Spoilers ahead for Ant-Man and the Wasp, but read on anyway and we’ll save you the trouble of having to see it for yourself
Ants and wasps are both things we try to avoid on picnics, and now should also avoid in theaters. Sometimes you walk out of a movie and go ‘eh, it was good, but not $13 a ticket plus $8 popcorn and $7 soda good.’ That is the feeling we had leaving Ant-Man and the Wasp.
The story is good. The writing is fine. The acting is solid. The action sequences are well-paced and fun. Notice one word we didn’t use to describe those things is: memorable. When we look back at the end of the year and discuss the 83 Marvel films released in 2018, this one may not even be discussed.
Good Not Great
AM&tW is the opposite of most the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Avengers movies have a darker tone and tackle tough themes while throwing in some humor. This film is heavier on humor and lighter on theme and tone. Which is fine, however when you’re grading on the Marvel curve, it’s just not going to score as high.
This movie is to the MCU what Spider-Man is to Tony Stark: an okay sidekick that’s kind of annoying. You’re glad it’s there but you could easily live without it.
Don’t get us wrong, this is still way better than any of the recent iterations of Batman, Superman, or any combo thereof that DC has put out.
Good Guys, Bad Guys, & In-between Guys
The story is set up with several pairings of self-interested forces, and alliances are constantly shifting. Scott vs. Woo and the feds’ Hero Squad. Hank vs. the Woo and the feds’ Hero Squad. Ghost vs. anyone who gets in the way of her life saving cure. Dr. Foster (Laurence Fishburne) vs. Hank. Sonny (Walton Goggins) vs. everyone.
All the characters tend to have pure motives, from Scott who breaks house arrest to help a friend to the Hero Squad that’s just trying to enforce order in an increasingly chaotic world. The one that stands out is Sonny. Goggins made such a convincing and sympathetic villain earlier this year in the Tomb Raider reboot. But here he is the only one doing it strictly for the money. Maybe that is the real world, and therefore makes him the most genuine character in the film. But here, in this cinematic world, he doesn’t fit in.
Of course for every adversarial relationship, there are positive relationships, even if some are forced by circumstance. Scott and Hank are estranged after the Captain America incident in Germany, but are truly united in trying to save Hank’s long-lost wife by taking a deep dive into the subatomic level.
Dr. Foster truly wants to save Ghost, but not at any cost. Scott and Hope (Evangeline Lilly) have a past and, apparently, a future.
But the best relationship is between Scott and his 10ish-something daughter Cassie, played by a sweet and talented Abby Ryder Forston. Their scenes are magic. It’s rare that we aren’t actively rooting against the token kid in a movie, but their relationship is the heart of the film.
Save the Best for (Almost) Last
There are two scenes in the credits. The first is quite possibly the best moment of the movie. It lets us know that the events of the rest of the movie are before Infinity War. It’s shocking, and makes us wonder if these characters will play a role in Avengers: End Game next year. (Remember: Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Strange said we are in the end game now!)
But the fact that this is the most buzz worthy moment says a lot. This is a fun movie with plenty for kids and diehard fans. But if you’re on a budget, feel free to rent this when it comes out on-demand, pop your own popcorn and mix your own drink. You’ll save a ton and the experience of watching this on a 55″ screen with halfway decent audio will be just as good.
And speaking of mixing your own drink..
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Vodka Water. Not a lot of sugar to attract ants. We’ve had enough of those for the week!