Superhero Romp with a Screwball Feel
In the post-Thanos world of the MCU, itís nice to be welcomed into the comforting arms of a film we can simply sit back and enjoy. And thatís certainly the case with Ant-Man and the Wasp, a fast-paced, funny, superhero romp that is light on emotion and heavy on humor -- something we can all use about now following the uncharacteristically bleak note that left Marvel-ites reeling from the heartbreaking sadness of this yearís Avengers: Infinity War. As we learned in 2015ís Ant-Man, size does indeed matter and, appropriately enough, this is a much smaller Marvel movie in both tone and presence within the MCU itself. It bucks the trend of superhero theatrics by placing far more emphasis on humor and lightheartedness than it does on spectacle and Marvel euphoria. And it is a better movie because of it.
Thatís not to say Ant-Man and the Wasp lacks exciting action. There is plenty of that. In fact, much of the filmís enjoyment comes from its thrilling chase and fight scenes. Even harrowing chase sequences through the hilly streets of San Francisco are drop dead funny in and of themselves. After all, what is there not to like about a bad guy being separated from his speeding motorcycle by a giant Pez dispenser bouncing down the road? And watching a miniaturized Wasp run along the length of a chefís knife thrown at her by a bad guy is just flat-out cool as hell. It is in these smallest of moments that Ant-Man and the Wasp finds its biggest success.
The film opens with Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) under house arrest and sporting a shiny new ankle bracelet due to his involvement in the events that occurred in Captain America: Civil War. Heís biding his time by lying around playing the electronic drums and pondering his future as a superhero and as a dad to daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Just three more days and heíll be set free to join his ex-con friends at the security company they all own.
But his freedom is jeopardized when Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) approach with a new mission which forces Scott to don the Ant-Man suit once again and fight alongside The Wasp to rescue Hopeís mom (Michelle Pfeiffer) who was believed dead. Due to a recent discovery, they have reason to believe that she has been trapped alive within the subatomic quantum realm for the last 30 years -- and with the aid of a newly invented piece of technology, Scott is the only one who can locate her.
The team encounters a few bumps in the road, however, as they soon learn that FBI agent Woo (Randall Park) is relentlessly hoping to prove Scott is violating his house arrest, while a sleazy black market technology dealer (Walton Goggins) seem willing to do anything to get his grimy hands on the new technology, and a mysterious figure called Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) continues to turn up at the worst moments.
Thatís a lot of moving parts and intertwining threads to keep up with, but director Peyton Reed keeps everything fast-paced and always exciting. Thereís a sort of screwball comedy feel to the proceedings that also plays nicely into the buffoonery of the filmís clownish villains.
Of course, the filmís ace in the hole is Rudd, whose self-deprecating humor and affable nature plays perfectly alongside the more serious nature of Lillyís Wasp. The return of Michael PeŮa as Scottís best friend and fellow ex-con is a much appreciated call. He certainly lit up the first film with his hilarious schtick and continues to do so this time around as well. His truth serum gag is sure to go down as an all-time classic.
Ant-Man and the Wasp ends up a much-welcome summer delight and the perfect diversion from the recent wave of hopelessness that continues to ripple throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It certainly canít be considered essential Marvel viewing (thatís a good thing), and though a half-step down from 2015ís stand-alone original, it is guaranteed to entertain audiences, six to sixty, whether superhero fans or not.
(Released by by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/ Marvel Studios, and rated ďPG-13Ē for some sci-fi action violence.)
Review also posted at www.franksreelreviews.com.