By Jason Martin, July 6, 2018
Sometimes it’s okay for a movie not to try to change your worldview or really assault your senses with anything other than pure entertainment, and after a heavy-handed, yet wildly successful turn to the dark side for Marvel with Avengers: Infinity War, Paul Rudd steps back into his sometimes tiny, sometimes gigantic super suit and brings the laughs one would expect from the still young Ant-Man franchise.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is not going to save the universe, but it’s worth the price of admission and then some because it’s so enjoyable, and through the process of its story, it doesn’t wear out its welcome. The original Ant-Man hit theaters in 2015, and, despite not being one of the more recognizable, glitzy, A-list heroes, did well at the box office and in the reviews. If you enjoyed the first film, you’ll enjoy the second almost as much, or perhaps more, dependent upon whether you’re okay with much of the humor being telegraphed and dumbed down.
The story is both razor thin and obnoxiously complex. What does that mean? It means the mythology behind things like the Quantum Realm and some of the technological definitions are beyond what the audience is going to be able to grasp in specifics. Luckily, none of it matters. As long as you realize the difference between our world and another one where things are less stable, far more mysterious, and people can be lost inside this alternate plane of existence, you basically get the gist of it. So, when things start to sound wonky, just tune it out, because it’s irrelevant to the entertainment value of the movie.
Generally, the story is anything but deep, and calling the movie “light” isn’t out of place, especially in comparison to some of the more elaborate MCU entries of the past few years.
This is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film since Infinity War and the 20th overall, but the Ant-Man sequel takes place prior to the events of that movie. At this point, if you don’t know how that movie ended, you’re probably not interested in this one, but needless to say, it relied upon an open-ended villain-centric victory, at least temporarily, and left more questions than answers. Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn’t really touch on these issues at all, instead focusing on the story of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) as they search for her mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Paul Rudd reprises his lead role as Scott Lang, or this generation’s Ant-Man, and just as he was in the first entry, he’s very good and was a perfect casting choice for the character. However, the first half of the film suffers due to some rudimentary and surface dialogue that comes across as contrived and unnecessary. It leaves more of a campy feel, and that may have been writer Chris McKenna’s intent, but at times it does have a tendency to bring out a few eye rolls due to just how obvious and then over-explained the jokes are, particularly early in the film.
For as predictable as the conclusion is, the road to get there is much more joyride than slog, and benefits from the chemistry of the cast, as Rudd and Lilly work exceptionally well together and Douglas plays the aging, pessimistic, cantankerous Hank Pym beautifully. The real star of the movie, however, is Michael Pena, whose Luis is consistently and uproariously funny. He was the breakout hero of the 2015 original, and he’s even better this time around, as are his X-Con Security co-workers Tip “T.I.” Harris and David Dastmalchian.
Another treat comes in the form of the always great Walton Goggins, who was born to play a blatant antagonist, and in Ant-Man and the Wasp, he’s up to the task yet again as the ruthless businessman, Sonny Burch. Basically, anything this guy touches is worth seeing just for him if nothing else, and I highly recommend both Justified and The Shield to anybody looking for great television, but he’s getting more and more opportunities on the big screen and regularly takes full advantage of the chances.
In addition, Laurence Fishburne adds a bit more gravitas to the cast as Hank Pym’s former friend and colleague, Bill Foster. He has wanted to be a part of the MCU for quite some time, and he certainly doesn’t phone the performance in. Randall Park steps back into movies and away from Fresh Off the Boat on ABC to play FBI agent Jimmy Woo, and as usual, is funny in both a deliberate and deadpan way.
If you like Marvel films, see this one. If you like good summer popcorn fare, see this film. If you haven’t watched the original, you can survive without it, but I would strongly suggest heading to Netflix and remedying that problem before buying a ticket to Ant-Man and the Wasp. First, the 2015 entry is very good and worth your time, but it will make the 2018 experience and the story much more meaningful to you, which is additionally important because the script is relatively flimsy on its own.
One more note: Stay through the credits. This is one of those where you’ll be extremely disappointed if you find out afterwards that you left and missed what Marvel has in store before closing the curtain on the movie.
I’ll give it a B. It was good, but it was predictable and thin. I liked it very much and it’s an extremely easy watch, but it’s inessential overall to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s absolutely worth seeing and is plenty of fun. Another successful foray for the Ant-Man character, which you may have overlooked, but need to revisit. These movies are two for two folks, and batting .1000, even in just two installments, is still an accomplishment.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a solid, albeit unspectacular effort from Marvel. But that’s more than enough reason to shell out the dough to have a good time. That’s what this movie brings with it. Pure entertainment.