A Sense of Scale: Ant-man and the Wasp

antmanandthewasp

Ant-man and the Wasp is another entry into the MCU and is set after Captain America: Civil War but before Avengers: Infinity War (but not dramatically so) and after some heavy going storylines, it is a bit of a welcome relief that this movie is a much more light-hearted affair with a joyous level of fun harking back to a more innocent and upbeat type of superhero movie headed by the Christopher Reeve Superman film series and lovingly homage to by Steven Moffatt with The Return of Doctor Mysterio. As with Solo: A Star Wars Story the focus on the story here is quite small scale (no pun intended there) with a seemingly small stakes set up driving the film, certainly on an epic scale the stakes of are small but both Solo and Ant-Man and the Wasp are not about epic scale events. These films are very much focussed on the characters and their drives and ambition and motive; to them the stakes are very high because they are so personal. Our main protagonists are not bad people as such, highly flawed and often of suspect execution but within a personal level totally justified and this is perhaps the films biggest flaw and strength at the same time. We don’t have a real central villain which means the dramatic tension of the film is some presented in an unusual manner in that it essential becomes a race to get there and out first with a series of obstacles thrown in our heroes ways. Some threat is presented by the presence of a potential dangerous black market racketeer but they also presented as comedy stooges which counters their attempts at being menacing. There are amusing almost forth wall breaking expositional dialogue about whether or not “truth serum” really exists and some hackneyed dialogue which employs the necessary evil of characters explaining to one another things they already both know to enlighten the audience, but it is played in a such a way it is comedic rather distracting. Again the action sequences are great set pieces and pacey but lack any true level of threat and strike me as a homage to the Adam West Batman show and certainly having onomatopoeic words explode onto the screen would not at all look out of place in style or tone.

The principal villain is a quantum phases shifting woman who is after access to the quantum field in order to stabilise her form, an idea which is given a human level as the film brings light onto how it would feel as a person. Hannah John-Kamen gives a strong performance as the tortured Ava/Ghost and gives credibility to the character and hands sympathy to the troubled woman as the desperation of situation increases bringing forth texture to the character and her amoral actions. Laurence Fishburne gives a strong performance as Dr Bill Foster, the well meaning aid to Ava and former associate of  Hank Pym, the ego-centric mentor to Scott Lang/Ant-Man. His motivation is to rescue his wife who got lost in the quantum realm years ago and again illustrates the personal scale of the film.

Without revealing too much about the plot, there is a significantly lower then normal use of super-power sequences with the main focus being on Lang’s relationship with Hope Van Dyne/Wasp and a comedic subplot about evading house arrest with a giant Ant.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is solid family entertainment which is in part heist movie, part spoof and part a story of rediscovering the humanity within and a feel good vibe running throughout with a number of laugh out loud moments. But joy and laughter only lasts for so long and very quickly becomes as insubstantial as dust in the breeze…

 

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