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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18 for 18 (The Moore Reviews Most Anticipated Movies of 2018)

A new year brings new films and thankfully a renewed sense of excitement. There are a lot of intriguing films scheduled for release in 2018 and while I’m sure some of them won’t live up to the hype, the law of averages suggests that at least a few of these will be fantastic. After all, three of my most anticipated movies of 2017 ended up on My Top 10 List. So, mark your calendars! Here are the 18 movies of 2018 that I am the most excited about.

FEBRUARY 16TH – BLACK PANTHER

Black_Panther_film_posterLet’s start with one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year. Ever since Black Panther burst onto the scene in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, fans of the genre have been eagerly awaiting the character’s solo adventure. With a brilliant cast and a director with a phenomenal track record in Ryan Coogler, the stage is set for 2018’s first superhero film to be a show stopper.

FEBRUARY 23RD – ANNIHILATION

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This science fiction novel adaptation will put a solid cast of women, including Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, in the forefront as a team of doctors out to explore a mysterious area where no one has ever come out the same. Director Alex Garland put himself on the cinematic map with 2015’s Ex_Machina so this one has the potential to be incredible.

 

MARCH 9TH – A WRINKLE IN TIME

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With a little Disney magic and a diverse, well rounded cast, this adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel should be an exciting family adventure. Ava Duvernay steps in to direct her first theatrical film since Selma.

MARCH 23RD – PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING

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Guillermo Del Toro’s first Pacific Rim movie was by no means a classic of compelling storytelling, but thanks to some awesome action sequences, it turned out to be absolute popcorn fun. The new film adds Star Wars front man John Boyega as the son of Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentacost in a movie sure to be just as mindlessly exciting.

 

 

MAY 4TH – AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

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An epic adventure ten years in the making. This film is the most likely to break box office records as it unites characters from all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the first of a two part story arc that MCU producer Kevin Feige has promised will reshape the franchise.

MAY 18TH – DEADPOOL 2

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No one expected Deadpool to be the mega hit that it was, but here we are. Ryan Reynolds steps back into the role he was born for with a few new characters thrown into the mix. Atlanta’s Zazie Beets steps into the role of luck manipulating mutant Domino and Josh Brolin plays time traveling mutant Cable in what will likely be another raunchy, hilarious blockbuster.

MAY 25TH – SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

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This film has had all kinds of negative rumors surrounding it since it dropped its original directors in favor of Ron Howard. After extensive reshoots, there’s still hope that this prequel about Star Wars’ resident renegade, Han Solo, can live up to the expectations of one of science fiction’s most beloved universes.

 

JUNE 8TH – OCEAN’S 8

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Ocean’s Eleven is one of my all time favorite films. It’s witty, charismatic, and hilarious. It also had a cast full of dudes so it’s only right that the ladies get a chance to take center stage. The cast for this heist film (Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, and Rihanna) is downright perfect and should make for a fun summer flick.

JUNE 15TH – INCREDIBLES 2

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It took 13 years and two unnecessary Cars sequels, but Pixar is finally giving us the sequel we want and deserve. The first Incredibles is one of my all time favorite films and if Finding Dory is any indication of what happens when the studio makes you wait, this film will be just as amazing as the original.

JUNE 22ND – JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM

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Jurassic World was an adventurous jolt of nostalgia back in 2015. While sequels have never been the niche of this franchise, there’s still hope that the movie will at least deliver some exciting moments even if the plot is a throwaway. The return Jeff Goldblum in his role from the original Jurassic Park is also something to look forward to.

JULY 6TH – ANT MAN AND THE WASP

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2015’s Ant-Man was a pleasant surprise. A comedic heist movie more than an outright superhero story, it showed that you don’t always have to have marquee comic book characters to sell a movie. Hopefully this sequel, and the first MCU movie following Infinity War, can be just as captivating.

JULY 27TH – MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 6

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I am a huge fan of these Tom Cruise action thrillers. Not much is known about this movie just yet, but It reunites most of the cast from Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation including Rebecca Ferguson’s fem fatale Ilsa Faust. Henry Cavill also joins the cast in the role that forced the Justice League producers to edit out Cavill’s mustache.

OCTOBER 5TH – VENOM

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Filming is already underway for this Spider-Man spinoff. After Sam Raimi’s travesty known as Spider-Man 3, I am excited to see the iconic comic anti-hero done justice. Brilliant actor, Tom Hardy will tackle the role of Eddie Brock in this ‘R’ rated sci-fi horror that will hopefully be just as incredible as Logan was last year.

NOVEMBER 2ND – X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX

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I enjoyed X-Men: Apocalypse, but it was quite a step down from the two previous installments in the James McAvoy/Michael Fassbender led franchise. Producer turned Director Simon Kinberg hopes to get things back on track with this cosmic tale that I hope will correctly adapt the iconic Dark Phoenix Saga that Brett Ratner effectively ruined in X-Men 3. It’s also worth noting that with Disney buying out 20th Century Fox, this could possibly be the last time we see X-Men outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

NOVEMBER 16TH – FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD

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J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter prequel left a lot to be desired, but the Newt Scamander character played by Eddie Redmayne was likable enough. And it’s always fun to revisit the wizarding world. This sequel will hopefully have a more compelling plot as it brings in Jude Law for the role of young Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore to battle against Johnny Depp’s villainous Grindelwald.

NOVEMBER 21ST – RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK IT RALPH 2

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I still get watery eyed watching 2014’s sensational original Disney film about the video game villain who just wants to be loved and respected. This sequel will not just reunite the original cast, but also be the first ever film to feature all of the animated Disney princesses in one movie with their original voices. Taraji P. Henson, James Corden, and Alan Tudyk are also on board for what’s sure to be the animated highlight of Thanksgiving 2018.

 

DECEMBER 14TH – SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE

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In case you didn’t know, Sony Pictures still owns the rights to the Spider-Man character. This means that they’re free to create off shoots like this animated adventure about Miles Morales, Peter Parker’s successor as the famed wall-crawler. If the first trailer is any indication, this movie will be an exciting adventure with incredible animation.

DECEMBER 21ST – AQUAMAN

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Even if you didn’t love Justice League as much as I did, it’s hard not to be intrigued by Jason Mamoa’s grungy surfer take on the classic DC character. This solo adventure will take the hero back to his underwater roots and will feature a stellar cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, and Patrick Wilson.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Tomb Raider – March 16th

Ready Player One – March 30th

God Particle (Cloverfield 3) – April 20th

Alita: Battle Angel – July 20th

The Equalizer 2 – August 3rd

The Predator – August 3rd

Mortal Engines – December 14th

 

… What movies are you looking forward to in 2018??