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TAC Reviews...Ant-Man and the Wasp

 

The twentieth film that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sees Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man returning and reveals what he was doing during the events of Avengers Infinity War. Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly both reprise their roles from Ant-Man as Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne respectively. Also returning from the first film is Michael Peňa as Luis. Joining the cast this time around we have Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster with Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne (Hank Pym’s wife, Hope’s mother and the first Wasp).

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp Poster

 

The last few stand-alone(ish) films in the MCU have all been pretty decent, we had Spider-Man Homecoming, Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther with the majority of the MCU cast reprising their roles for Infinity War. However, a couple of characters were noticeable by their absence, one being Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and the other was Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man.

 

Now do you recall a line in Civil War in which Senator Ross mentioned Thor and Banner, and asked if anyone even had any idea where the two of them were to make his point about needing to control people with powers or special suits or whatever? (That is rhetorical by the way). Now in Thor Ragnarok we learned exactly what Thor and Banner were doing during the events of Civil War and afterwards. Ant-Man and the Wasp seems to be trying to do the same thing and answers the question of what has happened to Scott Lang since he teamed up with Captain America in Civil War and then got arrested (before subsequently broken out of jail along with all of Captain America’s other allies by Cap himself)

 

Lang was mentioned in Infinity War and we learned that as part of his plea bargain he has been forced to sever all ties with other “superheroes”. He has in fact been under house arrest for two years. He wears a tracker on his ankle, which goes off if he leaves his property and sends the FBI straight to his door. If he is found to have violated the conditions of his house arrest he will be sent to prison for 20 years for his crimes. At the beginning of the film he has only three days left before his house arrest expires and he is a free man once again.

 

We learn that he has had no contact with Hank Pym or his daughter (and possible lover) Hope since before Civil War being two years previously (obviously)

 

During that time Hope and Pym have been working on a machine that is designed to transport them to the quantum realm. Pym’s wife travelled into the quantum realm thirty years ago stopping a nuclear weapon from blowing up…er…I dunno something or other. Pym believed that she was lost forever but in the first film Scott was able to travel to the quantum realm and back so he started to believe that perhaps his wife survived. He and his daughter are trying to reach and rescue her from that realm. But, their efforts are being interrupted by the fact that they are on the run from the FBI because Scott used Pym’s tech in Civil War so the pair of them are fugitives too.

 

 

[…yeah, honestly I have no idea why they are being hunted as well just because Scott used the Ant-Man suit to help Captain America. I mean think about it if someone stole your car (or my ship) and used it to commit a crime, wouldn’t that be like you or me getting the blame for it??…]

 

Anyway, glaze over that point for now.

 

The first time Pym and Hope activate the machine (after a run in with a gangster type guy who deals in advanced technology) Scott suddenly has a dream about Janet van Dyne. He calls Hank and leaves him a message telling him about it, before realising he is being stupid, and snaps the phone in half.

 

The next morning he wakes up in a car with Hope, who tells him that he is the key to finding their mother in the quantum realm and he owes it to them to help get her back if he can. Unfortunately the machine to the quantum realm is also the target of an assassin named Ghost that can phase through solid objects, who also needs what is in Scott’s head…

 

The first Ant-Man film was a decent edition to the MCU and kept its tongue well and truly in its cheek, so much so that people took the piss out of the name “Ant-Man”. The special effects were also really good and the shrinking technology was used very well, and to great hilarity during the film.

 

Unfortunately Ant-Man and the Wasp is troubled by what I am going to call sequelitus (trademark pending so don’t any of you humans get the idea to try and steal it or I’ll fly my ship over there and jam a ray-gun so far up your…sorry I have wandered from the point). Essentially it rehashes the jokes and effects of the first film, which were unique and creative then, but are now just more of the same. We’ve seen objects being shrunk down and carried about. Remember the gag about Pym having a tank on his key ring that he enlarged for the film’s climax? (again rhetorical), well now he has a whole case of different vehicles that can be re-enlarged at a moment’s notice. His lab can be shrunk and carried about which is great for staying off the radar but not so much for preventing people from stealing it. Plus whenever these objects get shrunk down they are always re-enlarged with everything inside perfectly intact, with not even a chair or table overturned. I suppose you could say that because being shrunk down compacts molecules (which is why Ant-Man and Wasp are so strong when they are tiny) the lab and its equipment is stronger smaller but a table or chair can still fall over even if its molecules are denser. If the lab is tougher smaller then why do characters so gingerly carrying it around like is could be damaged??

 

Car’s can also be shrunk on the fly but they always maintain their previous speed despite the engines being much smaller, again is this because the molecules are denser or is it like Vibranium in Black Panther, which could be used for anything and everything and the film just kind-of wanted you to run with.

 

Having Pym and Hope being chased by the authorities is just a contrived reason to have them being hunted down. Similarly to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II in which Rocket stole batteries just so they would be having someone chase them. There was no point to it; it was just there to up the tension. Having Hope and Pym being hunted by the FBI and this really un-intimidating gangster guy, is just there for its own sake to give them something to run from.

