Ant-Man and the Wasp
Marvel is back again for our viewing pleasures, this time around with Ant-Man and the Wasp. The first Ant-Man was released in 2015 and was a decent movie but nothing too stellar. Then Marvel garnered more interest for the character by including Scott Lang in 2016’s Civil War. Since then, however, the character has been dormant having made no appearance in this year’s massive Infinity War. Many viewers were left puzzled by Ant-Man’s absence in that movie, left only with a one-liner stating that he was tied up at the moment. With Ant-Man and the Wasp we finally get to see just what kept Scott and the gang busy during the massive alien invasion.
The movie begins with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in the final few days of his house arrest, which was the result of his actions during Civil War. Scott receives a vision of Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who we learned in the first movie was trapped in the quantum realm, leading him to make contact with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). The three meet up, by way of Hank and Hope kidnapping Scott, where we learn that Scott just may be the key to finding and rescuing Janet from the quantum realm. However they are soon faced with a looming threat from a person known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who wants to harvest the quantum energy from Janet to help save herself from dying (more on that in a bit). The team then needs to put aside their standing issues to stop Ghost and save Janet from being lost in the quantum realm for eternity.
Let’s get this out in the open right now: I did not expect much from this movie. The first movie was fun but really nothing beyond that. Ant-Man is a character that really shouldn’t be taken too seriously (The ability to control ants? Really? [Editor’s Note: What?! Ants could ruin everything we have, Jesse. Everything! Have you ever seen ants in a house or at a picnic? - MC]). Ant-Man and the Wasp seems to fully understand that idea and just runs with it throughout the movie giving us a truly fun and amazing ride. The story was very tight with no loose threads or unnecessary tangents being followed. The action sequences were so well done and inventive.
The only aspect that seemed a little lacking from this movie was character development. There didn’t seem to be much development for the characters this time around beyond the core team learning to trust each other again and Scott realizing that he needs to potentially sacrifice everything by breaking his house arrest and becoming the hero once again. Everyone in the movie basically ends up in the same place where they started.
Despite this, the movie does manage to get many things right. As stated before, the action sequences in this movie were phenomenal. Despite this being Ant-Man’s movie, Wasp actually takes more of the center stage, especially for the action sequences. In the previous movie we had been told that Hope had been training basically her whole life to take over the Ant-Man mantle and was upset when Scott ultimately got it. She was then given the Wasp suit by her father and promptly begins kicking ass all over San Francisco. From her very first fight we see her nimbly shrinking and unshrinking, flying around the room, and using her environment to her advantage to stop or knock out fleeing adversaries. Whenever Scott gets in on the action it’s easy to tell that he’s basically just making shit up as he goes whereas Hope actually implements strategy and thought, which makes for a great dynamic between the two and lends itself to consistently unpredictable action sequences [Editor’s Note: Scott is surprisingly effective, though, especially as a Jolly Red Giant - MC].
The movie was also filled with humor and a lightheartedness. For this character and type of film this works incredibly well. Jokes are constantly being thrown around during the movie, primarily by Scott. We also see the return of fan favorite Luis (Michael Peña) who, true to character, gets to go down one of his hilarious (and inaccurate) rabbit hole stories.
While the story itself isn’t all that exciting and at times fairly predictable, it’s very well told. There wasn’t any point in the movie where I felt that the story lingered, or went on longer than necessary. It seemed that every scene brought us from point A to B in a gripping, succinct, and purposeful manner, never playing the same trick twice (and if they did, there was a catch). On top of this, the movie never bogged itself down by fluffing up major scenes with unnecessary dialogue or becoming bloated with too much action, which is an easily achievable feat when dealing with superheroes. However, this is not to say there wasn’t the occasional lull after some expositional dialogue, which the writers saved by sprinkling a joke here or there to add some fresh air and levity which plays right into the mood of the movie.
Alright let’s take a nice, leisurely stroll through spoiler country [Editor’s Note: Oh, nice, let’s set the scene - It’s a nice crisp autumn day and you’re at an apple festival… MC].
