Did Kraig Taylor-Bryant buy into the buzz about Ant-Man and the Wasp...
Now this is a film that I waited a long time before seeing in cinema, not necessarily because I had no good expectations, but because of how close the release was to one of Disney Marvel's other films, Avengers Infinity War. However I couldn’t wait the extra few months to find out what exactly Scott was doing during the events of Avengers 3, so, like Thanos, at the last second, decided to “fulfil my destiny” so to speak, and watch the film.
Like the first Ant-Man film [read Kraig’s review of that here], Ant-Man and the Wasp was made to perfectly fit the demographic of a father and a daughter, with its moments of humour made specifically for such an audience whilst also being appealing to a wider variety of people with things like the strange use of music whilst the main character of Scott (played by Paul Rudd) is occupying his time while under house arrest (after helping Captain America in his fight against government of the Avengers in Captain America Civil War). There are a lot of moments with Scott in this film that give off the “happy family” vibe, which isn't a bad thing, it's just worth being aware of.
The plot at the start of the film follows Hope Pym (played by Evangeline Lily), and her connection to her mother, just before her mother leaves with her father, Hank, to go on a mission as the original Ant-Man and the Wasp, from which her mother wouldn’t return as she becomes trapped in the “quantum realm”. However, following Scott’s return from the realm, they discovered that there is a possible way to come back from it, and it is this premise that sets off the plot for the rest of this film.
This plot, to me, felt a little weak, as it seemed as though they just picked up something that was mentioned for a bit in the first film. However, the plot did strongly revolve around the idea of family, and maybe that made it a great film to influence kids and make them want be closer to their own, and vice versa. Regardless, this film didn’t seem to me like there was much at stake, making the action a lot less tense and interesting in my opinion, but it did mean that Marvel fans got to have a break from the constant action of Avengers Infinity War, which I suppose is always an upside. For the characters in the story, the plot seems to work because they want to get their family member back, which might make it work as a film about family, but at the same time, does that make it enjoyable to watch if the audience member can’t relate?
What struck me as strange in this film was that, in the moments where Scott was important to the story or scenes in the film, he was just Scott. There seemed to be one moment when Ant-Man being big helped the plot a little by helping to retrieve something or another, but alternatively, that’s something that the Wasp could have done. Scott's scenes in the film when he is simply Scott, are used often to appeal to the father and daughter demographic, such as when Scott makes a mistake, or something funny happens to him. And especially in the moments that he spends with his daughter. In this regard, he is important to the film, to keep the younger audience interested, but the character of Ant-Man almost seemed irrelevant to the plot, in my opinion.
The film also felt very much like a film based on the Wasp, because it's based on a story that was carried from the first film’s backstory to Hank and Hope, this, for me, was what would have made it a better Wasp spin off film, than it would an Ant-Man film. But of course, at the same time, it may not have the same vibe making it a little less focused on father-daughter love, even though it would have made it good otherwise at creating a good female role model for a young girl with an interest in super hero films, so there are benefits either way I suppose.
Other characters in the film however, did have importance, or felt like missing pieces to this puzzle of a film, without being a part of this family. One of these was the character of Luis, played by Michael Pena. He is a character who you may associate with his stories on how he got certain intel on a heist back in the first movie. In this film, he seems perfect for a larger audience as a comedic purpose, because he gives off a humour that’s not specific to any age, it's just over the top and ridiculous, which I believe is what we all liked about the first Ant-Man instalment. He also has a certain relevance to the plot not only unintentionally helping the bad guys, but also helping the good to advance events a little further. I personally felt as if he had more relevance to events in the story than Ant-Man had.
In terms of the “action joke” formula that Disney Marvel seems to use often in their films, this seemed to have not been used in Ant-Man and the Wasp because of there being quite a few moments when it wasn’t simply a scenario where it was constant fighting. In fact, a good portion of it seemed to be about chasing, being captured, and sneaking around, making a refreshing change from the constant action and explosions given to us when Infinity War hit theatres. This film, unlike Infinity, war, is definitely one that could be considered way more suitable for younger audiences, as it gives a similar humour to the first one whilst also being a friendly film, with a happy ending. Which seems appropriate considering the ending to Infinity War, that left many upset or with their jaws to the floor.
The villain of this film wasn’t exactly clear. There were a bunch of people that wanted to get a thing for their own purposes, some wanted to retrieve it for their boss (whoever that is, I still have no clue) and a young woman who simply wants to be normal because of an incident involving the quantum realm. So, whilst it’s nice for any fathers and daughters who watch the film, to not have a character that the daughter is afraid of, unlike the first Ant-Man film had, what about the little boys that might be watching the film? Or the teenagers? For me I really wanted to see a villain that would go to more lengths to help themselves. Instead we got a half hour of people chasing each other over a miniature science building, which, as ridiculously funny as it sounds, is not exactly exciting. Although I do think that if you're going to have villains such as this, make it clear that there is an important person that this gang is working for, and make it so the woman who wants to become normal, has to make a deal with Hank, Hope and Scott to at least help them, because she rediscovered her own goodness, which would still feel very Marvel, and make things a little more tense and interesting to watch, whilst also being appealing to this father-daughter audience that the Ant-Man side of Marvel clearly wants to stick with, because things still seem more happy, if the bad guy can turn good.
Overall though I think this film can make a very good refresher film, for those that have seen Avengers Infinity War, whilst also satisfying their curiosity about what was going on with the Ant-Man whilst all of the Thanos mayhem was going on. I think that it was also made to be an even better father-daughter film, which isn't necessarily a bad thing at all, but at the same time, we did kind of get that with the first film, so I do wish that maybe they should have tried to alter the plot a little to engage and excite everyone.
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