20 films in and after the extravagant success that was Infinity War, Marvel Studios have to keep offering something fresh. Origin stories can do this to some extent, particularly if the superhero is one we have never seen the likes of before, but sequels will be a struggle. Thor faltered with Dark World but went full comedy for the much better Ragnarok, while Captain America Winter Soldier was an espionage film and Civil War became Avengers 2.5.
Unfortunately, it feels that Marvel have decided that the difference for Ant-Man is going to be the inclusion of The Wasp. This would be fine if there was much more that was different to Ant-Man’s origin movie but unfortunately rather than a bold new step in Ant-Man’s story, this just feels like a continuation of what we have already seen.
Not that a continuation is a particularly negative thing. Marvel doing a mediocre superhero movie is still better than most other summer blockbusters around at the moment. It is just after Infinity War was so huge, Ant-Man maybe needed to bring something else and this was too familiar.
Some of the elements of the first film worked and of course needed to be brought back. Paul Rudd was an outside casting choice for a superhero but works brilliantly, as does Michael Douglas as Hank Pym, who is clearly having the time of his life. Michael Pena as Luis is used to great effect, having been a highlight of the previous film and of course Evangeline Lilly returns but now with much more to do.
The Wasp is a major change to the series and an effective one. Arguably The Wasp has much more to do and gets the better “superhero” moments. You’d argue at times this was her film but this isn’t a problem as Lilly clearly understands what it takes to be a superhero, even one as unique and visually interesting as The Wasp, with wings, blasters and the ability to become small at will.
Which is of course the unique selling point of both Ant-Man and The Wasp. The ability to make objects and the two heroes tiny at the press of a button is a feature which made the first film stand-out so much. Where seeing Ant-Man traversing baths, insects and other over-sized objects was a great feature of the first, this does away with that aspect and almost treats the size altering as an after-thought. There is still something cool about seeing small people and large objects but that is done away with in favour of more combat scenes and more use of shrinking objects and buildings instead.
Not that the shrinking and enlarging isn’t used to great effect in some scenes. Two car chases pretty-much steal the movie, with the sizing effects used brilliantly for both the cars and the fight scenes within the vehicles. It shows the promise that Ant-Man and The Wasp has but never fully delivers.
Maybe this is down to the story and more importantly the villain. The villain in any Marvel movie is the key to the success and Ant-Man and The Wasp unfortunately has a fairly weak one. Hannah John-Kamen is visually effective and her “powers” of “ghosting” in and out during robberies and fight scenes look very impressive but her back story and motivations are nothing new. 20 Marvel movies in, she is offering nothing new to the villain role and falls into the trap of yet another forgettable Marvel bad-guy.
This is also a shame when you have two power-house actors standing in the wings. Laurence Fishburne is massively under-used and feels like a poor casting for such a huge actor and in a subsidiary villain role is the always fantastic Walton Goggins. Goggins is villainous without trying and could have offered so much more here but becomes an irritating complication than a true foil for our heroes.
Nevertheless, Ant-Man and The Wasp does impress and is a very good superhero, action-movie. It is funny, has a very good finale with high stakes and some emotional scenes which do ring home and have genuine pathos. It just isn’t enough for a wider-universe that has offered so much more.
Overall, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a fine superhero sequel which delivers more of the better elements of the first film while building on key characters like Evangeline Lilly as a new female hero. However it is also a fairly generic superhero movie and does very little that we haven’t seen before in the history of a studio which now dates back ten years and 20 superhero films.
Rating – 3
(1 – AWFUL, 2 – AVERAGE, 3 – GOOD, 4 – GREAT, 5! – MUST SEE)
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