‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ falls short of its legacy
Marvel’s long-term plans led up to a really stunning and impressive film with Infinity War, where there were actual stakes, a threatening villain, and actions with consequences. Unfortunately, in an effort to not spoil the events of Infinity War, Disney-Marvel had to keep movies on schedule. Staying on schedule meant that, inevitably, the film to follow up Infinity War would feel like a step down on every level. Ant-Man drew the short straw, and got its sequel slotted not even three months after Infinity War.
While Ant-Man and the Wasp can’t escape its fate of being pretty pointless and small compared to Infinity War, it’s still a good enough film that provides some good laughs and decent action despite its boring visuals.
A Paul Rudd comedy disguised as a superhero blockbuster
Don’t let the Marvel name fool you: this film is not actually a superhero blockbuster. Sure, it has action beats, it has punching dudes, and it comes out during the summer blockbuster season. That does not make this a superhero blockbuster. And that’s the most interesting part of this movie. If they had tried to follow up Infinity War in terms of action, this film would seem quaint and terrible by comparison, and admittedly sometimes it does. So they didn’t even try to compete there, instead leaning hard on the comedy edge that the first Ant-Man had thanks to the superstar at the lead: Paul Rudd.
Paul Rudd is absolutely fantastic in this film. He once again plays the dopey idiot that is Scott Lang so well, it almost seems genuine. This is a guy who is way in over his head, but loves his family, cares for his friends, and wants to just make himself a better person. He knows nothing about the science behind the suit, the stakes of the film, or even why any of what’s happening matters. He’s just some guy who wants to help his friends out, and Paul Rudd nails that aspect perfectly. The other characters try to joke around as well, but none of them have the comedic timing that Paul Rudd has, aside from maybe Michael Peña. It’s also great to see how he contrasts with the super seriousness of Wasp, Hank Pym, and Ghost. A particular favorite scene of mine is when three protagonists are captured by Ghost, and during some expositing by Laurence Fishburne, Scott receives a video call from his daughter, complete with obnoxious duck ringtone. It’s adorable, and Paul Rudd plays it off so well.
Unfortunately, not everyone does their job well. The trophy of trash goes to the Walton Goggins, who plays the throwaway villain who refuses to be thrown away in Sonny Burch. The character is not only useless to the plot, but also incredibly obnoxious. He serves as a joke villain that, while is perfectly fine during the opening parts of the film he was in, overstays his welcome hard. There’s a couple scenes in the middle of the film and the absolutely terrible car chase sequence at the end of the film where his character is just a waste of everyone’s time. He took a lot of valuable time away from Ghost, where actual character development could have been done for her beyond the straight five minutes of exposition that gets dumped on the audience half-way through the film. Additionally, not all of the jokes land, and the jokes that do fall flat do so in a spectacular fashion. At the very least, the Paul Rudd core of this film is incredible solid and hilarious to watch for good reasons.
Unimpressive visuals that disappoint
One of the biggest surprises of the original Ant-Man was how great the visual spectacle was in the film. The use of perspective and size was ingeniously done, and made what was an average Marvel film to be something so much bigger. Most of that cool usage of perspective from the first film, however, is said to be a leftover from when Edgar Wright was at the helm of the project. Now, with hack behind The Break-Up and Yes Man firmly at the wheel, how does it compare? Not well, considering Ant-Man and the Wasp is probably the most amateurish looking film since the inception of the MCU.
The cinematography in Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t anything special, it’s all very standard Marvel film stuff. None of the scenes really stood out as a “wow” moment, like the final battle with Yellow Jacket or the first look in the quantum realm from the first Ant-Man. This film compliments its dull direction with CGI that’s sometimes okay, sometimes unnecessary, and sometimes absolutely god-awful. The final chase scene at the end of the film gets special mention for being especially terrible. The use of the size gimmick in this film was kind of neat at first, but then started to become overdone by the end of the film. It’s just not that great visually, which is disappointing.
Another very awkward thing within the film was how they did the dubbing of Ant-Man while he was both very small and very big. Particularly the scenes where he went huge were uncomfortable to watch. Instead of inspiring wonder, it inspired an image in my head of Paul Rudd sitting in a recording booth, reading lines off of his script inbetween sips of coffee. There were no adjustments done to the sound to account for the different perspectives. Shouldn’t a giant Ant-Man sound more imposing than a regular-sized Paul Rudd? It’s kind of a nitpick, but sound design not matching visuals is very off-putting in a film like this.
The pointlessness of it all
There are two ideas that follow Ant-Man and the Wasp for me. The first is that this film was set to follow Infinity War, and in that way, it stood no chance. No matter how good the film could’ve been, there’s no way it could properly follow Infinity War without feeling like a waste of time. The whole story is all very small-scale, and in terms of everything going on in the world during the events of the film (which was noticeably absent. Do these people just not watch the news?), Paul Rudd cracking jokes and making celebrity-insect name puns seems very small potatoes. The absolute joke of “antagonists” that are Sonny Burch and Ghost also just seems like an insult after how amazing Thanos was in Infinity War.
The other side is that this film is not a follow-up to Infinity War, but rather to Ant-Man. In that case, the film still can’t escape feeling pointless. The first Ant-Man was a pretty standard film with amazing visuals that did its job in establishing the character. This film does nothing to develop any of the characters involved, other than reaffirming character traits we already knew about all the characters. With nothing new visually, nothing new character-wise, and nothing new in the grand scheme of things, Ant-Man and the Wasp can’t help but feel like a was just here as filler: no more, no less.
Featured image from IMDb
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