Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): Broader Comedy and a Connection (Review)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): Broader Comedy and a Connection (Review)

Ever since Edgar Wright was given the old “heave ho” from the original Ant-Man the tiny (and not so tiny) superhero’s fate has been open to debate. Certainly Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a like-able alternative to Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym but one can only imagine what Wright’s take on the whole thing would have been. 

Still, Bring It On director Peyton Reed was an inspired choice to helm the first outing of Ant-Man and he has proven with Ant-Man and the Wasp that he can blend his comic touch, yet again, with action flawlessly. The film delivers on a broader scale, in terms of comedy, (although it has lost some of the delightful dichotomies involved in that Thomas the Tank engine fight) and introduces a gender changed Ghost.

Of course the best bit about making Ghost a female is that the incredibly gorgeous and talented Hannah John-Kamen (who kicked bad-guy butt weekly on SyFy via Killjoys and recently did a star turn in Ready Player One) got to show off her excellent acting chops once again. Evangeline Lily reprises her role as Hank’s chip off the old block daughter, Hope and Rudd’s character’s three stooge pals return as well.

A quick nod to the splendid Michael Peña, who once again shows his comic genius is in order here.  He almost steals every single scene he is in which almost cements his return in future installments of this franchise. Everyone, including the “newcomers” – Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne and the brilliant Walton Goggins all bring something to the Marvel table. Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale and the always adorable Abby Ryder Fortson give us an Ant-Man verse we know and love. 

There is, of course, the inevitable tie-in with “Infinity Wars” and the eagerly waited second half of said film. While, in this reviewer’s estimation, it all may stem from that green stone that Dr. Strange coughed up to Thanos to save Tony Stark, it may well be the Quantum bits and Lang’s exposure to them that turns around the downbeat and upsetting of part one of Infinity Wars…

Ant-Man and the Wasp is built around Scott’s escape from the same trap that Janet Van Dyne (Pfeiffer) fell into 30 years before. But there is also the “Accord” law breakage that puts Lang on house arrest and the dilemma of Ghost, who become a major fly in the ointment of our heroes.

The comedy in this second installment of the franchise is surely a touch of genius on the part of Reed as helmsman. The hilarity is so contagious and spot on that good old Stan Lee’s cameo is quite tame. It also affects the gag from the first film about the tiny crashing items and their lack of fan-fare.

Douglas is still grumpy and funny in turns, Lily is still hot as ever as Wasp, even before she dons the suit and, John-Kamen kills it as the trapped between dimensions “villain” being driven mad by the pain.

There is not a lot wrong with the film and it is a mark of its success that one immediately wants to sit through the entire thing again as soon as it finishes.  Ant-Man and the Wasp ends on a huge cliffhanger, one that only those Marvel fans who remember to stick around after the credits start rolling will see, and it is a real “Debbie Downer” of an ending.

(It is amazing to see how many filmgoers leave before the credits finish. Have they learned nothing?)

Theories abound about the ending and the possible connection between the upcoming part two of Infinity Wars. We are reasonably sure that despite the negative vibe put off by the end of this film, Ant-Man and his new sidekick Wasp will be around to fight another day…

The film earns a full 5 stars just for its comedy alone. Rudd, Lily and Douglas make a great team, along with Fortson and the three stooges that accompany Rudd’s character once again. Cannavale has little to do and Judy Greer (a personal favorite since Cursed) is funny as Lang’s ex who’s had a change of heart.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is still playing at cinemas and is worth seeing on the big screen. This one is a keeper though and will make a great addition to all your other Marvel verse films.

 

Ant Man: Michael Douglas, Marvel and a Captain America Teaser

Yellow Jacket under threat from Thomas the Tank Engine "Ant Man'

Without even going into the Marvel verse too deeply, Ant Man skirts along the edge of all things Avengers without encroaching on Iron Man territory. Michael Douglas enters into the spirit of superheroes with the gravitas of an elder statesman (with a mean temper) and the film ends with a teaser that has a surprise appearance by Captain America.

