Ant-Man and the Wasp

Release: Friday, July 6, 2018

→Theater

Written by: Chris McKenna; Erik Sommers; Paul Rudd; Andrew Barrer; Gabriel Ferrari

Directed by: Peyton Reed

You’ve read it everywhere: Ant-Man and the Wasp is a refreshingly lightweight summer adventure that offers up more laughs than big character moments. It’s more of a superhero side dish than an entrée. But that’s okay for viewers like me, whose stomachs are starting to get pretty full with all the superhero shenanigans.

Is it me, or does “quantum entanglement” sound more like the way scientists fall in love rather than an actual problem they must solve? (“Hey everyone, I’d like you to meet my Scientist Girlfriend — we just recently got quantumly entangled.”) Alas, this isn’t a joke. Getting stuck in the quantum realm is quite serious, I assure you. Granted, not as serious as what we all went through a few weeks ago when Thanos snapped his decorated little fingers and turned half the audience into a sobbing mess. Mercifully, this is a new, pre-war chapter that gets away from all of that and returns us to a time when the superhero stakes weren’t so tiresomely dramatic.

The follow-up film to the Phase 2 finale finds Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) growing restless under house arrest. On the one hand, this has provided him an opportunity to spend some quality time with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). On the other, his careless actions at the airport two years ago (you know, when Steve Rogers blamed Tony for losing his luggage) have created a rift between him and his mentor, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and love interest Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). They’ve gone on the run in an attempt to keep their miraculous shrinking technology a secret.

Scott has only a few days left to finish out his sentence, but that’s a large enough window for him to find trouble. But the interesting thing is, he doesn’t go looking for it; it finds him. He spends his time trying not to go insane in isolation, kept on a short leash by his parole officer (Randall Park, enjoying himself immensely). When Scott experiences a vision of Hank’s wife/Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) still stuck in the quantum realm, his former allies seek him out in an attempt to retrieve her from the abyss to which they believed she had been forever lost.

It’s a ridiculous leap of faith following a simple voicemail but hey, there are worse plot mechanizations out there. Solving the problem of returning safely from the microscopic world isn’t the only challenge ahead of them, however. Because Scott in effect went public with his little stunt in Captain America: Civil War, a number of competing third parties are coming out of the woodwork in an attempt to benefit in some way from Pym’s genius.

There’s the black market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who sees the potential profit that can be made from getting into the quantum business. He gets into a little bit of a struggle with Hope over a parts deal that sours just as Ava Starr/”Ghost” (Hannah John-Kamen) appears out of nowhere. Ava is a young woman who seeks a cure for her gradually weakening physical state as a result of — and let’s not get too personal here — her unstable molecules. On top of that, we are introduced to a former colleague of Hank, a Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), whose life work blahdee-bloodee-blahblah. He has a few reasons to make things more difficult for Ant-Man and the gang.

If anything, Ant-Man and the Wasp is about a family coming back together. That’s kind of the perfect scope for a film following one of the most financially successful (and costly) cinematic events in history. Like the incredible shrinking Pym lab, the drama is very self-contained; there is almost nothing linking this film to the Avengers narrative at-large, with the exception of the constant berating the ex-con receives from Hank and Hope. This sense of family extends to Scott’s friends over at X-Con Security, a consulting firm he and his ex-con friends — Luis (Michael Peña), Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (T.I. Harris) — started up in an attempt to go legitimate. Though these personalities don’t get much time to do their thing, you still feel the support system they provide for their perpetually-in-trouble pal Scott.

Of course, Ant-Man and the Wasp can’t really achieve any of these things without Rudd anchoring the movie. Never mind the fact he offers up a pretty wonderful example of fatherhood, he is just so effortlessly likable in the suit that he has quickly become a favorite of mine, in spite of how minor that role really is in the grand scheme. For my money, he’s right up there with Robert Downey Jr. and Ryan Reynolds in terms of infectious personalities. You have to squint to see him but he’s there, standing on the shoulders of giants while slowly but surely becoming one himself.

“Honey, I shrunk everything I cared about.”

Recommendation: Ant-Man and the Wasp is the beneficiary of Paul Rudd and a really likable all-around cast of characters. In a time when browsing through the back catalogue of the ever-expanding MCU feels a lot like shopping for flavors of Gatorade, it’s nice to have a superhero film that is not quite as preoccupied with furthering, deepening, expanding, extrapolating, implicating, duplicating, redacting, whatever-ing that all of the other chapters seem to be about. The more I think about the simplicity of this film the more I like it. 

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 118 mins.

Quoted: “Well, the ’60s were fun, but now I’m paying for it!”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com

OCMC: Alan Parrish in Jumanji

jumanji-1“AAAAHHHH!! AHHH!!! . . . . . . AH!”

Noises. Robin Williams came equipped with many of them, and in this outrageously fun film from the mid-90s, he’s provided an opportunity to tap into that part of him that was more. . . . shall we say, animalistic? As a child who got trapped inside the dangerous board game Jumanji, Alan Parrish has spent most of his “life” fighting for. . . well, a way out. An escape back to the real world.

And who can really blame him when he pops out of the middle of the game covered in vine and bramble, looking like George of the Jungle? I mean, my main man here is all hopped-up on some bath salts or something, dressed in foliage. Foliage dude. That style is SOOO 1960s. . .or whenever it was when he was rather unceremoniously consumed by a board game. When things were simple and dad made ends meet by pumping out shoes on a production line. Now (flash-forward roughly 20 years) it’s all complicated. Now kids are stumbling upon random board games in the loft of a mansion, getting into all kinds of trouble. . .like inviting random stampedes into the home or unleashing them upon the town. Bugs the size of Chihuahuas are the products of curious children snooping around where they perhaps shouldn’t.

But if there is one constant we always associate with the man when he’s up on the silver screen, it’s the adventure factor. Here is a film where that idea is exploited for the purpose of plot progression. In other words, comparatively Robin Williams is not the craziest thing about Jumanji; about a movie featuring kids battling flash floods and quick sand in their living rooms, and outlasting killer bees the size of, yes, small dogs. The environment is. Robin’s beard might be the craziest thing about his character. Well, that and the noises. Yes indeed, this is one of those performances that may not ultimately stand out from the crowd when comparing to his other creations but this is one that seamlessly blends in with the style and tone, this is Robin Williams basking in entertainment that, for once, has not been created wholly on his own.

When a new family moves into the Parrish’s gorgeous home twenty-six years after a strange occurrence involving the board game in the living room, history looks to repeat itself when two children — Judy (Kirsten Dunst) and Peter (Bradley Pierce) — discover the relic and begin playing, unaware that their first experience is merely a repetition of a vicious cycle that will bring to life some very real (and surreal) things. They dared roll the dice, now they must be prepared to face the consequences. . . .or at the very least, to face a very hairy Robin Williams.

*

Quoted: “What happened to you, the Clampetts have a yard sale? What do you want, I never shaved before.”


All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com