“In the aftermath of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Scott Lang grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Hope van Dyne and Dr Hank Pym with an urgent new mission and must once again put on the suit and learn to fight alongside The Wasp in order to take down the mysterious new villain, Ghost.”
Set two years after the events of CIVIL WAR, we find Scott Lang under house-arrest as part of a bargain plea with the US government – two years of house-arrest, followed by three years of probation, with no unauthorised use of his powers, and he will not be tried and convicted for breaching the Sokovia Accords. So, here he is, confined to his house, trying to make the best of a bad situation by spending some quality time with his young daughter. Now, I think it is pretty safe to say that Paul Rudd is one of the most beloved actors working today – he is effortlessly funny and endlessly charming and his down-to-earth ways have amassed a huge following. He’s a genuinely likeable guy, and he brings that likability to the role of Scott Lang and seeing him interact with his daughter in such a funny and authentic way immediately brings the audience back in to his story and makes you remember why you fell in love with him in the first place. The legendary Michael Douglas returns as the O.G himself, Dr Hank Pym. Now, any time a big, A-list acting legend like Douglas signs on for a blockbuster like this, it is very easy to make the assumption that they’re only in it for the money and, while that may very well be the case, it definitely doesn’t affect his performance. Douglas brings a believable vulnerability to Pym – a good man, who has made some terrible decisions throughout his life and is still paying for those decisions, all these years later – and it results in some genuinely touching moments, especially with his daughter Hope van Dyne, played by the exquisite Evangeline Lilly. In fact, an argument could be made that Lilly steals the show here as The Wasp, carrying herself with confidence and exuding badassery. She kicks more butt in this movie than one could adequately describe and she is entirely believable while doing it. To those us who watched LOST all those years ago, Evangeline’s talent as an actress has always been as clear as day, with her uncanny ability to bring tenderness to such a hard character, audiences will really fall head over heels for Hope van Dyne in ANT-MAN AND THE WASP. She has a lot more to do in this sequel than in the original, and it will leave you desperate for more and I, for one, hope she becomes a staple character in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe going forward, because…well – I’m in love with Evangeline Lilly. Okay? So what? Leave me alone.
Peyton Reed returns for directing duties and he has made a significant progression as a filmmaker since making ANT-MAN back in 2015. He’s more confident in his abilities and there’s a certain flair here that felt absent in its predecessor, with eye-popping action sequences that are leagues above everything we saw in the original, with Ant-Man and The Wasp growing and shrinking at will while decimating hordes of bad guys in fast, frenetic fight scenes that never lose focus of the rapidly changing heroes, intercut with comedy that feels more consistent and assured than before, allowing Paul Rudd and company to really come in to their own, delivering quippy one-liners and goofy dialogue with amusing sincerity. Unfortunately, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP suffers from a few pacing issues that stop the film in its tracks on a number of occasions, and these pacing issues arise when the movie pauses in an attempt to explain all of the crazy quantum science-y stuff at play in the story because, at the end of the day, it’s a fictional science and doesn’t really help us understand what is going on any more or less. Now, the writers are self-aware enough to allude to the absurdity of it all, with Scott Lang pausing for a moment and asking “are you guys just putting the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything?” because that is exactly what it feels like and, even though the writers acknowledge it for comedic effect, it doesn’t make it any less detrimental to the flow of the film. This may not seem like a major issue, but for a film that gets everything else so right, it really prevents ANT-MAN AND THE WASP from breaking out of the mid-tier of Marvel adventures. It also has a pretty flat ending, which is saved by a tantalising mid-credits scene. In true Marvel fashion, there is also a post-credits scene, but I will warn you now – it is a scene that serves as nothing more than one final joke that almost feels like it’s poking fun at those of us who chose to stick around to see it. In fact, it is such a throwaway moment that it’s actually included in all of the trailers. I’m not kidding. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen the post-credits scene. Boy, Marvel Studios really are getting a little cocky with all their success, aren’t they?
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is a lighter, much breezier entry in the ongoing Marvel canon and is the palate cleanser we so desperately needed after the hard-hitting AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR came along and broke our collective hearts all those months ago. It’s a hell of a lot of fun but it tangles itself up in excessive exposition in a desperate attempt to explain and clarify a fictional science and, in the end, it still just sounds like a bunch of scientific words strung together to form sentences that don’t really mean anything. Other than that, there is a hell of a lot to love about this movie and, aside from Marvel’s intergalactic escapades like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and THOR: RAGNAROK, both of which are wickedly funny and lovably goofy, there’s a strong chance ANT-MAN AND THE WASP may be the funniest earth-set movie in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and, while it is hard to imagine it having any kind of lasting impact on the MCU as a whole, it is still a fun slice of creamy escapism to sink your teeth in to.