Published on July 6th, 2018 | by Dan Nicholls


Ant-Man and The Wasp

By keeping the focus contained to these characters instead of the larger Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp forms a comfortable little utopia of its own.

Fresh off the heels of the biggest domestic superhero movie ever (Black Panther) and the biggest opening weekend of all time (Avengers: Infinity War) comes something considerably subdued from Marvel Studios. Ant-Man and the Wasp is enormously fun even while drastically dialed back in scale and it’s all the better for it; this adventure is a breath of fresh air and a nice reminder that these movies can be pure, unadulterated fun even while world-changing events are happening in the greater world around them.

When we last saw ex-con Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) he was about to be broken out of superhero prison by Captain America at the conclusion of Captain America: Civil War. If you’ve never seen that pseudo-Avengers mashup flick don’t worry – this movie will make sure you understand Ant-Man’s role in that movie’s amazing airport fight sequence at least a half dozen times. Outside of that, mercifully, there are zero MCU cameos. It’s so refreshing the whole thing may as well be served with a litre of lemonade.

While locked up on house arrest Scott is pulled back into the hero game by Hope van Dyne a.k.a. the Wasp (Evangeline Lily) and her genius father, scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Hank and Hope are looking for a way into the quantum realm in an attempt to rescue their long-missing matriarch Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Scott’s experience at the climax of 2015’s intro to the character could be the key to everything.

They’re pursued by a series of antagonists including the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and standard-issue-rich-white-guy-in-a-suit villain Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) but there’s hardly any mortal threat to be found. Instead, the movie eventually morphs into a superhero Cannonball Run while everyone does a madcap dash to obtain Hank’s shrunken science lab (the only place where the quantum realm can be accessed, of course). Scott and Hope shrink down, grow up, and pull off some dizzying and magnificent stunts from beginning to end.

The movie should really be called The Wasp and Ant-Man because Marvel’s first titular female hero absolutely owns the show here. In fact, Scott/Ant-Man is a passive agent in the proceedings only to be pulled in as a plot device when convenient and a cool supporting quip and action machine on a regular basis. The brilliant Michael Peña’s motormouth character Luis blesses us with an expanded presence this go-round, while he ex-con pals Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian) jump in for support when the going gets tough. Peña is hilarious, and T.I. is genuinely a talented comedic talent. The erstwhile rapper also stole scenes in Identity Thief and the dreadful Get Hard and one can only hope he’s utilized the way he deserves from here.

The plot isn’t anything to write home about but it’s buoyed by relentlessly entertaining dialogue and performances. In comparison to the original Ant-Man, this one’s a marginal improvement on almost every level. The mechanics of the plot are the low point in an otherwise superbly crafted piece of summertime escapism.

By keeping the focus contained to these characters instead of the larger Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp is able to form a little utopia of its own. This isn’t going to be anyone’s most loved MCU title but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who outright dislikes it. It’s peppy and pleasant while pursuing its own purpose. The inevitable post-credits scene is the only time we get pulled back out to be reminded of the massive moves at play in the universe, but that’s hardly a squabble. For everything you get as it is, Ant-Man and the Wasp buzzes with its own current of super powered cinematic electricity.

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is a Vancouver-based, lifelong movie geek who's been a projectionist, critic, director, (accidental) actor, and writer in the industry since E.T. phoned home. @dannicholls

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