With the number of Marvel films totalling 20 (with Ant Man And The Wasp being the 20th) I’ve become somewhat aware that reviews of these movies can become stale or monotonous. 20 films in and I am tempted to either say “It’s a good one” or “It’s a bad one” as I gather at this stage, everybody who has seen more than 3 MCU movies, knows exactly what to expect.
In the case of Ant Man And The Wasp – I am glad to say that “it is a good one” and that the spectacle we have become accustom to seeing from Marvel, hasn’t lost its sparkle. Admittedly, when its predecessor was first announced, I was one of the biggest neigh sayers, asking the world at large – “Who in the hell cares about Ant Man!” But I took solace in my following hypothesis; that since Ant Man was about scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who created Ultron, then narrative-wise, an Ant Man movie would serve at the very least, to bridge the connection to the next Avengers movie: Age of Ultron (2015)…and then of course to my complete annoyance, I discovered the plan for the MCU’s timeline and Ultron’s new mythology.
The First Ant Man
However, I was firmly put in my place when I finally saw Ant Man (2015) and absolutely loved it. Perhaps it was because I had such low expectations that it caught me off guard and I surely wasn’t the only one. With a production budget circa $130million, Ant Man went on to gross $519million plus. Second time around and the production has wisely capitalised on its strengths and not played around with the formula too much. Though in saying that, a comparison of the films side-by-side, will show that this is not a cookie cutter copy. The second instalment has a different feel, a more grounded tone, showing that the production is not afraid to go in a slightly different direction. There is an even greater focus on the family unit, but without getting all schmaltzy. The humour has been dialled up a notch and the action is exactly what you would expect, with some well imagined choreography. Yet what I immediately appreciated most about the movie, was its willingness to arrest its own enthusiasm and not feel the need to throw everything and the kitchen sink at you the moment it started. If anything, the opening sequence with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) playing with his daughter Cassie Lang (Abby Ryder Fortson) are reminiscent of the ‘low tech’ fun, that children (and their parents) use to have before the digital age and reflect on the times when kids had to forge new worlds through their imaginations. Perhaps its a noticeable commentary on CGI restraint and digital entertainment not being the only kind that should exist for children today…or perhaps I am reaching.
The ensemble cast once again provides the film’s main strength, especially when it comes to its humour. Evangeline Lily stepping in as the Wasp, is just how you’d imagine her to be, totally competent and with a good-enough story arc. Everyone else comes into this film doing exactly what they needed to, proving that when MCU films are good, they are actually quite boring to note. You would have a tall order, to really find anything negative to say about the film, that would truly deter your viewing pleasure. The only slight misjudgement I would care to mention and it is a minor one, is that there are a few scenes, where some of the comedy looks improvised, which by itself is not a bad thing. But where director Peyton Reed (Yes Man, Bring It On) has allowed the actors to keep on riffing, in my mind I was thinking, okay you’re stretching out the one joke a little too far now, cut it just here. Improvisational elements in any film can be comedy gold, but they still have to blend in with the tone of the ‘planned version’. I could see the seams where the sewing was not so tight, but other than this infrequent, faux pas, you have no excuse not to enjoy this movie.
Overall Ant Man And The Wasp is a good stand-alone entry and a semi-vital connecting piece to the current MCU phase it inhabits. But please people! I find it perplexing at this stage, that viewers are still leaving the cinema as soon as the closing credits appear! Do you not have any friends to tell you what everybody else knows!
Ant Man And The Wasp is released on 3rd August