Ant-Man and The Wasp (Full Review)

Welp… someone had to draw the short straw. 2015’s Ant-Man was a pleasant surprise, mainly because it relished in being a comedic heist film more than an outright superhero movie. But this time around, Marvel’s shrinking hero has the unenviable task of following up the two highest grossing films in the history of comic book cinema. And while no intelligent person should be going into Ant-Man and The Wasp looking for it to be as thematically profound as Black Pantheror as epic as Infinity War, it is fair to expect a film equally as fun, or exciting, as the first Ant-Man.

Ant-Man_and_the_Wasp_posterAfter aiding Captain America in Civil War, ex-con, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds himself under house arrest. Determined to finish the last days of his two year sentence and spend more time with his daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson), he has given up the moniker of Ant-Man. But, having escaped the subatomic quantum realm in the first film, Scott is also the key to helping the original Ant-Man, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), rescue his long lost wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the same mysterious dimension. With the FBI, a black market tech dealer (Walton Goggins), and a villain who can phase through solid matter (Hannah John-Kamen) standing in their way, Scott takes up the mantle again with Dr. Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) as his partner.

Calling Lilly’s Wasp the “partner” is actually pretty ridiculous. By the first action sequence, it becomes clear that the movie should be called The Wasp and Ant-Man. She is tougher, smarter, and more heroic to the point that it relegates Lang to being, not only more of the sidekick, but inherently mere comic relief and a plot device for her adventure. And that would all be fine if this sequel had the same narrative flow as the previous film. But it never rightfully gives her the tonal forefront.

Miguel Peña, Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris, and Davis Dastmalchian all return as Lang’s goofy, ex-con coworkers. Laurence Fishburne appears as a former colleague to Dr. Pym. Oh… and Randall Park also plays a bumbling FBI agent. By the end, there are just too many characters and story threads. The over-reliance on quips and gags makes for a ton of disjointed scenes that, like in Thor: Ragnarok, undermine serious stakes. Meanwhile, Walton Goggins and his crew of buffoons seem to be onscreen only to provide henchmen to beat up, which only wastes the potential of John-Kamen’s visually stunning, but underdeveloped villain, ‘Ghost’.

Peyton Reed returns to direct, and he tries mightily to give this film the same tone. But at its core, Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t a heist film. With Hope and Dr. Pym’s emotional journey to reunite with their lost matriarch being the main focus, The Wasp should’ve been the main character. Rudd’s Lang is still charming, and his endearing relationship with his daughter was enough of a subplot to bring him along for the ride, but he needed to take more of a backseat. Continuously giving screen time to clownish characters is frequently becoming Marvel’s biggest weakness. And here, it squanders the showcasing of its tremendous female lead. It certainly has some fun moments, but there’s too much going on for Ant-Man and The Wasp not to land near the bottom of the Marvel Cinematic Universe spectrum.

FINAL GRADE: C

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Forever My Girl (Full Review)

There’s something about the south that brings out the wholesome charm in a love story. Forever My Girl is your run-of-the-mil Nicholas Sparks-esque story of good ole’ country lovin’. Clearly designed for those who enjoy a feel good romance, this movie directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf contains everything casual movie goers love and hate about the genre.

ForeverMyGirlposterAfter the death of a childhood friend, country music star Liam Page (Alex Roe) returns to the Louisiana hometown he left to chase his dreams. Waiting for him after a decade of no communication is his Pastor father (John Benjamin Haley) and Josie (Jessica Rothe), the woman he left at the altar. Liam still loves her and wants to rekindle their romance, but to win her back he’ll have to first win over the daughter he never knew (Abby Ryder Fortson).

For a romance to work, both characters have to be likable. Neither is. Josie is a sweet and wholesome woman, but it’s hard to pull for someone who comes off so desperate. Page essentially woos her by buying her things and charming her impressionable daughter. And even after he inevitably screws up again, she is still willing to give him another chance.

There is absolutely nothing to like about the Liam Page character other than his smooth singing voice. The character is an absolute man child who is lazy, irresponsible, and selfish. He is given more chances than any real person in the same situation should be given. It doesn’t help that the movie begins by establishing him as a person willing to leave his fiancée on their wedding day without even saying goodbye. He even neglects to return her phone calls for a decade!

Some good laughs and a strong performance from child actor Abby Ryder Fortson gives the movie some necessary charm. But it doesn’t change the fact that this relationship is one that will make any person with realistic notions of romance cringe.

FINAL GRADE: D