Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp is an energetic romp. It’s fun, family centric, and well-intentioned. There were laughs thanks to Luis (Michael Pena) and his side kicks. Really Luis stole the show from Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly, as Hope Van Dyne, even with the ant-puns. Having said that Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer got some good, if abbreviated, times. I enjoyed the awkward moments between Lang and Pym. There were plenty to choose from:
Scott Lang: Hold on, you gave her wings?
Dr Hank Pym: And Blasters
Scott Lang: So I take it you didn’t have that tech available for me?
Dr Hank Pym: No, I did.
After enduring Avengers: Infinity War, this was a welcome escape, with lower stakes than universal annihilation, and some well-timed comic moments through the dialogue, the banter between Scott and Hope and the visual effects. However, all the good feels were abruptly done away with in the denouement, which dovetailed into the Infinity War timeline. You’ll know when you get to it.
The action, including the car chases, held my interest, and the effects weren’t too busy (unlike Ultron vs Avengers). However, some the effects did feel like they fell too conveniently into a ready-made toy marketing category.
The more I think about the central escapade, the more I believe an opportunity was missed. Janet Van Dyne was the point of the rescue, but her survival and evolution is the real point. The plot should’ve started with her rescue in order to focus on her abilities, not just as a cure for Ghost (as a bad daughter/double symbol) but as a potential solution to universe wide dilemmas. Who wouldn’t want to see more Michelle Pfeiffer being glowy aged 60? Instead we got a sci-fi heist fest, with comic relief from the well cast FBI agents, the ‘southern gentlemen’ and an a ex-con run security firm. Don’t get me wrong, the fun was fine, but mysterious quantum powers should’ve been the buy in and nothing much was achieved with them.
The other thing is, Ant and Wasp get an emotional arc, but what of Wasp Senior? She goes from a heroic sacrifice, to 30 years in the Quantum Realm to Saint with Healing Powers. Where are her resentments, her anger, and most of all, her grief? I mean Doctor Who, in one 40 minute episode separated Amy from Rory and had her age alone for 36 years, to have her return with weapons and tech skills, in addition to an immense amount of anger at The Doctor and stoic yearning for Rory. Her experiences altered her physically and psychologically. Then The Doctor lies about saving her, and Rory must choose between saving Old Amy or Young Amy. Talk about an emotional roller coaster for a family TV show. With Van Dyne Senior I didn’t see an emotional cost to Van Dyne and this rankled. It’s nice that Lang got his freedom and family back, and Hank, Janet and Hope are reunited, but it’s too saccharine. I suspect this is deliberate given Infinity War.
Consequences for Lang are rammed home in this film. Law this, prison that. Whatever. What are the consequences for existing in the Quantum Realm? I mean, I don’t really want to be all and another thing about it, but how does one survive 30 years without breathing, and where time works differently? Not only did the film fail to provide an emotional arc to Janet Van Dyne, it failed to in any way explore other options for how this Quantum Realm could have changed her. She could have become younger, or duplicated, proliferated, or mutated, or become a disembodied mind. Instead we get Michelle Pfieffer as Angel. I mean Jumanji resulted in changing its players more than this place beyond physics and that was a game. Likewise, Wade Wilson was deprived of oxygen and this resulted in Deadpool, yet Van Dyne was smaller than a component of an oxygen molecule for decades and she got…glowy finger tips and great hair. And for what?
Anyway, the kids in the cinema seemed to dig it, and as far as a heist film goes it was a fine ride, even refreshing. It’s another perspective on the Marvel Universe that doesn’t detract from it. It’s just not Doctor Who’s The Girl Who Waited.