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Ant-Man and The Wasp: An entertaining take on Marvel's most average Joe superhero

Stanley Widianto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Fri, July 6, 2018  /  08:24 am
Ant-Man and The Wasp: An entertaining take on Marvel's most average Joe superhero

A still from 'Ant-Man and the Wasp.' (Marvel/File)

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the sequel to the 2015’s formidable Ant-Man, is the twentieth entry in the kaleidoscopic Marvel Cinematic Universe.

By now, you know the score; superheroes, pulled out of comic book pages, take a few hours of their time to fight evil overlords, alien attacks or small-time thieves. Collateral damages abound; moral infighting rages on.

Now in its 10th year, the MCU has dark clouds towering above it.

In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos, the creature from the planet Titan dared snap his fingers with a glove that contains all six of the Infinity Stones.

Suddenly, half of the population started to dissolve into dust, leaving us with incredulous superheroes with their gaping mouths.

Salvation, for now, is nowhere in sight.

Ant-Man and the Wasp functions as an elixir to the calamity simply by being fun.

There are plenty of car-chase scenes, a cartoonish act where the good guys and the bad guys go after an item or even a scene where Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) throws a salt shaker at a pack of goons and turns it gigantic for maximum impact.

Director Peyton Reed, propelled by a snappy script by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer Gabriel Ferrari and Paul Rudd, who plays the titular character Ant-Man or Scott Lang, returned and knows how to keep things fun, but never in total jest.

For every scene where a character throws a giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser, there is the story of scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) who figures out a way to pull his wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), out of the intricate Quantum Realm.

Together with his daughter, van Dynex, Pym builds a portal to extract his wife, who is stuck there after disarming a Soviet missile and he needs the help of one ex-con, doting parent, friendly ex-husband whom he once mentored as his successor in the suit.

Now under house arrest after the events in Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang, still with his abilities to shape shift from huge to tiny and a command of warrior ants, gets recruited in the mission.

In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Scott went into the Quantum Realm, the psychedelic vista separate from the world we know of. He is helped by Hope’s iteration of the superhero Wasp, similar in their shape-shifting abilities, but is able to fly.

When that portal needs a spare part and after a deal to procure it with a shady dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) violently falls through, Ant-Man and the Wasp team up. When the mission’s afoot, their dormant romance (Pym and van Dyne, due to their associations with Lang, are sought after by the FBI) finds new footing.

What results is one heck of a speed. Michael Peña’s Luis is also back, returning with his irresistible affability and rapid babbling courtesy of a truth serum.

New characters introduced in Ant-Man and the Wasp is Pym’s former S.H.I.E.L.D colleague, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), along with the antagonist Ava Foster or Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) whose complex storyline has to do with her deteriorating body due to an exposure to the realm’s particles.

Gags fly by so rapidly in Ant-Man and the Wasp and its one-liners are as ubiquitous as its lack of stakes. This lack of stakes is a necessary evil for a franchise that needs a breather after the wildly ambitious Avengers: Infinity War.

Still, aside from the funny business, Ant-Man and the Wasp could have benefitted from a more criminal or a motivation to move the larger story along.

Set before Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a filler by design which is in keeping with Ant-Man’s reluctant entry into the big gang, which includes Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and more.

The Ant-Man is the franchise’s everyman; he might as well be one of the citizens staring at the ruins left by the Avengers with superhero abilities.

We are then left with its comedy, which is also competent but largely reverent, unlike, say, Thor: Ragnarok. The World’s Greatest Grandma gag with Lang and his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), is alright, but their relationship does capture Lang’s most reliable traits.

That Ant-Man carries his own franchise automatically puts weight on his responsibility in the group but it has not happened yet.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp:

Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Hannah John-Kamen, Randall Park, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
Running time: 118 minutes

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