Don’t miss the credits — the most interesting thing about ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ happens after the movie is done
Ant-Man and the Wasp (Rated B)
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi
Dwight’s rating: Watchable
“Never as good as the first time!”
This saying (and title of a popular Sade song) is not true for every experience in life, but first impressions can indeed be lasting ones.
It certainly could apply to the new film “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. Despite the off-kilter tone of the original “Ant-Man” of 2015, this sequel isn’t exactly any better. Yet, it’s debatable whether it’s worse. But compared to the first two gigantic blockbusters we’ve seen from Marvel already for this year — “Avengers: Infinity War” and the game-changing “Black Panther” — this insect flick is definitely not even in the same league.
After walking away with mixed feelings about the original, I said in my review that while “Ant-Man” was enjoyable and entertaining, it didn’t seem to know if it wanted to be a full comedy; its villain was taking things just a bit too seriously and seemed very much at odds with the “chill vibe” of the production’s titular hero — played by the excellent Paul Rudd — and his band of merry men (Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and T.I.).
Thankfully, for the first time since it hit theaters, I got to see “Ant-Man” again over the weekend, providing a quick refresher before the sequel. It’s actually better than I remembered. Also, thankfully, I got to see what was at the time probably the least memorable scene (I truly don’t recall it at all). That exact scene — explaining how Michael Douglas’ character Hank Pym lost his wife — is the basis of this entire new movie, and it’s replayed in its entirety at the start.
Scott Lang (Rudd) is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym, Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.
Once again, Douglas and Lilly as the Wasp are great, and Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne are fine additions. As before, no faults can be found in the cast.
The real story is Rudd, of course. But there are two stories here. He is as dynamic and charismatic as ever — a nearly perfect antihero.
Yet, as seems to almost always be the case with Marvel movie sequels, lead characters appear to be fighting for screen time, and competing with the many new ones.
“Deadpool 2” shows how to treat a gem of a star and character.
Nearly all the best lines and scenes belonged to the title superhero and star, Ryan Reynolds. Rudd, who has it in him to run away with a picture, and almost did it with the original “Ant-Man”, gets lost in the shuffle here, never really allowed to shine as much as he did previously. This takes away one of the few things that made this largely utilitarian franchise unique.
However, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” does address the tone issues of the first film. It’s still amusing but not nearly as silly, and it’s much more of a traditional comic-book superhero action movie. You can judge for yourself if that’s a better compromise. But it is less of a picture in conflict. Unquestionably, it looks and sounds good, and it can be fun, but it is a lightweight in terms of its significance.
And that’s probably the biggest problem with “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. It really isn’t anything. In fact, the most interesting thing happens after the movie is done.
Folks, after 10 full years of seemingly countless films under the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner, one would have thought everybody knew this by now: DON’T WALK OUT OF THE THEATER WHEN THE CREDITS START ROLLING! There’s always something more, and you’ll want to stay until they’re finished.
Without that scene, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is not better nor worse. Unfortunately, it is mostly the thing very few want to ever be — forgettable!
- Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.