I have been real estating my tail off the last several weeks and have not had the time to get to the theater to see Ant-Man and the Wasp. I generally see Marvel and DC releases on opening day, but this time I barely got to the theater in time, the movie is now running on limited screens. It was well worth the effort as once again Marvel Studios puts on a clinic for movie making.
Ant-Man and the Wasp are lower tier characters in the Marvel Universe. They are fun however and Marvel manages to make them feel like top shelf Avengers.
So now back tot he movie… Marvel has absolutely hit its stride on the basic art of film making. They really seem to pay attention to details in a story and the dialog. The superhero / action genre has never been one to garner any serious looks by the high-brow crowd at the academy awards or others in the fine art arena. Marvel however does what few other action franchises can, they really wrap up the looses ends. They manage to give us characters that are excellent, even when they’re freshly introduced. Somehow Marvel can flesh out subtleties in behavior with not much more than ten minutes of screen time.
How do they do it, so often and so well? There is some voodoo happening, or perhaps Stan Lee is dating the Fairy Godmother and she’s working the old school Disney magic that seems to have died in other Disney franchises. I do not have the answer, but I see the results and they are good.
Now before I get my fanboy flames too stoked, there are some caveats. The whole premise of shrinking and enlarging things is a major technological stretch… pun, pun, pun, even for the super hero genre. And even accepting the idea that through quantum science Dr. Pym could create the tech to do all these things, the whole idea of shrinking a building and then just popping it back into place anywhere, even Fisherman’s Wharf, is a laughable plot hole. The building is 10 stories tall for heaven’s sake. You don’t just pull the tab and pop it onto a street in a 250-year-old city without some major issues. Like the whole street caving in. The science of this plot looks a lot like a block of Swiss cheese, but that’s OK with me.
Back for an encore is Luis, played brilliantly by Michael Peña. In this installment we get more of his “tip montages” but with a new twist. Luis as a supporting character is absolutely top-tier. I loved the bit about him getting his own suit. “Even one without powers.”
Peyton Reed tied up the loose ends by looping comedic bits together throughout the film. Our hero has been under house arrest for nearly two years and has kept himself busy by among other things, learning magic tricks. The magic trick humor is inserted in several key places in the story that nicely ties the whole bit together without feeling over played. These are details that are often overlooked in the action genre, but not when Marvel is in charge. we get to see Michelle Pfeiffer (Catwoman in Batman Returns 1992) join the short list of actors playing a superhero / anti-hero in both DC and Marvel universes. Yes it’s Janet van Dyne the “original” Wasp. The lovely Michelle is 60 years old and she looks stunning.
We see a fantastic adversarial relationship develop between the FBI lead Randall Park played by Jimmy Woo and Scott Lang (AKA Ant-Man) that also is kept tidy throughout the film. The dialog and interaction from start to finish is very well done and wonderfully acted by both actors.
We multiple unrelated antagonists including a dirty FBI agent, that all tie together in the bouncy plot without spilling a drop. Speaking of the bad “guys”, we have the “Ghost” who is actually a lovely lady with a sympathetic situation. That character portrayed by Hannah John-Kamen is well done but been done before… many times actually. She is never really developed as a character but I suspect we haven’t seen the last of her. Then we have the side bad guy, one Mister Sonny Birch. This guy comes off early as a badass southern mafioso type but develops nicely into a cross between mean and nasty and the keystone cops. He is weaved into the plot in a rather predictable pattern, but it is done smoothly enough that it still works. The actor playing Sonny is Walton Goggins, a seasoned actor; he pulls the role off well and honestly he is the reason you forgive the predictable plot elements he is in.
It is a rare occasion for me to prefer a sequel to the original in this genre, but as good as Ant-Man was back in 2015, this is a better film. Paul Rudd is fantastic and the returning cast members are all in top form. Michael Douglas has some very funny lines in the script and for me the whole movie clicked. There were Easter Eggs all over the place and even a nod towards the quasi A-line bob haircut with the bowl-cut bangs that Hope van Dyne was sporting in the first film. Oddly I hated that haircut int he first scene she’s in but then that haircut really grew on me, she kind of rocked it. It was mysteriously gone in this installment.
That was just some damn good entertainment and that my friends is why we go to the movies! Marvel continues to Marvel. Be sure to check the Super Hero movie list to see where this little gem lands.