Solid 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' could have been more fun

Cary Ashby • Jul 17, 2018 at 5:00 PM

To get the proper perspective on “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” I first must take a broader look at the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

For first the eight years or so, Marvel Studios could do no wrong, putting out one impressive film after another. Phase Three started out strong, with the intriguing and multi-layered “Captain America: Civil War,” which is equally enjoyable on repeat viewings. For my money, it’s the last truly outstanding and intelligent movie that Marvel has released. That was more than two years ago, May 6, 2016, a lifetime in the movie industry.

Aside from “Captain America: Civil War,” Phase Three has felt like a cash-grab. The movies have gotten fans excited, made a lot of money, but have little cinematic value. The only recent Marvel movies with any substance are “Doctor Strange” (Nov. 4, 2016) and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (July 7, 2017).

Don’t let the runaway box-office success of “Black Panther” or “Avengers: Infinity War” fool you; just because a film has made a ton of money doesn’t equal superior quality.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” should have been the feel-good summer movie I was yearning — and needed — to see.

Much like so many other recent Marvel films, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” isn’t just a sequel to its predecessor, the utterly delightful and criminally overlooked “Ant-Man.” It also has ties to “Captain America: Civil War” and in a mid-credits bonus scene that any fan could see coming from a mile way, “Avengers: Infinity War.”

There’s little doubt this scenario will be crucial to defeating Thanos in the 2019 “Avengers” sequel, which concludes Phase Three. Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel will be just as important. “Captain Marvel” is the next Marvel movie out (March 8), starring Brie Larson as the title character, U.S. Air Force pilot Carol Danvers.

To appreciate and understand “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” you need to see “Ant-Man” first. Otherwise, you’ll be lost about the importance of finding the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) in the Quantum Realm. Reuniting Hope VanDyne (a dynamic Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with Janet Van Dyne (Pfeiffer) is crucial. With that being the focus, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang almost isn’t a main character, but more of a co-star who is needed for a plot-device.

The overall cast chemistry lacks the certain charm from “Ant-Man.” Maybe that’s because Pym and Hope being upset over Lang using the Ant-Man suit to help Team Cap in “Civil War” comes off as tension that was added just so there could be some. The same can be said to a lesser extent about the unresolved issues between Pym and Laurence Fishburne’s Dr. Bill Foster, who years ago had worked with Pym at S.H.I.E.L.D. as Goliath.

The subplot involving the so-called villain, Ghost, doesn’t work and fails to contain the proper emotional heft.

Using Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock’s catchy hip-hop classic “It Takes Two” extensively in the trailers spoiled me and the actual score does nothing to complement the action. The trailers also do this sequel another injustice; the footage pretty much tells the entire story and showcases the best scenes, so there are few surprises.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is nothing close to being a must-see popcorn movie, yet it gets enough things right to avoid being a dud. It’s a fun time — just not nearly as much fun as I had hoped. For those fans and movie lovers like me who are on a budget, see it on $5 Tuesdays or during a matinee.

Grade: B-

Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby shares his views, reviews, previews and interviews about the superhero industry and action-adventure genre on his Cary’s Comics Craze blog, caryscomicscraze.blogspot.com. CCC originally ran as a twice-monthly column in the Reflector for nearly 10 years. Follow Ashby on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter.

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