I am probably very late to review this film if you’re reading this from the USA, where the movie has been out for months. However, in the UK we only recently got this film, and so because it is the only new movie I have seen in the last month, I’m reviewing it. Not that I have nothing to say about it, after all, I’m a fan of the superhero genre, although I am starting to finally feel that apathy that has been arising from a lot of movie-goers. It can be hard to be excited about the genre these days, as we are so spoiled for choice and that can lead to the market being dominated by big superhero blockbusters. Some films, like Infinity War, rise above it and manage to be fresh new takes that breathe new life into the genre. Antman and the Wasp is not one of them.
Let me begin by saying that I did not hate this film. It is for the most part competently directed and I was never terribly bored watching it. It keeps up a good pace, better than the first Antman, which dragged at times. The characters and story are more memorable than the previous film too, which helped me forget a little of the wasted opportunity of Edgar Wright’s Antman. The cast mostly deliver strong performances, and the size shifting powers feel even better integrated into the action than in Civil War.
The visuals have been upgraded from the last movie, meaning that a lot more of the film uses contrasting size shots, which is something only the train fight scene from Antman managed to pull off. At the end of the day, it’s a film that knows what it is; a palette cleanser from the dour ending of Infinity War. A light-hearted romp with likeable actors and smaller stakes. Those are the film’s strengths. But in a bizarre way they are also its weaknesses.
The film never excels. There were no moments that stood out to me as incredible or exceptional. I realise it’s not a requirement that every film has outstanding moments and there is nothing wrong with popcorn movies. However, the shadow of Edgar Wright looms large even over the sequel. Peyton Reed clearly knows what he is doing. He understands these characters and knows how to direct them. But it feels as though this is just a job to him. I never feel any passion behind the movie.
I actually liked the film a lot more after having just seen it. Now, a week later, it has faded quickly from my memory and I find myself a lot less keen on it. It leaves no impression. The actors do well, and there are several scenes which did make me laugh, such as when Paul Rudd portrays Michelle Pfeiffer reuniting with her husband and daughter using his body. It was very well acted and emotional yet humorous at the same time, which is tricky to pull off. There just weren’t enough scenes like this.
The movie felt in retrospect like it was on autopilot. Set up the hero’s situation, reintroduce the characters from the previous film, set up the villain, conflict, resolution etc, rinse repeat. There was not really any spark for me. Don’t misunderstand me; I enjoyed it. It wasn’t a complete waste of time but at the end of the day it hasn’t resonated with me and it’s hard to defend a movie like this to someone with superhero fatigue. Almost everything in it is something we’ve seen already in other Marvel movies. It improves on the previous film in almost every way, but the previous film was painfully average. As a result, the sequel is elevated to simply decent.
But maybe that’s enough. Although I didn’t get much out of it, it hasn’t failed at what it set out to achieve. I may talk on about how the story is very predictable and the film hasn’t much to offer that’s new, but that isn’t really this film’s goal. Not every Marvel movie has to be deeply emotional or breath-taking. Sometimes they can be simple pleasures. I may not have enjoyed this film that much, but I did enjoy it. I watched it and laughed and had fun. The film seems constructed for this reaction. It’s a pleasant film that doesn’t rock the boat, and although there is an abundance of movies like it, I can’t bring myself to be too critical. At the end of the day, with the current fraught political climate, and the dark ending of Infinity War, there is nothing wrong with people wanting a simple entertaining film to provide some escapism. Although if that is why you watch this, I suggest leaving before the post credits scene.