Directed by: Peyton Reed
Written by: Gabriel Ferrari, Andrew Barrer, Erik Sommers
Starring: 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 min
In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he's confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with an urgent new mission.
Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.
First of all, my review of Ant-Man is up, and you can read it by clicking the title. When I look at sequels to superhero origin films, I always seek more. The characters have been introduced, the tone has been established, and the action has reached a certain level of quality. That said, a sequel should offer something more than just a generic story and a cliche villain, it should not feel like a "filler."
Unfortunately, that is precisely what Ant-Man and the Wasp feels like. A significant portion of this movie's screenplay is lazy as hell. The main plot, as we know from the origin film and from the trailers, is to rescue Hope's mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the quantum realm. If you think about it just for a minute, you know that this story requires something more because just this plot alone is not enough to make a superhero movie.
There is got to be an antagonist of some sorts so we can receive that important genre's action, but this aspect is where the film fails. In the first installment, Corey Stoll portrayed Darren Cross / Yellowjacket as the "bad guy." He was just another shallow and cliche character who wanted to make money and "bla bla bla". You know the routine. However, the primary goal of an origin movie is to present and build new characters, so they become our heroes. They need to make the audience care for them so they can then make more films. Therefore, the fact that the villain was generic didn't really cause that big of a problem since it served the plot.
The same excuse can't be used for a sequel, and Peyton Reed had some struggle with finding the right solution. Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch is so ridiculously expendable that he could have been entirely removed from the story and just by making some small adjustments, it would all flow better. Hannah John-Kamen is actually pretty good as Ghost, and her character has a particularly intriguing backstory. However, she is so horribly explored, and they run over her past like it means nothing to her personality. She had everything to be a great antagonist, but the team of writers did a poorly lazy job.
The pacing is also affected by the second act's lack of action. Don't get me wrong, the action is one of the standouts of the movie, I'll get there in a second. Nevertheless, between a terrific action sequence at the beginning of the film and the start of the third act, there is barely any sort of entertainment. Like I wrote above, the main plot by itself does not work since it is based on something that can be easily done if there is no one to cause any problems. Honestly, I got bored for quite a while ...
This is where I think this movie is getting some unfair praise. A lot of critics are saying that it is an excellent post-Infinity War film since it is quite light and easygoing. That is not how you approach a movie's analysis. The fact that it got released after or before a certain film has nothing to do with the movie itself. It should be a good film by its own reasons, period. Years from now, if someone wants to pop up Ant-Man and the Wasp because they read or heard it is good, they are not going to be thinking "oh, I should be depressed and sad since this is after Infinity War. Hey, everyone! You have to be sad to truly enjoy this movie!". How does this make any sense?!
Finally, I only have one more issue (please, don't hit me, I'll get to my pros in an instant). Before the ending, I was pretty much at the limit of giving this film a positive or non-positive review. The reason why I am not going to give it a positive one is due to how they deal with Janet. I can't explain why since it contains massive spoilers, but I'll just say that they expect the audience to simply accept what it is given. They don't justify what happens, not even provide a clue. They just do it. Not only it becomes a plothole (that I'm sure they will fix in a future installment), but it is a bit frustrating that such a potentially exceptional movie can be ruined by such dreadful writing.
Ok, time to change the tone of this review. The casting is awesome! Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp is so freaking badass! Honestly, this film should be called The Wasp and Ant-Man because she is definitely the one that commands the movie. Not only she has the best action scenes, but she also gets some well-deserved screentime outside of those. I love that they switched roles a bit and The Wasp became the protagonist, even if sometimes Scott is put aside just a tiny bit too much. I love her interactions with Michael Douglas, who also delivers an outstanding performance.
Paul Rudd is fantastic as Ant-Man, and I love the subplot involving him and his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Abby is super adorable and charming, and every scene that the two of them share is heartwarming. The comedy is on-point, and the big laughs come directly from Michael Peña (Luis) and his colleagues. Every word that comes out of this guy's mouth is pure gold. There is an entire interrogation scene involving him and Goggins' character, which left me laughing for minutes without end. It is truly mind-blowing how a team of writers can develop such funny character's scripts but so careless storytelling.
The action is once again unique and exciting. Reed implements the shrinking and growing into the fight sequences, and it is incredible. The car chases are riveting, the initial fight involving The Wasp and some bad guys is astonishing and the third act is filled with fun set pieces. Reed had already proven his worth in directing action, and he does it better now. The editing is really great, and the CGI is top-notch, especially with the de-aging effect in Douglas and Pfeiffer's characters.
I do praise the film for being bright and laid-back, the plot is simple to follow, and it is a fun movie overall. It's not better or worse because it was released after Infinity War, it's just an okay film. It was profoundly unexplored, and it had tremendous potential. From Ghost's past to Janet's narrative to Laurence Fishburne's character (Bill Foster) relationship with Hank ... There are a lot of aspects that the movie should have taken advantage of and instead, it just ignores or leaves them underdeveloped.
All in all, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an okay MCU "standalone" film. It is a fun and relaxed "filler" that does not really improve on its origin installment. A terribly unexplored and lazily written screenplay does not help, and the misuse of Ghost is a wasted resource. The awesomeness of Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp is not enough to push back the script's flaws and the tedious second act. While it has a fabulous casting and some phenomenal action sequences, it ultimately fails in giving the audience a decent plot with suitable antagonists. Michael Peña and co. save this movie from a worse review with their hilarious lines.