Ant-Man and the Wasp Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp movie posterSynopsis
After Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) assisted Captain America during the Superhero Civil War, he was placed under house arrest for two years. As his sentence is about to finish, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), approach him with a new mission: help them rescue Hope’s mother (Michelle Pfiffer) from the Quantum Realm.

Review
When Ant-Man was first announced, many predicted it to be Marvel’s first major flop. While it didn’t do tremendous at the box office, Marvel showed that they don’t make flops. It was self-contained, something of a commodity with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, but more importantly it was humorous and exciting. Marvel looked to expand on that success, giving us more of the perfectly-cast Paul Rudd and giving the criminally-underused Evangeline Lilly a more dominant role. What resulted was a much needed small-scale story following the goliath that was Infinity War.

I didn’t picture Paul Rudd in a superhero role until Marvel showed me that was something I needed in my life. He quickly became my favorite part about Ant-Man (behind Michael Pena’s Luis, of course). Rudd brings the same charm that made his Scott Lang so enjoyable in the first film. His relationship between him and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and him and his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) was built upon what we saw in the previous film. Rudd handled these more intimate and emotional scenes just as well as the action and comedy scenes.

This sequel isn’t titled Ant-Man 2 but rather Ant-Man and the Wasp and there is a very good, albeit obvious reason for that. Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, aka The Wasp, gets a much bigger role this time around. And boy does Lilly take advantage of the extra screen time! She is fierce, she is tough, and she takes no nonsense. She is a good contrast to Rudd, tending to be more to-the-point and going in with a plan. The future of the ladies of the MCU is looking great!

Many have complained that the MCU’s weakest quality is its villains. That didn’t really bother me until Yellowjacket in Ant-Man. It was the chance to have the villain be a dark mirror to the hero. Both Scott and Darren Cross were trained by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and could show the difference in character who both have the same mentor. Instead, he became one the most generic villains in the franchise. Marvel seemed to have learned their lesson for Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). She is a much deeper villain, operating in that gray area, where you can see their point-of-view but know their methods are wrong, much like Killmonger in Black Panther.

Of course, they need to have that one bad guy who just screams “villain.” Enter Walter Goggins as Sonny Burch. I take back what I said about Yellowjacket being Marvel’s most generic villain. That title now belongs to Sonny. He served no actual purpose to the story other than to be the clear, black-and-white villain of the film. After a similar role in Tomb Raider, I hope Goggins doesn’t start getting typecast in this kind of a role because he is so much better than what these roles can offer.

In my opinion, one of the strengths of the first Ant-Man film was its scope. It wasn’t a globe-spanning epic, nor did it have Earth-shattering consequences. Rather, it was self-contained, and the only people it really affected were the characters in the film. This sequel does pretty much the same thing. This simpler story allows for some good character development. And like it’s predecessor, it gives us a nice break after the last Avengers movie, that I’m sure left many people shaking in their seat after the credits finished.

I thought Ant-Man and the Wasp was GOOD πŸ™‚ The first Ant-Man film was a pleasant surprise but now the sequel had some expectations. Paul Rudd returns without missing a stride, Evangeline Lilly returns kicking ass in stride, and Hannah John-Kamen joins in as the villain who has made strides (I don’t know what I was going for there, I was trying to make the stride thing work). Ant-Man and the Wasp takes what is great about its predecessors, using lessons learned from the recent MCU films and returns a wonderful and worthy sequel.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peyton Reed – Director
Chris McKenna – Writer
Erik Commers – Writer
Paul Rudd – Writer
Andrew Barrer – Writer
Gabriel Ferrari – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Paul Rudd – Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly – Hope Van Dyne / Wasp
Michael Douglas – Dr. Hank Pym
Michael Pena – Luis
Tip ‘TI’ Harris – Dave
David Dasmalchian – Kurt
Hannah John-Kamen – Ava / Ghost
Walter Goggins – Sonny Burch
Laurence Fishburne – Dr. Bill Foster
Judy Greer – Maggie
Bobby Cannavale – Paxton
Abby Ryder Fortson – Cassie
Randall Park – Jimmy Woo
Michelle Pfeiffer – Janet Van Dyne / Wasp

