At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Ant-Man and the Wasp “2018”

At the Movies with Alan Gekko: Ant-Man and the Wasp “2018”

MPAA Rating: PG-13/ Genre: Superhero/ Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas/ Runtime: 118 minutes

I think it is safe to say that following the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the MCU as we know it was in a very dark and very frightening place. Indeed with everything in a state of chaos and anarchy due to the destruction caused by Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, I think it is safe to say that the majority of audiences all wanted some desperately needed emotional catharsis. Thankfully I can now say that this is exactly what Ant-Man and The Wasp is able to pull off. Indeed this is a sequel which manages to work around a slightly uneven plot in order to give audiences with the help of a terrific cast some much-needed humor to laugh at and some much-desired action to be in amazement and awe at all while getting to witness a film that truly and effectively builds on the solid footing that was laid by both the first Ant-Man film back in 2015 as well as Scott Lang’s mini-arc in Captain America: Civil War in 2016.

The plot is as follows: Ant-Man and The Wasp picks up Scott Lang’s story a couple of years after he was recruited by Captain America to aid him in taking on Iron Man’s squad during the events of Captain America: Civil War. However, unlike most of that superhero team, Scott managed to make a deal that got him placed under house arrest rather than put him in The Raft for quite the period of time albeit separated from his superhero colleagues. Thus so it is that while a bored out of his mind Scott finds himself near the end of his sentence and wearing an ankle tracer, he also all of a sudden finds himself kidnapped and working yet again with Hank Pym and his daughter Hope following Hank coming to realize that during the time Scott was trapped in the Quantum Realm, he could provide a way for them to retrieve Hank’s wife Janet who got lost in the Quantum Realm decades earlier. So it is that our dynamic trio find themselves setting out on a deadly operation that will see them reuniting with a former colleague of Hank’s named Bill Foster as well as going up against a pair of deadly new enemies in both a criminal by the name of Sonny Burch as well as an assassin named Ghost who possesses the deadly ability to move through solid physical matter as if it was nothing….

Now before I go any further in this review, I feel that the most obvious thing that one can see and should praise this movie for has to be the aspect that the creative minds behind it have wisely been able to figure out just what worked the best in the first one, and then taken those qualities and increased them by a scale factor of at least 10. Indeed by removing a lot of the training wheels that often come saddled with the origin story narrative structure and which also really didn’t do the first movie a lot of favors, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a movie that actually has more gumption and which really holds dear to the humor and heart that made the first one so special, and really delivers them in a more significant manner. As a result not only is there more chuckles, but we also get some terrific action beats as well as a more in-depth journey into the Quantum Realm which has actually become one of the more intriguing from a visual standpoint ideas that the MCU has managed to bring vividly to life to date.

Now one very distinct way that this film is able to achieve this is by providing the viewer with a quarrel that is quite abnormal from the usual good against evil bouts that are seen in quite a few superhero films especially in the MCU. I say this because it would seem that Marvel has taken a few notes especially in regard to how to approach their antagonists following Corey Stoll’s turn in the first Ant-Man. As such, this follow-up manages to be very careful in ensuring it does not go down a similar path. To be fair, there are clear-cut protagonists and antagonists in this, but the peril in the quest of bringing Janet home from the Quantum Realm alive is the true villain of the narrative. In addition, the character of Ghost also manages to keep the streak in Phase 3 alive of giving audiences antagonists who aren’t just villains because they feel like it; rather they have motives that are actually human and make sense in a way. Also while Walton Goggins is portraying a clear-cut antagonist in perhaps the most typical sense possible, I also feel that Goggins chooses to take-up the art-form that is campiness and really feels more like Elmer Fudd than a legitimate menace. Indeed this is at the end of the day what the movie truly has the vibe of: an engaging and enjoyable Looney Tunes-esque cartoon and the movie is all the better when it zeroes in on this concept.

