Ant-Man And The Wasp

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Ant-Man And The Wasp
"Small of scale but big of heart, Ant-Man And The Wasp is a light and charming outing for a staggering film juggernaut."

Ant-Man was introduced before appearing in Captain America: Civil War, which means it was the last film of 'Phase 2'. Ant-Man And The Wasp is now the first MCU film to come after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and that will be very important, but not until later.

If that seems cryptic it's because it's an attempt to preserve a few secrets in a film whose trailer(s) feature most of the big (and small) effects moments from its entertaining and inventive combat sequences and chases, and surprises are important to this small scale supers caper. It's yet another confident step in this tenth year of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At its heart is the amiable countenance of Paul Rudd, whose abilities as a comic actor who can convey convincing affection are one of the hearts of the film.

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As Scott Lang, an independent violator of the Sokovia Accords, he is under house arrest in his San Franciscan home. The same hills that inspired Bullit's car-chases and served as one of Big Hero 6's architectural parents play host to a series of amusingly pitched conflicts. They start at home, between Scott and his ankle tag, but soon extend to include the Pym family. Hank (Michael Douglas) invented the (Gi)Ant-Man technology, his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) is using it as the Wasp to secure equipment to try and rescue her mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp - her disappearance to the Quantum Realm ('quantum' gets put in front of a lot of things) is one of the key elements of the first Ant-Man, but you don't need to have seen it to enjoy its sequel - though you should have seen Infinity War first, else something that happens near the end won't make any sense.

Not making sense is sometimes a worry for caper films (and free-wheeling as the film is, it's very much in that tradition) but despite five credited writers the film hangs together pretty well. There's a touch of heist movie too, but it's much easier to invest in characters as likeable Michael Pena's Luis and his colleagues Dave (rapper T.I.) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian, whose worries about Baba Yaga are not John Wick related). There's a new villain (or two), and while Walton Goggins once again plays a slightly skeezy Southern gentleman he's really good at it. So too Lawrence Fishburne as a conflicted colleague, but Hannah John-Kamen's ghost is at the heart of the plot - or at least grabbing for it, and the associated mechanisms of McGuffinry.

Mechanisms are part of charm of Ant-Man - the first one did a good job of assembling moving parts, and then making them tick, and the second one is very much in the same vein. In comparison to the lumbering Mission: Impossible - Fallout it fair breezes along, and while the stakes are equally personal it's another team in Marvel who carry the fate of the world on their shoulders. There are excellent supporting turns . Abbey Ryder Fortson returns as Lang's daughter Cassie, and his relationship with her is an excellent contrast to the more combative Pym, the less trusting Hope. Randall Park leads the FBI team who keep tabs on our protagonist, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope Agent Jimmy Woo would crop up elsewhere in the MCU. If there's a team who are basically parole officers for powers I'd watch that show - in fact I have, in a way, because the Playstation Network had a version of Brian Michael Bendis' and Mike Oeming's Powers comic starring Sharlto Copley and it scratched itches Agents Of Shield didn't bother with.

That I've referenced comics-based media and not comics themselves is not accidental - Ant-Man is a small character in comics terms, he's certainly not one of those whose origin stories are so well known that films brave enough (Spider-Man: Homecoming) can more or less skip them or ones with weightier ambitions (Batman Begins) can draw them out over a couple of hours. It invites invention - and sometimes what seems like product placement - but for amusing effect. It's an interesting counterpart to Deadpool, it's similarly irreverent but without the same recourse to the metatextual or, indeed, the profane. Director Peyton Reed (Bring It On) has a fair few comedies and TV sitcoms to his CV, and it's that comic (small c?) sensibility that is part of the Ant-Man effect.

Small of scale (it takes place over a few days, over a few square miles) but big of heart, Ant-Man And The Wasp is a light and charming outing for a staggering film juggernaut. Its comedic sensibilities are paired with a pretty deep emotional core, but even as its protagonists slip through cracks literally and legally this is a film that is itself interstitial.

Your reviewer saw it with someone who hadn't seen the first one, and they enjoyed it - but they'd also seen enough that its ending came as a sucker-punch. By 'ending', of course, one really means epilogue - Ant-Man punched well above its weight, and this does too, but what's most notable about wasps is the sting in the tail.

Reviewed on: 05 Aug 2018
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As Scott Lang balances being both a superhero and a father, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym present an urgent new mission that finds Ant-Man fighting alongside The Wasp to uncover secrets from their past.

Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, TI, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas

Year: 2018

Runtime: 118 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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