Movie Quote of the Week – 3/16/18

Answer to MWL 3/14/18: Chuck (Paul Rudd) – Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Peter: How long have you lived out here?
Chuck: Man, I don’t know. I quit wearing a watch when I moved out here.
Peter: Wow, that is so cool.
Chuck: Yeah. No, like my cell phone has a clock on it, so I don’t really need it.
Peter: Right, so it’s basically the same thing. How old are you?
Chuck: I don’t really believe in age or numbers, you know, I don’t… I mean, if you had to put a number on it, I guess I’d be 44. Fuck!
Peter: Thanks for taking me out here. This is the first time I’ve felt good in three weeks or so.
Chuck: You need to get back on that board is what you need to do.
Peter: Yeah?
Chuck: Hey, here’s the deal. When life gives you lemons, just say “fuck the lemons” and bail.
Peter: Yeah. No. You said it, totally.
Chuck: You just gotta pull yourself up by your wetsuit, get back on that board… Hey, look man, if you’re attacked by a shark, are you gonna give up surfing?
Peter: Probably, yeah.

Thanks for everyone’s submissions and one surf lesson to the following people for answering correctly:

Carson
Jackie

Ant-Man Review

Ant-Man movie posterSynopsis
After getting out of prison, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) tries to leave his life of crime behind him. However, when he has trouble providing for his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), he takes a job with his old cell mate, Luis (Michael Pena). Inside the vault he breaks into, Scott finds the Ant-Man suit, hidden by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) decades before. Being impressed with Scott’s skills, Hank hires Scott to steal the Yellowjacket suit from his former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), much to the disliking of his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

Review
Ant-man was predicted to be Marvel’s first flop, both critically and financially. But let’s be honest, if they audiences would buy into a story about a space faring team consisting of a snarky kid stuck in the 1980s, a sexy green alien femme fatale, a red alien warrior who takes everything literally, a talking kleptomaniac raccoon, and a talking tree who only says one sentence, how hard would it be to sell a hero who can shrink and talk to insects? It may not have been a huge money maker for Marvel like many of their other films but you can’t deny it is a humorous, fun, and quirky movie.

After the gargantuan, globe-spanning epic that was Age of Ultron, it was nice to step back and have a smaller, self-contained story. There are many references to the expansive Marvel Cinematic Universe (HYDRA, Iron Man, the events of Age of Ultron, even a fun fight scene between Scott and one of the New Avengers), but that is to be expected at this point. Marvel has built such a large world that references help place the story inside that world. It can be a catch 22 between letting the film stand on its own and using established characters and events to remind the audience where this world exists. Ant-Man does a terrific job of balancing these two sides.

For a film that is only around two hours long, Ant-Man was able to include a lot of Ant-Man history into the film. In the Marvel Comics, there are no less than three characters who have held the Ant-Man moniker. Hank Pym is the original and most well known, followed by Scott Lang (and a third named Eric O’Grady but he’s not important right now). Pym specifically has had a type of literal identity crisis over the years, taking up several costumes and code names, which include Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket. And he is short tempered, which has caused friction with other heroes. As a comics fan, it is great to see so much of the characters’ history effectively incorporated some way into the movie.

In their Phase 2 films, Marvel has mixed up what genre their movies are. They are part superhero but also something else, such as spy thriller or space opera, allowing each film to feel fresh. I have made it no secret that I am a huge fan of heist movies so I really enjoyed that aspect. The montage of the heist planning had a duel purpose of Scott, Hank, and Hope planning the heist but also quickly showing Scott learning how to use the suit and its powers. Two birds with one stone, if you will. Then the heist itself was pretty fun. Not many (if any) involve a the thief shrinking down and going through computer circuitry to accomplish their goals. It’s pretty unique and enjoyable.

Paul Rudd may not scream superhero material but he was the right fit as Scott Lang. The movie plays to his strengths and timing as a comedic actor, elevating the film. However, the stand-out star is Michael Pena as Scott’s partner-in-crime, Luis. His monologues about how he discovered the jobs for his group of Robin Hood-esque band of criminals is side-splitting. Michael Douglas is here to give gravitas and legitimacy to the film, like Glenn Close in Guardians of the Galaxy. That doesn’t stop him from doing a fantastic job. Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly do the best with the roles they are given but are not as strong as the other leads.

It would have been cool to see more of Pym’s history. His quarrels with SHIELD are talked about constantly and he regularly warns about the dangers of constant exposure to the Pym Particles (the device that allows the suit to shrink), but they aren’t really shown and are only given in exposition. Same with his relationship with Hope. If the audience would have gotten to see these stories, it would have helped show who Hank Pym was and why.

