Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp


Following the events of Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been under house arrest for almost two years now. He misses the action, but also takes advantage of the downtime to be with his daughter. With his sentence ending in a couple of days everything seems to be alright, until he makes a phone call to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). In his dream, he is Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) playing hide and seek with her daughter. Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her dad are both on the run due to their involvement with Lang, but resume contact with him after his revelation, thinking that perhaps his dream wasn't a dream at all but rather a call for help from deep within the Quantum Realm. Father and daughter work hard on building a quantum tunnel in an effort to rescue the original Wasp, not knowing that a figure in the shadows also wants their tech for personal reasons.

Ant-Man and the Wasp should have been named simply The Wasp. This is by no means an origins story for Marvel's first titular heroine but the storyline pretty much revolves around her and her family. If they wanted to make a statement, they should have just given Ant-Man a supporting role. We already know his story from the first movie anyway. In that regard, Lilly does not disappoint and plays the role con mucho gusto, making you wish she were in Infinity War too. Her kickass demeanor would have been a joy to watch vis-a-vis the other female Avengers. But then again, why share the screen with everyone else when you can have it all to yourself, right? Oh wait, Ant-Man is here too.

One review too many has already stated how this film is the perfect breather post-Infinity War. That intense environment and large stakes of galactic proportions are simply not present here. Instead, what you get is some genuine family comedy and a lot of shrinking. There is just a bit of looming uncertainty easily offset by light moments as well as the same brand of humor that made the first film an unexpected global box office success. The same gimmicks are utilized but do not get old. If you watch Doctor Strange for the mind-blowing visuals, then Ant-Man and its sequel are definitely for the comedy. Sure, Thor did a comedic detour in Ragnarok but when it comes to punchlines and comic timing, Ant-Man is your de facto Marvel comedy.

The film's fun vibe might go against it in the end. There is no universal threat to humanity if you consider this as a standalone movie. Juxtaposed with Infinity War then, yes, there are stakes but they are not immediately addressed here. The villains are not really hardcore nihilists who want the world to perish. They just have their own personal agenda. The Wasp is a welcome addition to the group but is she really a superhero? Maybe that is the thing, everyone's motives in this film seem personal, and when the plot does not call for urgency as far as the bigger world is concerned, the impact is somehow made less.

The mid-credits scene directly connects to Infinity War. We could argue that this will be our last clue as to how Avengers 4 will commence because Captain Marvel is set in the 90's, but there is just no telling if the post-credits scenes of Carol Danvers' origin story will connect to the much-awaited Avengers sequel as well. In any case, the scene in question acts like a plot device, and we are now almost 99% sure as to where Ant-Man is going to be. It's a good thing that they did not reference Marvel's giant blockbuster at once. It gave the film an independent kind of vibe, fun and silly, until they hit you with that shocker at the end. There is an after-credits scene and it is cute, but nothing more than a negligible tease. From here, it's going to be one hell of a long wait until we are served another Marvel offering.

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