Home » Years » 2018 » Ant-Man and The Wasp •••1/2

Ant-Man and The Wasp •••1/2

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña
Director: Peyton Reed
Screenplay: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 118 minutes
Release Date: July 6, 2018



(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)

Greg, your favorite quantum insect has returned to the Big Screen.

And he’s bringing his favorite White Anglo-Saxon Protestant girlfriend with him. Let’s recap:

Scott Lang as Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest for all the carnage he wreaked in Germany at the end of the last movie. But Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) sneak Scott out of his home because they need his help in rescuing Pym’s wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the infinitesimal universe where she is trapped. All is going to plan until Sonny Birch (Walton Goggins) and his henchmen show up to steal the quantum technology.

But things don’t go as expected when a “ghost” (Hannah John-Kamen) shows up and steals the gizmo. Pym and Hope shrink their office-building / lab to portable size and take off only to have it stolen by the “ghost.” Hilarity and action ensue when Ant Man and Hope (as The Wasp) must try to get the building back.

I’m going to have to come right out and say it, Greg. Ant-Man may be my favorite Marvel hero. There’s something absurdly appealing about this guy that hits me in the gut. Maybe it’s his devotion to his daughter; maybe it’s Paul Rudd’s humble, endearing performance; or maybe it’s the multi-layered family dynamic of fierce loyalty to spouse and child. I was also thrilled to watch a Marvel movie with the sense to include just the right number of characters in lieu of packing in a fleet of superheroes. All this plus some good comic touches made for a very satisfying movie-going experience.

Marvel is the master of using secondary characters to both move the plot along and provide opportunities for humor. Michael Peña as Luis and Randall Park as Jimmy Woo both serve up some great comic moments in a story that already has plenty of comedy in it. The dramatic elements aren’t half-bad, either. Once again, just as we saw with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, our heroes must contend with a long-lost partner of the good-guy mastermind. Yes, it’s a cheap stunt to invent new characters we’ve never heard of before to keep the sequels rolling. But it not only works, it also gives us an opportunity to see Laurence Fishburne show off his acting chops. It’s all done to very good effect.

I am less enthusiastic about Ant-Man and The Wasp than you are, Scott. While I did enjoy myself, I was thrown by the constant and flagrant resizing of objects. There seems to be little consistency in this universe about how the super-size / micro-size world works. Objects that are micro-sized apparently weigh less sometimes, and other times maintain their weight. And apparently it takes little to no training to master the super-size / micro-size universe. In the first Ant-Man movie, Lang has to undergo extensive training to learn to deal with the effects of being super-small. However, Pena’s Luis had no trouble up-sizing and down-sizing his hot-wheels car in a harried chase scene.

Other complaints include the fact that Lang seems to be whatever size a scene needs – with his change in size simply assumed by the viewers. There were several scenes where Lang was tiny, then we cut to another actor, and when we return to Lang, he’s full-size again.

On the plus side, Ant-Man and The Wasp is a fast-paced, comic, and enjoyable romp in the universe of quantum fun. Lang quips at one point “do you guys just put the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” As you’re so fond of saying, Scott, if you just turn off your brain and let the film flow over you, you’ll have a good time. And I did have a good time.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is your typical, run-of-the-mill, extremely successful movie from the Marvel universe. There is crisp pacing, solid acting, fun storytelling, and occasionally cringe-worthy joke-telling, all of which are standard elements of Marvel. This movie works on the strength of Paul Rudd, one of my favorite actors, who manages to be self-effacing without sacrificing self-confidence. He shows us that heroes can be decent, down-to-earth guys who place family above all else. I give this film 4 Reels out of 5.

Scott Lang as Ant-Man is a terrific hero in this film for reasons mentioned above, with the added bonus that this story sends him on a dangerous journey requiring him to elude not one but three sets of enemies: Sonny Birch and his gang, the ghost and Dr. Fisher, and the police who gleefully wish to catch Sonny violating the terms of his house arrest. As in nearly all multi-installment stories within a film franchise, the problem here is that Scott doesn’t really transform or grow from his experiences in any meaningful way. He’s the same Scott Lang at the end of the movie as he is at the beginning. So I can only award 3 Hero points out of 5.

With regard to archetypes, there are several prominent ones: a wrongly vilified hero in Scott Lang; the estranged partner of the good-guy mastermind (Bill Foster); the lost spouse (Janet), adorable kid (Cassie), and diseased villain desperate for a cure (Ghost). In all, these archetypes pack a pretty decent punch, earning them 3 archetypal Arcs out of 5.

Movie: Archetypes: Heroes:

I liked this installment of the Ant-Man series better than the first one. The first seemed to be almost a throw-away film – even the film stock quality seemed grainy. It was as if it were produced by the television production house at Disney. This version had more humor (I loved Luis’s recap of the events up-to-now.) It also had more interactions between characters. And who doesn’t love Morpheus – wherever he shows up? I give Ant-Man and The Wasp 3 out of 5 Reels.

The buddy-hero duo of Ant-Man and The Wasp was great. Like most romantic buddy stories, our heroes start out separated for some reason and come together at the end. I loved Lang’s complaint that “you gave her wings?”. The Wasp is actually a more capable super hero than Ant-Man. And there was no ‘saving of the damsel’ – in fact The Wasp comes to Ant-Man’s aid. Overall, these heroes gain 3 out of 5 Heroes.

There’s not much to add to your archetype notes, Scott. I agree that they deserve 3 out of 5 Arcs.

Movie: Archetypes: Heroes:

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