“Ant-Man and the Wasp”- Movie Review

Director Peyton Reed brings the gang back together for this sequel to the 2015 hit Ant-Man. Set just after the events of the third Captain America movie, the film kicks off with Scott Lang stuck under house arrest. Between this, weekend visits with his daughter (played by the maddeningly adorable Abby Ryder Forston), and trying to run a business with his former partners in crime (Michael Pena, T.I. Harris, and David Dastmalchian), he doesn’t seem to have time- or the freedom- for superhero work. That is until he starts having visions of Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp who’d disappeared in the Quantum Realm. Unsure what’s going on, he gets in touch with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily). In a matter of minutes, the two are back in the picture, dragging Scott into an elaborate plot to find Janet. Their efforts attract the unwanted attention of black market criminal Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), and an elusive figure known only as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). What ensues is a wacky game of cat and mouse as everyone fights for what’s inside Scott’s head.

A good chunk of early reviews for Ant-Man and the Wasp described it as a sort of cinematic cool-down, a fresh of fresh air compared to the grim outcome of Infinity War and the raunch-fest that was Deadpool 2. And….yeah, that’s the best way to put it. It is by far the tamest superhero movie of the year, though I mean that in a good way. While the story isn’t the strongest or most interesting, it embodies that same goofy energy which helped give the first film its one identity. A fitting combo of solid writing and delivery paves the way for some good laugh-out-loud moments, and the fact that our heroes are able to grow and shrink to various sizes allows for a lot of imaginative action scenes, especially toward the last act.

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Ant-Man may be the leading name in the title, but this is Wasp’s movie, without a doubt. Don’t get me wrong, they work great one their own as well as a team, though it’s Evangeline Lily who really steals the show. She’s cool, she’s smart, and she’s quick on her feet. It’s obvious since she had little to do action-wise in the first film, the filmmakers decided to go full force with her character and give her more to work with. Funny enough, it feels like the roles have been switched. This time there’s more emphasis on her and her arch and less on Scott Lang’s. And that’s not to take away from Paul Rudd’s performance either. Once again, he nails both the comedic and emotional beats. I’m convinced he’s one of the most adorable human beings on this planet, and so much of it is infused in this character. The rest of the cast does a solid job as well, especially newcomer Hannah John-Kamen, who plays a different breed of villain. Rather than be someone who relishes in her abilities, Ghost is tortured by them. So it’s interesting to see the extent to which she’s willing to go in order to shed what makes her powerful.

The small scale of the narrative is both refreshing and detrimental. Not every Marvel movie has to be this huge, compelling epic that furthers the overall arch of the cinematic universe. It can be a standalone in every meaning of the word, a category Ant-Man and the Wasp fits nicely into. The story has interesting elements- including an emphasis on father-daughter dynamics (whether it is between Scott and Cassie, Hank and Hope, or another pair I won’t spoil here), well-written comedy, and the villain’s motivation. Overall, however, it just didn’t grab me as much as I wanted it to.

Ant-Man and the Wasp sticks to the usual Ant-Man formula. It’s colorful, it’s goofy, it’s funny, and, most importantly, it’s just plain fun. The stakes and the sense of danger are pretty mute, though never to the point where the film turns into a bore. So I definitely do recommend it. Is it one of the best Marvel movies to date? No. But if you’re looking for mindless fun, then this is the movie for you.

Cosmic Grade: 3.5/5 Stars

 

 

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