‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Review

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,  is a refreshing change of pace following the heavier-themed Avengers: Infinity War.

Following the events of Captain America: Civil War (Marvel loves their colons), the ex-con-turned-superhero Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) has managed to make major inroads with his daughter, his ex-wife, and her new husband, despite being on house arrest, and despite the constant harassment courtesy of the inept FBI Agent, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). With only three days of house arrest remaining until he gets that sweet freedom, something unexpected happens: Scott has a dream in which he sees his scorned lover, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lily), as a child playing hide and seek with her mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is presumed dead.

Scott quickly dials up Hope on his burner phone to tell her about his dream. Soon after, he is kidnapped and his ankle monitor placed on a large ant that would probably be a solid roommate, and taken to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope’s hideout — a 12-story building that can shrink to the size of an obnoxious piece of luggage. Hank and Hope explain to Scott that they’ve been working on building a tunnel to the quantum realm and that his dream was not a dream at all — Scott and Janet are “quantumly entangled” and his dream was a sign from Janet. Needing one more key piece to complete the tunnel to the quantum realm, the band of fugitives arrange a meeting with the black market arms dealer, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins). As the exchange goes awry, a new, mysterious figure that is “quantumly unstable,” Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), arrives, and steals Hank’s portable lab (the 12-story building, now in checked-baggage form). Scott, Hank, and Hope are in a race against time to bring Janet back from the quantum realm and, more importantly, for Scott to get off house arrest.

Peyton Reed (The Break-up; Yes Man) returns to direct Ant-Man and the Wasp after taking over the reigns from Edgar Wright during pre-production of Ant-Man. One of the great “what ifs” is what Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man would’ve looked like. Nonetheless, there were scenes in the first that were invariably his design – namely Luis’s (Michael Pena) storytelling. Peyton had a fresh canvas here and he did superbly. The humor was as good as the first and the addition of Wasp and Ghost added a new dimension to the action. Perhaps what I like most about the film, and its predecessor, is that they are down-to-earth. Unlike some Marvel films that feature a grand existential threat, the main conflict here is central to the characters. In other words, the crises of the characters don’t extend far past them.

At points (read: most of the movie), I thought that the filmmakers used the word “quantum” way too much. Scott even makes a joke about other characters “putting ‘quantum’ in front of anything.” I’m not a scientist so perhaps it’s me being dumb, but after watching the movie and writing this, I never want to hear the word “quantum” again.

The cast of Ant-Man and the Wasp was excellent and the chemistry was great. Paul Rudd’s subtle, goofy persona is perfect for the Ant-Man character and the lighthearted film Marvel intended to deliver. What stood out most to me about Paul Rudd’s performance was his physical acting. While not over-the-top, Paul Rudd’s body language can convey more emotion and humor than most actors. Evangeline Lily was great as Hope/Wasp. Her and Paul Rudd have excellent chemistry and it continued from the first movie. To be completely honest, I thought Elizabeth Banks played Hope in Ant-Man and they replaced her in this film with Evangeline Lily. Apologies to Evangeline Lily, but they do look similar.

Anyway, she was great and I enjoyed seeing her fighting style contrasted with Ant-Man’s. While Scott, the ex-con, fights more like a brute (despite his small stature), Wasp’s style is much quicker and more precise. And, not to mention, her suit featured cannons and had wings. Much like in the first film, the supporting cast shined. Scott’s team – Luis (Michael Pena), Kurt (David Dastmalchian), and Dave (T.I.) — exceeded expectations as their roles were expanded ever so slightly for this sequel. I’d pay to watch a spin-off with just those three. Walton Goggins is always a treat to watch even though this character is toned-down compared to others he has played. Randall Park was hilarious as the Clouseau-like Jimmy Woo. I haven’t seen much of Park’s work outside of Office Christmas Party but I may need to check it out now. Lastly, I want to mention the actress that plays Cassie, Abby Ryder Fortson. She has some serious acting chops and was phenomenal in this film. Keep an eye out for her.

Ant-Man and the Wasp was a great addition to the MCU and was just as good as the first. Though it lacks the high stakes featured in some other Marvel films, the film delivers with great humor, a solid story, and a great cast. I look forward to seeing these characters again.

83/100


*Note* there is a mid-credits scene (important) and a post-credits scene (not so important).

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