So far, 2018 has been an outstanding year for Marvel Cinematic Universe film releases, opening the season up with the advent of Black Panther and soon followed by the mother of all crossovers, Avengers: Infinity War so there was an understandable amount of anticipation when going in to see the comedic buffer that was Ant-Man and the Wasp.
When the film begins, we see an ankle-tagged Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) trying to balance raising his daughter Cassie with keeping his struggling security business afloat alongside ex-con friends, following his house arrest for the events that took place in Avengers: Civil War (so if you haven't seen the other films... there's no chance of avoiding spoilers here). For two years, Scott has been obeying his house arrest and attempting to make his life work, but with freedom on the horizon and an FBI agent breathing down his neck, of course something had to change.
Once again the Ant-Suit called, and Scott finds himself thrust back into the action with his counterpart Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) in what is ultimately, a fantastic follow up to what was one of the MCU's funniest and most innovative films. Peyton Reed has a knack for humour that cannot be bested (although Thor: Ragnorak certainly comes close), with fantastically paced jokes spliced with incredible action scenes that make use of the scope of shrinking and enlarging powers quite impressively. From giant Pez dispensers to Hot Wheels vehicles in high-speed chases, the action was satisfying and flawless, leaving me to laugh out loud in the theatre at the absurdity of it all.
Perhaps even more impressive was the "de-aging" technology used for the younger scenes of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyme (Michelle Pfeiffer). Pfeiffer's character is first introduced in one of the flashback scenes and the ageing was so seamless I was left wondering what her skincare routine must be like to maintain such a youthful look, only to realise later that I had been bamboozled once again.
Similarly, the quantum phasing of this film's villain, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), shows a dramatic jump in what computer generated imagery can do now, although her character's story arc certainly left a little to be desired. John-Kamen's portrayal of Ghost was intriguing - she was hurt, broken and fuelled by a chronic pain that clearly accented every aspect of her life. I found the moments where she revealed her tenderness to be fascinating, but they were quickly dashed away by an almost one-dimensional rage that seemed to shape her entire character.
When the team weren't escaping the clutches of Ghost however, the role of villain was taken by Hope's ex tech-dealer and southern businessman, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who was desperate to seize control of their lab to sell on the black market. Scott on the other hand was busy dodging the FBI - all whilst the gang were trying to triangulate Hope's mother's location in the Quantum Realm to bring her back.
At times, the plot did feel a little bit heavy with two many balls in the air, but I found the ambiguity of the so-called villains to be interesting and a refreshing step away from the formulaic bad-guy vs good-guy trope that comic book tales can be. People can selfish - including the heroes - and their desperation to save Janet Van Dyne even when others may be at risk showed this. The reunion of family was at the centre of Ant-Man and the Wasp, between both the Van Dyne's and Scott and his daughter, although Janet's return to the regular-sized world left a bad taste in my mouth.
Her arrival was meant to be the big turning point of the film, but ultimately it felt like the momentum had burned out and some lazy writing had crept in. Marvel haven't always been one to overly-explain the powers their heroes have, but with enough artistic license and suspended reality you can forgive the seemingly unrealistic, however Janet's Quantum Realm 'Magic Fingers' ended up being too far-fetched for me. As if by plot, the end of Scott's sentence and Ghost's life, as well as the last chance to save Janet all ended up being the same day and Mother Van Dyne quantum magic could solve everything.
Despite my one major gripe, I left the theatre feeling thoroughly satisfied. Luis (Michael Peña) had another perfect one-line scene after a run in with truth-serum, Scott and Hope's relationship progressed, the day was saved and finally, a female superhero was given the platform she deserves. Ant-Man and the Wasp is the first film in MCU history where a female hero has had her name featured in the title (and Captain Marvel promises to double that number soon), and it seemed to be following suit with the theories surrounding Infinity War and the next generation of Avengers.
By the end of the film, the events lined up nicely with the ending of Infinity War in two particularly jaw-dropping post-credit scenes, opening it up perfectly for the as of yet untitled Infinity War 2, coming out April 2019. Depending on the outcome Captain Marvel and Infinity War 2, it would be interesting to explore the future of Ghost alongside Ant-Man and the Wasp in the MCU...
Ant-Man and the Wasp is in cinemas now, so make sure to catch it soon! Check out our brand new cinema section to see all showtimes near you!