Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Genre: Superhero Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.

Release Date: July 6th, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Peyton Reed Actors: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, Abby Ryder Fortson

 


 

D

ecades ago, Dr. Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), sacrificed her life to deactivate a Soviet missile by shrinking herself down to a subatomic level. But when Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) donned the guise of Ant-Man and was able to successfully reach and then return from the “Quantum Realm” just a few years ago, Pym suspects that Janet might still be alive and could possibly be saved. As he and his daughter Hope van Dyne, a.k.a. the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), work tirelessly to build a tunnel to breach the “microverse” that may hold Janet, Scott finds himself in his own struggle – to stay a good father to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) while on house arrest due to complications with Homeland Security.

When Lang is visited by Pym’s wife in a vision, he contacts the doctor and learns that he’ll be vital in pinpointing her position within the Quantum Realm. But forces of evil are intent on obtaining Pym’s technology, including arms dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) and the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a mercenary with the ability to shift in and out of dimensions. With time running out to locate Janet, Ant-Man and the Wasp must once again team up in an epic battle to save the lives of those they love.

From being lost in the quantum realm via subatomic shrinkage to worrying about getting swallowed by a tardigrade, this “Ant-Man” sequel doesn’t concern itself with the extreme complexities of theoretical science. And it confidently assumes that audiences will likewise dismiss the prattling explanations of molecular disequilibrium and quantum phasing in favor of the frenzy of stunts that constitute the frequent action olios. But as the picture progresses, it tends to use brainy jargon in place of a sensible plot; a line of some unknowable sci-fi description serves as an excuse for CG ideas that sound cleverer than they are. “Do you guys just put the world ‘quantum’ in front of everything?”

The worst offender is Ghost, whose superpowers (or, rather, the curse of a failed science experiment) make little sense – both in the details of how they work and in the context of the film. It’s far more interesting to see Ant-Man and the Wasp simply scale up or down at the press of a button during hand-to-hand combat or car chases, allowing for fun with physics and precise martial arts moves. But even without Ghost’s questionable abilities, this Marvel episode struggles with designing a villain – or villains – whom viewers can admire or despise. Goggins seems to blend his roles from “Vice Principals” (right down to the wardrobe) and “Tomb Raider,” showing an apparent lack of range; while a corrupt FBI agent, a disgruntled former lab partner, and even diverse henchmen fail to inspire originality.

Part of this lackluster assemblage stems from an abundance of comic relief. Not only do all of the antagonists provide their own comedy moments (even making light of a potentially daunting torture scene), but so too do all of the background parts – from a 10-year-old girl to the lead FBI nuisance to Lang’s security coworkers (Michael Pena reprises his role with zero alterations, repeating the same routines from before) to family members. And, of course, the primary characters engage in continual slapstick and comic capers, few of which introduce fresh material. The filmmakers clearly researched what stuck with audiences from the original film and opted to recycle those bits rather than to expand upon them. Nevertheless, the levity keeps the tone pleasantly distant from the darkness and pessimism of its companion pieces, to the point that it has more in common with “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” than with “Fantastic Voyage.”

“Sorry about Germany,” Scott whimpers, providing the only link to the Avengers, which is a welcome shift in Marvel’s ongoing universe. This chapter exists primarily outside of the convoluted happenings of the other superheroes, giving it an independence that should have allowed it to bask in the creativity of the rapid reduction and enlargement of its saviors. Curiously, however, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” doesn’t take full advantage of this separation; not only does it mix in a flashback-heavy subplot that lazily pretends to have existed throughout 2015’s picture, it falls short of the innovative fights and size-changing obstacles that were so visually dazzling just a few years ago (even though the last third is virtually one very long attack/chase/escape sequence that never lets up).

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10