Coming shortly after Avengers: Infinity War in its arrival on screen but taking place slightly before, director Peyton Reed returns bringing Paul Rudd, also credited as one of five writers on the script, Evangeline Lilly and all the rest of the colony back from Ant-Man for a sequel which serves as a welcome uplift from the dark events of Infinity War.
It’s been nearly two years since the events of Captain America: Civil War and Scott Lang (Rudd) has been punished for his involvement in breaking the Sokovia Accords and joining forces with “the Cap,” as he likes to call him. As alluded to in Infinity War, Hawkeye and Ant-Man cut a deal with the government, to step away from the superhero role, and focus on their families.
For his part in the “giant superhero battle of the German airport,” Scott was sentenced to two years house arrest, and never to be Ant-Man again, destroying the suit. Soon to be a free man, he hopes to become the better father Cassie deserves and leaving crime and superheroics behind he has been working to build a security firm with Luis and his old crew of ex-cons.
By using their shrinking technology during the incident Scott also put Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Lilly) on the US Government’s fugitive list and has had no contact with them since; by rushing off to fight alongside Captain America Scott messed up not just his own life, but theirs as well.
With just days before his sentence due to end Scott has flashes of his time in the quantum realm where he shrank to subatomic scale and where Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) was lost, leading Hank and Hope to try and retrieve her by building a quantum bridge, but they are not the only the only ones seeking this technology though. A new adversary, Ghost, with the ability to phase in and out of the physical world seeks the same device to save herself from a condition for which she blames Hank Pym.
All the setup done at quite a pace which at times feels like an exposition dump, it is the antithesis of the decade long build towards Infinity War, though half the problems in Scott and Hank’s lives could probably have been solved if various characters had actually sat down and talked to each other at any point over the last twenty years, but such is the way of cinematic drama.
Ghost, played by Ready Player One‘s Hannah John-Kamen, is a suitably powered antagonist that can give Ant-Man and the Wasp a run for their money, but it is a slight concern that her last two big screen outings have leant her towards femme fatale action villains as she clearly has talent and range and the brief moments here where she is allowed to expand on the character shows that she is capable of more.
The action sequences are a good and natural progression from Ant-Man: Hope, seen training Scott to fight in the first movie, is a skilled fighter who incorporates her suit’s upgraded abilities to her fighting style, but also uses the shrinking/growing tech on objects mid-fight and extending to hugely entertaining vehicle chases and building shrinking shenanigans.
Where Honey, I Shrunk The Kids spurred a brief big screen boom of shrinking from the late eighties that ran for a short time before becoming worn out, Ant-Man has not only made shrinking cool again but the sequel has found innovative ways to keep the action fresh and fun to watch.
The light-hearted feel of the original is still present and highlighted in the comedic form of Michael Peña returning as Luis, meaning another superb summary of events which for now at least is still very entertaining. There are minor points where the comedic feel could have been dialled back such as with the FBI agents being a little too “Saturday morning cartoon,” but overall the movie keeps a good level throughout, and even takes the occasional potshot at its own franchise by mocking the frequently used “Marvel disguise kit” of baseball cap and sunglasses.
While not without minor faults and perhaps holding few real surprises, Ant-Man and the Wasp is thoroughly entertaining, Rudd and Lilly are endearing and always fun to watch interacting on screen, and for their twentieth film Marvel have once again managed to find a new approach to keep their property fresh.
A tale of family and a personal quest rather than devastation or political upheaval, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a welcome palette cleanser between the serious events of Infinity War and what is yet to come, there are moments where the emotional payoffs are done well, particularly for Lilly and Pfeiffer, and as for precisely how it ties with the impending arrival of Thanos, well, a Marvel fan knows to stay through the credits.
Ant-Man And The Wasp is currently on general release and also screening in 3D and IMAX