For the third time this year the monstrous might of Marvel takes over the cinema to deliver another ant infested serving of the MCU.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)is the 20th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and an action-comedy sequel to Ant-Man (2015). Once again directed by Peyton Reed (Bring it On, Yes Man, Ant-Man) it stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly as Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne respectively as they attempt to find a way to enter the Quantum Realm and rescue Hope’s long lost mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Much like the first one, Ant-Man and the Wasp comes on the heels of a monstrous Avengers film with a helping of a lighter, breezier and (ahem) smaller serving of Marvel media. A nice palette cleanser after the might of Avengers: Infinity War,it still sits firmly in mid-tier Marvel alongside the first film, but even moderate Marvel can offer fun, energetic experiences that are worth having.
The plot picks up after the events of Civil War as Scott is serving some fairly lenient time under house arrest. While the narrative offers plenty of contrivances and pretty obvious plot machinations, it clips along at the pace of an ant on a sugar cube bender which ensures that rarely not something to enjoy just around the next corner. Much like the first film, this is a movie of (ahem) small stakes that sees family drama and personal sacrifice take the helm ahead of saving the universe bravado and its all the stronger for it. I firmly believe the MCU is stronger through the sum of its parts and stories like this are great at fleshing out the universe as more than big guys in flashy costumes punching faceless henchmen. In many ways, this and the first film aren’t even superhero movies – more family dramedies with a healthy dose of heisting and science fiction thrown in for good measure.
Another positive boon for the film is the creativity and energy of the first film (which at the time I attributed to Edgar Wright) is back here in healthy doses. There’s some great and imaginative use of shrinking and the set pieces it allows for really are the stars in this film. Its helped along by some decent comedy too. Paul Rudd is clearly not one to shy away from flexing his comedic chops and while a few jokes come verrrry close to being painfully forced on the whole its more successful than not. Two recurring gags in particular had my audience collectively rolling in their seats, hinting that its likely to be a widely entertaining crowd-pleaser overall.
As far as the cast goes its business as usual based on the first film. Paul Rudd is as likeable a superhero as ever, and while Evangeline Lilly still doesn’t seem extremely comfortable as the straight woman to her more goofy co-lead she is still given plenty of times to shine. Michael Douglas doubles down on his ‘grumpy grandpa’ demeanour for the role of Hank Pym and once again standout Michael Peña shines as Scott’s goofy buddy Luis. As newcomers go however, its a bit more of a mixed bag. Michelle Pfeiffer is good but isn’t given an incredible amount to do, ditto for Laurence Fishburne and Walton Goggins as sub-villain Sonny is less of a character and more of a convenient plot piece for the narrative to move around as they see fit. A solid standout however is Hannah John-Kamen as the villain Ghost. Maintaining Marvel’s recent villain streak, while she’s not as compelling as Killmonger or as complex as Thanos, Ghost is still a surprisingly solid antagonist. Sympathetic, understandable and with a couple of twists that were very much appreciated, she blasts last film’s ‘Yellow Ant-Man’ out of the water.
Nothing special but still perfectly solid, Ant-Man and the Wasp offers all the (ahem) small stakes and light-hearted action, drama and comedy you’d expect from middle-of-the-road Marvel. Some inventive use of shrinking along with a few standout comedic moments give this a little memorability, but beyond that its content just being another solid entry in the juggernaut that is the MCU.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
True Believers (MCU): Highly Recommended