Sunday, July 08, 2018

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Based on the Ant-Man comic series by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby and the Wasp comic series by Lee, Kirby, and Ernie Hart, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the sequel to the 2015 film Ant-Man in which the titular character teams up with the Wasp on a new mission to protect not just their technology from new foes but also use it to enter the Quantum Realm in the hope they can find Janet van Dyne. Directed by Peyton Reed and screenplay by Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrier, and Gabriel Ferrari, the film follows Scott Lang/Ant-Man as he tries to balance his life as a father and superhero while being watched by authorities for his involvement in a dispute between Captain America and Iron Man two years earlier as he also tries to help Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne/Wasp with a mission as Paul Rudd reprises his roles as Lang/Ant-Man along with Evangeline Lilly as van Dyne/Wasp, and Michael Douglas as Pym. Also starring Michael Pena, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Judy Greer, Bobby Cannavale, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Laurence Fishburne, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a sprawling and witty film from Peyton Reed.

Set two years after events in which Scott Lang/Ant-Man aided Captain America in a dispute with Iron Man in Berlin that eventually lead to his arrest, the film revolves around Lang reluctantly helping Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne/Wasp over information relating to the Quantum Realm believing that Hank’s wife/Hope’s mother Janet van Dyne could still be alive. Yet, there are forces that want Pym’s technology believing that the Quantum Realm has so much to offer forcing Pym and van Dyne to go on the run as well as do their work in secrecy as they’re still upset at Lang for his aiding Captain America two years earlier. The film’s screenplay definitely play into the stakes of what Lang, Pym, and van Dyne are trying to do to protect their technology as well as the fact that there isn’t much time to retrieve Janet who had given Lang a message during his brief encounter with the Quantum Realm a few years ago. Even as part of Janet is in Lang’s mind where he would briefly communicate with her husband and daughter in Lang’s body in a key scene in the film.

With the possibility of getting Janet back, the trio of Lang, Pym, and van Dyne are also dealing with black markets dealer in Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) who has a component that Pym needs but he becomes aware of what the Quantum Realm can bring believing it can make him super-rich. Adding to Lang and van Dyne’s trouble is a mysterious being known as Ava Starr/Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who can move through objects as she wants the technology to cure herself as she also has a grudge towards Pym since her father used to work with Pym many years ago until a falling out occurred leading to Starr’s father to work on an experiment that would affect Starr in her present state. The trouble that Lang, Pym, and van Dyne are dealing with force them to seek help from Lang’s friend Luis (Michael Pena) whom Lang is trying to start a security business with as they also seek the help from a former colleague of Pym in Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) who also knows about the Quantum Realm as he is reluctant to help out Pym due to the fact they had a falling out in the past as well. With all of this drama in trying to get Janet back, Lang is a few days away from finishing up his house arrest sentence as he’s trying not to screw up often turning to his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston) for advice as she is aware that her father is a superhero and knows what needs to be done.

Peyton Reed’s direction is stylish in terms of the action set pieces and humorous moments that is created in the film yet he also would balance it with some drama and low-key scenes that don’t require action as it relates to the human stories within the film as it is really about family. A man trying to balance his role as superhero who can shrink into the size of an ant and be a father to his daughter while helping to repair a father and daughter’s relationship by getting the mother back in the picture. Shot largely in San Francisco with several locations shot in Atlanta and at Pinewood Atlanta Studios including Savannah, Georgia. The film does play into this world where it is about the stakes as Reed would infuse elements of the chase scenes for a key sequence in San Francisco as well as moments that are suspenseful with the usage of the wide and medium shots. Reed would also wisely know when to give the audience a break from the action in favor of these human moments where there are elements of exposition including a hilarious exposition montage from Luis about how he met Lang and such.

Reed’s usage of close-ups and medium shots play into the character interactions that would include these scenes involving Lang, Pym, and van Dyne in their encounter with Starr as it is filled with suspense and drama. There are also some somber moments such as the opening scene as it relates to Pym and Janet van Dyne talking to a young Hope (Madeleine McGraw) about going on a trip that would become the mission that would lead to Janet’s disappearance. Even as it has Lang get Janet’s message through a memory of Janet’s as it does have these touching human moments. The scenes set in the Quantum Realm are surreal as it does play into this alternate reality of sorts yet it also shows what it can provide as it says so much into what Starr wants from it as well as Burch with the latter thinking more about money. The film’s climax does revolve around this lab that Pym and van Dyne have been building for years as well as the race to get Janet back home with Starr wanting to get the technology for herself prompting a showdown between her against Lang and van Dyne. Overall, Reed crafts a whimsical and exhilarating film about two superheroes trying to stop evil forces to protect their technology so they can bring someone back home.

