Ant-Man and the Wasp
by George Wolf
Like the titular heroes who get small to do big things, Ant-Man and the Wasp gets a boost by making its stakes more personal, and its mojo a sweet, witty blast.
“Do you guys just put ‘quantum’ in front of everything?”
Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) asks that question for him and for us. The answer is yes, they do, but don’t sweat the science and the fun will win out.
Scott’s on the outs with just about everyone since his assist to Captain America (“We call him Cap!”) in Civil War, but he just might be what Dr. Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) need to rescue their long lost wife/mother Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the “quantum realm” that’s held her for decades.
The team could be on to something huge, and their research has many interested and scary parties, including “Ghost” (Hannah John-Kamen from Black Mirror and Ready Player One), a molecularly challenged young lady who thinks it could save her life.
Too serious? Anything but.
Thanks to Rudd’s comic timing and affable charm, Ant-Man becomes the family friendly cousin to Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool. Like Reynolds on his DP projects, Rudd again earns a writing credit, filling his character with plenty of snappy dialogue and tongue-in-cheek humor that feels like a comfortable extension of Rudd’s own persona.
He’s a natural, but Lilly is the welcome surprise here. The Wasp’s intro in the first film often seemed like an awkward distraction, but she earns the equal marquee time with a script that allows Lilly the chance to make the character matter.
Director Peyton Reed is also back from part one, showing a confident grasp on Ant-Man’s role in the Marvel Universe. He keeps the pace quick, the gags (many featuring a scene-stealing Michael Pena) on a PG-13 speed dial, and the effects team busy, showcasing plenty of the amazing scale-altering set pieces that give this franchise its unique calling card.
The film knows its place in Marvel’s lineup, too, and that’s hardly an accident. Good as Infinity War was, the break from galaxy-hopping is welcome. Two of the writers from Spider-Man: Homecoming are on board this time, bringing some of the less-is-more sensibility which gave that film such an unexpected freshness.
Yes, it could stand to lose about fifteen minutes of excess, but AMATW has an unassuming vibe that is infectious fun, and the perfect palate cleanser before another bite of Thanos.
And don’t leave early, or you’ll miss a mid-credits bonus that might drop some jaws.