Ant-Man and the Wasp review: Marvel’s third movie of the year follows Black Panther and the mighty Infinity War. Can these two shrinking heroes rise to the challenge?
Ant-Man and the Wasp review by Ben Read.
Over the past few years Marvel have demonstrated time and time again, that they can consistently deliver entertaining, action-packed, thought-provoking blockbusters that demolish box office records in their wake. 2018 however, would have been an especially shortsighted year to bet against the powerhouse movie studio. Having already blown audiences away with the culturally groundbreaking billion dollar hit that is Black Panther, they then outdid themselves again with Avengers: Infinity War. The mega-budget, crossover event united almost every corner of the Marvel universe, and went on to garner rave reviews as well as over two billion dollars worldwide. Now, Peyton Reed has the gargantuan task of following these two up with his sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man. But, will this prove too much of a large task for the pint-sized hero?
This time Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) isn’t alone in his quantum crusades, as he is joined by the fan-favourite ‘Wasp’ with Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) finally suiting up as his crime-fighting partner. Coming off the back of Captain America: Civil War, Scott has been sentenced to two years of house arrest following his rebellious actions alongside Steve Rogers and the other Avengers in violation of the Sokovia Accords. When it becomes apparent that Scott holds the key to rescuing Hope’s mother from the Quantum Realm, he quickly suits up as Ant-Man once again to help his mentor and former lover.
As the first Marvel Studios production to spotlight a female superhero in its title (no doubt in response to Warner Bros beating them to the punch with Wonder Woman), this is a huge step forward. While it may seem a little late, Lilly’s starring role alongside Rudd foreshadows some big things to come from the MCU in the near future. Her outstanding performance here will easily lead the way in shaping a new path, and also setting up the forthcoming Captain Marvel, and Black Widow solo adventures. As a character largely sidelined in the original, Hope is thankfully given some wonderful material to work with this film.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the much-hyped appearance of Michelle Pfeiffer. The former Catwoman is glimpsed throughout the first two acts in fleeting flashbacks, which once again display Marvel’s ever-impressive de-aging formula. But the majority of her role is reduced to a lazy third act reveal, that fails to deliver on the promise of her heavily promoted return. The character gives speeches explaining that she is ‘not the same women’ she once was, but remains largely unchanged from spending thirty years in the Quantum Realm (aside from some conveniently timed knowledge to help save the day, of course).
Despite this minor gripe, the entire cast are all on fine form. Rudd seems more comfortable than ever in his role as the titular hero, and bounces off his fellow stars with brilliantly hilarious comic timing. Michael Peña also once again steals the show as Luis, a fast-talking former criminal who is reluctantly called upon by Hank Pym (a returning Michael Douglas). Although this time Peña isn’t the only supporting character to receive more than a few laughs, as Randall Park impresses in his limited role as an awkward FBI agent. It would also be a crime not to mention the film’s breakout newcomer in Ready Player One‘s Hannah John-Kamen. As the films primary antagonist ‘Ghost’, Kamen gives an emotionally powerful performance that will easily evoke memories of The Winter Soldier and Killmonger. Her role may be smaller than expected, but by the films conclusion it’s clear that she will play an interesting part in future installments.
Peyton Reed has managed the seemingly impossible, by following up the events of Infinity War in a beautifully successful fashion. Not by topping its scale or action sequences, but by crafting a surprisingly standalone adventure. Ant-Man and the Wasp boasts some of the most stunning visuals in Marvel history, and may even be the most humorous entry since last years Thor: Ragnarok. The script is slightly formulaic, but this is a small niggle at one of the most entertaining superhero entries to come out of the gates in the last few years.
Also, be sure to stick around for both the mid and post credits scenes. One in particular has some huge ramifications for next years untitled Avengers 4.
Ant-Man and the Wasp review by Ben Read, July 2018.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is released in UK cinemas on 3rd August.