Well, as expected…that was fun. Any reader of my past Marvel reviews knows what’s coming next…yep…the good ole ‘Golly gee…Marvel does it AGAIN! Surprise…surprise! Didn’t see THAT coming’ line. But it’s true. They HAVE done it again, and by ‘it’, I mean give us another honestly entertaining and well-crafted addition to the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe. The original 2015 ‘Ant-Man’, despite the drama and problems behind-the-scenes, actually turned out pretty good. I had a fun time the first time I saw it and I liked the contributions that the ‘Scott Lang’ / ‘Ant-Man’ character brought to other titles following in the MCU. So on an already-warming Sunday morning, I traipsed on down to the local movie house…and it’s blessed air conditioning to see what Marvel Studios was laying out for us this time.
‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ picks up two years after we last saw ‘Scott’ (Paul Rudd) in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016), where he joined the epic German airport ‘Avenger-on-Avenger’ battle and ended up behind bars. For his trespasses, he’s handed 2 years house arrest and is quickly coming to the end of his sentence, which is just as well, as his boredom and potential stir-craziness are starting to show themselves. He does everything he can to maintain a relationship with his young daughter under the circumstances, but still shows some strain. With 3 days left, ‘Scott’ suddenly has a vision / flashback to his jump into the mysterious Quantum Realm at the end of ‘Ant-Man’ and in that vision, ‘Janet’ (Michelle Pfeiffer), the long-lost wife of ‘Ant Suit’ creator ‘Hank Pym’ (Michael Douglas) emerges, seeming to communicate to, or through, ‘Scott’. This prompts ‘Scott’ to reach out to ‘Hank’ and his daughter ‘Hope’ (Evangeline Lilly), who are now fugitives after the whole ‘Civil War’ fiasco. Contact regained, it’s discovered there’s a chance that ‘Janet’ can be rescued from her exile in the Quantum Zone, but only within a set amount of rapidly dwindling time. With those stakes set, they hit the ground running, having to evade not only the FBI and an unscrupulous black-market tech dealer named ‘Burch’ (Walton Goggins), but also a sinister and capable figure called ‘Ghost’, who’s intent on acquiring key pieces of ‘Pym’s re-sizing technology for her own purposes. ‘Ghost’ has an inconvenient habit of ‘phasing’ through matter, in a way that connects her to the Quantum Realm and puts her on a collision course with our heroes as they race against time and these various adversaries to rescue ‘Janet’.
Like I said before…I had fun with this movie. To sum it up, as I said to my fiance’ when I came home, if you liked the first ‘Ant-Man’…you will like ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’. For a director who was brought into the 2015 original late, after things soured between Marvel and original writer / director Edgar Wright (‘Shaun of the Dead’), Peyton Reed has picked up the ball and run with it. I liked what he did with the first flick, and I also had a good time with this one too. I don’t go to Marvel movies for any deep enlightenment, so if they can just entertain me without insulting my intelligence, I’m all good! Money well spent. Of course, some Marvel flicks are better than others and, for me, the ‘Ant-Man’ movies fall into the Others category. That’s in no means a criticism, simply an acknowledgment that while the MCU is almost entirely good quality…there are varying degrees of ‘good quality’. I’d put ‘Ant-Man’ in with titles like ‘Doctor Strange’ (2016), or the first two ‘Thor’ flicks. They’re perfectly fine and entertaining (albiet somewhat disposable), they just don’t hook as deeply as say, ‘Avenger’s 1 and 3’. Or any of the ‘Captain America’ entries.
One aspect that definitely works is the cast. Right off the bat, Paul Rudd again does a solid job as ‘Scott’, bringing his trade-mark charisma and subtle awkward humor to the character. Evangeline Lilly gets to dial things up this time with her portrayal of ‘Hope’ / ‘The Wasp 2’, getting way more into the action and playing a key role in the proceedings. Like Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas was a big deal to me growing up, so any time I can see him on The Big Screen is A-OK. Same goes for Michelle Pfeiffer…that woman still looks good! We’re also treated to Laurence Fishburne and Walton Goggins, which are always good to have turn up. The scene-stealers from the first flick, ‘Scott’s old criminal crew ‘Luis’ (Michael Pena), ‘Kurt’ (David Dastmachian) and ‘Dave’ (Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris) are back too and provide many of the chuckles scattered throughout the one hour 58 minute run-time. And like in the first movie, it’s Pena’s turn as ‘Luis’ that gets the biggest laugh with another of his crazy, multi-point anecdotes, this time told under the influence of a truth serum. I mostly just chuckled through this movie…but that scene cracked me up! Pena nailed it…with the help of some tight editing.
On a technical level, there’s a lot to love onscreen. The use of the resizing tech and the inventive possibilities for the story make for some cool sequences, from both an action and a humor perspective. I saw ‘A-M a TW’ in 3D and did not regret it. With some of the scenes being a visual and kinetic feast-for-the-eyes (the Quantum Realm instantly comes to mind), they did put in the work when it came to giving the audience an immersive time in the world of ‘Ant-Man.’
If I had to pull out a Negative, I would say that a couple of the earlier action scenes could’ve used a little more restraint in the Editing Room, with more wide shots being used to help maintain the geography of the action. It’s nothing catastrophic but I did notice a few frantic and clunky cuts that would’ve benefited from a lighter touch from the editor.
All in all, this is a worthy sequel and a nice addition to the MCU that I’m glad I made the effort to see in the theatre. It’s nothing that’s going to change the History of Cinema but, for the product that it is (let’s be honest, folks), it does what it sets out to do and that’s giving us our monies worth of action and spectacle. The story is nicely self-contained (taking place over just a few days) and right-to-the-point plot works, all within a very user-friendly run-time. Like I said at the beginning, the best way to classify this movie would be like this: if you liked the first ‘Ant-Man’, odds are very good that you’ll also enjoy ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’.
*As with all Marvel flicks, there are a couple post-credit scenes, one of which (the last one) is almost completely useless, while the mid-credit scene is vital, in how it ties into ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and how the stakes for ‘Scott’ suddenly go WAY up, which’ll be very interesting to see how it’s handled in the next, inevitable ‘Ant-Man’ appearance.