Marvel has done it again. From them we have got ourselves another serviceably fun film. One that’s got some very good ideas and some terrific performances, but feels lacking in the creative department. I’m not going to say that Ant-Man was a masterpiece, it wasn’t, but it did hit all the right notes with me. The story was a scaled-down telling of a heist and the tone was a lot lighter than most over superhero films. It felt like a family film, and as one I think it did a good job, being accessible for all ages. It also avoided the issues that normally come with replacing a director in the middle of filming – Edgar Wright’s and Payton Reed’s visions seemed to bounce off each over very well. It was very formulaic and had a very weak antagonist, but was fine for what it was. That’s pretty much how I also feel about Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Having been shrunk into another dimension in the last film, the same dimension that Hank Pym’s wife was sent to, Pym wants to use Ant-Man, Scott Lang, to go back in and rescue his wife after over twenty years. The problem, Scott is under house arrest for what he did in Captain America: Civil War and can’t leave, lest he be sent to prison and loose his daughter for good in the process. Oh, and there’s also an arms dealer trying to steal their technology and a woman whose body is trapped between two dimensions – a state of being that is very slowly and very painfully killing here – who is wanting to use Hank’s wife to save her life, while ending the one of the woman they are trying to save. Will Scott manage to save the day without the cops noticing him? To do that, he’ll need a partner…
To not sound overly negative, I will talk about the three main elements that I loved in this film. The acting is first and foremost. It’s terrific! Not only is everyone balancing dramatic tension with cartoonish humour very well, they still come off as human beings. I’ve always loved Paul Rudd, the only role this man can’t play is a villain. He’s effortlessly likable and fun to watch. He has excellent chemistry with all his cast members and really is the heart and soul of the film. Evangeline Lily as Hope Pym, aka The Wasp, is every bit as good as Rudd. They have a couple bickering role, but they do it in a way that doesn’t feel tired. The girl playing Scott’s daughter is a stand out also, being a good motivator for our characters. Returning actors – like Michael Douglas and Michael Pena – and new-comers – Michele Pfeiffer and Lawrence Fishburne – all work perfectly in their roles.
I like the humour, which feels genuine at moments and suitably cartoonish in others. Sometimes it’s a little uncalled for, but for the most part it works well. Finally, I really like the action. They play with the shrinking and growing tech better than any other film that features it. The action is well choreographed, and it is inventively original. You’ve never seen a salt-shaker used this way before, I’ll tell you that much. There’s even some amazing stunts involving toy cars – there’s a sentence I thought I’d never say!
Sadly, everything else, while certainly not bad – although the music is completely forgettable – is just so been-there-done-that. The chief offender of this is the villain. Now, her backstory is very interesting and the motivation of just trying to stop the pain is a relatable one. But the character herself, the one we see throughout the film, is one-note. There’s no depth, there’s no human moment here or there, she’s just an obstacle, and an overused one at that, I feel her screen time could have been cut down a bit. I’m used to bad Marvel villains by now, but after the villains we’ve had this year – the intimidating Thanos, the hilarious Klau and the all-around excellent Kill monger, I did find this one particularly disheartening. There’s also a character who we don’t know what side he’s on – until it’s answered around the 45-minute mark. And the arms dealer is a boring an unnecessary addition to the film.
The story is fine. There’s legitimate tension and interesting ideas throughout, but you’ve seen it before in other Marvel films. Winter Soldier in particular, the more I think about it. It also has that issue that I’ve been noticing with almost every sequel these days – where they feel the need to complicate the story. For example, Deadpool – nice, simple story with a lot of focus on the areas it’s trying to cover. Deadpool 2 – a jumbled mess of subplots and tones that made me forget what the actual story was at times. Neither is bad, but that’s how they are. The same goes here. And has gone with more films than I can count lately. Sometimes it’s warranted – Blade Runner 2049 and Avengers Infinity War for example – but not for a film that aims to please families with fun humour and goofy action.
The effects are good, the directing’s good, the writing’s fine, Ant-Man and the Wasp works as a film. If you want a bit of fun at the cinemas, definitely watch it, I don’t think it’ll let anyone down on that level. But it did remind me of why I’m bored of superheroes. Black Panther and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 got better with time and viewings, and I do hope that the same happens here, but I doubt it this time. It’s just a nice, middle-of-the-road Marvel film – which certainly isn’t bad. It’s just bland. The acting is exceptional and there’s fun ideas and just plain old fun to be had, it’s just a shame that all it came to was just serviceable.
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