Ant-Man and the Wasp

Watch the current Reeling broadcast here!
(Previous editions of Reeling can be downloaded from Vimeo by clicking this link.)

  Ant-Man and the Wasp
 

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) gave up his life as a cat burglar to don a super-hero suit and fight crime as the diminutive Ant-Man. Now, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) needs Scott’s unique set of skills once again, even though he is under house arrest. But, this time he has a partner in “Ant-Man and the Wasp."

Robin:
The originator of this maybe-a-franchise, “Ant-Man (2015),” had its share of production problems, like changing director mid-stream. But, replacement helmer Peyton Reed and his team of writers pulled off a fun, goofy superhero entry into the Marvel Universe and a showcase for Paul Rudd’s brand of humor.

The filmmakers, once again with Reed at the helm, hoped that lightning would strike twice with the further adventures of Ant-Man and his mentor, Dr. Hank. Unfortunately, there is not a thunderstorm in sight. Sure, we have the slick F/X of the original (mostly with lots of bright, colorful lights) and Paul Rudd lending the comic relief of his cluelessness as small-time crook turned superhero.

As with the first film, a team of scribes contribute to the story. But the original, with Edgar Wright as one of the writers, was focused far more in its set up and execution than this sequel. Now, the story is fragmented and pursues too many directions. There is a rescue mission, a nefarious plot to steal Hank’s size-altering technology, a father-daughter story (two, in fact)) and the reuniting of family.

With so much stuff going on, the line of the tale keeps shifting from one of the above stories to another. It does this, though, in a very clunky manner with everything following predictable paths – at one point, early in the film, I guessed a big climax point and it played out exactly as I guessed. That, to me, is just sloppy writing.

There are few, if any, surprises delivered through the course of “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” In fact, I was bored more than once and found myself checking the time – frequently. This is a shame as I really enjoyed the original and hoped that the follow up would have a bit of that spark. It does not. I give it a C.

Laura:
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is going stir crazy serving the remaining days of his three year house arrest for his role in Captain America's Civil War.  When he has a strange dream involving Hope Van Dyne's (Evangeline Lilly) mother, he ignores the no contact orders of F.B.I. Agent Jimmy Woo ('Fresh Off the Boat's' Randall Park) and calls her.  Panicking when he finds himself in her car, Scott is recruited to help Hope and her father Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) find her mom Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the subatomic world without his whereabouts being detected in "Ant-Man and the Wasp."

Move over "Thor: The Dark World" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron," the worst Marvel movie's crown has been claimed. This terminally boring, by-the-numbers installment is credited to five screenwriters and all they've come up with is an inverse game of hot potato with the usual assembly of players (the good guys, the bad guys, the law and a wild card).  When Edgar Wright was replaced by Peyton Reed for the first installment, Reed surprised with a humorous and nimble film that utilized Rudd's boyish charm.  Now he seems content serving up decent special effects in service of going through the motions.  Even the film's humor is half-hearted, a series of semantic arguments which grow weaker with repetition.

When he isn't entertaining daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) with elaborate indoor mazes or playing drums, Scott's working on a presentation to nab that all important customer who could make or break his and Luis's (Michael Peña) X-Con Security firm.  Luis and their employees Dave (Tip T.I. Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian) are about to find themselves working on another venture entirely.

Scott's dream has confirmed what Pym and his daughter believe to now be true - that Janet, aka Wasp, may still be alive after all these years.  Now they have the technology to return her from subatomic size, but they, like Scott, must operate in secret and Pym's entire lab where he's built a Quantum tunnel can be zapped down to size at will, moved about like a roller wheeled suitcase.  But when Hope goes to purchase the last component needed for the tunnel from black marketeer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), she's double-crossed.  As they battle back and forth, another threat, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a being who seems able to slip through dimensions, joins the fray, seeking the same technology.

For almost two hours we watch these various entities attain then lose their quarry as Scott suffers the unpredictable sizing element of Pym's new suit.  There is only so much visual interest in changing forced perspectives, here resulting in exactly one laugh worthy gag, Ant-Man using a flatbed truck as a scooter.  For a comic super hero based on quantum physics, the filmmakers seem to care little about actual physics, the tiny vehicles which get left in the dust by real world cars suddenly able to keep pace for chase scenes.  The film offers no surprises, up to and including its syrupy climax.

Rudd's charm is still intact, but not well utilized, everyone save the X-Con employees overly earnest.  Laurence Fishburne joins the cast as Dr. Bill Foster, a former colleague of Pym's. Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale return as a rationale for Cassie's safekeeping during dad's absence. There are two closing credit stingers, the first setting up a sequel that looks like more of the same, the second three seconds we've already seen.  "Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a major disappointment.

Grade:  C-
Back To Current Show
Next Show Previous Show
Watch the current Reeling broadcast here!

Home | Reviews and Ratings Archive  | Top 10 | Video | Crew | Article | Links

Reeling has been chosen as a Movie Review Query Engine Top Critic.

MRQE Top Critic Badge