Review – ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ is Marvel at its most blandly disposable

Patrick Wilson is the main host of the weekly Popcorn Muncher Podcast and also writes as a regular guest contributor to The Popcorn Muncher.
 

Poster for 2018 superhero movie Ant-Man and the Wasp

Genre: Superhero
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 3rd August 2018
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, Michael Peña, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer, Walton Goggins, Randall Park, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale
Synopsis: A message from the quantum realm brings Ant-Man out of house arrest to join forces with Wasp.

 

I thought I’d enjoy Ant-Man and the Wasp as a palate cleanser after the outright madness of Avengers: Infinity War. After that movie raised the stakes and ended on a down note, I wanted something easy, fun and breezy to follow it, like a breath of fresh air. Marvel has excelled for the last decade at making easily digestible light entertainment and this movie seemed like a perfect opportunity to flesh out the relationships of two characters and great actors who could act as a soothing balm after all of the emotion and tragedy. That’s what I thought I was going to get. Instead, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a bland piece of cinematic belly button fluff that failed to make me care about even the smallest pixel on screen.

Every trailer for this movie sold it as the team-up between the two titular superheroes, but it’s really not that at all. After Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) shenanigans with Captain America in Civil War, he’s been put under house arrest and, as a result of his rather noticeable Giant Man tech, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are now on the run and in hot water with the FBI. After a cryptic message suggests there’s a way to save Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), from the quantum realm, the team reunites to mount an ambitious rescue mission, while being challenged and pursued by a mysterious villain known only as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).

The real issue with Ant-Man and the Wasp is its lack of effort to make you care about the central narrative thrust. It should be simple, focusing the movie on the title characters and their relationships in the aftermath of Civil War. However, there is barely any Ant-Man or Wasp in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Rudd and Lilly have great chemistry and rapport when they’re on screen together, but these scenes are so few and far between. When their romance is brought up, it feels completely out of the blue. These are two people who haven’t seen each other in more than two years, so you can’t rely on previous continuity – especially when their romance wasn’t fully fleshed out in the first movie.

Most of the focus in Ant-Man and the Wasp is on saving Janet Van Dyne, who is not given any characterisation or any reason for us to care about her family saving her. This would be fine if she meant something to other characters who we care about, but again we’re not given much chance to care about them either. Hope isn’t given enough time to develop and every other character seems hell bent on letting us know how much of an arsehole Hank Pym is, so we don’t care about him either. What we’re left with is a plot that has far too many elements and manages to dilute them all. This movie has five people credited as writers and it certainly feels like it was written by five different people, who never shared a room with each other at any stage.

There is stuff to like in this movie, however. The shrinking and enlarging action set pieces are visually dynamic and inventive as always, with some great gags throughout. Rudd gets to be more like himself this time and he works well as the goofy everyman thrust into a plot that goes way over his own head. Walton Goggins is great as the secondary villain, with his southern drawl adding a sliminess to the character that is thoroughly entertaining. I also like Hannah John-Kamen, even though she doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. She’s a very good actress, who deserves a greater spotlight. The one who really deserves better, though, is Evangeline Lilly. She cements herself as a terrific action star and goes toe-to-toe with Rudd in every scene they share. She really is excellent and should be better served by the movie.

All in all, Ant-Man and the Wasp is fine, but it’s so bland that I found myself constantly frustrated. I’ve said worse things about Justice League and the DC movies for similar issues, so it wouldn’t be fair to bite my tongue here. Ant-Man and the Wasp has a great cast and very inventive action set pieces, but it can’t tie them together with a satisfying plot. It’s a real shame that this wasn’t more fun. It really should have been.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

There’s nothing particularly awful about Ant-Man and the Wasp, but it just feels like a missed opportunity to make something silly. It’s impossible to care about the characters and there simply isn’t enough of the titular pairing, which is the basis on which the whole movie was sold. There’s a certain amount of false advertising at play.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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