I had a Writers’ Guild meeting last night, which meant that I wasn’t able to get to the movies until close to 10pm. I am an old man (in spirit, not in age), so this was a huge sacrifice for me. So, if you’re reading this, just know that I care so deeply that I am able to get movie reviews out before the Friday night movie rush, that I did this for you, my loyal reader. All four of you. Maybe three. Honestly, I don’t keep count, because that would just be depressing.
So, Ant-Man and the Wasp. The first MCU movie after Infinity War. The first MCU movie with a female superhero in the title. The first movie in history to dislodge a man from a motorcycle using a giant Pez Dispenser (feel free to fact check me on that). The Ant-Man franchise has twice now come after world-ending stakes, which is not an enviable position to be in, but much like the first time, this movie manages to sneak in with charm and a nice cozy story that provides the perfect antidote to the Snapture.
I enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp more than the the first Ant-Man movie. It is a beautifully structured movie, carefully setting up every plot point, and juggling THREE sets of antagonists (only one group of which could be considered true villains), all while barreling towards an event that is very high stakes for our characters and very low stakes for the universe. The result is hilarious, action-packed, inventive, and, perhaps most impressively, heartfelt.
The cast of returning characters all deliver believable performances that teeter between absurd and genuine. Michael Pena and Paul Rudd exist almost solely to ham it up, and remind the viewer that we really shouldn’t take any of this very seriously. There are ants building machines, after all, and incredibly dubious science that I’m pretty sure only mirrors real science in its use of the word “quantum”. Still, though, both actors are able to be funny, while also seeming true to their own characters and their universe. Paul Rudd, in particular, easily morphs between stand-up comic, amazing father, regretful semi-Avenger, and potential love interest. He’s able to do stuff like that so well, that I think he doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves. He’s a national treasure, really.
Supporting performances were also really strong, whether it’s Lang’s ex-convict friends, the black market tech dealers, or the enigmatic Ghost. Randall Park serves up a particularly delicious role as the FBI agent in charge of Scott Lang’s house arrest. Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas, and, to a lesser extent, Michelle Pfeiffer are excellent. I’ve seen some disparage the “villain” of Ghost, but I think the actress did quite well and I appreciated that her motivations weren’t driven by a lust for power.
In fact, I’m impressed that the movie doesn’t have much of a villain at all. It has a few sets of people with very different agendas that happen to conflict with one another. This works great, because you don’t hate anyone (except for maybe the black market tech dealers). Ghost, the dealers, and our heroes are all after the same thing, and the FBI is just trying to catch Ant-Man out of his house. What results is a hilarious game of hot potato, which isn’t always original, but it is always entertaining.
And the last thing I want to talk about — Evangeline Lilly. The Wasp. Our first title female superhero in the MCU. She is exquisite. Amazing. Perfectly cast, and brilliantly acted. I hope they call the next movie The Wasp, because she deserves top billing. Lilly brings a great physicality to the role, while also doing a really good job with keeping the story grounded around Hope’s family. I hope we see a lot more of this character. She’s instantly become one of my favorites.
I know that was a lot of gushing, but I really loved this movie. It’s fun, light tone is just what the doctor ordered after two duds in Solo and Jurassic World. Make sure you stay for the mid-credits scene, as it is important to the continuing story of Infinity War. There’s also one at the very end, but if you miss it, you won’t regret it. Go see this movie, even if you don’t normally watch the MCU movies. I think you’ll have a good time.