Written by Fajar binti Benjamin
Good day to you sirs and madams alike! I’m back again with a spoiler-free movie review for Ant-Man and The Wasp, sequel to Ant-Man (2015) and Marvel’s latest money vortex to roll off the production line.
It’s a comedy, through and through, almost trying to swerve into rom-com territory but pulling back to make space for all the mandatory action sequences. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly are cute as Ant-Man and The Wasp. They kick a lot of ass, but they’re cute as all hell while doing it. (Side note, why is the word ‘ass’ censored in cinemas but not, say, the ‘S’ or ‘B’ word?). Most of our laughs come from Luis, played by Michael Peña, as he plays the sidekick to the sidekick along with his own bunch of little sidekicks.
The plot is standard fare:
- Find Hope’s (Wasp) mom in the subatomic world.
- Try not to get killed by the villainous ‘Ghost’.
- Don’t get caught by the FBI.
- Don’t lose the lab in a crazy on road game of “monkey in the middle”.
- Solve whatever inter-character tensions along the way.
We’ve seen Doctor Strange, so the subatomic world has stopped seeming trippy and impressive; instead it has begun to feel more like a cop out. Look at the weird wavy colours! Giant maggots! Saturation! What you’re seeing is beautiful and cool! This film is aesthetic!
The physics of the movie, at least to me, seemed off. Sometimes our heroes moved like bullets while tiny, zipping through walls and punching fully grown men into the air, and then sometimes they hopped along, light as fairies. The concept was, their mass stays the same, no matter the size. 80 kilos pressed against a 2mm footprint would leave somewhat of an imprint, no?
Regardless, the chaos of it is glorious. Our eyes struggle to follow as they shrink and expand, hearts soaring along with the tiny cars as they fly through the air and land jolting into the ground. The stunts in this movie are crazy and the screenwriters make sure to have as much fun with our heroes’ powers as possible.
This film is doomed to be compared to its predecessors, especially in a year where two Marvel movies broke worldwide and US Domestic Box Office records; both hauling in a billion dollars with boatloads to spare. So no, Ant-Man isn’t as stylish as Black Panther, neither is it as devastatingly impactful as Infinity War. It is not the absurdly wonderful Ragnarok and it isn’t the cold clear lines of Civil War.
It is a small film, with small characters and small impact. You’ll laugh at it, enjoy it, and you will definitely walk out that theatre with a surprisingly strong feeling thanks to the end credit scene, but the movie itself won’t sit clear in your memories for long; what with a long line of better films preceding it.
That’s all for the non-spoiler review. Now for some spoilery criticisms because I have high expectations of Marvel; what with the millions of dollars in their pocket and the endless talent pool in their basement. They really disappointed me with this one.
In many ways, finding Janet as an old lady with different clothes, full makeup but absolutely no explanation seemed so disgustingly lazy that I felt upset by how things were playing out but we were getting no answers. This movie, is supposed to be a movie. And a movie should always answer the questions that its whole plot revolves around. In ways, I feel like they let her grow old so it wouldn’t seem creepy for her to be with Pym, and they put her in different clothes and makeup to uphold societal beauty standards, and they didn’t make her crazy because that would be too complicated on top of everything else happening.
Another gripe I share among other reviewers is how Ant-Man or Scott, has been dumbed down in this movie to let The Wasp shine. It’s MCU movie number 20! Surely they’ve figured out how to let two strong characters of opposite gender exist beside each other. In the first movie, Scott is shown to be handy and smart, breaking into houses and generally using his mind to slip through tight situations. In this movie, he bumbles along, requiring Hope or Pym to solve everything while he provides some dumb luck or sheer force. What’s that about, huh?
Last gripe, I promise.
Played by Hannah John-Kamen, Ghost is an antagonist, but not a villain. Her conflict hinges around the big choice our heroes have to make, her life, or Janet’s? They invest us in Ghost’s backstory, turning her into the second coming of Bucky and pulling us in to sympathize with her pain. They trick us into thinking that this is another “neither can live while the other survives” situation. They get so close to making a greater point about chronic pain, desperation, privilege and sacrifice but they let it all go with two Jesus fingers pressed to her head. She is a great concept, a great actress, but is unable to shine due to lazy, lazy writing. Why build up these premises only to disregard them when push comes to shove?
The saving grace of this movie are the father-daughter relationships, the dumb fun of the car chase scene and those heart eyes Scott and Hope pull at each other all the time. Dumb solutions or not, it was a good and entertaining time. Here’s to hoping it’s the last time Marvel uses lazy writing on us though.