Movie Thursday: The Incredibles 2; Mission: Impossible: Fallout; Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant Man and the Wasp

Every so often and less than it would like, TMINE reviews some movies

With TV now winding down for the Christmas break, I’ve had the chance to watch some movies, all of which were out in the summer but I didn’t get a chance to watch. So after the jump, let’s talk about: The Incredibles 2, Mission: Impossible: Fallout and Ant-Man and the Wasp. See you in a mo…

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Incredibles 2

The Incredibles 2 (2018)

Not as impressive – or as objectionable – sequel to Pixar classic The Incredibles that carries on directly from where the original left off. However, a rich fan of superheroes wants to get them legalised again and sees Elastigirl as being a great potential figurehead for his campaign. Unfortunately, someone wants to hijack the campaign for their own purposes…

Obviously, a long time has passed since the original Incredibles but the biggest change between the two films is simply the CGI, which looks vastly more impressive, as you’d expect. The other change is a bit of a shift in its politics. The first movie was something of a conservative, objectivist movie that argues quite strongly in favour of the gifted being allowed to dominate everyone else, who naturally want to bring the gifted down to their level. Hence the villain’s name, Syndrome (everyone’s got to have ‘a syndrome’ that makes them special and then no one’s special…). The Incredibles 2 is far more liberal-leaning, putting Mrs Incredible front and centre and generally emphasising a more collective, socialised approach to life.

Other than that, we’re faced with more or less the same movie as the first, with someone with a grudge against superheroes trying to make the world hate them. The plotting’s similar, the same cast are all back and the characters don’t really develop much.

Which isn’t to say it’s a bad movie – far from it. It’s fun, there’s a lot of jokes, there’s action galore. It just feels like what The Incredibles would have been like if it had been made now, and I’ve already seen The Incredibles – I didn’t need a remake of it.

Mission: Impossible Fallout

Mission: Impossible: Fallout (2018)

Latest in what’s probably now the world’s longest running movie franchise sees Tom Cruise and the ever-growing coterie of his secret agents having to hunt down some stolen nuclear weapons he’s misplaced. Jeremy Renner was off doing Avengers 4 so along for the ride this time is CIA agent Henry Cavill, as everyone thinks the IMF are going to cock up so he’s there to make sure they don’t. Usually by punching people. Along the way, they have to visit France to rescue the previous movie’s villain (don’t ask) in a big action scene and then they head off to the Himalayas for some more action. Of course, Michelle Monaghan is in there, too, since this one’s “for the fans”.

All of which, given it’s a Tom Cruise movie, is handled very well with some breathtaking stunts. It also plays to the new Tom Cruise trope of self-depreciation and acknowledgement that actually, there are probably chunkier, younger people out there who could give him a pasting.

However, firstly, it doesn’t feel very Mission: Impossible – there are a couple of con tricks involving masks, but that’s about it. The rest is standard chase scenes and action movie larks, while the movie generally emphasises the typical US idea of our heroes being like ‘one big family’, rather than, you know, ruthless, competent secret agents. Secondly, one of the best things about the series is that each movie feels quite different from the previous ones and this feels like more of the same. It’s just too similar to the previous movie, with the stunts being the only real point of difference.

Good fun, best watched on the big screen I suspect, but by no means the best of the series.

Ant Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

While Ant-Man might have had a somewhat chequered production history, there was still a certain quirky charm to the movie by the time of its eventual release, with ex-con Paul Rudd stealing retired scientist-superhero Michael Douglas’s shrinking ‘Ant-man’ suit and then being recruited by Douglas and his daughter Evangeline Lilly (Lost) to stop corporate villainy and general global war. Ant-Man and the Wasp is ostensibly a sequel to that movie, with Rudd reunited with Douglas and Lilly in order to help them rescue Lilly’s equally superheroic mum The Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer), who’s been stuck in the ‘quantum realm’ for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, Killjoys‘ Hannah John-Kamen needs Pfeiffer for her own reasons and using ‘quantum phasing’, this apparently evil and deadly ‘Ghost’ tries to steal their technology – and Pfeiffer.

I say ostensibly, since although there aren’t any cameos from the rest of the MCU for a change, the movie is something of a FAQ for all those issues that arose in previous Marvel movies between Ant-Man and now – where was Ant-man during The Avengers: Infinity War? What happened to him after the events of Captain America: Civil War? Why weren’t Lilly and Douglas in that movie? Will he and the rest of the cast feature in The Avengers: End Game? All of which detracts from the enjoyment of the movie, if you’re a ‘show, don’t tell’ person like me.

When the film is concentrating on its own storyline, however, it’s pretty good, if not quite as good as the original and pitched a little more at the kids than the previous one was. Although Pfeiffer is massively under-used, Lilly gets far more to do than she did in the first movie – more than Rudd did, in fact – although her character’s a little joyless and one-dimensional this time around. John-Kamen makes for a good villainess with plenty of shades of both grey and white, and the phasing effects actually make Ghost quite creepy. Laurence Fishburne shows up, too, and gives Douglas someone of his own stature to play off, which is welcome, and Randall Park (Fresh Off The Boat) is an amusingly rubbish FBI agent. There’s also a lot of imagination with the use of shrinking and growing of both people and objects, the self-satire is entertaining (“Do you guys just stick the word quantum in front of everything?”), and co-writer Rudd injects the script with some good usages of his range and abilities, particularly when he’s playing with his daughter.

It just lacks any real chutzpah or desire to do anything except answer questions and entertain for a couple of hours. That does at least make it the best of these three movies and the only one I’d rewatch with alacrity, but it won’t put it in the top five of anyone’s list of MCU films, by any stretch of the imagination, unless they happen to be under 10.

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