FILM UNFILTERED - Enjoy the ride with ‘Antman and the Wasp’

FILM UNFILTERED - Enjoy the ride with ‘Antman and the Wasp’

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This has without a doubt been Marvel Studios’ year at the box office.

“Black Panther,” which was released in February and then followed up by “Avengers: Infinity War” in April, have amassed combined worldwide cumulative earnings of $3.4 billion. Parent company Disney is no doubt pleased, as are shareholders, but more importantly, both films were outstanding crowd-pleasers.

Now on the heels of the gut punch that “Infinity War” was, comes “Ant Man and the Wasp.” This sequel follows both the original “Ant-Man” with Paul Rudd but chronologically, in the Marvel Universe, is more of a sequel to “Captain America: Civil War.” I know it gets confusing with these films sometimes, but it is worth it.

This film finds Rudd’s Scott Lang facing the ramifications from his involvement in “Civil War” and so he is finishing up a very long stint under house arrest with the government. His former teammate Hope (Evangeline Lilly) is on the run with her father Hank (Michael Douglas) though they think they’ve found a way to rescue Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm thanks to a dream Scott had. But there’s also a new adversary for them to deal with, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). She has a bone to pick with Hank and, of course, Hope and Scott have to work together to stop her.

In a crowded summer at the cinema, “Ant Man and the Wasp” brings a certain brevity and lightheartedness to all the high stakes hero and dino fare. The relationship Scott has with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), is touching and there might be a few teases to her future dropped. Rudd’s Scott is a great Ant Man and his humor, quips and observations have that everyman feel. Lilly’s Wasp gets far more opportunity and time to shine here than the previous one, and she is the adult to Rudd’s oft-child-like Ant Man.

Michael Pena is back as Scott’s ex-con cellmate Luis. Randall Park is added as a hilarious DHS agent, and Walton Goggins shows up as a nefarious mobster dealing in illicit technology.

“Ant Man and the Wasp” doesn’t come off as funny as its predecessor, but the laughs are still there.

Like the first film, a lot of the best gags are when Rudd’s Ant Man is having problems with his suit and can’t control the sizes. There’s an amusing sequence in his daughter’s elementary school but the best action piece is one involving the heroic duo fending off bad guys along the streets and hills of San Francisco. It’s also one of the refreshing aspects of this film that helps sets it apart from it’s big brother “Avenger” films which often take place in New York City or other far off locales.

Ant Man and his gang definitely have their own vibe going on and while they clearly reference those other superheroes, Lily’s Wasp takes more than a few cheap shots at Scott for his other acquaintances.

“Antman and the Wasp” is a fun and engrossing film that keeps you enthralled throughout. It’s a slick, fast and wild ride with miniaturized heroes and some big ones too. Director Peyton Reed who helmed the first one returns for this one as well.

The film is rated PG13.

Kill a couple of hours with “Tag”

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One of the drawbacks of growing old is that childhood is left behind, goofing off is discouraged and the things that brought you endless joy are forgotten.

So many people as they get older lose touch with their inner child and become so obsessed by work or life that they simply forget how to put life on pause and get back to some shenanigans. I know the feeling, for I too fell victim to letting work ruin my life balance and when I changed back to a less stressful position, I was able to flourish and be more a delinquent again.

Buried under all of the big superhero flicks and animated goodness of the last two weeks was a hilarious film called “Tag” and it is an excellent excuse to kill two hours and enjoy the air conditioning.

“Tag” is loosely based on a real-life story of a group of men who have been playing tag for more than 20 years. These men are all professionals, and have solid jobs and families, but every year spend chunks of May chasing each other down so that someone else can be “it.”

The film brings together a well-rounded cast to fill out the ranks of now grownup hooligans. Ed Helms plays Hogan and he is the de facto ringleader of the gang who is also accompanied by his wildly aggressive wife, Anna (Isla Fisher). Hogan sets out to lure in the rest of the teammates in one last attempt to tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner) – the one player who has never been touched and has eluded being ‘it’ for decades. There’s some funny montage clips to help relive their pasts but it’s the hilarity in the present where the laughs are.

Jon Hamm plays Bob, likely the most successful of the crew and who is barged in upon while conducting an interview for the Wall Street Journal. The reporter, Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis), ditches her original fluff piece on Bob and joins up the quest taking notes all along the way with this rambunctious bunch of middle-aged men who are deviously plotting to ensnare Jerry. But Jerry is getting married and his bride, Susan (Leslie Bibb), has forbid the gang from disrupting or messing up their special day.

Jerry is a buff, athletic and master of illusion. No matter how many traps his friend lay out for him he avoids them all.

It isn’t lost on the viewer, as the film goes on, that while the game is still fun to most of the guys, it’s Jerry’s penchant to win and desire to retire without being tagged that reveals the flaw. But that’s not to say that the ridiculousness of the stalking, sneaking and occasional minor law-breaking isn’t amusing. The involvement of the women is finally acknowledged late in the film and only adds to the overall fun.

This is a great option to have in your back pocket if you get to the theater and the film you want to see is sold out. You’ll definitely have a bunch of laughs, and more importantly, remember how fun it was being a kid. Maybe you might even take the time to reflect and see what you can change in your life to recapture some of this malarkey.

This film is rated R.

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly star as tiny heroes in “Antman and the Wasp.”
Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, and Jake Johnson star in “Tag.”