Ant-Man and the Wasp is the funniest Marvel movie since the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Yeah, I think it’s funnier than Thor: Ragnarok (and it knows when to pull back a bit from humor in order to land its dramatic moments). I loved it!
Surprisingly, the way Ant-Man and the Wasp completely ignores the rules of its own technology didn’t bother me at all here. I didn’t spend the whole movie working over inconsistencies like a bit of food stuck in my teeth. Part of this might just be that I’m more used to chanting “it’s magic” any time they shrink or grow anything (which is constantly). But part of it might be that the movie never shoves its supposed ruleset in the viewer’s face, so breaking the rules isn’t as flagrant. And part of it is probably that it goes so over-the-top (in a good way!) that it’s impossible to take the physics seriously.
This movie has an ensemble cast in which every actor worked, and every character was entertaining. Everyone has something going on, to the point that the whole film should feel crowded and manic. But everything is woven together elegantly.
This isn’t to say that the movie is perfect. The stakes for the final confrontation with the villain lack the immediacy that they needed. A comment that I give as an editor most often is, “this needs to get a lot worse before it gets better”, and the climax doesn’t really do that. While Scott Lang has a great character arc, no one else gets as much of one as they need to. The villain and Hank Pym in particular seem to step over the journeys they need to go to like you might step over gum on a hot sidewalk. And the action, while inventive and funny, isn’t as well shot as a lot of the MCU.
But you know what? I don’t care. I enjoyed every moment of this film. I laughed harder than I have in years. And I left the theater feeling happy and hopeful, which is what the MCU needed right now.
The first full scene is worth the ticket price itself. As are the interactions between Rudd’s Lang and his daughter Cassie (played with rare wit by Abby Ryder Fortson). As is Evangeline Lilly’s pitch-perfect performance as the Wasp (she is even more awesome than the trailers show!). The list goes on and on. All of it combined means I am going to own this film when it comes out on DVD.
Scott’s habit of naming ants gets a lot funnier.
Child-sized Scott at school.
Most impressive elements:
Not only did they make the secondary villain fit into the plot in a way that betters the movie; they did so with the tertiary villain, who most movies would ignore after the scene where he’s introduced. Using the different villains to drive the plot of different character pairings is something I’m going to need to watch a few times to learn from.
The de-aging effect in the flashbacks looked so natural! I realize this is because both Fishburne and Douglas were in films at that age, and so they had plenty of reference, but even so! It was surreal that it bypassed the uncanny valley altogether.
Interrupting the cliche Bond Villain Monologue the way they did. I think Austin Powers pulled that joke a couple of times, but here’s where Ant-Man and the Wasp did it better: At the same time they made that joke, they drove Scott’s plot (and his development) forward, and also hinted at Foster’s compassion, which increasingly drives a wedge between Foster and Ava. Any time a piece can make me laugh and drive both plot and multiple character arcs impresses the crap out of me.
Ava’s character arc. I love that she’s not so much a villain as an antagonist, and that she’s struggling with her humanity. But this struggle needed to be driven further. We needed to feel the knife’s edge. Maybe introduce earlier that Janet Van Dyne was going to come back with that healing power somehow. And then rather than the threat Ghost poses being that she’ll collapse the tunnel with Hank and Janet inside, make it that continued use of Janet’s new powers (triggered by touch?) could potentially kill her. Make Ava choose between killing for an assured, permanent cure vs. mercy and ongoing (albeit effective) treatment. Force her to turn away from the decision she’s been making most of the movie and her life (hurting other people for the hope of a cure). This decision could be the key for a much more intense, impactful ending as well.
Hank Pym is hinted, in places, to have once been the unstable, abusive jerk that he is in comics. It’s somewhat softened, which I get, but then those allegations are refuted by Pym himself and then completely ignored for the rest of the film. I hope that movie three digs into these issues and reveals some grime in his past.