Sunday, July 08, 2018

'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Isn't Really an MCU Standout, but It Delights Nonetheless

Objectively, Ant-Man and the Wasp is not as good as Ant-Man.  It’s definitely enjoyable, but it plays safe and delivers itself as a predictable superhero caper.  In fact, down the line, I believe it’ll probably end up as one of the lesser entries on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Nevertheless, because of its strategic release date, it also comes off as very refreshing.  For its light-hearted touch is a welcome offset to the sense of bleakness left by Avengers: Infinity War.

Set before the events of Infinity War, the story looks in on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) who has been placed in house arrest as a result of his participation as Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War.  With only days away from the end of his sentence, he’s contacted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who is now donning the Wasp suit, and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to help them rescue Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), whom they believe is still alive, from the quantum realm.  However, in order to do so, not only do they have to evade capture by the FBI, they must also contend with a mysterious villain named Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who has her own interest with the quantum realm.
Ant-Man and the Wasp entertains extremely well, and a large part of it is due to the humor.  If nothing else, this is a hilarious movie.  And, just like before, Paul Rudd and Michael Peña are responsible for most of its comedic energy.

The long-overdue debut of the Wasp into the MCU is also a thrilling aspect of this movie.  As what was already established in Ant-Man, Evangeline Lily owns the role.  Though the spotlight on Hope van Dyne sometimes undermines the characterization and development of Scott Lang a bit, she nevertheless proves that she is deserving of having that spotlight.
Moreover, the shrinking-growing dynamics inherent in its premise once again yield a good amount of cool moments and set pieces.  Especially fantastic in relation to this are the action sequences, which wonderfully play off of the abilities of, not only Ant-Man and the Wasp, but also of Ghost.

Ghost, however, breaks the MCU’s streak of compelling villains.  Well, she’s not bad at all.  There are actually some interesting facets about the character.  But, in the final analysis, the writing involved on her is pretty clichéd.

Speaking of writing, the script is not as strong as its predecessor (which, I think, is within the top three best MCU origin movies).  It has a couple of clever parts.  And it has heart.  But it doesn’t project any real depth or major feels.  It leans more on being a run-of-the-mill fare rather than being a true standout.  On top of that, it has glaring plot holes and untied plot threads.
Nevertheless, all the flaws are compensated by the MCU goodwill, the loveable characters, the appealing screen chemistry of the main actors, and the aforementioned humor and action.  Thus, for what it is, Ant-Man and the Wasp is still a delight.

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