Ant-Man Stays Grounded

Ant-Man and the Wasp is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is one along a long line movies whose purpose is to supplement the Avengers franchise with largely insignificant plot points. Christian Tesfaye awards 5 out of 10 stars.

In the run-up to Ant-Man and the Wasp, I read multiple fan theories about the movie’s plot arc and how it relates to the Avengers: Infinity War. Many were indeed interesting, especially compared to the final version of the movie.

It shows us how divergent people’s expectations and the quality of movies are becoming. Hollywood is increasingly looking to the lower denominator while those faithful to original storylines are left to admire sets, costumes and special effects.

Like many of the Marvel movies, it is tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is the same universe where Captain America, Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther exist. So, Ant-Man is like a second-level superhero. His useful but queer skills and minimal popularity outside the comic book fandom make him less of an asset to his studio.

Studio heads do not mind the hundreds of millions of dollars that the character makes for them but his ultimate purpose seems to be to act as a bridge to each of the Avengers movies and future franchises. This was made clear when Edgar Wright was not allowed to take the first Ant-Man movie too far away from the style of the MCU.

This movie takes place after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott (Paul Rudd), a.k.a Ant-Man, is in house arrest for violating the Sokovia Accords, which is a fictional regulation that prohibits against vigilantism by enhanced individuals. He has just days before freedom.

This is thwarted when Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), a.k.a the Wasp, open up a tunnel into the quantum realm. Scott, apparently in quantum entanglement with Janet’s mother, gets a message. This results in the duo taking Scott for a ride in their attempt to recover Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp, from the quantum realm. This proves harder than anticipated when Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a molecularly unstable woman, shows up in the picture to harvest the energy Janet has been accumulating in the quantum realm.

Most depressing about Ant-Man and the Wasp are the action sequences. Mostly, in a superhero movie, one expects above-average car chases or fight scenes. The action sequences in this sequel though are lacking. The camera often looks away, and we are expected to fill the gaps with our imagination.

This is probably because of the special effects necessary for such a movie. Ant-Man and the Wasp fight by shrinking in and out of human size. The special effects when the characters are shrunk to insect size are pretty good. But they probably are not enough to allow the filmmakers to break loose and create action sequences on par with the Captain America movies. That would require a great deal of investment – the kind the franchise is not profitable enough to merit.

Rudd is entertaining as always. There are few comedians as modest as they are funny. His comic timing is excellent but he often finds himself kneecapped by the tired dialogue and predictable plotline that has been presented here.

Lilly’s talents are as well wasted. If there is one thing that the DC Universe has been able to gain on Marvel was the successful depiction of a female superhero, Wonder Woman. It is not like Marvel has never tried but their attempts have often ended feeling somewhat subdued. Like the Wasp here, there are no roles that seem to be drawn to stand on their own.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is yet another superhero that stars veteran actors to create the aura of drama. Indeed, Pfeiffer, Douglas and Laurence Fishburne add weight to the movie, and they act superbly. But there is nothing sadder than watching such actors act merely to draw laughs or an “aww” moment.

The film is all the more depressing considering what Edgar Wright would have made out of the characters. A superhero with the ability to shrink and Wright’s nimble use of audiovisuals would have been a memorable mix than this piece of forgettable exercise in futility we have here.


Published on Jul 14,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 950]



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