Only one of Marvel Studios sequel has been regarded as superior to the original, that being, Captain America: The Winter Soldier – however, what we have here is another film to be added to that list, as thankfully, Ant-Man and the Wasp brings to the table flat-out improvements upon almost every metric. But are these improvements truly something to write home about?
Ant-Man and the Wasp continues the story of Ant-Man (2015) by director Peyton Reed — following after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2014) as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) faces new threats as he goes on the hunt with his associates Hank Pym and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) to tackle a new mission.
The first character outings for lead actor Paul Rudd and actress Evangeline Lilly in the 2015 film Ant-Man had its pros and cons. In this sequel Rudd puts on a sparky performance that solidified his presence as a comedic lead character; he’s fun, charismatic, and has a kind face. Enter, Wasp – played by Evangeline Lilly, her role in the first film felt moody, bland, and tasted strongly of supporting character — where do these characters stand together in Ant-Man and the Wasp? Well… firmly. Evangeline Lilly feels more comfortable in her own skin, finally feeling like a lead character who’s confident in her position, though she lacks that unique wacko charisma that Rudd exhibits. Rudd widens his comedic reach to some new avenues and this in-turn makes the film that much more entertaining, something that these films already excelled at. Another strength lay in the supporting characters that enter and exit the story; Michael Pena and his gang consistently provide laughs, and the addition of Scott Lang’s daughter as similarly major role as she provided in the previous film stands as one of the MCU’s best parent-child relationships.
Though what this film had in entertainment value it struggled with in character direction – as the lack of focus on Ant-Man and the Wasp alone was marred by additional characters getting too involved. It felt as if the time they shared on-screen was not effectively spent on building them as characters, rather jousting them together as a team for sake of being a team – which is fine, it just doesn’t take us anywhere new. Michael Douglas reprises his role as Hank Pym and while his performance is admirable, having him play such a critical role in this story felt again like wasted time that would have been better utilized had the Wasp taken a more critical role in the film. The villain known as Ghost is played by actress Hannah John-Kamen, to our surprise she brings forth a more complex villain than I was expecting; the conflict, instability, and unpredictability her character emotionally provides made the character feel a tad more refreshing as far as villains go in the MCU.
In terms of visuals, right off the bat I felt no real signature visual style that director Peyton Reed had for this film; the colours felt washed-out and you rarely get a sense of flavour from the camerawork throughout the narrative. In terms of editing this is a film that has a shaky story but is stitched together in the most entertaining way it could have been. Where camerawork is concerned we sometimes receive outlandishly fuzzy action sequences, but are graced by some creativity in bits and pieces throughout. In the end, there are components of this film done quite well, and others that lack logic, depth, and creativity.
While it certainly stings from a visual perspective in its colour-grading Ant-Man and the Wasp is not small on entertainment value as far as sequels go. It’s a fun time at the movies, as the Marvel formula continues to prove; though there is little that can be taken out emotionally from this film despite improving upon its predecessor. Big on entertainment but small on its story’s scale, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a sequel that keeps you hooked, but strays away from spreading its wings to its full breadth.