Ant-Man And The Wasp

Of all the superhero movies released in the immediate wake of the seismic climax of Infinity War, surely Ant-Man & The Wasp had the greatest challenge of the lot. Having the unenviable task to follow up Marvel’s devastating one-two punch of Black Panther and and the result of Thanos snapping his bling is not a job I’d wish on anyone, but it’s not like the Ant-Man franchise hasn’t stared towering adversity in the face before…
The first Ant-Man, an amusing oddity in the MCU pantheon, was left to close out Phase 2 after the rather bloated Avengers: Age Of Ultron and ended up being somewhat of a smaller, but more satisfying experience despite the zero hour hiring of Yes Man director Peyton Reed. Diving into the breach and crafting a fun superhero/heist/comedy out of the void left by a departing Edgar Wright, Ant-Man opened up another intriguing corner of the shared universe that brought the laughs despite being a tad uneven.
With this sequel, which finally sticks a female’s superpowered alter-ego in the title thanks to the ascension of Evangeline Lily’s blaster shooting Wasp; and with no behind the scenes worries to hamper production, how does Marvel’s 20th production fare against the might of Thanos’ will or the honour of Wakanda?
Honestly? It doesn’t even bother. Two films of such size and scale? Why would It? So, much like it’s Pym Particle powered heroes, the movie’s solution to such a huge obstacle is to once again go small…

It’s been two years since Civil War ravaged the Avengers and for most of that time erstwhile Ant-Man Scott Lang has been moping around his lodgings on house arrest thanks to him tearing up a Berlin airport with Captain America. Estranged from original Ant-Man Hank Pym and his daughter Hope, it seems his size-shifting hero days are at an end but a dream/vision of Hank’s wife Janet, trapped for decades in a microscopic dimension known as the Quantum Realm means that that have to forces a truce. As they try and get information out of Scott’s vision, Hope aims to purchase the components necessary to create a Quantum Tunnel by shady black market tech dealer Sonny Burch. However superhuman saboteur  Ghost is desperately searching for a cure for her out of control phasing powers and the Lifeforce of Janet Pym may be the answer. As these disparate groups come into conflict while playing a desperate game of tag with Hank’s miniaturized lab the grouchy scientist heads into the Quantum Realm to be reunited with his long lost wife while Ant-Man and the Wasp battle to protect his passage home; but can Scott accomplish all this and still convince the FBI he hasn’t blown his house arrest?

The secret to the Ant-Man movies are simplicity. There’s no alien invasion to thwart, no kingdom to protect and it’s certainly not trying to save the world. It’s not particularly interested in changing it either; no, all it wants is for you to just have fun with it’s charismatic leads and it’s funky action. Story wise, jumping from Infinity War’s heart-stopping ending is, in all honesty, was quite the agonising tease back in 2018, but it’s also a much needed breath of levity after the Snap Heard Round The Universe.
Free of behind the scenes complications, director Reed is now free to invest all his energy into creating wild and bizarre, size based craziness which gave the first movie a wacky, anything goes feel. However, there’s a sense that things are maybe a little too light with the stakes feeling suprisingly low. That being said, when Ant-Man And The Wasp gets to stretch it’s wings with silly little set pieces, it’s usually the moments that resonate the best – be it Scott infiltrating a school while temporarily trapped at the size of a toddler thanks to a faulty suit or a climatic car chase where EVERYTHING is changing size and someone utilises a giant Pez dispenser as a weapon; the film coasts nicely along investing you just enough with charm alone but you can’t help but feel that his cameos in other films have employed his abilities better than his own, solo appearances. There’s nothing here, for example that remotely matches his Giant Man transformation in Captain America: Civil War.
Rudd is still ridiculously likable, though and Scott’s flaky nature is sharply contrasted by Evangeline Lily who positively relishes finally pulling on a super-suit and decimating whole roomfuls of any thugs standing within arm’s reach. However, there’s precious little character development. Scott, Hope and Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym are exactly the same people they were at the end of Ant-Man and continue to be at the end of Ant-Man And The Wasp – by that I mean no one’s learnt any lessons or had a profound shift in personality based on their experiences and the film hopes that the sight of an ant playing the drums is enough to cover for that. The good news is it does, but only just and despite the acres of goodwill generated by the colourful atmosphere, this sequel stands as noticably the least of all the entries of Marvel’s third Phase despite this section of the franchise ironically feeling bigger.
If it seems I’m being overly down on a movie about shrinking crime fighters then rest assured there’s still tons here to keep a silly smile plastered to your mush; Michael Penã’s hyper-verbal Luis thankfully has another show-stopping monologue (the truth serum debate is genius) and good mileage is gotten out of Randall Park’s magnificently fussy Agent Woo and the heart of the first film is still delivered by Scott’s daughter, Cassie – but it’s weird to watch a superhero film where watching Paul Rudd while away his house arrest is far more entertaining then any of the action set pieces.
Whether or not Peyton Reed and the gang decide to keep the free-wheeling, whackiness present and correct for the upcoming trilogy closer is uncertain, but considering it’s tentatively subtitled “Quantumnania”, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet, but maybe the filmmakers want to tweak the glibness by just a touch…

Despite feeling a little too light, even for the MCU (even the  notoriously chucklesome Guardians Of The Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok had some decent stakes) Ant-Man And The Wasp generates just enough buzz to keep it’s audience from bugging out and becoming an ant-iclimax

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