Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios
Directed by Peyton Reed
Produced by Kevin Feige/Stephen Broussard
Written by Chris McKenna/Erik Sommers/Paul Rudd/Andrew Barrer/Gabriel Ferrari
“Ant-Man” created by Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Larry Lieber
“The Wasp” created by Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Ernie Hart
I don’t know about you but after the downright horrifying conclusion of “Avengers: Infinity War” I could use some cheering up. And yes, I can hear you in the back screaming “Spoilers, dammit!” As if 95% of the current world population hasn’t seen “Avengers: Infinity War” by now. And if they haven’t then I seriously doubt they’d be interested in my piddling little review in that case.
And if you’re looking for cheering up in your superheroics then you have to look no further than ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. It’s a movie that is propelled along mostly by the charm and chemistry of Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/Ant-Man) Evangeline Lilly (Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp) and Michael Douglas (Dr. Henry “Hank” Pym/The Original Ant-Man) as they pinball through a plot that has echoes of the caper/heist of the first “Ant-Man” movie but quickly establishes itself as it’s own story. One that I’m happy doesn’t hinge on our heroes saving the world. I’ve long been an advocate that not every superhero has to have the fate of the entire planet at stake. What is at stake in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is far more personal for our heroes. Or it’s more proper to call them protagonists. Because in a superhero movie you have supervillains, right? Not in this one. Better to call them antagonists. Because nobody here is out to conquer the world or destroy it. The motivations on both sides are strong and down to earth. Whether it be financial gain, validation of one’s life work or the saving of life.
Scott Lang has been under house arrest since the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and his sentence is almost up. He’s got three days to go before he’s a free man and he plans on doing nothing more with the rest of his life than watching his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) grow up and running his security consulting business with his ex-con partners (Michael Pena, Tip “T.I.” Harris & David Dastmalchian).
That’s before Dr. Hank Pym and his daughter Hope show up. They’re still mad at Scott because his going rogue to side with Captain America and using Pym technology violated the Sokovia Accord and meant that they had to go on the run. Still being hunted by the FBI, Hank and Hope have taken the risk to contact Scott because they think he holds the key to rescuing Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) the original Wasp. Besides Janet, Scott is the only other human to have shrunk down to such a sub-atomic level that he was able to access The Quantum Realm where Janet has been trapped since the 1980s. Hank and Hope have constructed a quantum tunnel for this purpose.
They need a vital component from technology black marketeer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) but Scott’s participation is absolutely vital. The component is also vital to the continued health and well being of The Ghost/Ava Starr (Hannah John-Kamen) a former S.H.I.E.L.D. operative who, due to a failed experiment when she was a child now has the ability to become intangible, enabling her to walk through objects like…well, like ghost. Ava needs Pym’s technology to stabilize her metabolism before her own cellular structure tears itself apart.
The MacGuffin everybody needs is Hank Pym’s laboratory, an imposing skyscraper that he can shrink down to the size of a carry-on suitcase (it comes with it’s own handle) that houses all the tech needed by the various factions and most of the movie is spent with the miniaturized lab passing from one group to another who then has to steal it from that group only to have…well, you get the idea.
Much like the first movie, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is fearless in its willingness to accept and have fun with the goofy premise of a superhero who can change sizes and talk to insects. It certainly helps that we have actors with the stature and gravitas of Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne (as Dr. Bill Foster, a former partner of Hank’s. Long time comic book fans will recognize the name. For the rest of you, there’s Google.) and Michelle Pfeiffer who take this stuff seriously but yet are able to have fun with the material. It’s a fine line to walk so that one doesn’t step over the line to where the actors are winking at the camera but the three old pros know how to do it.
Paul Rudd’s characterization of Scott Lang as a guy who wants to do the right thing and help out his friends as long as it doesn’t hurt his daughter is right on point. And as Cassie, Abby Ryder Fortson hits the right notes in every scene she’s in. She acts as the conscience of her father, recognizing his true nature and nudging him in the direction he should go with that kid wisdom that is mind-expanding in its sincere simplicity. Evangeline Lilly looked to me as if she was having the time of her life in this movie and Marvel really needs to get their shit together and put characters like The Wasp, Black Widow and Valkyrie in their solo movies.
What else? I love how the movie gives us new applications of size changing, showing how it can be used offensively, defensively and for stealth purposes. With the right amount of imagination, size changing can be a tremendous superpower. And with the right imagination put into the story, special effects and characters, a movie like ANT-MAN AND THE WASP can be tremendous fun to watch. Go and have yourself a good time. And by all means, make sure you take the kids. Why should you have all the fun? Enjoy.