Ant-Man and The Wasp Theatrical Poster

Movie Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp

What it is

Ant-Man and The Wasp is the sequel to Ant-Man (2015), which is a superhero movie by Marvel Studios based on the character in Marvel Comics, with Peyton Reed returning to direct this installment. The charming Paul Rudd reprised his role as Scott Lang/Ant-Man, along with other cast members Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris and David Dastmalchian. There are some new notable casts added into the list, which we will go into later on. In the intro, the Marvel Studios icon is stylized as “Marvel Stud10s”, perhaps to remark the 10 year-anniversary since the first film in Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was premiered (Iron Man, 2008).

Overview

Ah, the first movie of the MCU after the cliffhanger ending in Avengers: Infinity War. Sorry folks, if you have thought that Ant-Man and The Wasp might shed some light after the events that took place after Thanos’ snappy fingers, I just have to deliver the bad news. It will not reveal anything that happens after that. The plot of Ant-Man and The Wasp takes place before Thanos snaps his fingers, at most it will only tell you what Ant-Man was doing and where was his whereabouts before the finale of Infinity War.

Where was Ant-Man when the heroes battled the mad titan? Did he participate in combat, perhaps his size has rendered him invisible all the time? Sorry for the brain-teasing here, but I kept wondering the same after watched Infinity War. If you have been asking the same, Ant-Man and The Wasp (here onward referred to as Ant-Man 2 for simplicity) might or might not make you forgive Scott Lang for not showing up in the recent Avengers.

The first Ant-Man grabbed my attention, because Scott Lang’s origin is so much different from his peers in the MCU. He doesn’t have any superpowers, the suit gives him special abilities. Yeah, Tony Stark might fall into the same category, but he builds his suits all by himself. Scott Lang gets his suit (or stole it) from someone else and dated the suit owner’s daughter. He also has a daughter and an ex-wife whose current husband admires him and treats him like a family. Messy huh? Throw in the fact that he is an ex-convict, you will get a concoction of true mishmash.

Peyton Reed blended this concoction with an array of incomprehensible scientific terms (quantum this, quantum that), and what we had was the well received and raved Ant-Man in 2015. I’m glad Reed is back to direct the 2nd installment, partly due to a very personal way of thinking. I truly believe each film series should be directed by the same director that kick-starts the series. Call me purist, but on the reason why, that shall be the topic for another day.

The event in the film picks up from what’s left after what Ant-Man did in Captain America: Civil War. If you have watched the latter, you will notice that Ant-Man now has 2 sets of special abilities, to go small, and, to grow big. One moment he is Ant-Man, one moment next he is Gi-ant-Man (does this name even exist?). Heck, if you have watched the trailer, it is widely revealed that Scott Lang will utilize his newfound ability again in this installment. It is this ability that grants the director the perfect chance to exploit your sense of perspective. In the first installment, we could see that Scott Lang used his ability to the fullest, shrinking and returning to his original size at the perfect moment in combat to defeat his enemies. I almost took it for granted, and expect him to do just exactly that in this installment. But, what if he shrinks at the wrong moment, or accidentally grown himself too big? What if his size ended up somewhere in between? Those are the questions that the screenwriter wanted to deliver to us in Ant-Man 2. It’s almost as if the plot wants to make a statement, that even for Ant-Man, sometimes, his size can be his liability (sometimes in ultra-hilarious ways).

Ant-Man and The Wasp flying together
Ant-O-Nio, is that you? Source: Marvel Studios

Then there’s Wasp. If you have stayed to catch the post credit scenes of the first Ant-Man, you could have seen this coming. Hank Pym revealed the Wasp Suit to Hope, and through some pretty simple prediction, one can come to conclusion that the perfect person to don the suit is none other than Hope herself. Still, if you have watched the scene and thought that Hank Pym can be a suitable candidate to the Wasp suit, please put your comments below.

It all happened in good continuity. After all, Hope trained Scott before he became Ant-Man in the first place. So I thought, in the 2nd installment, it is about time to give the character some boost in development that she so much deserved. And here we have it, more than just a sidekick to Ant-Man, Wasp is just as capable herself. Maybe the seamless continuity is due to the fact that both installments are directed by Peyton Reed, but I’m glad that they did not include Wasp in the first film. Her grand reveal in Ant-Man 2 is nothing short of marvelous, it’s paying tribute to a very classic hero reveal, something that goes like: the character does something humbly, gets harassed by the villains, leave the scene, change identity, and then, BAM!

Speaking of character arc, Scott Lang’s buddies get some nice treatment as well. Former petty criminals that now formed a lawful security team, they have to struggle running their newfound company without getting ruined by their old, foolish habits. To some extent, I can say that none of the characters experienced zero change throughout the plot. Everybody advances in their own way, be it in their character, or role in the plot. Even small characters like FBI agent Jimmy Woo, who is monitoring Scott Lang’s parole, gets enough attention, development and screen time throughout the plot. As I’m writing this, I realized how much of an addition in casts which happened in this installment. A brief recall on the first movie, I can only remember Scott, Hope, Hank Pym, the evil protege and, of course, Scott’s trio buddies. But Ant-Man 2 adds in and establishes so many more notable casts (and their respective characters): Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins. Some characters might be installment specific, but some are definitely going to stay for future installments. With such a growth to the cast list, it is no wonder that the 2 hours worth of screen time passes without any feel of being dragged on. One gripe I have though, because of the considerably long running time, I expected the plot to build up towards an even more dramatic ending, but that sort of did not happen. Was the ending bad? No, not at all, but the scale of the final resolve falls a little short of my expectation. It is a little conservative if I have to put it, but most of the entertainment value of Ant-Man 2 can be found in the progress of the plot rather than the ending. The narrative storytelling by Luis is just as addictive and is even more hilarious this round when he touches on Scott and Hope’s relationship, and certain scenes in the film brings out the best of Paul Rudd to another level (when Janet “entangles” with Scott, for those who have watched)

Ant-Man and The Wasp Tardigrades
How does a water bear even relate to Ant-Man? Source: Marvel Studios

Will there be a post credit scene after the ending? No prizes for correct guessing on this one. Hint: Marvel. The first post credit scene pack quite a powerful punch. Within a minute of scene time or whereabouts, it links the timeline of Ant-Man 2 to another MCU favorite, and it sort of injects some cliffhanger in you. Quite compact for a post credit scene. The second one, well, it depends on how urgent you need to go to the restroom after the 2 hours of running time. I personally stayed to see what happens, but, at least at the moment, it’s not much.

Before I go to the verdict, I have some thoughts on the scores. It is just so different from other MCU franchises. I don’t remember the score being that bizarre in the first Ant-Man. For comparison, scores in Avengers sounds.. dramatic, glorious and heroic, yes? Ant-Man 2’s score? Not so much. It invokes some sense of cheeky-ness , mystery, and digital-age to me. It does help the installment to strengthen its uniqueness among the MCU film series.

Addict Verdict, AV:

Ant-Man and The Wasp pins together tiny little pieces of screen times from its grown list of casts, without neglecting any of them, and when juggled together, they deliver a big, messy, and hilarious ride. With the second installment, Ant-Man further differentiates itself from other MCU staples, being the less glorious, less noble, more messy cousin of all other films, but perhaps the more scientifically inclined one, and loads more hilarious. As of this installment, it developed its own flavor that is as distinctive as Guardians of The Galaxy. By the way, who doesn’t love giant, cute Tardigrades?