Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp Delivers Big Summertime Fun
After a very underwhelming 2017, Marvel Studios has released three superhero films that will stand out as some of the best blockbusters of 2018. I always give credit where credit is due, and Marvel Studios deserves all of the praise that they have been receiving this year. The studio kicked off 2018 with Black Panther which isn’t only one of the best Superhero films ever but one of the best films of the year. In April, Avengers: Infinity War left fans and critics speechless as they were left eagerly waiting for more. Now, this July, Ant-Man and The Wasp will be delivering lots of summertime fun complete with plenty of laughs, action, and a whole lot of heart.
The story in Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is now under house arrest due to the ruckus that he caused in Germany while trying to help Captain America save the day. Since his arrest, Scott has spent most of his time watching television, playing the drums, and hanging out with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). With only a few days left before being released, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) discover some shocking news that leads them to the whereabouts of a missing family member as well as a potential new threat to the world.
There are specific plot points and even a handful of jokes that tie Scott Lang to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is very important to note that Ant-Man and the Wasp is very much a standalone film. Having two standalone films in one year is somewhat refreshing because both Ant-Man and The Wasp and Black Panther have not incorporated any of the characters from the MCU. One of the several things that I disliked about Spider-Man: Homecoming was that it felt like a sequel to Iron Man instead of a Spider-Man film. While Thor: Ragnarok was a Thor movie, the Hulk was a big player in that film and it all tied into Avengers: Infinity War. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a film that can be watched and appreciated on its own which is a great thing. The film is pure entertainment, and that’s fine. It is refreshing to see an MCU film that is just light-hearted and fun.
The action sequences and visual effects found in Ant-Man and The Wasp are pretty remarkable as they are in most of the MCU films. What stood out about the action scenes was how creative they were. As someone who has watched at least a thousand action movies in my lifetime, I need to praise how much fun it was to watch a car chase scene featuring a giant Pez dispenser and a larger than life Ant-Man riding a flatbed truck through the streets of San Francisco. The film’s trailer gives a glimpse at the scene but seeing it play out in its entirety is a real treat.
The film does contain multiple storylines, and while some of them do work, others do not. I don’t want to spoil any of the fun, but I do believe the film does work best whenever the focus is centered around Scott, Cassie, Hank, and Hope. The relationships that the writers have created between Hope and Hank, as well as Cassie and Scott, truly makes the film feel special. Ant-Man and the Wasp at its core is honestly a film about family and the bond between father and daughter. While we have seen this explored in the original Ant-Man film back in 2015, this one builds on those relationships and makes them the crux of this story. These four actors and their interactions with one another are truly the heart and soul of this movie. They all fit together so nicely, and their chemistry is second to none.
That being said, one of the most significant problems with the film is that it features a plethora of secondary characters. While I wouldn’t say that having too many characters impacted my overall enjoyment of the film, I do feel the need to point out that most of the secondary characters just didn’t feel all that relevant to the plot. The wide array of secondary characters felt like glorified cameos rather than characters that were there to help progress the story. When you look at characters like T.I.’s Dave, Michael Pena’s Luis, David Dastmalchian’s Kurt, Bobby Cannavale’s Paxton, and Randall Park’s Jimmy Woo, they are all haphazardly thrown into the mix to produce laughs. Some of these characters have a purpose while some of them do not. There were a few points in the film where I felt like some of the characters were just too much especially when you look at how little they actually contributed to the plot of the film.
Moving on to the villains, the villains are without question the film’s weakest link. There are three main villains in the film with Ghost played by Hannah John-Kamen being the main villain. While I wouldn’t say that John-Kamen wasn’t good in the role, I do think her character wasn’t developed nearly enough. Her powers were cool and what was revealed about her backstory was intriguing but there just wasn’t enough of it to make the audience connect or care about her as a character.
Walter Goggins who plays Sonny Burch is horribly miscast. His character reminded me a lot of the character that he played in Tomb Raider. While Goggins looks the part, the way that the character was written didn’t seem to fit Goggins personality. Goggins is a great actor that has had some great roles in the past but he just didn’t fit the part. I also hate to say this but his character and his henchmen were all very disposable and unnecessary. There was honestly no real reason for his character to be in this film at all.
As for the third villain, which I guess just by saying that he is a villain could be a potential spoiler, but as a long time fan of Laurence Fishburne’s work, I was rather underwhelmed by Dr. Bill Foster’s introduction. Again, this character is new and could be explored more in later films but as an introduction to this new character, I didn’t care all that much about him. I do hope that he is better developed in future films and that Fishburne is able to showcase his acting talents because he is very wasted here.
Switching gears to the positive, Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyke was a great addition to the cast. Sadly, I can’t talk about her character and her involvement with this story without giving too much away. However, let’s just say that she plays a very pivotal role in the outcome of this story. I love that we got to learn about her backstory as well as her connection to these characters. The script does a great job of building up her character, so when she is eventually revealed, you want to see more of her.
While Pfeiffer’s character plays a big part in the story, Ant-Man and the Wasp is very much a four-person show with all of the secondary characters taking a backseat to Michael Douglas, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Abby Ryder Fortson. Peyton Reed and the writing team make these four characters shine, and I found myself constantly rooting for them and missing them whenever they weren’t on-screen. Evangeline Lilly finally gets to take center stage in this film while Michael Douglas looks like he is having the time of his life. Paul Rudd is as funny and charming as always and has such dynamic chemistry with Abby Ryder Fortson as well as Evangeline Lilly.
While I enjoyed Ant-Man and The Wasp, I would have liked the film even more if it had fewer storylines, a tighter focus, and fewer characters. However, as a whole, I found Ant-Man and the Wasp to be a refreshing and much-needed change of pace from the other MCU films earlier this year. The cast and crew know exactly what their film is about and it never tries to be something it’s not. There is always room for a superhero film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and that you can just have a lot of fun with. Not everything has to be serious and epic, sometimes having fun is just what we need.