MOVIE: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
STARRING: PAUL RUDD; EVANGELINE LILLY; MICHAEL PENA; MICHAEL DOUGLAS; MICHELLE PFEIFFER
DIRECTED BY: PEYTON REED
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
After the gloomy tone of Avengers: Infinity War, we are given an energetic, delightful, and welcoming attitude in Marvels newest installment: Ant-Man and the Wasp. We pick up in the action following the events of Captain America: Civil War. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is now under the watch of the FBI, with three days left of house arrest, striving to be a great father to his daughter, and not in good graces with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne aka Wasp (Evangeline Lilly). Peyton Reed returns in the directors chair, after the mild success of the first Ant-installment, working with a more familiar cast of characters, and relying heavily on the charm of Rudd and the kick-ass skills of Lilly, to make Ant-Man and the Wasp a dynamic duo.
Ranging in the sizes of a microscopic human to a behemoth of enormous proportions, the Ant-Man has plenty to offer to audiences, but the narratives of these two films about this incredible fighting shrinking man, is what I consider more of a pallet cleanser in the Marvel cinematic universe. This time is no different, but with engaging action, and well-timed humor, it all gels nicely together. Working with five different screenwriters, the focus is placed on family, with Rudd trying to get back in on the action with Hank and Hope, by helping them reach the quantum realm to retrieve wife and mother Janet Van Dyne (a sadly underused Michelle Pfeiffer). But, in order to reach her, they must avoid Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), an evil arms dealer, and a villain that moves through walls by the name of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen).
In my Spider-Man: Homecoming review, I mentioned that Marvel Studios had pinpointed what was missing to make these movies work consistently: figure out the villain problem first and have plenty of laughs. Instead of a vicious bad guy, Ghost, with the help of former Pym research partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), is motivated by past family problems. She is not a villain of pure evil. This is another baddy with a human side, motivated by her tragic loss, which is connected to Hank Pym. The main conflict for our heroes is a rescue effort, with the Ant-Team avoiding obstacles in their way and fighting the clock to find a lost family member. It also helps to have Paul Rudd, an actor that continues to shine in every role. His natural wit and charm is on full display as Lang, someone who still can't believe he's a superhero and has hilarious charisma with his ex-con security buddies Kurt (David Dastmalchian), Dave (T.I. Tip Harris) and a scene stealing, motor mouthed, Michael Pena as Luis. Then you have the Wasp, relishing in her opportunity to beat a lot of people up, breaking out in a movie that is small in stature, but big in spirit.
I also want to praise the special effects in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Various flashback scenes of a younger Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laurence Fishburne is groundbreaking CGI work, the likes we never have seen. Similar to the Carrie Fisher technology in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it's a wonder how we haven't gone back in time to make another Fatal Attraction or Pfeiffer reprising her historic turn as Catwoman in Batman Returns. On top of that magic, there is plenty of fun in the various scenes involving Ant-Man in his miniature crime fighter size or in his monstrous Godzilla-state. This is a superhero that makes watching him in action a joy.
There may be a bit too much going on in Ant-Man and the Wasp, but what it lacks for in cinematic style, makes up for it in pure, unbridled entertainment. I think that's why I enjoy these Ant-Man movies in the end. The stakes are not as high and the laughs are plenty. The energy is lighthearted and the action is fun. What Ant-Man and the Wasp might lack in size, sure packs an enjoyable punch.
Written by: Leo Brady