THE STORY THUS FAR
As the film opens, Scott is serving out the remainder of the two-year plea deal (first mentioned in Infinity War) he took following his arrest in Captain America: Civil War (2016). Still struggling to be a good father to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson, of TV’s Transparent), Lang is estranged from Hank and Hope, whose technology he “borrowed” to fight Team Iron Man in the aforementioned film.
At any rate, Pym and Hope have bigger fish to fry in the form of trying to rescue original Wasp Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns) from her 30-year exile in the Quantum Realm that Scott accidentally found himself in three years ago.
All this, on its own, would be great fodder for a flick, especially when combined with the subplots of Scott’s domestic woes and a gang of black market technology dealers (led by a sorely underused Walton Goggins, of TV’s Sons of Anarchy) trying to get their hands on Pym’s research.
Sadly, somebody felt the inexplicable need to include a subplot centered around yet ANOTHER disgruntled former acquaintance™ (The Matrix’s Lawrence Fishburne, as Bill Foster) with a score to settle, complete with poorly defined murderous accomplice (Ready Player One’s Hannah John-Kamen, as Ghost) thrown in for good measure. If only we hadn’t seen the exact same thing happen in all three Iron Man movies, Batman Forever, Spider-Man 3, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Incredibles, and yes, the first Ant-Man.
MORE OF THE SAME
Ultimately, Ant-Man and the Wasp seems happy to coast along on the low hanging fruit of just doing bigger, more expensive versions of jokes and scenes you remember from the first one. In failing to actually bring anything new to the table, the entire experience comes across as a bubblegum sort of affair – you’ll probably have fun while watching it, but good luck trying to remember any of it after stepping out of the theater.
Even while you’re watching, it’s hard to ignore the feeling that you’ve already seen a majority of the gags, because between the trailers and the first Ant-Man’s if you’ve seen any of the trailers, you have. Scott struggling with the use of his powers and Hope outclassing him in combat and overall competence? Yup. Tiny things made large and large thing made tiny, for comical effect? Check. Long-winded flashback sequence narrated by Scott’s motormouthed pal Luis (Michael Peña, The Martian)? It’s all here, and it is all -for better or worse- so very familiar. Heck, even the novelty of Scott growing to giant size is old hat at this point.
WHERE’S THE HEART?
Perhaps the most glaring difference between this film and the first Ant-Man is lack of a of an emotional core to ground the proceedings; take for instance, how in the previous Ant-Man, our hero’s flying friend Ant-thony was killed by the villain in a hail of gunfire, prompting Scott to swear revenge. Here, during a chase scene, Scott causes the deaths of about half a dozen of the flying critters for the sake of a cheap laugh.
Even the drama inherent in reuniting with someone long-thought dead is shortchanged by the unending stream of slapstick and/or extraneous plotlines. Seriously, for all Foster and Ghost add to the movie you could cut them out completely, and no one would notice.
A FAMILIAR ENDING
For those of you wondering how Ant-Man and the Wasp fits into the overall MCU, stick around for the end credits, as you get to see EXACTLY what our tiny heroes were up to during the finger snap heard across the galaxy. Yep, after taking us on an otherwise harmless and inconsequential romp through the MCU, Ant-Man and the Wasp takes a sudden turn into darkness.
That the film waited until the end credits to deliver its only genuinely emotional moment is bad enough, but inserting gravitas by straight up stealing it from another movie just seems lazy. Indeed, for as much as this writer wanted to love the second Ant-Man movie, all he managed to take away was something he’s had since April: a desire to know what happens in Avengers 4.
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