Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: "Ant-Man And The Wasp" features tiny heroes but big fun

Ant-Man And The Wasp Review

After ten years and twenty films, I you know where you stand when it comes down to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They make three movies a year, and if Kevin Feige is to be believed, that tempo isn't slowing down any time soon. I don't want to sound like a broken record. The studio has done a terrific job setting up its characters and creating films that feel different from one another, highlight how each character is different, but still making sure that it feels like a cohesive universe of movies. What's amazing is that Marvel makes it all look so easy. Funny, how Warner Bros. can't seem to get their A-List heroes off the ground very well, while Marvel has made a multi-billion dollar money machine mainly using Marvel's B and C-List heroes.

You know where you stand with this franchise at this point. You know if you liked "Ant-Man" in 2015 or if you liked his appearance in "Captain America: Civil War." You know by now if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is for you or not. This isn't going to be a very long review. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I'm a huge fan. You know me calling myself a mere "huge fan" is an understatement. I've felt like I can walk on water watching this franchise unfold and its been a pleasure to see how its materialized. If you remember my "Ant-Man" review, I enjoyed it quite a bit. You can read it right here. I know some people who weren't fans of the idea of Paul Rudd being a superhero. I know people who still don't. But I've enjoyed Rudd. His casting stems from Robert Downey Jr. doing so damn good as Iron Man, so if you want someone to blame, blame Downey. His style and attitude set the stage and atmosphere for this franchise. Yes, the Marvel movies are lighter on their feet, they are unashamed to wink at you, they know their movies. There is a small percentage of comic book readers who grew up and now they want adult superhero stories. But superhero stories were never meant to be adult. Sure, writers have taken a stab at adult themes and I think there is a place for that, but I really don't get what someone would get out watching a dark and dour Ant-Man movie. The concept of superheroes is pretty ridiculous, so these movies should embrace that ridiculousness. I re-watched "Justice League" this past weekend and I snicker every time the DC heroes are having a serious, somber discussion about a weapons called Mother Boxes. How the hell do you have a serious conversation about something called a Mother Box?

Long story short, the fun vibe of the Marvel movies isn't going away any time soon. It sure isn't going away in "Ant-Man and The Wasp." It's another movie featuring tiny heroes but big fun. Paul Rudd returns, and he's great in this once again. Evangeline Lilly returns, and I love seeing Hope finally in action. If the MCU needs more of anything, its female superheroes. The Marvel comics are rich with superpowered women, and sooo many of them deserve movies of their own. The Wasp really stands out as a character and a threat here, and Lilly embraces it. You can tell Michael Douglas and Micheal Pena and T.I. are having the best time returning and getting to play in this world again. And newcomers like Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, Randall Park and Hannah John-Kamen are having an equally fun time being parts of this universe.

The movie once again displays some eye-popping de-aging CGI in a flashback sequence and its just screaming for a prequel with Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer playing a young Hank and Janet Pym. It's really amazing just how far we've come with CGI. So yeah, the special effects work is top-notch and the de-aging work alone should give this movie the visual effects Oscar, but for some reason, the Academy is anti-Marvel. Boo! When we catch up with Scott Lang (Rudd) he's under house arrest, he has been for the last two years. Due to his involvement in the Civil War, he's under house arrest and both Hank Pym and his daughter Hope (Lilly) had to cut ties and go into hiding so they wouldn't get in trouble with the law. But all this time has given Scott moments to play with his daughter. After a strange vision, Scott is contacted by Hope and Pym. They've been building a quantum tunnel which leads to the quantum realm. The place Janet got lost in and Scott somehow survived. They need his help to find Janet because she might be alive.

Many of these superhero movies are structured the same. I did appreciate that "Ant-Man and The Wasp" isn't necessarily a "glowing doodad" movie, but comes somewhat close. These movies work best when their simple and there is an easy struggle that the movie sets up. Yes there is a character called Ghost who comes in and disrupts everything, but if you haven't seen it yet, I don't want to start giving anything away, just know the character herself is pretty cool and works has a good foil to both Ant-Man and The Wasp.

My biggest disappointment was that Luis, played by Michael Pena, was barely in the movie. I get it. There are way more characters in this film than in the first film. The story is a bit more sprawling than the first film too. So sadly, some stuff got knowingly sidelined. Luis does tell one story in his typical Luis fashion and its a laugh riot. But as a breakout character, I was expecting more.

But in the summer days, getting a fun movie is what we should expect. Perhaps I am a spoiled brat for wanting more. Marvel has done it again. They've made it all look easy again. They've kept their story moving. If you don't like fun in your superhero movies, you've come to the wrong place. If you like your superhero movies that embrace what makes the medium great in the first place, stop here and stay awhile.

And yeah, if the post- credit scene is any indicator, we are in for a helluva show next year!

FINAL GRADE: A-  

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