"Ant-Man and the Wasp" - Review
It’s not some new or original thought to say that the best entries in the MCU are the ones with small personal stakes at their center. The moment the stakes get too high, that’s when the CGI and explosions overwhelm the story. But when the stakes matter to the individual hero or heroes, these movies are the best that blockbusters have to offer. Marvel has had a pretty good run lately between Thor: Ragnorok and Black Panther with keeping the stakes personal while being suitably epic. And while Avengers: Infinity War had absurdly high stakes, it skated by on the fact that its main protagonist is actually Thanos. So how does Ant-Man and the Wasp stand up as a minor entry in the MCU? The answer is, not half bad!
Set two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but before Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp finds Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) under house arrest after he helped Cap in Germany. Because of those same actions, Scott has become estranged from Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Scott is also constantly hounded by an FBI agent played by Randall Park. But Scott isn’t letting that get him down — he still sees his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), and is setting up a business with his crew from the first Ant-Man film, including Luis (Michael Peña). All of that changes when Hank discovers that his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) is still alive in the Quantum Realm (which Scott traveled to at the end of his first movie), and Scott may actually have the key to finding her. But a couple villains stand in their way: Sonny Bunch (Walton Goggins), a seedy black market arms dealer; a former colleague of Hank’s, Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne); and Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a woman who has the power to phase through solid matter. Scott’s gonna need all the help he can get, and luckily Hope has her own suit that allows her to shrink and grow (but this one also comes with wings).
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a little over complicated and takes a bit of shoe leather to get the story really going, but that doesn’t stop the film from being a ton of fun from start to finish. On top of that, the movie’s emotional center is all about family and the things we will do to keep them together – which separates the film from its MCU brethren. Like most of the MCU, the cast is clearly having a ball, but none more so than Evangeline Lilly, who clearly loves the fact that she gets to be part of the action this time around. Paul Rudd is as charming as ever as doofy Scott Lang, and he’s consistently hilarious in how amazed he gets with his powers. And it’s always a pleasure to see Michelle Pfeiffer on screen again; here’s hoping she shows up in more of these things as she brings a lovely dose of humanity and warmth to the film.
Peyton Reed returns to the director’s chair for this second installment, and as with the first film, he’s clearly having a lot of fun playing with the perspective changes afforded to Ant-Man and the Wasp. Shrinking remains the most interesting of all the MCU characters’ powers, and it’s one of the highlights of this film. The script, credited to (deep breath) Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari and Rudd himself, does skip over a couple of important emotional beats in the second act — but when you’re having this much fun it’s hard to be mad.
Ant-Man and the Wasp explores the themes of family and parenthood wrapped in a fun adventure fantasy. It’s a blast and a nice addition to the MCU on the whole, particularly because of its lower stakes. Plus, it has an ant the size of a dog playing the drums – and that’s just hilarious.
Three out of Four Stars.