This production had a troubled start and lost its first helmsman, Edgar Wright, who may have given the world a much different Ant Man, although Paul Rudd manages to employ a lot of humor in the role.  As Scott Lang, a man with a daughter he is desperate to keep in contact with, Rudd brings that special brand of persona that he does so well.

As  an over intelligent cat burglar determined not to go back to prison, Lang still manages to get in trouble because, as Dr. Hank  Pym (Douglas) puts it, when things get tough Scott turns to crime.  The likable ex con is targeted by Pym to be the next Ant Man, much to Hank’s daughter’s chagrin.

Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) may be a chip of the old block of both Dr. Pym and his deceased wife, but she is too precious to the scientist to risk putting in the suit.  Her job is to get close to baddy Darren Cross, aka Yellowjacket (played brilliantly by Corey Stoll) and she does this well.

The storyline deals with a strict ex (a tiny cameo by personal favorite Judy Greer) and her new fiancee “a**hat” cop Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) who actually turns out to be less of a hat than Scott reckons.  Rudd’s character goes through an arc, a very impressive one, and steps up to “save the day.” 

Along the way, actor Michael Peña manages to almost steal the film from Douglas, Lily, Rudd and Stoll with his comic portrayal of career criminal Luis.  The actor is aided by some brilliant montage and flashback work where Peña voices all the characters in his expository scenes. 

The combination of his topical language choices and phrasing, along with his voice over matching the expressions of the people he voices in the flashbacks, makes the performer the clear winner in terms of captivating the audience.

Of course the film is not about Luis, so his “take over” is fleeting as Rudd manages to imbue his character with an exponential “nice guy” factor that shines through.  Douglas is a fine mix of curmudgeonly despot and loving father who cannot quite show how he really feels.

While the characters all help to bring the film to life, it is the action sequences, most by necessity CG, that carry the movie forward. Some of the effects are most certainly practical, for example the “exploding from underground” when Lang is freaked out by his initial introduction to the ant world, and are mixed with the computer generated FX brilliantly.

Sidenote: Speaking of CG there is that oddly real, but at the same time creepy, looking scene at the start of the film where Michael Douglas is years younger.  Despite leaps and bounds being made in this field, Douglas still looked…weird and a bit disturbing.

There is a great blend of humor with some of the scenes.  The entire toy train sequence is incredibly funny. Peyton Reed, whether influenced by the multi penned screenplay (with Edgar Wright as main scribe) or not, gives us a Thomas the Tank Engine chase and action scene that is just priceless. 

Seen from both Ant Man and Yellowjacket’s tiny view, the sound is enormous and the train with its speeding cars, looks deadly.  From another perspective Thomas’ danger value diminishes to nothing with comic results.

By the end of the film, it looks like Dyne will be joining Ant Man for a bit of crime fighting, or as an addendum to the Avengers and Dr. Pym survives being almost killed. The original Ant Man will act, presumably, as a continuing mentor to Scott Lang.

Marvel continues to bring more superheroes to the screen; big and small, with some being more oblique than others. Jessica Jones  as a sort of Marvel-Noire offering, along with her paramour Nick Cage has been given a second season on Netflix, for example.

With a lot of territory to cover yet in terms of the Avengers and all the peripheral action that entails; Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, et al, there will be enough material to keep Marvel on both television and movie screens for some time. (Not too mention the Agents of SHIELD and good old Peggy Carter.)

Ant Man is entertaining but not wildly funny, just amusing enough that the casting of Paul Rudd was a masterful move. All the cast do a more than capable job and the storyline is entertaining “Baskin-Robbins” don’t play dude.”

This is a 5 star film version of Marvel’s Ant Man.  While it would have been brilliant to see Wright’s version of this world, Peyton Reed brings an entertaining feature to the masses and it is to his credit that after watching this film, one immediately wants to watch it again.

Final Verdict:

Marvel-ous.