Ant Man and The Wasp

Ant Man and The WaspAnt Man and The Wasp is very much like its predecessor–a lightweight, likeable Marvel Universe flick that is still essentially a throw-away. It has the same cast as the first movie, the same tricks, and a little bit of story arc for an audience to invest in. Ant Man and The Wasp does introduce some potentially interesting new characters, but it is ultimately an exercise in getting from the first Ant Man to whichever Marvel blockbuster Scott Lang is meant to show up in next.

Some Minor Spoilers Ahead

The usual suspects are all back.  Paul Rudd is still charming as Ant Man, but he isn’t allowed to be as warm and funny as he was in the first movie. More emphasis is placed on his dad skills this time around. Evangeline Lilly continues to be intense and hyper-competent as Hope, while Michael Douglas continues to be snarky and arrogant as Hank Pym.

Michelle Pfeiffer joins the cast as Janet van Dyne, in a role so predictable I wonder why she did it. We also get Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster, an old frenemy of Hank Pym from their SHIELD days, and Hannah John-Kamen as Ghost/Ava. I truly hope she gets her own movie someday. The perfunctory overview of her origins and her relationship with Foster raised a whole lot of questions I would like to see answered.

Despite the star power of the main characters, the secondaries are the real interesting ones. Michael Peña’s Luis owns every scene he is in. Randall Park is great as the awkward FBI agent Jimmy Woo, while Walton Goggins is cheerfully sleazy as black marketeer Sonny Burch. Unfortunately, T.I., David Dastmalchian, and Bobby Cannavale were given far less to do than in the first Antman–and the film suffers for it.

Stay On Target!

Overall, it’s a strange mix of too little and too much.

The plot comes across to me as flat and perfunctory, with the characters moving through the script without truly believing any of it. The action is solidly done but meaningless, since only some of the characters rise enough above caricature to make it worth caring about their outcomes. Which is a shame, because the cast is certainly capable.

Piling on that weak foundation are too many problems for any one of them to really matter. We are presented with a dangerous new antagonist in Ghost, a quest to bring the original Wasp out of the quantum realm where she has been trapped for the last thirty years, a persistent probation officer, and a wanna-be crime lord looking to steal Hank Pym’s discoveries. In between all that, our hero is doing his best to be a good dad to his daughter, despite being an ex-con superhero currently riding out house arrest.

The incredible shrinking quantum lab is pretty neat, as is giant Ant Man wading into the harbor to retrieve it. Scott Lang’s suit issues are an effective running gag, and the giant ant hanging out in Scott’s apartment is good silly fun. But the fun stuff isn’t enough to lift Ant Man and The Wasp above its issues.

What Bugs Me

I wanted to like Ant Man and The Wasp. I like the actors, I like the characters, I like the gimmicks. But the whole film ended up being less than the sum of its parts. Once again, Marvel puts Ant Man into a cotton-candy movie that is fun while it lasts but no longer–and, this time, less entertaining than it should have been.

Deadpool is finally here!
Deadpool is finally here!

Short version: Deadpool was &$#!!@ amazing. From the initial strains of “Angel of the Morning” by Juice Newton to the final notes of “Careless Whispers” by Wham!, Deadpool met, exceeded, and blew away any expectations I had. Hyperbole, perhaps, but when the opening credits list a Douchebag, a Hot Chick, a British bad-guy, and a CGI Character as producer and various cast, you know you are going somewhere where you had better hold on.

In brief, this is the story of how dishonorably-discharged Special Forces operative and sleazy mercenary Wade Wilson accidently becomes the super-powered, super-healing Deadpool because of an ill-advised and illicit attempt to cure his cancer. He comes out with his sense of humor not only intact, but turbocharged. It pairs nicely with his desire for vengeance on the man who messed him up. Hilarity and mad action ensue.

Decapitations, slow motion chaos, exploding heads, car crashes, collapsing dry docked battleships, Hello Kitty and ill-used unicorns abound. There is no down time. I will need to see Deadpool at least twice more to fully absorb the overwhelming tide of snarky references and asides splashed around with depraved indifference for any softer sensibilities. The fourth-wall wasn’t just broken. It was functionally removed, since Deadpool narrated his story directly to the audience. That conceit, beautifully written, provided an immediate connection to the character that the vast majority of comic book movies lack.

While Deadpool was vigorously unpredictable, one part of the story was unexpected. Tucked in the middle of the carnage and joyfully unhinged vulgarity was an honest emotional core. Wade’s and Vanessa’s reactions to his diagnosis of metastasized, terminal cancer and their attempts to deal with it were true, and painfully real. Of everything in this movie, those few scenes were not inflated or romanticized and were able to provide an underlying strength to the rest of the orgy of violence.

Did I mention that this movie was &$#!!@ amazing?

Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead represent the X-Men connection (because, as was often mentioned, budget constraints prevented anyone else from being there) and do their level best to talk Deadpool into becoming a hero. As X-Men related spin-offs go, Deadpool is a remarkably unlikely candidate. He is profane and irreverent in a way the X-Men (and superheroes in general) have never been. It’s almost like they are worried about not being noble and impressive enough, or something. But our Deadpool gives no f’s. He is mayhem in red spandex, to hide the bloodstains. Fortunately for everyone, he’s also willing to consider the hero thing.

The cast was, of course, perfect. Ryan Reynolds was a comedic whirlwind as Deadpool. Morena Baccarin matched him as his girlfriend, Vanessa. Ed Skrein was suitably wicked as Deadpool’s nemesis Francis, with Gina Carano as his sidekick Angel. Rounding out the main cast were Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead, Stefan Kapičić as Colossus, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al (Deadpool’s formerly-coke-headed roommate), and Karan Soni as Dopinder, the easily-influenced cabbie. And of course Stan Lee had his cameo. It wouldn’t be a Marvel movie without him.

It was incredibly refreshing to have a bad-ass character be so funny. Against the looming background of the Marvel Universe and the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, it’s good to laugh. Even in those films that display a good sense of humor, like Iron Man and The Avengers, there is an almost insufferable seriousness and self-importance. These are comic book super hero movies. They aren’t supposed to be important; they’re supposed to be fun.

And Deadpool is incredibly fun. It is shockingly inappropriate and relentlessly, effortlessly funny. There were plenty of scenes that made me laugh so hard I snorted. There were some so stunningly rude that I laughed too hard to breathe. Trimming this back to a PG-13 would have been a bad, bad mistake.

To sum it up: going in, I had very high hopes for Deadpool after an inescapable and happily well-done media blitz running up to the movie’s release. The anticipation definitely had a payoff. It was amazing– amazing and filthy and so much fun. Deadpool, FTW.

 

Yay, Deadpool!
Yay, Deadpool!

E.A. Ruppert contributes book and media reviews for NerdGoblin.com.  Thanks for checking this out. To keep up with the latest NerdGoblin developments, please like us on Facebook , follow us on Twitter, and sign up for the NerdGoblin Newsletter.

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