Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp" Improves on First Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 9 (of 2018) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Running time:  118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
DIRECTOR:  Peyton Reed
WRITERS:  Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari (based on the comic book created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby)
PRODUCER:  Kevin Feige
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Dante Spinotti (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Dan Lebental and Craig Wood
COMPOSER:  Christophe Beck


Starring:  Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, Walter Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Abby Ryder Fortson, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Stan Lee

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a 2018 superhero film and sci-fi action-comedy directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Marvel Studios.  It is a direct sequel to the 2015 film, Ant-Man.  Both movies focus on the Marvel Comics character, Ant-Man, who first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (cover date: September 1962) and was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby.  Ant-Man and the Wasp finds the title hero on a new adventure to uncover the secrets of his friends' past.

In the wake of the events depicted in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is under house arrest.  He is three days from finishing his sentence, so he is determined not to leave his house and be in violation.  However, Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Scott's erstwhile girlfriend, and her scientist father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who have both been estranged from Scott, reenter his life.

They need Scott's help in rescuing the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has been lost in the microscopic “quantum realm” for 30 years.  However, there are numerous obstacles in their way.  FBI agent, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Lang's parole officer, is determined to catch Scott in violation.  Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a low-level, but ambitious thug, is determined to obtain Hank Pym's technology so that he can sell it on the black market.  Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), a former colleague of Hank Pym, claims that he will help Pym in his quest, but Foster is really out to help Ava Starr (Hanna John-Kamen).  This mysterious young woman is also the costumed “Ghost,” who needs the same technology that Scott, Hope, and Hank need.  She will do anything to get it because time is running out for both her and Janet Van Dyne.

Ant-Man is D-list as far as Marvel Comics superheroes go, especially where familiarity with the general entertainment-consuming public is concerned.  Marvel Studios chose the right actor to play Ant-Man, Paul Rudd, who is irresistibly likable.   In the original film, Ant-Man, Rudd's affable charm sells the idea of Scott Lang as a well-meaning criminal who had a just cause for the crime he committed.  Ant-Man might be a silly concept, but Rudd makes it all seem less so.  After stealing some scenes in Captain America: Civil War, Rudd and Ant-Man are pretty much settled in near the upper echelon of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For the new film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, the visual effects (VFX) are the biggest star.  The process of shrinking and growing characters and all manner of objects (building, automobiles, knick-knacks, etc.) have a rhythmic quality.  The VFX flows and is poetic; call it “floetry” (like the early aughts R&B group).  While watching this new movie, I never thought it was too much.

Sure, I like the new character, Ghost, and the child actress, Abby Ryder Fortson, makes Scott Lang's daughter, Cassie, indispensable as a character.  [How about Cassie as a new Marvel superhero?]  Still, from the first time I heard of an Ant-Man movie, I thought that this character and concept was born to take advantage of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and of the advancement in VFX.  Ant-Man and the Wasp is a cinematic magic spell successfully completed.  It is not a great movie, but it greatly and hugely entertained me.

8 of 10

Thursday, July 12, 2018

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