First things first, let’s discuss Ghost. Ghost is set up to be the main villain of this story. Her whole deal is that as a child she was caught in a lab accident when her father was attempting to access the quantum realm. This accident caused her cells to tear apart and constantly reform themselves in different quantum states. This gives her the ability to phase through objects. Naturally, as tends to happen with these things, a government entity discovers her and weaponizes her, turning her into a merc and assassin [Editor’s Note: S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t get anything right - MC]. She learns that she is slowly beginning to die from the constant quantum shifting and seeks help from her pseudo-father figure, and former partner to Hank Pym, Dr Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne). The two plan to harvest the quantum energy that Janet had been accumulating from the previous thirty or so years of being trapped in the quantum realm to stabilize Ghost’s molecular structure (because sure, that totally makes sense). Her character was incredibly bland though. Marvel tends to have problems writing their villains and it seems that Ghost is no exception. Even though she was the main villain of the story, she basically took a backseat during the majority of it. Never throughout the movie did she actually seem like a threat or all that menacing. At times the FBI seemed like a larger threat than Ghost did.
As Hank begins traveling into the quantum realm we’re also treated with a visually stunning sequence of shots that rival those from Doctor Strange. We see the particles around Hank begin to get larger and larger as he shrinks down to a smaller and smaller size. We even get to meet some (not so friendly) tardigrades (aka water bears), one of the smallest living organisms (that, oddly, can survive in just about any environment). There was even a moment of total silence which gave an air of unnerving trepidation about what Hank was doing and where he was [Editor’s Note: As a guy with 2 kids, that total silence is about the most terrifying thing in the world - MC]. When he finally reaches the quantum realm, we’re greeted by random shifting formations of quantum particles painted in a plethora of colors that would give any hippie from the 60's sudden flashbacks. The whole sequence was a lot of fun to watch and gave some grandiosity to the entire idea of the quantum realm which until this point had more or less been an intangible concept.
Let’s quickly discuss the moment that left the entire theater gasping, yelling, crying, or any combination of the above: the mid-credits scene. This is the first MCU movie since Infinity War and with Ant-Man’s absence during that movie people were curious how the two were going to connect. Oh boy did we find out. The mid-credit scene sees Scott in the Ant-Man suit along with Hope, Hank, and Janet on the top of a parking garage in San Francisco. There’s a smaller version of the quantum tunneling device from the lab in the back of Luis’ van. Hank and Janet explain that Scott is to go into the quantum realm to gather some energy that they need to conduct whatever it is they’re doing. So Scott shrinks down into the quantum realm, collects what he needs, and then signals back up to the team to extract him. Except that he gets no response. Scott tries multiple times to connect with them, but to no avail. Then we see the camera cut to the top of the parking garage and behind all of their equipment we see three stacks of dust begin to fall to ground as all three team members fell victim to Thanos’ snap leaving Scott trapped in the quantum realm (writing this now almost a full day after seeing the movie still gave me chills as it was a very intense, jarring scene compared to the rest of the movie). We’ll have to wait for (the still untitled) Avenger’s 4 to see how Scott escapes the quantum realm, but we know at least that Hank, Hope, and Janet will not be around as they are currently floating away softly in the breeze [Editor’s Note: I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone - MC].
While more of a throwaway scene, the end credits scene did have one small detail that I feel is worth mentioning. As the scene begins, the camera begins to pan through Scott’s house until finally resting on the giant ant from the movie playing the electronic drum pads. One thing that you notice during the scene though is that there is an emergency broadcast signal being played on the TV. This scene is taking place possibly only an hour or so after the snap and this is our first real indication of the panic and turmoil that will come in Avenger’s 4 as the world realizes that they’ve just lost half of their population in an instant.
I could go on and on about the various ways that this movie breaks just about every law of physics (and don’t bring up that Pym Particle bullshit) but I won’t bore you all with the mundane science. Just know that this movie won’t be winning any science fair prizes any time soon.
This movie far exceeded my expectations [Editor’s Note: And clearly the science is lumped in here - MC]. With its fast paced action, humor and levity, and well-told story, Ant-Man and the Wasp is just an all around fun time. Of the three MCU movies this year, this was definitely the weakest one (but when you’re going up against Black Panther and Infinity War it’s not really a fair fight) but that in no way implies that this is a bad, or even mediocre, movie. This movie is certainly worth your time, if only to bring a little bit of hope and sunshine back into your life after the decimation of the MCU in Infinity War.