Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)


Years ago, Janet Van Dyme, the original Wasp, shrank to a level so small that there was no way for her to return to normal size. As such, she was presumed dead, and her husband and daughter went on without her. Now, though, there’s some (tenuous) evidence to suggest that she may still be alive, and trying to get back to the real world. So it’s up to Hank, Hope, and, of course, Scott, to shrink down, and find their missing teammate. But it won’t be easy, since there’s a gangster, an FBI agent, and a super villain with the power to walk through walls coming after them for various, somewhat silly, reasons.

Ant-Man and The Wasp is pure cinematic fluff. That is both the most accurate, and the most polite, way of describing it. If you don’t believe me, ask Marvel Studios marketing department. After Infinity War, they advertised this movie as being more light-hearted and fun. And when it first came out, critics praised it for that very reason. But the truth is, 10, or 20, or even 30 years in the future, no one is going to care that it came out after a (relatively) dark film in the franchise. They’ll just look at it as a movie. And, as a movie, it’s got quite a few problems. But before I launch into them, I do want to list some positives. It’s very quick-paced, the action sequences are inventive and fun, and there were some genuinely sweet moments, like a bit in the beginning where we see Scott playing with his daughter. There are scenes later on, like when Hank and Janet reunite, that are supposed to be super emotional and impactful that don’t land, but this one in the beginning did. This is a perfectly fun, disposable action movie. It’s the type of film you can watch on cable when you’ve got nothing to do, or if you’ve had a couple of beers with your buddies. Like I said, it’s pure cinematic fluff. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

(Phew! Can I go on now? Great). So, the biggest problem I had with this movie was the humor. It’s extremely forced. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. I saw this movie in a packed theater with my roommate, who loves Marvel, and there was barely a peep from anyone. It feels like the director was so determined to make a movie that was lighter in tone than Infinity War that he just decided to cram as much humor in as possible, regardless of whether or not it made sense. There’s a whole gag regarding truth serum that went on for way too long, and that just got annoying after a while, and, as with just about every Marvel movie, they undercut all potentially serious moments with jokes. There’s a scene where they’re explaining Ghost, the (ostensible) main villain’s, back story, but they keep interrupting it with texts from Scott’s daughter. Why? Why would you undercut a potentially powerful moment with silly humor? Especially when you consider that the filmmakers try so hard to get you to care about Ghost, with the heroes not killing her, and even trying to find a cure for her condition (her molecules break apart and reform every few seconds). I’ve got nothing against humor in movies. Hell, I even like it in Marvel movies, like Thor: Ragnarok. But I don’t like movies where the filmmakers don’t allow the audience to sit in any serious moments, for fear that they might be labelled cheesy. This film does that A LOT. Another thing I didn’t care for in this film is the fact that there’s no clear antagonist. What I mean by that is, the heroes have a goal, get Janet back to normal size, but they keep getting waylaid by annoying side characters who don’t really have anything to do with that story. There’s an FBI Agent, played by Randall Park, who wants to keep Scott from violating his house arrest. There’s a gangster, played by Walton Goggins, who wants to steal their tech so he can sell it on the Black Market. And there’s Ghost, a girl with a painful condition who wants to use their tech to make herself whole again. Notice how none of these characters have anything to do with the Janet storyline. They’re really just annoyances meant to distract the heroes long enough for the film to reach feature length. It’s like the screenwriters wrote a treatment, where they gave the heroes a goal, then realized that there wasn’t really anything stopping them from achieving that goal, so, to beef the script up to two hours, they added all these annoying, superfluous characters who only had the most superficial reasons for being there. But something else that kind of bugged me about this movie were the performances, particularly those of Paul Rudd and Michael Pena. Now look, I love these actors. I love Michael Pena in End of Watch, Crash, and The Martian. And I’ve been a fan of Paul Rudd since he appeared on Friends as Phoebe’s boyfriend, Mike. But in this film, neither of them really has any depth. They’re both basically just bumbling joke machines. It’s like the director told them, “this is a comedy, so say all your lines really fast, and upbeat, and make everything sound like a joke.” As a result, they’re performances both felt kind of hammy. And I hate to say that, because I love both of these actors, and have seen them do good work in the past, but, here, they’re trying way too hard to come off as funny for me to like them.

Guys, I didn’t hate this movie. It’s too fast-paced, and too well-directed from a visual standpoint, for me to hate. But the forced humor, annoying, pointless villains and somewhat hammy performances bring it down to a rental level. Don’t go and see it in theaters.

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