Ant-Man and the Wasp – A Movie Review

You may remember that I kind of liked the first Ant-Man.  (Read that review HERE.)  I’m not going to spoil Ant-Man and the Wasp for you, but I’ll say this–I liked it even better than the first one!

Everything the first one did really well got executed even better this time around.  The character dynamics are stronger, the family bonds tighter, the plot is way more interesting, and the conflicts are more complicated.  (Notice I didn’t say logical or even believable,  but hey, you’re watching a sci-fi super hero movie–don’t get persnickety.)

Best of all?  The comedy is faster, looser, and infinitely more genuine.

The heart and soul of this movie is Paul Rudd, to be sure.  He’s got amazing chemistry with everyone, but especially Michael Pena (his business partner), Abby Rider Fortson (his daughter), and Randall Park (his [redacted]).

Don’t get me wrong, he’s so fun to watch with Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly as well, but those three mentioned above just jump off the screen when together.

Speaking of Evangeline Lilly, seeing her as the Wasp has been well worth the wait.  While Rudd is the heart and soul of the film, Lilly is the muscle.  She’s got some fantastic action sequences and definitely gets top billing as the “action star” in my book.  I love her and Ant-Man fighting side by side, especially because she is by far the more capable of the two.  I both hope and want to see a lot more of the Wasp in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Michael Douglas is also far more likable in this sequel.  He’s got a lot of skin in the game this time around.  He’s still cranky as Hank Pym, but the central conflict allows us to connect with him in ways we couldn’t before.  We get to see Pym as an actual father and husband this time around, not just as a grieving shut-in.

I’d also like to mention that I loved the villain–Ghost.  I mostly appreciated that she is her own thing, not just a derivative of Ant-Man.  She’s also got actual motive and, by movie’s end, I dare you not to sympathize with her a little.  This is not a crazed business tycoon or an inter-dimensional despot seeking to take over reality.  This is a real person with a very real problem.

Laurence Fishburne had a far meatier role than I anticipated, and his role actually surprised me.  I ended up really liking his character and would love to see more of him.  I can’t get too much into it for fear of spoiling the plot, but I’m anxious to see how others liked him.  He’s not just a throw-away supporting actor, trust me.

Finally, it is SO great to see Michelle Pfeiffer on the big screen again.  Her charisma just oozes onto the audience.  Again, I won’t reveal too much, but I instantly loved her character and can’t wait to see more of her as well.  I could watch Pfeiffer in every Marvel movie from here on out.

The Ant-Man world is slowly growing (no pun intended), and they are making fantastic choices with the actors they are electing to cast in this franchise.  They are all either very funny, very charismatic, or very likable–in most cases all three!

But again, Paul Rudd is the key to making these movies work.  Has there ever been a more lovable “regular dude?”  His character, Scott Lang, is brave but not too brave.  Smart but not too smart.  Tough, but not too tough.  What he is, though, is a great friend and an even better father.  I won’t lie–there were a few scenes with his daughter that made me tear-up.

These scenes weren’t heart-breakers, though, just the opposite.  The scenes with his daughter were touching, uplifting, and positive.

In fact, I think I like the Ant-Man movies so much because they are light-hearted, action-packed comedies.  I was either laughing or marveling (again, no pun intended) through the entirety of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

There’s much to marvel at, by the way.  The special effects are unreal in this movie.  First of all, they pulled their de-aging trick again, and it’s flawless.  Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne all get the treatment for flashback scenes, and I swear I felt like I’d entered a time machine.  It was astounding.  Rudd and Lilly are shrinking and growing, shrinking and growing nonstop!  Cars, houses, buildings, even PEZ dispensers are shrinking and growing, too!  The Wasp’s aerial combat is mesmerizing, and Ghost’s phasing is phenomenal.  Even the giant ants look perfect.

All in all, Ant-Man and the Wasp is just plain fun, and in an era of very heavy super hero movies, this action-comedy is really a breath of fresh air.  Imagine that?  A fun super hero movie that celebrates the bonds between friends, partners, and family.

There are two post-credits scenes, by the way.  The first one comes pretty quick after the credits start rolling.  It’s fairly important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline.  The other one is not important at all, but worth seeing if you don’t have anywhere to be.  You could skip the second one and be fine.

I wholly recommend that you see Ant-Man and the Wasp.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s latest book HERE!)

Ant-Man: A Movie Review

I’ve got to be honest, I think Ant-Man may have more heart than any other Marvel movie to date.  It touts itself as a heist movie, and it is, but this movie is mostly about fathers and daughters.  You’ve all seen the trailers by now – Scott Lang is recruited by Hank Pym to be the new Ant-Man.  Lang is a recently released master burglar, and he wants nothing more than to reconnect with his young daughter.  Hank Pym has a daughter, Hope, in her mid-thirties, who wants to don the Ant-Man suit, but Pym can’t bring himself to put her in harm’s way due to a tragedy in the past. With Hank’s secret Pym Particles about to be outed, both men must look deep within to save the world from chaos.

Ant-Man found a perfect balance of comedy and action.  I wouldn’t call it a comedy, yet I found myself chuckling, even laughing, throughout.  There is action galore, and the special effects are mesmerizing, especially when Ant-Man enters the world of miniature.  Yet, for me, the best parts of the movie arrived when Michael Douglas (Pym) finally revealed the fate of Evangeline Lilly’s (Hope) mother.  Also, every time Paul Rudd (Lang) interacted with this daughter, it just brought a smile to my face.  These well-acted, subtle, emotionally authentic moments don’t happen often in Marvel movies, and they were played perfectly.

Rudd is that kind of actor who can make any character likable, so I thought he was perfect for Scott Lang.  And Michael Douglas, man, I forgot what a great actor he is.  There’s no doubt that this would not have been the same movie without him.  He definitely brought a gravitas to Hank Pym that was very much needed.  Don’t get me wrong, he had some great one-liners as well!  Lilly also found the sweet spot of her dynamic with both Douglas and Rudd.  These three brought real emotional depth and fun to a movie that could have become all spectacle.  I won’t spoil anything, but I’m particularly excited to see where Lilly goes in the Marvel movie universe from here.

And Lang’s crew, led by Michael Pena, killed it.  Pena was an absolute riot.  He stole every scene he entered.  He’s been getting a lot of accolades for his acting in this movie, and he deserves all of it.

Truthfully, when I heard they were making Ant-Man, I cringed.  But then I heard Edgar Wright would direct, and I saw infinite possibilities.  But then Wright left, and I, like everyone else, figured Ant-Man would sink.  I’m here to tell you, director Peyton Reed took the existing script and nailed it.  This movie exceeded my expectations in every way.

Because of the fun, the father-daughter dynamics, the comedy, the special effects, the action, and the acting, I have to consider Ant-Man one of my favorite Marvel movies thus far.