Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) Review

Shrinking from a blockbuster as big as Avengers: Infinity War to a smaller-scale production such as this tiny (no pun intended) Ant-Man and the Wasp might look like a step backwards. But this is not the first time MCU has done such a thing. Remember the first movie back in 2015? In case you have forgotten about it, that movie was released a few months later after the big-scale Avengers: Age of Ultron in April.

In this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man, Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) teams up with his mentor, Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) in a mission to locate Pym’s long-presumed-dead wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer). Elsewhere, Ant-Man and the Wasp has to deal with a mysterious villain simply known as the Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who particularly holds a personal grudge against Dr Hank Pym.

Peyton Reed, who last directed the first movie, infuses the same lightweight action-comedy formula in this sequel. But without the creative input of Edgar Wright this time around, the sequel turns out to be a mixed bag. Even the comedy feels largely stale, repetitive or just plain lazy. It’s like as if the five screenwriters — Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari — simply came up with a few random funny ideas, thrown everything in a blender and see if they mix well together. I guess the only humour worth mentioning here is Michael Pena’s fast-talking scene involving a truth serum.

The story also poses another problem, particularly when it involves the enigmatic Ghost. The thing is, the motivation surrounding the Ghost character is sadly underdeveloped. This instantly reminds me the same case happened to Corey Stoll’s antagonist role where he played Darren Cross/Yellowjacket in the first movie. Despite the Ghost’s traumatic backstory, I found it hard to feel sympathy, let alone rooting for her character. Then, there’s the introduction of Walton Goggins’ secondary antagonist role, who is equally wasted here as the black marketeer Sonny Burch.

Paul Rudd, who reprised his role as Scott Lang/Ant-Man is likeable as usual. But his wonderful chemistry with Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne, as previously seen in the first movie has somewhat lost the spark. If only Reed and his screenwriters would spend more time on both of them as a team, we might be getting a more positive result. Individually speaking, Lilly does display a magnetic charm as Hope. However, her eagerly-awaited introduction as the Wasp after previously hinted at the after-credits scene of Ant-Man feels underwhelming.

As for the supporting characters, Michael Douglas is adequate enough as Dr Hank Pym while it’s nice to see him pairing with Michelle Pfeiffer for the first time ever. Speaking of Pfeiffer, she made the best use of her limited screentime as Pym’s wife, Janet. And ironically, I found her minor character brings more lasting impression than the rest of the cast here.

Although Ant-Man and the Wasp suffered from heavy flaws, it still has its moments. Reed continues to display a fun yet kooky visual flair in some of the cool action sequences, notably the Wasp’s brief kitchen fight scene and the elaborate San Francisco-set car chase during the climactic finale, complete with a nifty size-changing special effect where the van able to shrink to a Hot Wheels-like vehicle and back again.

Likewise, remember to stay back as Ant-Man and the Wasp features not one but two post-credit teasers.

Now, I have something to say about experiencing this sequel on the Samsung’s Onyx Cinema LED Screen for the first time in GSC Mid Valley following their original launch back in June. The colour is razor-sharp and rich in details, even though using such LED screen would have suited better for an animated feature or a corporate visual presentation. The much-publicised JBL surround sound system isn’t as immersive as I thought (fortunately, Dolby still rules) but the plush cinema seat is particularly spacious and comfortable.

Despite some of the lightweight charm and cool action sequences, Ant-Man and the Wasp is pretty much a minor effort that doesn’t live up to the original.