Welcome to the 44th edition of My Fortnightly Movie/TV Thoughts! Last fortnight, I reviewed Black Panther (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). This fortnight, I’m reviewing:
- Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), rated PG for mild science fiction violence and coarse language
- Captain Marvel (2019), rated M for action violence
Those of course are the Australian ratings; in the United States, the movies are rated:
- Ant-Man and the Wasp – PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence
- Captain Marvel – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive language.
As usual, I’ll give the trailers at the end, and a clip each. And as usual, just to be safe, I offer the following disclaimer:
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED AT OWN RISK.
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Ant-Man was the very first MCU movie I ever watched, so naturally I quite looked forward to seeing the sequel. And I think it’s one of those sequels that is even better than the original!
Two years after Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) was placed under house arrest as a result of the events of Civil War, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) briefly manage to open a tunnel to the quantum realm. They believe Pym’s wife Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) might be trapped there after shrinking to sub-atomic levels in 1987. When he had previously visited the quantum realm, Lang had unknowingly become quantumly entangled with Janet, and now he receives an apparent message from her.
With only days left of house arrest, Lang contacts Pym about Janet, despite the strained relationship they have because of Lang’s actions with the Avengers. Hope and Pym kidnap Lang, leaving a large ant with Lang’s ankle-monitor on as a decoy so as not to arouse the suspicions of FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). Believing the message from Janet is confirmation that she is alive, the trio work to build a stable quantum tunnel so they can take a vehicle to the quantum realm and retrieve her. They arrange to buy a part needed for the tunnel from black-market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), but Burch realizes the potential profit to be made from Pym’s research and double-crosses them. Donning the Wasp outfit, Hope fights off Burch and his men until she is attacked by a quantumly unstable masked woman (Hannah John-Kamen). Lang tries to help fight off this “ghost”, but the woman escapes with Pym’s lab, which has been shrunk down to the size of a suitcase.
Like the original Ant-Man, Wasp is a fun, small-scaled adventure within the sprawling MCU, and is a nice break from the bigger (but awesome!) blockbusters.
I quite enjoyed once again joining the lovable Scott Lang, excellently played by Paul Rudd, on another size-shifting adventure as Ant-Man.
Michael Douglas is always a great actor, and provides a solid performance in his return as Dr Hank Pym, the inventor of the Ant-Man technology, who is trying to retrieve his wife from the Quantum Realm. A delight to watch.
SPOILER ALERT Michelle Pfeiffer is perfect for the role of Janet van Dyne, Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, who has been trapped in the Quantum Realm for decades. END SPOILER
Evangeline Lilly is also fitting in her reprisal of Hope van Dyne, Hank’s Janet’s daughter and Scott’s love interest, who becomes the Wasp.
Michael Peña is hilarious in his return as Luis, Scott’s friend and a member of X-Con Security crew. One of my favourite parts of the movie is his storytelling!
Ava Starr, also known as Ghost, is quite a compelling villain who only does what she needs to do for survival, and doesn’t entirely count as a villain. I thought Hannah John-Kamen fitting in the role.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a fun installment in the sprawling MCU – but pay attention, because it has a major impact on Endgame.
Do you ever hear a lot of negativity about a film – even from friends – and when you see the movie think “This is a heck of a lot better than they said!”? That pretty much applies to Captain Marvel and its (frankly silly) controversy.
In 1995, on the Kree Empire’s capital planet of Hala, Starforce member Vers (Carol Danvers) suffers from amnesia and recurring nightmares involving an older woman. Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), her mentor and commander, trains her to control her abilities while the Supreme Intelligence, the artificial intelligence that rules the Kree, urges her to keep her emotions in check.
During a mission to rescue an undercover operative infiltrating a group of Skrulls, alien shapeshifters with whom the Kree are at war, Vers is captured by Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). A probe of Vers’s memories leads them to Earth. Vers escapes and crash-lands in Los Angeles. Her presence attracts S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose investigation is interrupted by a Skrull attack. In the ensuing chase, Vers recovers a crystal containing her extracted memories while Fury kills a Skrull impersonating Coulson. Talos, disguised as Fury’s boss Keller (Ben Mendelsohn), orders Fury to work with Vers and keep tabs on her.
I rather like Captain Marvel‘s setting. Even though most of it takes place on Earth, it successfully makes Earth feel like just another planet within the vast life-filled universe of the MCU. It isn’t even introduced as Earth: it’s identified on-screen as “Planet C-53; Terran homeworld”. It’s only because Vers crashes into a Blockbuster (and the subsequent appearance of agents Fury and Coulson) that we realise it’s Earth.
I also liked the clever twist as to who the villains really are, and the revelation of Vers’ past. There’s quite a bit of misdirection early on. Overall, the film tells an interesting, well-written and well-executed story.
The cast is stellar. Brie Larson provides a solid lead as Vers/Captain Marvel, an amnesiac Kree warrior who becomes stranded on Earth fighting the Kree – and in the process discovers secrets about her past, and her true powers. She’s one of the most powerful Avengers – possibly THE most powerful – and her actions scenes are consequently fantastically badass. Hers is also a compelling character. I thought Larson fit the role quite well.
Samuel L. Jackson provides a solid and welcome return as Nick Fury, SHIELD agent, who is assigned to keep an eye on Vers, and becomes involved in the Skrull-Kree war. His de-aging effects are incredible; he really looks like he just came from the set of Die Hard with a Vengeance.
Which is another thing I like about Captain Marvel: it’s retro 90s setting, with a de-aged Sam Jackson, a prominent Blockbuster cameo, etc. It’s a fun throwback under the guise of a futuristic sci-fi film. I also like the references, cameos and tie-ins to other MCU films.
Ben Mendelsohn always provides a great performance, and it’s no different here as Talos, a leader among the Skrulls, a race of shape shifters. Stellar acting. Can’t say much more cos spoilers, though. Plus it’s always fun to have a significant character with an Aussie accent 🙂
And it was great seeing Clark Gregg reprise a de-aged Agent Coulson in his younger days.
And unsurprisingly, the CGI is spectacular – as are the fights.
And no, despite the claims of some, there is no man-bashing, no man-hating, no emasculisation of the male gender or characters, no “I’m better just because I’m a woman”, or anything at all like what some insecure people like to claim.
Captain Marvel is a fun, exciting origin story that once again showcases Marvel’s unique talent.
The Ant-Man and the Wasp trailer:
The Captain Marvel trailer:
An Ant-Man and the Wasp clip:
A Captain Marvel clip: