“Ant-Man and the Wasp” misses some big points

“Black Panther” was a cultural event and now a Best Picture nominee. “Avengers: Infinity War” is bringing to a close the 18 MCU films preceding it in a climactic, dynamic ending. Marvel is dominating the box office and hitting peak artistic merit as well. How will the Infinity gauntlet saga end? Will “Black Panther” win Best Picture? There are so many great storylines. What a great run.

Oh, wait. Another Ant-Man movie came out.

Right. Forgot about that one.

After spurning his girlfriend, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), and her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), to fight with Captain America in “Civil War”, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is recruited back into the fold to help save Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Phantom Zone. In their way however, are the mob boss, Sonny (Walter Goggins), and the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), each desperate to get Pym’s shrinking technology for different reasons.

The first Ant-Man film, directed by Peyton Reed as well as this film (after a fairly public withdrawal from Edgar Wright), was a standard origin story. It was fine with some pretty fun sequences that made it pop at times. In comparison though to the other MCU films (the “Civil Wars”, the “Ragnaroks”, the “Guardians of the Galaxies”), it felt rather pedestrian.

It’s sequel is even more substandard.

The impetus for the film seems mostly to be because there needed to be another film. Scott’s character development is minimal at best and the “villain” adds nothing emotionally to the story. In fact, the film should instead have focused only on the extraction of Janet, a simple search-and-rescue plot. Instead, there’s too much happening with too many underdeveloped characters.

Even the action scenes are hitting the same notes over and over again. In the first film, it was fun to see tiny superheroes fighting against a giant Thomas the Tank Engine. But that gimmick is repeated over and over again. Giant ants. Giant “Hello Kitty” pez. Giant Ant-Man. Kid-sized Ant-Man. It gets old real quick.

The chase at the end is rather fun, but all in all, the film exists because it has to, lacking any spark to inspire meaning. It can’t overcome the feeling of just being filler.

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