Today, July 6th, Marvel’s latest film, Ant-Man and the Wasp, was released. It is the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man and marks the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the MCU. Back in 2015, Ant-Man was an enjoyable heist film that proved itself to be one of the most unique superhero films created. HBB Reviews awarded the film an exceptional 8.3, stating that the film “was smartly paced, written and directed, developing a film that has become one of my favorite Marvel films.” Following both the critical and financial success of Ant-Man, Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige almost immediately agreed to a sequel in 2018. That long-awaited sequel has finally arrived. However, even though Ant-Man and the Wasp features thrilling moments and sheer scenes of charm, wit, and humor, its overall acceptance with mediocrity is what keeps the film from attaining new heights. For every well-written joke, there is a mediocre line of dialogue just around the corner. Ultimately, Ant-Man and the Wasp is an average, somewhat enjoyable experience that tries to be many things but ultimately comes off as none of the things.
The summer of 2018, while littered with gems such as Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and even Incredibles 2, has seen a drastic abundance of films with screenplay issues. Ant-Man and the Wasp is unfortunately no exception, a shame considering the quality of writing displayed for its predecessor. The first Ant-Man had stellar usage of humor and storytelling. The film’s simple heist plot was sufficient for carrying the film past the finish line and beyond. Ant-Man and the Wasp feels like an unorganized clutter of ideas. The film tries to be too many things. It tries to serve as a direct sequel to both Ant-Man and Captain America: Civil War. However, it fails in that aspect as it strays too near to its predecessor and ultimately creates a predictable experience. Fans of the original will initially have fun with the film, but will eventually grow to notice how risk-averse the film is, a stark contrast to how bold the first film’s style of writing was. The film attempts to replicate the first film’s heist plot in certain ways but with minimal results. It comes off as cheap and bland, serving as a deep contrast to the two previous Marvel superhero films in the year that revolutionized their respective genres. In addition, it tries to serve as a family comedy of sorts. However, it also fails in that aspect as well. Only an estimated half of the film’s joke struck with both myself and the audience I attended. This is mostly due to the overabundance of humor in the film, causing some disjointed scenes which are broken due to a cheap attempt at humor. Stars like Michael Pena and Paul Rudd do the best they can with the material they are given, but what they are given isn’t great to begin with. The overabundance of humor also damages the pacing. The pacing in 2015’s Ant-Man was stellar. Once it began, it never slowed down and constantly had the audience invested in both its story and cast of characters. Ant-Man and the Wasp almost is the exact opposite. Throughout the film, the pacing never picks up after a particularly drab opening. The dialogue is also a major downgrade from its predecessor. Some of the lines rang cliché and hurt each scene dramatically. Finally, the film also attempts to be a sympathetic character piece. This is where the film is mildly successful in its screenplay. The main villain, Ghost, suits her role at times. She doesn’t rival or even come close to Killmonger, Thanos, Vulture, or even Hela from Thor: Ragnarok, but she is serviceable, a major improvement from other Marvel villains. Still, not enough attention is given to the character ultimately dooming this third genre that Ant-Man and the Wasp is trying to succeed in. Ultimately, by attempting to merge these three aspects into a cohesive film is where Ant-Man and the Wasp sorely fails. It is a serviceable comedy with jokes that somewhat caused laughter from the audience. It is an average sequel to two exceptional films from Marvel Studios. It is also an average character piece with its main villain, Ghost. But trying to be all three things, Ant-Man and the Wasp comes to the finish line as an average film. Its screenplay isn’t awful by any stretch of the imagination but it leaves so much to be desired.
However, where the screenplay fails, its cast tries to do the best they can. Paul Rudd is as charming as ever and has a strong dynamic with both the character Hope played by Evanginine Lilly and his daughter Cassie. Rudd is the single redeemable aspect of the film, able to carry the mediocre screenplay to the finish line. As mentioned before, he shares a natural dynamic with Lilly as Hope or the Wasp. She is the other primary stand-out of the film. She delivers both emotion and her humor with a mostly convincing performance. However, her scenes sometimes fall flat on their faces when heavy emotion is attempting to be portrayed on screen. In addition, Michael Pena and his crew which serve as a security company throughout the film are hilarious and entertaining as well. They may not serve much purpose to the plot outside of comedic relief, but they do a fine job and like Rudd are able to drag the mediocre screenplay to the finish line.
Director Peyton Reed returns to direct Ant-Man and the Wasp. He does a fine job, delivering action sequences that make clever uses of the main protagonists’ unique sets of powers, particularly in the final act. He is clearly a redeemable aspect of the film. His style of filmmaking bleeds into every action sequence and while it often feels like white noise at times, still impresses even after a summer’s worth of loud blockbusters. Ultimately, with such a talented director, it is a shame that the film doesn’t have a proper screenplay for him to work with.
As a whole, it may appear that I have very negative feelings towards Ant-Man and the Wasp. I do, in certain aspects, but I respect the film’s positive moments, including its action sequences and stellar performances. Being such a fan of its predecessor, I would like nothing more than to say that Ant-Man and the Wasp is a wholly unified success and is a proper sequel to a film that I love so dearly. However, Ant-Man and the Wasp is not a wholly unified success. It bears a cluttered and messy screenplay that revels its storytelling down to an average level. Its action sequences may impress, but they ultimately are the backdrop to an undeniable mess of a film.
Score: 6.1 out of 10
From the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes a new chapter featuring heroes with the astonishing ability to shrink: "Ant-Man and The Wasp." In the aftermath of "Captain America: Civil War," Scott Lang (Rudd) grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a Super Hero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he's confronted by Hope van Dyne (Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Douglas) with an urgent new mission. Scott must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp as the team works together to uncover secrets from their past.
What did you think of this weekend’s Ant-Man and the Wasp? Comment with your thoughts on the film and be sure to check back on Sunday to see the official opening weekend box office numbers for the film.