If there was one movie I was hotly anticipating this summer, it was Ant-Man and the Wasp. When I saw the original movie, Ant-Man, I loved it for so many reasons. One being Paul Rudd, another being Evangeline Lilly. But it was also fun and funny and different. Kind of like Marvel Lite.
Admittedly, I was a little worried with the previews I’d been seeing for a few months. I thought they had possibly taken Ant-Man and gone to the dark side. I was worried that I wouldn’t get the “Gosh, gee, I just want to be a good dad” Scott Lang that I had in the first movie. None of that was true but I still have to say this sequel was a bit of a mess of a movie.
I’m not big on following writers of movies but after watching the sequel, I was sure that I was seeing a HUGE change in the writing. So I did a little research.
Ant-Man was originally a screenplay written by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd (I KNOW, right?). Wright, well known for his movies like Baby Driver, dropped out of the production of Ant-Man citing “creative differences.” So we’ll never know how much of the script was original and how much was changed to suit the studios. But ultimately, Ant-Man was a solid, entertaining film.
With Ant-Man and the Wasp, the writing team includes Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari. McKenna has some well known credits with The LEGO Batman Movie and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Clearly, both were strong writing teams but they didn’t seem to have the same vision for the characters and the movie. Here are my biggest beefs about where Ant-Man and the Wasp went wrong.
It had a strange beginning.
We start with a flashback of Dr. Hank Pym and his daughter, Hope, talking to a very 1970s-looking Michele Pfeifer. We assume this is the wife and mother who sacrificed herself into the quantum realm 30 years earlier. It’s an important part and a setup for later in the movie. I just thought it was a very odd scene to draw us back into the Ant-Man universe.
The relationships are not how I remember them.
When we finished Ant-Man, Scott and Hope were a couple, smiling and kissing as Hank Pym quietly left them in private. And while we know Scott took the Ant-Man suit to Germany to participate in Captain America: Civil War, we find out that the rest of the super hero world is moving on with their lives but Scott is under house arrest, Hank and Hope are wanted fugitives and they hate Scott.
To put it in acting terms, I just didn’t see their motivation for hating Scott so much. So the dynamics didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Scott Lang is an idiot, apparently.
As with the first movie, Scott is just trying to be a good guy and do the right thing, even if those things aren’t always on the right side of the law. But this movie takes the ex-con with a Masters in Electrical Engineering and turns him into an absolute dolt. He spends his time playing a drum set and implying that he doesn’t understand words like “quantum.” He’s frequently the butt of simplistic jokes (some of which were funny) but he really seems more like a supporting character.
Dr. Pym is a jerk.
From the first movie, we know that Hank Pym dabbles in science, technology, and entomology. We know he’s had a checkered past but we’re also led to believe that he wants to do what’s right. In Ant-Man and the Wasp, it’s revealed that he was actually a jerk to several former co-workers and employees (depending on whose rendition you believe) which led to some dire consequences. When faced when these consequences, neither Hank nor Hope (nor Scott, for that matter) seem to acknowledge that maybe there are some wrongs to be righted.
It relies too much on the ‘Lost in Space’ factor.
We want action. We want conflict. But we also want to move the damn story forward. This felt a lot like Netflix’s Lost in Space formula.
Oh no! Something is wrong!
Oh good. We made it through. Everything is going to be okay now.
Uh-oh. Something just went wrong again!
And so on. I don’t think I could watch the lab shrink and enlarge one. more. time.
The editing is really rough.
I’ve never studied filmmaking. My knowledge of editing comes from iMovie. But I can see and appreciate good editing. And it sticks out when the editing is really rough. This movie felt very choppy and pieced together in places, almost like the movie was too long and an editing intern went through and cut out as much excess transition as possible. I only mention it because it was distracting and left me saying, wait – what just happened?
I need answers.
I’m okay with fiction, especially science fiction. But it has to make some sort of sense. For example, how does one survive in the quantum realm for 30 years where time and space have no meaning but yet you still age 30 years? How do you live and eat and survive? How do you not go mad? How to you keep your make up perfectly intact for so long?
I don’t think I’ll ever get these answers.
So, was it really that bad?
If I had not seen the original Ant-Man and if I didn’t have such high expectations from Marvel movies, I probably would have been a little kinder and gentler. But this very much seemed like a mess of a movie considering the resources that must have been available to them. I got a little antsy (pun intended) during the movie waiting to be entertained or wowed.
There were some compelling moments, though. I loved the scenes with Scott and his daughter (a dad has to get creative with entertaining her while on house arrest). Luis and the gang are back for much needed comic relief (Michael Peña is once again hilarious). I adored FBI Agent, Jimmy Woo. And the car chase scenes are phenomenal. But that’s about it.
It is, however, worth staying until the very end. There are two stingers (end credit scenes) and the first one will answer the question about how this movie fits into the Infinity War timeline.
If the story continues with the Infinity War integration, I’ll be the first to line up to see it. I love the characters and I love the actors. I just think this was a sequel that couldn’t quite pull it all together.
Final note: I might just be a cranky self-appointed movie critic but my 11 year old son loved it!