Cinematographer Dante Spinotti does excellent work with the film’s cinematography as it’s largely straightforward to play into the look of the exteriors in the day and night as well as some low-key lighting for scenes at Starr’s home and at the building where Luis and his friends are trying to start their security business. Editors Dan Lebental and Craig Wood do terrific work with the editing as it does have bits of style such as Luis montage exposition as well as some rhythmic cuts to play into the action and humor. Production designer Shepherd Frankel, with supervising art director Jay Pelissier plus set decorators Gene Serdena and Christopher J. Wood, does amazing work with the look of Pym’s lab including the Quantum tunnel he and van Dyne built as well as Lang’s apartment home and the place that Starr lives in. Costume designer Louise Frogley does fantastic work with the costumes such as the look of the suits that Lang and van Dyne wear as superheroes as well as Starr’s suit as Ghost and some casual clothing with the other characters.

Visual effects supervisor Stephane Cerretti does incredible work with the look of the Quantum Realm in all of its trippy and surreal visuals as it does feel like another world as well as some of the visuals as it relates to Ant-Man and the Wasp’s shrinking powers as well as some of the unstable powers of Ghost. Sound designer David Farmer and sound editor Addison Teague do superb work with the sound as it play into the effects of Starr’s condition as well as some of the sounds from the gadgets that Ant-Man and the Wasp uses. The film’s music by Christophe Beck is wonderful for its playful score with bombastic orchestral score for some of the action as well as some somber pieces in the drama and bits of jazz in the comedic moments while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun score that feature music from Dusty Springfield, David Cassidy, and Morrissey.

The casting by Sarah Finn is great as it features some notable small roles and appearances from Michael Cerveris and Riann Steele in a flashback scene as Starr’s parents, Tim Heidecker as the whale boat captain, Divian Ladwa as a henchman of Burch in Uzman who created a serum to get some answers, Brian Huskey as a schoolteacher, RaeLynn Bratten as the young Ava Starr, Langston Fishburne as a younger version of Bill Foster, Madeleine McGraw as the young Hope van Dyne, and the obligatory cameo from Stan Lee as a man who witnesses some of the action. Bobby Cannavale and Judy Greer are terrific in their small yet respective roles as Jim Paxon and Lang’s ex-wife Margaret Lang who help Lang with his house arrest while dealing with the presence of the FBI. Randall Park is superb as FBI agent Jimmy Woo who watches over Lang as well as making sure Lang doesn’t break his parole violation while is eager to learn some card tricks.

David Dastmalchian and Tip “T.I.” Harris are fantastic in their respective roles as Kurt and Dave as Luis and Lang’s business partners in the security business as they also help out Pym and van Dyne with the former thinking Ghost is some kind of mystical figure. Abby Ryder Forston is excellent as Cassie Lang as Scott’s daughter who knows about his identity as she knows his struggle but also wants him to succeed knowing that Pym and van Dyne needs him. Laurence Fishburne is brilliant as Bill Foster as a former colleague of Pym who is reluctant to help him out while is aware of what Pym is trying to do as he is also aware of Starr’s condition. Michelle Pfeiffer is amazing in a small but crucial role as Janet van Dyne as Pym’s wife/Hope’s mother who is seen early on in flashbacks but is also someone who has given Lang a message into helping her family reach her knowing there’s a chance to get back to the world.

Michael Pena is incredible as Luis as Lang’s best friend/former cellmate who is trying to start a security business while helping out Pym and van Dyne with their troubles while providing some of the film’s funnier moments. Walton Goggins is marvelous as Sonny Burch as a black markets dealer that is eager to get Pym’s lab in the hopes he can make money from the source of the Quantum Realm as it’s an unconventional villain whose motivation is financial but also is someone who is way over his head in what he’s trying to do. Hannah John-Kamen is remarkable as Ava Starr/Ghost as a woman with unstable powers to move through objects as someone that needs Pym’s lab and tech to cure herself though she’s not really a villain but more of an anti-hero who has a legitimate grudge towards Pym and his family.

Michael Douglas is great as Hank Pym as the creator of the Pym particle that allows objects to shrink or enlarge including the creator of the Ant-Man suit as he’s determined to get his wife back into the world while dealing with his own faults for the falling outs he created with former colleagues. Evangeline Lilly is phenomenal as Hope van Dyne/the Wasp as Pym’s daughter who takes on the role that her mother had played more than three decades ago as the Wasp where she finally gets the chance to kick some ass as well as display a determination of wanting her mother back and needing Lang to be her partner. Finally, there’s Paul Rudd in a sensational performance as Scott Lang/Ant-Man as a former thief serving two years of house arrest for his involvement in Captain America and Iron Man’s dispute where he deals with letting Pym and van Dyne down as well as trying to be there for his daughter where he has to become Ant-Man again despite a few screw-ups in some updated tech where it has that nice balance of humor and determination.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is an incredible film from Peyton Reed. Featuring a great ensemble cast, amazing visual effects, a great balance of action and humor, and a fun film score. It’s a film that manages to be not just entertaining and full of laughs but also with a human story about a man trying to help a family get back together as well as be part of this offbeat family. In the end, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a spectacular film from Peyton Reed.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsEternalsSpider-Man: No Way HomeDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessThor: Love and ThunderWerewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special

Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3The Marvels – (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)

Phase 6: (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)

Related: MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 3Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7) - The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World

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