A Small Aside
Warning: This review alludes to aspects of the plot.
Following the Thanos cataclysm, many thought a light-hearted Ant-Man sequel was a curious choice for a follow-up in a mapped out cinematic universe. In a risk averse series, it feels like a box office gamble; an inconsequential offering between big sequels – the Solo to your Star Wars Episode IX If you will. But the second Ant-Man, though a water biscuit picture, its modest irreverence occasionally enlivening a stuffed plot full of technobabble and (very) broad characters, is designed as both a deep breath and an important bit of backstory to Infinity War.
Marvel Heads, wondering where Paul Rudd was during the grand battle (under house arrest for the most part, so off the superhero recruitment radar on pain of imprisonment) get an explanation delivered as a comically overwrought expository info dump. But they’re more likely to be interested in the magical properties of the quantum realm, that unexplored microcosmic plane that drives this movie’s story and, it’s suggested, may be beyond Thanos’s reach.
After Ant-Man and the Wasp has concluded it suddenly seems relevant to the grand story arc, but to get to that point one must sit through filler; the sense as it plays being one of amused indifference. Once again Marvel have served up a film with all the edges blunted, where even a little passionate smooching is rendered ridiculous and sexless. Fuck me, Paul Rudd even has an “ass” obscured by the sound of a truck’s grinding axel. Is there any room for mischief or adult humour in these flicks, or are we condemned to have wit substituted for a rambling Michael Peña? It’s so stifling it borders on suffocating.
In a movie where the overarching theme – absent parents and their just managing offspring, is as demographically friendly as the warm colour palette, the only intrigue comes from the visual effects, and fortunately they’re fun and inventive enough to add a little humour and quirk to the story. Cars shrink, an office block gets carried around like luggage, Rudd shrinks to the size of a child while trying to retrieve an Ant-Man suit from his daughter’s school – it’s all good fooling. But it’s also symptomatic of a series where visual effects artists have long been the only ones permitted to cut loose and experiment. Ask Edgar Wright, the original Ant-Man helmer, whose genitals shrunk when the studio reined in his ambition.
Overall Ant-Man and the Wasp is notable for Evangeline Lily’s screen presence, which far eclipses her co-stars, and the relative inefficacy of Paul Rudd’s character, here reduced to a supporting role in his own movie. They absolutely work better as a pair, which makes the film’s denouncement, in which the events of Infinity War catch up with this movie’s characters, eyebrow raising. God will well and truly be emerging from the machine to save the day in the next Avengers movie. He’s going to need a solution as big as his name.