Ant-Man and the Wasp
At this point Marvel is such an established brand that they can stamp their name over any film and it will automatically make over half a billion dollars. The first two releases of the Disney-owned studio this year were good films (Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War), but as we approach our third Marvel release of the year, we begin to see signs of franchise fatigue.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man and the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film takes place before Avengers: Infinity War and focuses on a more condensed story. After Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) shrank into the sub-atomic level in the first film, father and daughter duo Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly here becoming the superhero the Wasp) have hopes to bring back the matriarch of their family, Janet, who shrank into the sub-atomic level in the 60s to disable a missile.
The main problem with this film is that the main plot I described above barely takes 20 minutes of the film’s runtime, the rest is added fluff in order to give the movie a feature-length runtime. Because of this we are overstuffed with bland villains such as the black market gangster played by Walter Goggins, a paranoid FBI agent played by Randall Park, and a supervillain named Ghost with the powers to go through solid matter (played by Hannah John-Kamen). The result is a rather generic story that never peaks your interest coming after the recent streak of Marvel hits.
But the film has a couple of factors that help distinguish it from a boring summer blockbuster. First is the paring of two great comedic actors: Paul Rudd and Michael Peña (who plays his ex-con associate); the two clearly improvise some of the best scenes in the movie and make the overall experience of the film enjoyable (so much so that Paul Rudd was given a writer’s credit). Then there’s the imagination of the fight scenes. After being oversaturated with giant monsters and normal humans fighting each other in cinema today, it’s refreshing to see how director Peyton Reed uses the shrinking powers of his protagonists to choreograph original action sequences.
Overall, however, Ant-Man and the Wasp seems like a forced blockbuster sequel that barely affects the overall development of our characters or of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What might save this bland action film is the fact that its comedic talent decides to throw away the pretense of the plot and do what they do best.