things.
She’s fun to watch in the suit but the movie doesn’t spend enough time getting to know her for her to become at all emotionally compelling. Walter Goggins who plays a black market tech dealer that I enjoyed simply because I like Walter Goggins (Justified is somewhere in my Top 10 list of favorite TV shows.) And there is the FBI, who are really just the Keystone cops of the movie. There is a bit of the caper feel from the original but, and I think smartly, much of it has been jettisoned in favor of just giving us a lot of action sequences that make great use of Ant-Man and the Wasp growing and shrinking abilities. Instead of dirt tunnels and Star Trek-like air vents that sap the whimsy from watching their abilities, AMTW grounds all the action in everyday household items. And it’s all a lot of fun spectacle.
Tthat’s really all there is here. Rudd and Pena are funny but the comedy doesn’t overstay its welcome. The visuals are delightfully whimsical this time and these are some likable actors executing a plot that doesn’t trip over itself. It all felt very much like a Saturday morning cartoon. A good one. And mind you, that is not a criticism. Just an observation. Maybe Ant-Man and the Wasp works BEST as a Saturday morning cartoon. There is enough gravitas in the rest of the MCU. We can have a few movies that feel like upbeat throwback kids films, especially after Infinity War. Though ironically, there was a shot of Ant-Man punching Ghost in the face that made me remember Hank Pym was a domestic abuser in the comics. Of course, I still prefer the MCU films with greater character and thematic aspirations than this.
For me, the first Ant-Man film landed somewhere near the bottom of my list of MCU movies. Ant-Man and the Wasp are somewhere in the middle. And that’s a good company. Just FYI. There are two stingers. One after the main credits and one at the very end. The one at the very end is in the trailer and…not really worth staying for.