Reviewed by Steve McGowan
Ant-Man and the Wasp is the one of the first MCU movies post-Infinity War, but the film doesn’t take place after the events of that film, but rather just before it. So if you’re going in with expectations of a continuation of that spectacular cliffhanger, you’re out of luck; you won’t find it in this film. However, what you will get is a fun, light-hearted adventure with our affable putz of a hero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), and his literal partners in crime: Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and the lovable ex-con trio of Luis (Michael Peña), Kurt (David Dastmalchian), and Dave (Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris). After the really dark ending of Avengers: Infinity War, we’re back in cheerful Marvel movie territory. Ant-Man and the Wasp is part heist, part sci-fi adventure, and part family comedy, but with hi-tech vessels and car chases. It’s like The Italian Job had a baby with Innerspace (or The Fantastic Voyage), with some super-heroics thrown into the mix. It sounds like a messy premise, but for the most part it works. Some of it doesn’t. However it’s a sequel that’s every bit as fun as the original Ant-Man film, so if you enjoyed that you’ll love this too.
Mild spoilers follow!
After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott took a plea deal with the government and is now under house arrest. He is close to finishing his sentence though, and he and his pals Luis, Kurt, and Dave have set up a security consulting company. He has a good relationship with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), whom he plays with some elaborately designed and adorable play-sets at home. However, his relationship with Hope and her dad Hank Pym have soured, due to him stealing the Ant-Man suit for his adventure with Captain America in the events of Captain America: Civil War. As a result of using Pym’s tech for illegal purposes, Pym and his daughter have been deemed criminally liable for what happened, but they’re fugitives on the run from the law.
It seemed Scott would not see them again until… he has a dream about Hank’s wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), and it felt so real he called Hank about it. Hope shows up and kidnaps Scott, for they are working on a secret project to return to the quantum realm to find Janet. Hank and Hope think Janet is sending a message to them through Scott, who had also entered the quantum realm but returned alive to tell the tale in the previous Ant-Man movie. To find Janet, the Pyms build a gateway to the quantum realm in their lab, along with a nifty looking ship to take them there. Hope has also suited up in a shrinking suit of her own as the Wasp, and her suit is armed with blasters and a pair of wings. Amusingly, the Pyms have an army of size-enhance ants that they’ve “programmed” to do their bidding, which includes doing odd jobs around the lab.
However, as fugitives, it is not easy for Hank and Hope to purchase equipment for their project. They find themselves entangled with a shady black market dealer named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who is looking to get his hands on Pym’s tech for his own nefarious ends (profit). Thrown into the mix is a mysterious woman in a high-tech suit who can phase through solid matter (Hannah John Kamen). Dubbed “Ghost” by our heroes, she also wants to steal Pym’s technology. And to top it off, the Pyms also have to evade the long arm of the law, led FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). The heroes ask for help from Pym’s former colleague Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne). Can our heroes save Janet? Can they evade the bad guys and the FBI? What is up with Ghost lady? Will Scott get into trouble again? The film keeps us on our toes all the time as our heroes move from conflict to conflict, with barely any time to breathe.
Central to the powers of the Ant-Man family is Hank Pym’s size-changing technology, which is used by our heroes in incredibly creative ways from storing vehicles as toy cars, or shrinking their entire lab building and taking it with them like a suitcase. Size-changing is used very effectively during fights and action sequences in the film, and the use of size-changing during car chases is not something we’ve ever seen in a film before, and it’s highly entertaining to watch.
The cast gives a great performance in the movie, particularly the talents of Paul Rudd, Michael Peña, and Randall Park shine as they get to showcase some incredibly charming comedic chops. Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie provides some really sweet moments with Scott, while Michelle Pfeiffer is as amazing as ever as the long-lost Janet Van Dyne. Michael Douglas plays Hank as a highly irritable grump, although he isn’t abrasive to the levels for which he is infamous for in the comics. Hannah John Kamen as the unhinged-yet-sympathetic Ghost was also compelling. Sadly, Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp is just sort of “adequately there”, despite her sharing the billing with Ant-Man. It’s a shame really, that her character was the least interesting protagonist. Walton Goggin’s Sonny Burch was a completely unnecessary addition to the film, which already feels a bit overstuffed, and they add nothing except as a cartoonish foil for Luis and his gang. Similarly Lawrence Fishburne’s character also felt extraneous, and didn’t have much to do in it.
In conclusion, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a worthy sequel to the first film, although the character of Wasp needed some defining character moments of her own. The pacing, stunts and humor are all on point, although some characters and subplots feel unnecessary. It’s the last Marvel movie of 2018 before the next Avengers comes around, and you’ll definitely want to see a tease of what’s to come in the post-credits scene.
I give Ant-Man and the Wasp 4 out of 5 giant ants.