Friday, July 6, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Spoiler free!

Ant-Man and the Wasp's tonal separation from Infinity War saves it; and its universe connection destroys it. From the consequences of Civil War coming into play at the beginning and dictating the plot, to the how inconsequential it becomes in the shadow of this year's earlier monstrosity, it's restricted by its universe ties. But, as it is not a monstrosity of melodrama, it is, despite significant failings, still more superficially enjoyable than that universe-ending party that Scott Lang was somehow not invited to.

Dodged a bullet there, buddy. Probably literally.

The movie's most obvious saving grace is its hero, played by Paul Rudd, who, after this, I'm am fully convinced could carry 12 gallons of water in his hands without the use of a bucket. He can probably carry a tune in the vacuum of space; or the whole world if only he could get underneath it; and he absolutely carries this movie. He single-handedly saves at least five jokes from cringe territory, and even the jokes that wouldn't have face-planted without him, he still elevates, by being, you know, actually funny and charming. Rudd had a hand in the writing too, but the writing only hits on external appeal.

No one has character arcs in this. It's a nonstarter. But with Scott it doesn't matter because he's fun to be around even when he doesn't need to grow or learn something -- perhaps especially so. Same goes for his sidekicks, like Luis, who's so much the same that he even makes the same jokes over again. The crazy part is, it's still funny, because Michael Peña is the man. Bobby Cannavale got the biggest laugh of the whole movie, and sadly Judy Greer was saddled with some stinkers that would've challenged even Rudd. I enjoyed Randal Park, simply for being lighthearted and amusing when the opposite is what you'd expect.

Story-wise, this movie should've been Hope/Wasp's, but it only almost is.

Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) have the most drama going on, and I guess that's what was meant to pass for development. Most of the "progress" they make is things that were backtracked from their growth level of the last movie, and when they overcome it, they're only back where they started. This is mostly applicable to Hope. Hank's more like an echo of her, dramatically. The villain (Hannah John-Kamen) didn't have much potential to start with, but in the end, she only seemed to exist to pad out the run time. Of course, that could be said of the whole movie; pad out a run time, to make a movie, to pad out year time, until Captain Marvel and Avengers: And Now the Other Half gets here.

With what it's sandwiched between, there was little room for creativity. It had to end where it did, and it had to start where it did -- though I do take some issue with how it started. Most of the nonsense the film contains accumulates there. Without the nonsense, the story wouldn't exist. It's a sticky situation, so I sympathize, but there had to be a less paint-by-numbers way of doing this. Ant-Man movies bank on being small-time, but when scaled down, more focus on heart and meaning is required, not less. The story is spread thin over the separate needs of too many characters, and under the microscope, we never get a clear picture of anything, or anyone.

That's why Ant-Man came down to a tiny battle in Cassie's room -- she was all that mattered.

Visually, I've never seen a Marvel movie done so lazily. The action is the best the writing had to offer besides the dialogue (there actually were plenty of good jokes that didn't need Paul Rudd-delivery to work) -- but the sequences are filmed so normally. Remember in the first movie when Scott shrinks for the first time and everything's so otherworldly? That wonder is gone. They plow through action with the style of a lawnmower cutting overgrown grass, and only slow down when they literally slow down -- for a slow-mo shot. There's an extra visual kick, and then it's back to the lame gracelessness.

If I ever watch this again it will be for Rudd and that montage of him hanging out in his house by himself. The movie only irritated me two or three times, but otherwise gave out so little to hold on to, or invest in. I never cared about anything; the characters, their success, their failure; anything. All I cared about was when the next glimmer of fun was going to happen -- moments that were extra welcome in a Marvel movie, but never succeeded in brightening their surroundings. They would flash, and fade, along with my interest.

I guess I should've known Hawkeye wasn't going to be in this. Too good to be true.

Marvel is getting more mechanized by the minute, with less and less importance placed on the human touch. This one barely even attempts to be any kind of art -- it's just there. A movie. I'm sure there were good intentions, and the charm of the leading man, and some commendable humor choices do lend it a nice, distracting coat of paint. Too little, too late. Not tiny and laser-focused, not giant, sweeping and epic; Ant-Man and the Wasp is just average.


  1. Nice review! I quite liked this one a lot for some of the reasons that you disagreed with (hope that doesn't come across as an attack 'cause I'm not trying to :D). I liked that the film was simply something to escape into without some darker drama or seedier villain like other Marvel movies, and it was a wonderful disconnect from Infinity War. It did go on for a little too long in the third act, which is a truly worn-out Marvel formula, and could've been cut down by at least fifteen-twenty minutes. :)

    1. Thanks Katy! No worries, I'm always up for hearing disagreeing opinions. :D And I don't completely disagree -- I like the idea of it being light! Definitely didn't want it to go into Infinity War territory or anything. Basically I think it's not unique or well-made enough to stand on light fun escapism alone, and it didn't give the heart that made the first one work so well. Still, on pure entertainment alone, it was the most I've enjoyed a Marvel film this year!