As a forever fan of both the ageless Paul Rudd and LOST/Hobbit trilogy alum Evangeline Lilly, I had no doubt that I was going to enjoy watching them battle bad guys together as co-leads in Ant-Man and the Wasp. And enjoy it I did. Tone-wise, Marvel Studios’ latest is a total 180-degree turn from April’s Avengers: Infinity War. I dare say it’s the perfect summer movie.
The action revolves around Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Hope van Dyne/Wasp and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) as they race against time to rescue Janet van Dyne (Hope’s mom and Hank’s wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer) from the “Quantum Realm,” where she’s been trapped for decades. They finally have hope that they can bring her back now that Lang went there himself and returned in one piece in 2015’s Ant-Man.
Unfortunately for them, someone else is interested in Janet’s return, and it’s not to have a happy family reunion. A state-shifting being known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) — who has a connection to Pym’s ex-associate and rival Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) — believes she can deplete Janet’s stores of quantum energy in order to cure her own painful condition, and she doesn’t care if she kills Janet in the process.
I’ve often taken issue with Marvel villains because there’s been too many that are just boring, personality-less and forgettable. This was not the case in Ant-Man and the Wasp because returning director Peyton Reed shows us Ghost’s sad backstory sooner rather than later, and then suddenly we’re torn between wanting Ghost to be able to survive but also wanting Hope and Hank to finally see Janet again.
But I’m making everything sound waaaaaaaayyyy more serious than it is. The reality is that Ant-Man and the Wasp is a half-action half-comedy romp that takes almost nothing seriously. While I was intrigued by Ghost and thought John-Kamen totally held her own opposite her A-list co-stars, I found anything having to do with the Quantum Realm to be . . . not so compelling. Thankfully there were only a few scenes set there and only a few minutes of dialogue about it (including a great one-liner by Lang about all things “quantum” — I feel you, bro!), and the rest of the two-hour running time was full of spectacular action sequences and laughs.
You may recall that I usually complain about battle and chase sequences because they almost always feel overblown and overdone. But what Reed does in Ant-Man and the Wasp is keep you guessing by continually sizing his heroes WAY up or WAY down, and it’s so fun to watch how it surprises both the good guys and the bad. Plus, the opposites-attract chemistry and banter between the title duo — not to mention a stellar supporting cast — keep things lively. You’ve got Walton Goggins doing his trademarked Southern slimeball shtick as a black-market dealer, Randall Park as an awkward FBI agent who can’t quite keep up with Ant-Man, and Michael Peña back as Lang’s old-prisonmate-turned-business-partner Luis. Peña steals Every. Single. Scene that he’s in, including a standout flashback sequence where the rest of the cast acts out Luis’s hyper-fast voiceover.
Last but not least, I have to mention the killer end-credits scene (the first of two). I saw a press screening of the film in a packed IMAX theater, and I would bet good money that everyone in the audience had the same (very vocal) reaction to what they saw. But I can’t tell you what that reaction was or it would spoil it. As for the second scene at the bitter end . . . I’m pretty sure it actually appeared in the trailer for the film, but there is one funny text-based line that comes afterward that might be worth your time.
Whether you decide to stay until the lights come on or not, I think you’ll find Ant-Man and the Wasp to be a delightful detour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that’s funny, fast-paced and family-friendly.
Need to refresh your memory before seeing Ant-Man and the Wasp? You’re in luck: Ant-Man is back at the Box!