Now on the protagonist side of the coin it really truly is difficult to discern just which individual in this cast is worthy of the lion’s share of praise because they are all wonderful. This of course starts with series lead Paul Rudd as he manages to continually show audiences that he is absolutely fantastic as Scott Lang due to being able to provide both laughs and emotion in equal measure. Indeed in a comic book world that is overflowing with masculinity as well as swagger, Rudd’s Scott is able to nobly stand beside perhaps only Tom Holland as Peter Parker in regards to how their heroes are able to establish empathy and being vulnerable as super-hero caliber attributes. With that being said, there is still quite a bit of awesome super heroics that is spread around in this movie, but in regards to who the clear towering force for good is in this, I would have to say that belongs to Evangeline Lilly’s Hope who gets to showcase in this just what she is able to do in the Wasp outfit that was hinted at in the first film’s conclusion. Indeed there is a moment in this film where Hope makes the bold statement that had she been involved in any capacity whatsoever in the events of Captain America: Civil War Scott would never ever have been caught. Yet with how absolutely amazing and just downright stunning she gets the opportunity to be in this movie’s action-filled moments I must confess: not only do I definitively believe her, but a part of me really does wish she had taken part in that now famous skirmish at the airport because she would have done some serious damage beyond any and all doubt. That and when you combine Lilly’s ability to kick some serious bad-guy butt alongside the comedic skills of Michael Pena, who as Luis is most definitely the comedic mastermind in this go-around, and audiences are left with a film that I feel will most assuredly please movie lovers of all ages.

I feel that must be said that this amount of style and finesse also manages to go all the way to the set pieces in this film as well since they just manage to take the craziness seen the first time around and take it up a notch. Indeed while we do get our fair share of the usual, yet no less fantastic, fights featuring that unsung hero of the Ant-Man character that is the Pym Particle, this film also manages to make the absolute most of the respective abilities of the combatants in order to make for some extraordinary fight sequences. Indeed one such example may be the return of what is known as Giant Man, but I also feel that the instances where we see malfunctions of a sort coming from Scott’s suit also make for some very surreal instances in this film.

With that being said, even though there are quite a few positives that this movie brings to the table, there are also a few unfortunate setbacks as well. The main one of these would have to be the fact that this film is not the tidiest narrative to come from the MCU. Indeed a lot of narrative is desperately required in order to get the film from action sequence to action sequence thus leading to a significant amount of both monologues as well as flashbacks in equal measure. As such what we are left with is a narrative that more often than not feels like the extravagant effects on display. Indeed while this is not a deal breaker for the movie by any stretch of the imagination, it also does have the effect of a narrative not being quite as tidy as the one that the first movie provides. In addition to that, this movie also is in possession of a few instances where it really does seem like the movie speeds through specific instances in the narrative that deserved more explanation. Indeed there a few quarrels within the film which strongly depend on the narrative concept known as divine intervention in order to help our dynamic duo and their allies at their most desperate hour. Indeed for a film that is this creative and phenomenal from a visual standpoint, it’s just a little bit astonishing when one takes into account the amount of insignificant inconsistencies that are smoothed over and then shrugged off with barely a thought to the contrary.

Now even though that is just about all that I can say in regards to the movie without going near the spoiler zone, I definitely feel that no true blue review of a MCU movie would be complete if it didn’t bring up what occurs following the conclusion of the narrative in the film. That is because like every other MCU film, this one has some scenes after the credits that serve to both flesh out the hero and their individual spot in the overall universe while also show audiences just what the road ahead looks like. Having told you this, I definitely feel that this movie has one of the most intriguing post-credits scenes in recent memory for a Marvel movie. Thus don’t take the DVD or Blu-Ray out of the player too quick. You will most assuredly want to see this.

All in all Ant-Man and The Wasp is just the palate cleanser that fans of the MCU desperately needed following Infinity War even if it is not as even or as narratively nailed down as its predecessor was. Indeed the second solo outing for the heroes who can shrink and their corner of the MCU is not even close to perfection on a cinematic scale. With that being said though, I definitely think that since this movie is also a heck of a lot of fun that you will most assuredly be able to forgive this film for any if not all of those transgressions. On a scale of 1-5 I give Ant-Man and the Wasp a solid 3.5 out of 5