Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp

It turns out size does matter.

When compared to Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp seems like a step back to for us to catch our breath. It is not as good as the previously mentioned films, but it is still another hit for the titan Marvel team (and an improvement from the first film back in 2015).

It is such an improvement that I am willing to sit through the original again to make sure I did not miss anything (I was not a fan). It is required to see before hand, as Ant-Man and the Wasp is one of those sequels where you will be too confused going into without prior knowledge. We pick up a few years after Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd, who is ideally cast) had helped in Civil War. He is on house arrest, but is still able to spend some time with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Lang is only a few days away from getting rid of the ankle bracelet before he is kidnapped by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), now known as the Wasp. Once it is discovered that Scott had a dream linked to Hank’s long-lost wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), there is the possibility of bringing her back.

Other characters return such as Scott’s ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her new hubby Paxton (Bobby Cannavale), who no longer hate Scott. There is also the return of Scott’s friend Luis (Michael Pena), who gets more into the action scenes than before.

The new characters include Hank’s old work associate/rival Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) with his own hidden agendas, and the mysterious Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), also known as Ghost. While she is not the most memorable villain, she does become more than a match for the two title heroes. There is also Walton Goggins as Sonny, a mob man after Pym’s lab (Ghost is as well, but for other reasons).

I forgot to mention about the lab. By now, we know Hank has made the technology to change the size of any object, and his lab is no exception. How convenient it is to just carry literally not only your work, but the location as well wherever you want! He also has a collection of cars he can pick from to drive at his leisure (now that I think of it, he should have had a tank, but oh well).

The movie clearly has a lot of laugh out loud moments (most of which go to Rudd, but everyone has their fair share). Some of the moments, however, are the negative reactions I felt. The main includes Michael Pena (who is undoubtably talented). While he has many scenes with laughs, it is his one that involves “truth serum” that stretches beyond the breaking point.

Director Peyton Reed clearly knows how to meld the action with the comedy (such as the scene where Ant-Man and Wasp need to get a memento from Cassie while she is in school). We hardly think of things like special effects when they happen, because they are so good we are left only to care for the characters, which is what we should do in the first place.

Parents, as stated before, this is a much lighter movie than other Marvel films. There is swearing, action, and some kissing (one scene of extreme making out), but that is it. Middle school and above are totally fine, and even maybe down to age seven or eight.

I end by saying how Marvel movies never get enough credit for their casting choices. Very few (if any) of the casting choices have been wrong for Marvel in the past ten years (who would have thought replacing an actor like Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo would be the better move?!) In this film, we get the sense of how much fun it was for the elder Pym’s to have been the original Ant-Man and Wasp (obviously, due to thespians like Douglas and Pfieffer). Add in Rudd, Lilly, and the others I won’t mention in the other films, and you see only a glimpse of why this universe has been so dominate, and will continue to do so.

 

Overall: Three and a Half Stars ***1/2

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Captain America Civil War

The Captain leads Falcon, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Scarlett Witch, and the Winter Soldier.

After the disappointing two plus hours of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Marvel comes out swinging with Captain America: Civil War. Well, more than swinging. Let’s just say swinging, flying, pulse ray blasting,…you get the idea.

This is easily the best superhero flick since Guardians of the Galaxy. Like that film, Captain America: Civil War was a film I was not expecting much from (the first two films were good, but not great). Star Anthony Mackie, who plays Sam Wilson/Falcon, descibed it best when he said it is like “The Avengers 2.5”.

Sure, the movie runs at 2 hours and 26 minutes (the longest Marvel film to date), but even that was not a big hinderence for me. The film starts off with Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and a few of the Avengers accidently causing damage again to innocent lives while pursuing the evildoers. Enter the Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt), who tells the Avengers they must now be under control by the U.N. or to “retire”. This leads to certain Avengers going one way and some the other way. It basically becomes team Captain versus Team Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr., who proves again here he may be the best cast actor for any superhero in movie history).

Eventually, the Captain realizes he may still be able to save his old friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who is also the winter soldier. He is being controlled by Zemo (Daniel Bruhl). While that storyline is nicely done (and surprisingly easy to follow), the best part of the film is the conflict between the good guys, and there are a lot of them. Missing from the action this time is the Hulk and Thor, but we still have characters such as Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Vision (Paul Bettany) Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Ant-Man (the always lovable Paul Rudd), and new comer Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).

Everyone will have their favorite to root for, and mine was such a clear favorite I feel he deserves his own paragraph. For the third time, we have another actor playing Spider-Man, but this time, it is a very young one. Tom Holland (who I became a fan of the moment I saw him in 2012’s The Impossible), in an all star cast including a good amount of past Oscar nominees, is the scene stealer. The new Spider-Man film can’t come soon enough.

Parents, the movie is long, and a little violent (though not as violent/dark as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was). Still, if your kids have seen at least one other Marvel flick, they should be fine with this one.

I am aware some people may be making references to the politics of today. I personally did not really care to do so (that is a whole matter by itself). I said the loser of the fight of Batman against Superman was the audience. In Captain America: Civil War, the audience is the clear winner. This is one of the best films of the year.

Overall: Four Stars ****

Ant-Man (2015)

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

Paul Rudd discovers his future in “Ant-Man”

Back in 5th grade, I was told to do a poem based off of an animal that I was like. My pre-teen, short stature self decided on an ant, who was small, but a hard worker. I thought of this poem while entering “Ant-Man”, hoping for a sleeper of a film to be entertaining and possibly more. Sadly, it was not the case.

Paul Rudd, one of Hollywood’s most charming actors, stars as Scott Lang, a recently released cat-burglar trying to make ends meat and pay child support so he can see his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). His ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) is now dating a cop (Bobby Cannavale), who (surprise!) does not like Scott.

Eventually, Scott steals the Ant-Man suit, only to realize it was planned for him to do so by its creator Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, who can never make a role boring to watch). He is wanting Scott to help steal a piece of armor from Hank’s former partner Darren Cross (Corey Stoll). While I am sure he is a talented actor, Stoll gives us one of the most forgettable villains in recent super hero films, and when a super hero film has a sub par villain, you are in trouble.

Other characters include Hank’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly, recently returned from Middle-Earth), who is, of course, opposed to Scott but eventually likes him, and Luis (Michael Pena), a kind hearted friend but, to me, annoying at the end of it all.

Of course, we expect the action (or is it ANTtion?) scenes to be stellar, and they do for the most part. Fighting scenes vary from the inside of a suitcase to a toy train set. We also get a quick cameo from an Avenger, which was nice in its own way.

Paul Rudd does fine as the title character (mainly because there are enough times for him to be Paul Rudd), and Douglas succeeds because, well, he is Michael Douglas for crying out loud! The problem with the film, mainly, is the script. For example, the time to train Scott in the Ant-Man suit is limited (according to Hope) to days, yet the montage (and there has to be one of those, of course) seems to suggest they train for weeks.

Parents, there is some swearing, and action, but nothing else. If your kids have seen any of the other Marvel movies, they would be fine seeing this. I would argue, however, that it is not one of Marvel’s best efforts.

Overall: Two and a Half Stars **1/2