Released: 5th July
Seen: 11th July
Let’s face facts, we’re at the point where it’s really impossible to review Marvel movies. Not because of spoilers (Although that doesn’t help) and not because of complex storylines, but because they’re so goddamn consistent that even the worst Marvel Cinematic Universe movies will get three stars out of five because Marvel is a juggernaut and is just taking all of us along for a trip that we’re probably going to like, if not love. Ant-Man and the Wasp is that kind of movie where we know already it’s going to be good, it’s just a question of degree.
The movie does one thing brilliantly right off the bat, it explains where Scott Lang (Played by Paul Rudd) was during the last Avengers movie… under house arrest. He actually spends most of this movie dealing with the real world consequences of Civil War, namely he wasn’t able to get away and since he was already a criminal beforehand he ended up having to be put under house arrest. It’s nice to see how carefully Marvel is handling the continuity of their universe, making sure the actions of one movie are addressed in the next BUT you do not need to see Civil War in order to understand what happened, you don’t even really need to see the first Ant-Man in order to catch up because we start from scratch. The entire story revolves around Scott trying to earn back the trust of Hope (Played by Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Played by Michael Douglas) who are upset with Scott because his actions in Civil War caused them to have to go on the run and so for 2 years they haven’t really been talking. It forces the characters to have to start at square one and gives newcomers an easy way into following the relationship between the characters.
Instead of some gigantic catastrophe like the end of the world of the death of millions of people, the main plot of this film keeps things relatively simple by having the entire plot revolves around the idea of getting Hope’s mother back from the subatomic ‘realm’ (For lack of a better term) that she was left in decades ago. This simple central storyline is a great structure to work around because it makes the story more personal, but it does mean that the subplots become distractions. You do find yourself wondering why on earth you should care about Luis (Played by Michael Peña) and the security business he runs, or why Ghost (Played by Hannah John-Kamen) is unable to grasp that maybe if she let the heroes do their thing that maybe they can help her out, but fortunately those side stories have enough charm in them that they don’t actively annoy you, just make you wonder why they’re needed when we have a story about rescuing Michelle Pfeiffer.
Even though I do have problems with Ghost’s storyline (Namely that it’s a distraction from the main, interesting, plotline), this is another Marvel antagonist that’s actually interesting with a good backstory and an interesting reason for her to do what she ends up doing. It’s impossible to consider Ghost a villain (just like it was hard to consider Thanos a villain) because her actions are completely justifiable in context. I can not in any way fault her for anything that she does, even when it causes the most harm to the heroes of the story. Honestly, the only issue I have with her is that she is such an interesting character with such an interesting backstory that I wanted more of her (A fantastic issue to have with any character). I wanted the story to focus on her, but I was so invested in the “Rescue Michelle Pfeiffer” plotline that I also kept getting annoyed at Ghost for getting in the way of that. Yes, I’m aware that it’s there to create tension, that the potential of Ghost turning up at any minute to potentially inadvertently ruin the rescue of the mother is a large part of what gives that story weight BUT to that I say… screw you, I wanted more Ghost without resenting her a little for distracting from the emotional story of a daughter trying to rescue her mother using shrinking technology!
There is something to be said about the brilliance of Marvel’s casting ability, they know how to just pick the exact right person every time and they’ve clearly done it here because every single actor is not only top-notch, they’re the reason this thing works. Scott Lang in anyone else’s hands other than Paul Rudd’s wouldn’t work as well, Michael Douglas was basically meant to play Hank Pym. Going through the cast and praising them would be pointless, every single person is still great and every single person get’s a moment. The only one who feels underused is Michelle Pfeiffer, and that’s only because it’s Michelle Pfeiffer who should always be on screen for every frame of every movie she’d ever been a part of because she’s goddamn amazing. Also, I love that she now joins Michael Keaton in that group of “Major Former-DC People Who Now Are Major Marvel People”. Please let this be a trend, I expect to see Tom Welling and Arnold Schwarzenegger turned into random Marvel character’s next, I like it when Marvel just proves that it can get away with this kind of thing.
As far as downsides, the only thing I can say is that this film doesn’t pack as much of a punch as other recent films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It feels like a pure popcorn film, meant to entertain you for a few hours and then be out of your system. It’s not going to be as important as Black Panther was, it’s not going to punch you in the gut like Infinity War did, and it never was going to. It’s not the best of what Marvel can produce, but even when Marvel isn’t working at its peak it’s still better than a lot of other films out there. This is popcorn, but it’s damn tasty popcorn.
Oh, After Credits sequence (You know, that thing we should all know is coming and should actually stick around for?). The first one is plot-relevant, as in it explains which members of the Ant-Man team were randomly selected by Thanos when he did what he did at the end of Avengers. The second one is a cheesy joke that’s funny-ish, but not worth sticking around for. It’s still stunning to me that people leave before it happens because by now we should just assume that every movie by Marvel has some elaborate end credits scene, but apparently, people haven’t learned that yet… Thanos should snap his fingers again to deal with those people, they’re making the universe feel imbalanced!