Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Pena, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Walton Goggins, Randall Park, Abby Ryder
Director: Peyton Reed
Rating: 3.5 / 5
As if it were cleverly synchronized to calm our nerves after the Big Bang that was Avengers: Infinity War, the latest offer from Marvel Ant-Man and The Wasp is a happy, happy and relatively low adventure. It is not as if the characters in this movie do not flirt with danger, or that there is no bad guy trying to do it, there is. But nobody is trying to end the world, nobody is erasing whole cities … and what a relief!
Taking a tone that is mainly playful, and following rhythms that are more personal than other films in Marvel’s film universe, Ant-Man’s films represent a welcome change of pace, and are rooted in an unmistakable sense of fun.
The always sympathetic Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang, former thief, who accidentally found a “super suit” that allowed him to shrink to the size of a small creature. Taking place not long after the events of Captain America: Civil War, the new film opens with Scott under house arrest for his role in the massive destruction caused during the Cap vs. Iron Man clash in Germany.
The Wasp for his Ant-Man is Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), daughter of the atomic scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who invented the technology that allows Lang to reduce its size so drastically. Once separated from her father, Hope is now working with him, and much of the plot of the film involves her efforts to rescue Jane, Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has been trapped during 30 years in the Kingdom of Quantum.
The family, in fact, is one of the main themes in Ant-Man and the Wasp, with a significant screen time dedicated to Scott and his daughter Cassie. The girl, who lives with her mother and stepfather, often stays under Scott’s care while confined to her home, and their relationship is sweet without being cloying.
A great highlight of Ant-Man 2015 was the tremendous climatic sequence in which a train installed in Cassie’s bedroom became the battlefield for a confrontation between our minuscule hero and the villain of the film. The returning director, Peyton Reed, further exploits the film’s conceit to stage imaginative pieces once again, this time involving cars at full speed that are reduced and return to medium size, the search for Hank’s laboratory shrunk to look like a piece of hand luggage, and a scene at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco featuring the protagonist in ‘expanded mode’ in what could well be a nod to the 1958 cult hit Attack of the 50-foot woman.
Unlike most superhero movies, the focus is on fun rather than the show, and much humor is drawn from the scenes involving Scott’s cronies (led by Michael Peña, a scene stealing) They are trying to take off their security business. However, less fun is the dense and impenetrable techno-babble between Hank and Hope that goes beyond your head … and also Scott’s. “Do you put ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” He asks, as if reading his mind.
The new characters include Laurence Fishburne as former SHIELD agent and former Hank colleague, and Ghost, an anguished villain (Hannah John-Kamen) who can ‘go through’ solid surfaces. They exist only to promote the plot, but the heavy work is left by the trio of Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas, who anchor the drama of the film, and provide clues to any awkward questions they may have about the next movie of the films. Avengers year.
I go with three and a half out of five for Ant-Man and Wasp. It is a consistently pleasant movie that is safer than its predecessor, and although it is never a pioneer, it will have a lot of fun.