Other than Loki and maybe the Winter Soldier, Marvel hasn’t had great success with their villains, Ant-Man is no exception. In many of the past films, I have been like Elsa and let it go. However, I had a hard time doing that with this time. The film’s Darren Cross had a strong history with Pym which they tried to explain was his motivation but it could have been so much deeper and he could have been one of Marvel’s better villains (which is honestly not that tall a bar to hurtle). Instead, he has become forgettable like many of the others.

Ant-Man is the most refreshing MCU films since The Avengers. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are perfectly cast as the Ant-Men Scott Lang and Hank Pym, while Michael Pena steals every scene he appears in. The light, not-serious tone and self-contained story let this film be accessible to a large audience and is a nice break between the previous Avengers film and the sure-to-be-epic scale of Captain America: Civil War.

Rating
4.5/5

Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier,Β Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Peyton Reed – Director
Edgar Wright – Screenplay / Story
Joe Cornish – Screenplay / Story
Adam McKay – Screenplay
Paul Rudd – Screenplay
Christophe Beck – Composer

Paul Rudd – Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Michael Douglas – Dr. Hank Pym
Evangeline Lilly – Hope van Dyne
Corey Stoll – Darren Cross / Yellowjacket
Bobby Cannavale – Paxton
Judy Greer – Maggie Lang
Abby Ryder Fortson – Cassie Lang
Michael Pena – Luis
David Dastmalchian – Kurt
Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris– Dave
Wood Harris – Gale
Haley Atwell – Peggy Carter
John Slattery – Howard Stark
Martin Donovan – Mitchell Carson


And I’m back. I know I wasn’t really away, you know with the usual weekly features and my entry in the Film Emotion Blogathon, but after the Christmas in July Blogathon and Anniversary Week 2, I needed a break to catch up on some gaming and overall do-nothingness. Besides the blogathon entry I was able to put together in the time between getting off work and my soccer game that night so it was almost no time at all.Β  This is the first of several films from earlier this summer I have lined up.Β  Next will be Inside Out followed by Jurassic World.Β  After those, I will catch up on some awards and review the horrid Rage. Until then, cheers. πŸ™‚

PS, Splatoon is so ADDICTING! Do any of you play? If you do let me know, maybe we can organize a time to play together.

Movie Quote of the Week – 8/14/15

Answer to MWL 8/12/15: Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd) – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Brian Fontana: Well I’ll give this little cookie an hour before we’re doing the no-pants dance. Time to musk up. [Opens hidden cabinet of cologne]
Ron Burgundy: Wow. Never ceases to amaze me. What cologne you gonna go with? London Gentleman, or wait. No, no, no. Hold on. Blackbeard’s Delight.
Brian: No, she gets a special cologne. It’s called Sex Panther by Odeon. It’s illegal in nine countries. Yep, it’s made with bits of real panther, so you know it’s good.
Ron: It’s quite pungent. It’s a formidable scent. It stings the nostrils. In a good way. Brian, I’m gonna be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline.
Brian: They’ve done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.
Ron: That doesn’t make sense.
Brian: Well, let’s go see if we can make this little kitty purr.

Thanks for everyone’s submissions and congratulations to the following people for answering correctly:

Carly (Carly Hearts Movies) (+1 imaginary bottle of Sex Panther for giving the name of the cologne)
Emma (Emmakwall (Explains it all)) (+2 imaginary bottles of Sex Panther for giving the name of the cologne and stumbling your way into the right answer)
Tom (Digital Shortbread) (Yay! You finally got one!)
Tim (Filmfunkel) (+5 imaginary bottles of Sex Panther for an excellent Naked Gun counter quote)
Jay (Assholes Watching Movies) (-1 imaginary bottle of Sex Panther for being sad about knowing the answer)

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Trailer #2

Official Synopsis: With the 70’s behind him, San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Also back for more are Ron’s co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) – All of whom won’t make it easy to stay classy…while taking the nation’s first 24-hour news channel by storm.

I feel the first Anchorman is a little overrated, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.Β  This second trailer shows more of the gang after they arrive at GNN, but not much more about the story we haven’t already seen in the first trailer.Β  The sequel looks like it will rely on several of the same jokes as the first, but as long as it adds some new fresh gags into the mix, it should be alright.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will be in theaters December 20, 2013.