Sunday, July 22, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018): based on characters created by Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and others; written by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari; directed by Peyton Reed; starring Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Evangeline Lilly (Hope Pym/The Wasp), Michael Pena (Luis), Michael Douglas (Original Ant-Man/Hank Pym), Laurence Fishburne (Bill Foster/Goliath), Michelle Pfeiffer (Original Wasp/Janet Van Dyne), and Hannah John-Kamen (Ava/Ghost):

Genial sequel to Ant-Man gives Evangeline Lilly's Wasp the first titular mention of a female superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Actually, it's a two-fer. Michelle Pfeiffer, playing Lilly's mother, was the first Wasp just as Michael Douglas was the first Ant-Man. And hey, the hero called Black Goliath in the 1970's comics, played here by Laurence Fishburne, also appears without the superhero name that had that adjective because that's how we did it with non-white superheroes in the 1960's and 1970's!

At about 105 minutes, this breezy caper-comedy of cosmic dimensions would be about perfect. It's 15 minutes too much, pretty much all of it devoted to a plot thread starring Walton Goggins as an annoying super-tech black-marketeer. I guess if it were the seventies, he'd be Black Marketeer, but only if he were played by Jim Brown.

The stakes are personal in this movie, a nice change from the universal stakes of the last Marvel Joint, Avengers: Infinity War. Michael Douglas wants to save Michelle Pfeiffer from The Quantum Realm. Paul Rudd just wants to make it through his house arrest for being a superhero in contravention of the Sokovia Accords so that he can have fun with his daughter and stuff somewhere other than his house. The deftly, hilariously used Michael Pena just wants to get the new security firm he and Rudd are running into the black. Ant-Man's daughter wants him to embrace his superherodom. Superheroness? Whatever.

So there's lots of shrinking and growing action. Ant-Man spends about as much time being Giant-Man as he does Ant-Man. Oddly, the Wasp never grows. If she does, does her superhero moniker change to the Hornet?

Walton Goggins, though, and his crew. Phew. Killjoys' Hannah John-Kamen plays Ghost, a villain who really isn't a villain because she's trying to cure herself of a bad case of reality cancer. The real villain is... who again? A rogue agent of some kind, in it for the money. There's some cosmic trippiness in the Quantum Realm. Michelle Pfeiffer looks great. Certain things seem to be set up for Avengers: Infinity War, as I assume Ant-Man will get to participate in that superhero slugfest. Here, Peyton Reed keeps things light and semi-jokey. There are zingers that are actually funny. And Pena gets an extended monologue in the same style as the first Ant-Man, and it's hilarious.

So too his (true!) observation that "Latinos love The Mozz!" The Mozz is Morrissey, formerly of The Smiths, btw, and Latinos and Latinas really do love him, though not for The Mozz's increasingly xenophobic politics. 

The ants continue to squeak and vocalize, which is impressive for creatures without lungs who communicate through smell. Nitpicking the science in this movie is pointless, unless you want to note that shrinking into the Quantum Realm while keeping one's mass would eventually cause a hero to turn into a miniature black hole. Where the Hell does the mass come and go from with these crazy Pym Particles? And can you make a Pimm's Cocktail with Pym Particles? I'm asking for a friend. Recommended.

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