Sizing Up The Latest Sequel

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It’s time for another MCU film! Ant-Man (2015) has, so far, been one of my favourite Marvel films so I was really excited to see the sequel Ant-Man and The Wasp; and although I would argue that the sequel was not as strong overall, it was still a really wonderful film.  I think that some of the most important aspects of this movie were handled really well and that it really only needed to refine a handful of elements.  And, of course, part of the problem is that this is a sequel, so its only natural that one would be tempted to constantly compare it to its predecessor.

Although I think the overall plot was a little weaker compared to that of Ant-Man, this sequel did really well on continuing the main theme that was presented in the first film.  Superhero antics aside, Ant-Man is all about father/daughter relationships and Ant-Man and The Wasp brings us to the next levels of the relationships that were explored in the first film.  In Ant-Man, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) have, for different reasons, obstacles preventing them from having “normal” relationships with their daughters: Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) respectively.  They have to overcome those obstacles in order to re-enter the lives of their daughters and re-assume the role of a father figure.  In Ant-Man and The Wasp, both men have healthy relationships with their daughters but are still striving to further improve those relationships.  And although the only relationships that previously mattered were between father and daughter, the fathers are now in a better place and can include the mother in the family picture.  For Scott this means welcoming ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) into his home, and for Hank it means that he is finally able to rescue his wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm.

Even the villains in this film have embraced more of the theme of father/daughter relationships.  The villain of the first film Darren Cross / Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) was essentially striving for approval from his father figure, Dr. Pym; but these films place daughters in higher standing, so clearly Yellowjacket was doomed to fail.  In the second film, however, Ava / Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is more likely to succeed.  After losing her biological father in the accident that gave her her powers, she gains a surrogate father: Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne).  Even though it would be a stretch to say that he is a completely good character, he does attempt to keep her grounded.  And in the end, even though her plan fails, Ava succeeds in getting exactly what she wants; she and Dr. Foster even choose to remain together.  They had developed a father/daughter relationship and essentially earned a kind of happy ending.  Going forward, I am really curious to see how future Ant-Man films will continue the examination and representation of father/daughter relationships, and I am even more intrigued to see how/if this will play out for Ant-Man in the next Infinity War.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, there seems to be an increasing trend towards bathos in the MCU films and Ant-Man and The Wasp is no exception.  Now, this is definitely one of the more humourous franchises within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I was absolutely expecting this film to have a healthy dose of comedy, but I don’t think that all of the comedy was necessarily well executed.  I saw the film with three other people and two of them said that the level of comedy within the film was on par with what they were expecting, and they did not find any of the comedy was too out of place.  The third person seemed to agree with me that although there were some really funny moments that fit right in with the tone of the film, there were some instances where it was a little too over the top and/or unnecessary. The moment that stands out for me the most is when the heroes have been apprehended and Scott’s daughter calls him because she can’t find her soccer shoes.  Personally, I felt that this interlude dampened what could have been a really tense moment; instead it brought the story to a screeching halt.

On that note, there was one notable piece of humour that I believe all audience members were expecting.  One of the highlights of the first film was the rather unique storytelling from Luis (Michael Peña), and I know that that is something myself and others were anticipating in this sequel.  Rather than have these storytelling moments sprinkled throughout the movie as in the first film, there was one big Luis-style story moment.  It felt as if those working on the film were well aware that this was simply a gimmick that adds little to the plot, and yet it is something that the fans love and were looking forward to, so they took an already over-the-top moment and made it even sillier.  And it was wonderful.

Like the more recent MCU films, the musical score in Ant-Man and The Wasp was also wonderful.  As I have mentioned in previous write-ups, I am really enjoying the movement away from the bland, heroic-sounding, orchestral scores of the earlier MCU films.  The music really suited this particular movie as it still had that heroic feel, yet it also had its own kind of uniqueness that made it stand out on its own.  The best pieces of music were fun and upbeat and perfectly underscored the action taking place on screen.

And, of course, this brings me to the visual effects.  With this kind of story and action, the visual effects need to be as close to perfection as possible.  Ant-Man and The Wasp most certainly did not disappoint.  With all of the shrinking, and growing, and fight scenes, and Scott getting stuck at the wrong size, etc. all of it appeared flawless.  And Ghost’s constant phasing in and out was phenomenally done.  Even when she was barely moving, the ghost-like movements that surrounded her were gorgeous and extremely well executed.  And as an added bonus, I really enjoyed how the end credits were presented.  Recreating key scenes from the film with toys and models was not only unique and interesting, but it just really made me smile.  In my opinion, the visual effects are the strongest aspect of this film.

But…  The absolute, most unforgettable, most powerful, most emotional part of that whole movie…  That first post-credits scene! That one hurt 🙁

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