The Smallness Of You: A Review of "Ant-Man And The Wasp"
In theory, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the perfect summer antidote to the grandness and scale of this year’s earlier Marvel releases. A small, compact, centred on the individual, caper story; it’s a welcome respite from nations imperilled (Wakanda in Black Panther), or whole planets being conquered with superheroes and villains from every corner of the galaxy (Infinity War). And with the Origins story already established in the first instalment, there’s a nifty prologue that establishes how this film will be about Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope/the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) trying to rescue the original Wasp, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), wife and mother, from the Quantum Realm.
As for our diminutive hero Scott/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), he’s under house arrest, thanks to his escapade in a previous Avengers film, and now juggling parenting and making his security agency with partner Luis (Michael Pena), X-Con, succeed, all from home. It’s a great set up to this point, promising much in terms of hijinks, comedy, repartee, and father-daughter bonding! In other words, and here’s the rub, much of what the first film, and returning director Peyton Reed, already gave us.
And don’t get me wrong, there is much to enjoy in Ant-Man and the Wasp; and there are some really hilarious episodes, none more enjoyable than when Scott channels Janet before they rescue her via the Quantum Tunnel. It’s here where Rudd’s flair for straight-faced comedy shines brightest. But what got to me at the film’s end, was how I had enjoyed the film for the wrong reasons, and how this was just one example of lazy filmmaking.
Lazy #1. First off the story, whether Act 1, 2, or 3, it’s about Hank’s collapsible lab/building playing ‘hot potato’, between the forces of Hank/Hope/Scott, against those of Sonny (Walton Goggins) unscrupulous tech dealer, and a third party, the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). The plot never quite develops beyond Who Has the Lab? and when do our good guys get it back so they can rescue Janet.
Lazy #2. While the Ghost is an intriguing antagonist, the wonderful Goggins is once again under-utilised as the one-dimensional Sonny—and that’s a dismal two for two Fails for Goggins after Tomb Raider; if you want to see what he’s capable of, watch HBO’s Vice Principals.
Lazy #3. Then there’s the reliance on routines we already encountered in the first film. There’s Luis’ (Peña) motormouth routine, while who he’s talking about is onscreen, opening their mouths, but still talking in Peña’s voice—truly funny, but yet again?
Lazy #4. And whenever Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Abby Fortson), appears, it’s like we’re going into overcute mode each and every time. This may just be me, but I was getting a toothache from all the sweetness, and I felt it was just too much.
I’m certain this will do well, and the chemistry between the guileless Scott, the curmudgeon Hank, and the ever-sharp Hope is still intact, providing much of what’s good in the film. And I loved that this was a ‘small’ film by design, a breather from the world-ending scenarios of Infinity; but I did want the story and characters to really develop, and not just rely on set pieces, old shtick, and tested routines.
Photos from @marvel