“Ant-Man and the Wasp” Movie Review


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     The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to amaze, as its now 20th feature film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, flies into theaters barely two months after the massively successful “Avengers: Infinity War” shook fandom to its core with the jaw dropping reality of half of the universe’s inhabitants disappearing with one snap of Thanos’ finger.  Given the fact the first “Ant-Man” (2015) set the stage for what has become the lighter side of the MCU, you’d have to figure the filmmakers would have a problem utilizing the same comical tone after what we just saw transpire in “Infinity War”, but the work around here is a rather obvious one.  “Ant-Man and the Wasp” takes place after the events of “Captain America: Civil War”, and before the events of “Infinity War”, giving way to what is essentially a continuation of the first film, albeit with the consequences of “Civil War” directly influencing the narrative.

     Returning for the sequel is director Peyton Reed, whose work on the original more than justified his suitability for the project.  Sometimes, certain types of material are found to be exactly what the filmmaker was born to do, and it certainly appears this is the case with “Ant-Man” and Reed, particularly given a now proven sense of comic timing with both his actors, as well as his writing team that includes Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, and star Paul Rudd.  Rudd also feels right home, having grown into this character with the aforementioned appearances in “Ant-Man” and “Civil War”, but is also seen here clearly in the kind of rhythm that has made Scott Lang feel like the kind of person you would want to hang out with.  When he’s not out fighting bad guys as Ant-Man of course.

     The storyline this time features an entirely different kind of scenario with potentially bigger stakes.  Lang (Paul Rudd) is finishing multiple years of house arrest which is the result of his participation with Captain America during the events of “Civil War”.  He still frequently hangs out with his daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), although the two are confined to his residence when figuring out inventive ways to entertain themselves.  Apparently, the house arrest situation is so serious, that when the ankle monitor moves an inch off his property, the FBI arrives in full force and searches the premise for any wrongdoing.  I take it the federal government doesn't want Lang reprising his Ant-Man role any time soon.

     Meanwhile, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), continue their research into the Quantum Realm and the ongoing quest to find Pym’s long lost wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer).  In a flashback sequence, we see the original Ant-Man and Wasp, who then were Dr. Hank Pym and Janet, as they save the world at the expense of Janet entering the Quantum Realm with no path for her return.  Now in the present day, Pym and Hope have worked under the radar to find a way into the Realm and attempt a rescue some thirty years later.  Reed has worked a nefarious technology dealer, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), into the mix as the person Hope deals with in order to acquire the parts necessary to build the machine that will take them to rescue her mother.  But there is something else lurking within the shadows.

     A mysterious being, dubbed the Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), is also interested in Dr. Pym’s work and seeks to steal it for another use.  All of this leads to Lang re-teaming with Pym and Hope, who has now become the Wasp, in an effort to regain the stolen tech necessary to accomplish their very personal mission.  A lot of this may sound serious in nature, but that’s not what Reed and his team are going for.  “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a bonafide laugh fest, firing both the spoken and visual gags in such a rapid manner that you likely will never stop smiling.  It’s the kind of feel good atmosphere where even the bad guys joke around, or in most cases are made the center of the joke whether they like it or not.  Contributing greatly to this, just as he did in “Ant-Man”, is Michael Pena, who returns as Lang’s fellow convict turned business partner Luis.

     As a duo, Ant-Man and Wasp work well together and are certainly effective against lower level threats.  I say this since both are listed as being a part of next summer’s “Infinity War” sequel, but I’m not exactly sure just how well they will match up against the likes of Thanos, unless Dr. Pym is able to cook something up involving the Quantum Realm.  And while it may be far fetched to think characters like these would make a difference in the bigger picture, it seems plausible that the timing of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” could lead to a more significant role for the pair, particularly since many of the heroes we are counting on have recently vanished into thin air.  Either way, the film serves as yet another reminder of the unstoppable power of the MCU, its characters, and the audiences they command.  And there’s no better example of this than when we sit through the end credits of each film awaiting a mid/post credits scene, which for “Ant-Man and the Wasp” completely abandons the aforementioned comic tone, choosing instead to follow the shocking lead of its predecessor.   GRADE: B+