 

Plus the whole “only three days till free of house arrest” thing…yeah saying he had a few days left till retirement may have been more subtle. Again it leads to this tedious subplot in which Scott must keep racing back to his house before the FBI realise he is not there. It isn’t funny or interesting plus having the giant ant wear his ankle bracelet and go about his daily routine whilst Scott is away is just weird…

 

 

Yeah, that is a thing that happens. Would it not have been simpler to just ask a friend to wear the tracker so Scott can leave, or here’s an idea wait until he is free of his house arrest so he can help without any problem?? Nope, again we get the contrived bullshit that the bridge to the quantum realm can only be used to find Janet within a very tight window and if it is not used then they won’t be able to do it for another century.

 

It is not established at any point that they activated the machine at a specific time or for a specific reason, they just switch it on and learn that they have two hours to reach her before she is lost to them forever. It was pretty fortunate that they happened to activate it when they did then, isn’t it??

 

The whole premise of this film is that if someone goes to the quantum realm they might not be lost, and apparently when Scott was there in the first film Janet was somehow able to put a transmitter in his head allowing her to communicate through him because they quantum signatures merged or some other sciencey bullcrap. Begs the question though that if she was able to put a transmitter in his head, why didn’t she grab hold of him so when he re-enlarged she’d be brought back with him??

 

Think about that for a second…the entirety of this film could have been dealt with in a second if she’d grabbed him when he’d crossed into the quantum realm (or he’d grabbed her). Scott saves his daughter but also saves Mrs Pym, job done, happy ending all round but no, we have a ship that rips off Innerspace and Janet returning despite being lost for thirty years. What did she eat during that time, where did she sleep, how did she breathe as the air molecules would be too big for her to inhale and how did she stop herself from going insane through loneliness…none of these questions are answered.

 

Also Ghost got her ability to phase by being exposed to the quantum realm when an experiment her father was working on went wrong. Hank Pym fired her father from Shield for being corrupt or something but again that point is not elaborated on in any way shape or form. She is losing her ability to hold herself together so needs the machine Pym and Hope have been working on to extract enough quantum energy to stabilise her molecules to prevent her death. But for some reason if she does this then it will kill Janet…is there any point in me asking why Ant-Man or the Wasp??

 

Its for convenience…and gives Ghost a reason to hunt them down and Hank a reason to not co-operate with her, that’s good tension building, ah right I see.

 

The biggest problem by far with the film is that is just boring there are some decent action sequences but they are nothing we haven’t seen before. Okay yes a shrinking car or van is entertaining but after it has done the shrinking thing once it doesn’t get any more impressive after the hundredth time they do it…yes you can shrink stuff…we get it.

 

The acting isn’t bad or anything with everyone putting in a decent amount of effort, Pym and his daughter have grown closer as she has embraced being the Wasp like her mother before her. The cast work well enough together and Michael Peňa seems to be having a ball playing Luis. We have a tragic villain but she should have been more interesting than she was, I would love a film like this to have had Hank deciding to help her because what she wanted to do wouldn’t kill his wife and the former enemies teaming up against the gangster and FBI. That would have been cool, but no, same old crap, villain wants the machine for one thing, the heroes want it for another, so they fight for it…yawn…

 

Naturally being a Marvel film there is a mid and post-credits scene the mid is the only one that actually matters the post is just bizarre (an ant is playing a rock band type drum kit…yeah I know so don’t bother sticking around for that)

 

You may be asking yourself is there anything good about the film???

 

The only answer I can really give is to say that the film is not bad, it is just bland, the special effects you see a millions times, the action sequences are the same as the first film. Characters shrinking then returning to normal size, then shirking again…rinse, lather, repeat (…huh I haven’t used that expression for a bit…) the cars shirk during chases, then return to their previous size, and we have Ant-Man’s suit malfunctioning so he keeps getting larger or smaller. A joke that should have worked but it just falls pretty flat.

 

I guess you could say that it is a very safe sequel to Ant-Man, which tries to do nothing new or original, perhaps this was to prevent it from clashing with Infinity War but who knows. It goes through the motions of repeating sequences from the first film and even a couple of bits from Civil War. Whilst I don’t think it is the weakest link in the MCU it is definitely not one of the stronger entries. I am going to leave my Thumb Horizontal, because the film left me with a general [shrug] Meh feeling. It wasn’t good but it wasn’t terrible either so my advice is wait for a cheaper cinema night before heading off to see this one as it is definitely not worth the full price of admission.

 

 

6/10 – Too little happening and too much contrived bullshit. The film could have been more interesting but sadly all we got is a rehash of previous jokes and effects with a slow paced story that could have been resolved if Mrs Pym had just grabbed hold of Scott when he was in the quantum realm in the first film 

 

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© Chris Sharman