Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

*. I was scratching my head as Ant-Man and the Wasp got started. What was with this voiceover, rehashing the story of what happened to Hank Pym’s wife, which was itself a flashback episode in the first film? This is a clunky opening, especially for a Marvel movie, which are usually so deft in such matters. All of the MCU movies are tied together in various way, but they rarely bother entering into time-consuming explanations about what happened in previous movies in order to bring us up to speed. They take a certain amount of familiarity with the rest of the franchise for granted.
*. It’s even stranger given that Michael Douglas had made director Peyton Reed promise him that he (Douglas, playing Pym) wouldn’t be “just a walking exposition machine” in this film. And yet this is how we begin.
*. As things turn out, the background we get is at least somewhat necessary as it provides Ant-Man and the Wasp with its plot, which has to do with rescuing Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from all the pretty lights of the quantum realm. Plus, after a few years it’s not impossible (and perhaps even likely) that the audience would have forgotten the relevant material. But I still think it opens the movie on the wrong foot.
*. Pretty much everything I said about Ant-Man goes for this film as well. There’s a likeable cast being likeable. It’s a superhero comedy but it’s not really jokier or funnier than most of the other Marvel movies. It’s just easy going. Sort of a family-oriented Deadpool.
*. But all the reservations I had with Ant-Man are here too. It’s a poor story that makes little sense and the villains aren’t very good. The Ghost (who has her own dull back story dialed up) isn’t a bad guy but just someone trying to cure herself of quantum phasing by . . . well, I really can’t tell you. That part wasn’t explained very well. But it has something to do with the quantum realm and it will have a negative impact on Janet. As things turn out, Janet will lay her hands on Ava at the end and then Scott will be sent back to the quantum realm to collect “healing particles.” If that makes it any clearer. Ha-ha.
*. We also have Walton Goggins playing a heel named Sonny Burch who wants to get his hands on Pym’s lab because it’s apparently worth a lot of money even though he has no idea what it does or how it works. In other words, he’s just an obstacle thrown up by the plot, the same as the better intentioned but just as bumbling FBI.
*. The whole thing made me think of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 with its interest in parents and children and the climax set in an alternate reality that is all colours and lights. And I didn’t like Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. I guess I liked this movie a bit better but it struck me as even more forgettable than Ant-Man.
*. Paul Rudd, I have to say, doesn’t seem as into it this time out, but Evangeline Lilly and Michael Peña stand out. The casting of the Marvel movies may be their strongest suit. And I say casting because little in the way of acting is demanded. Has Marvel ever had a real misfire when it came to casting? I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Yet the actors all seem so replaceable.
*. The production drips millions and millions of dollars from every frame. The action scenes bounce us around a lot. It’s entertaining nonsense, but there are some dull moments and, as with all the Marvel movies, I can only take so much of it. I usually watch one of these flicks every few months and that’s all I can take. Any more and I think I’d be sick with hyperglycemia. There are no healing particles for that in Marvel’s candy land.

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