By: MONTE YAZZIE
FILM CRITIC –
With the stakes operating on the highest level, Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” ended a ten-year superhero saga convergence on a serious final note; Marvel assumingly understood that fans would be seeking some levity after the tragic “Infinity War.” So they brought back the dependable super shrinking everyman, packed on a few more lighthearted laughs and added a new winged partner to help with the heavy lifting in “Ant-Man and The Wasp.”
Ant-Man, also known in civilian clothes as Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), has had a fairly tumultuous run since putting on the super-shrinking and, as we found out in “Captain America: Civil War,” super-sizing suit. Scott got out of prison, stole a super suit from a scientist, almost died, helped The Avengers, became a wanted man, and at the beginning of this film is on house arrest.
One thing is better for Scott however, his relationship with his daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson) is strong and he is on speaking terms with his ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer). Having only a few more days until his release from house arrest, Scott is forced into helping some old associates, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who are conducting an experiment to help a loved one.
Ant-Man doesn’t fit the mold of his superhero constituents; he is a former thief who wasn’t a soldier, wasn’t a scientist and wasn’t born with secret powers. This makes the journey with Scott a little more difficult simply because of his normalcy.
Having a charismatic comic actor like Paul Rudd helps the journey. Mr. Rudd displayed in the first “Ant-Man” film that he could handle the burden of introducing a new superhero character into the Marvel universe with the same cool and calm demeanor that he has brought to most of his roles.
The same quality is present here; whether in the middle of the battle on busy San Francisco streets or drumming to tunes on his electronic drum set in his house, Mr. Rudd remains as goofy and carefree with or without the costume.
Director Peyton Reed returns as well, seemingly less restrained than his first outing. But maintaining a sequel with the momentum to keep up with ever-evolving Marvel universe can be quite a task.
While “Ant-Man” was a surprisingly pleasant introduction, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” does something very important in making this sequel hold its own ground; it adds The Wasp.
The Wasp is played by Evangeline Lilly and the character is a fun addition to the superhero fold, but more importantly she is a great counter to Ant-Man. Ms. Lilly establishes a nice chemistry with Mr. Rudd, her character is the authority and expertise to Ant-Man’s more amateur proclivities.
What’s missing here is a better adversary, it’s hard to recognize what devious or sinister purpose the bad guys are serving towards the narrative throughout this film. Walton Goggins plays an entertaining gangster and Hannah John-Kamen has a breakout role playing a morphing character in a cool costume named Ghost, but neither provide much consequence in the end.
These confrontations, which should challenge the good guys in some way, are played more for spectacle than suspense. Still, the narrative is nicely interwoven with themes of family and the sacrifice one makes for them.
Add the scene stealing moments from supporting actors like Michael Pena, Michael Douglas, and Judy Greer and the film shines in moments.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” functions with nice amounts of heart and humor, the heroics aren’t as flashy as other comic book movies, but there are still some really amusing sequences that play on the big and little abilities of the heroes.
For a summer superhero film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a better than the average sequel.
Ant-Man and The Wasp
Dir: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Michael Douglas
3.75 out of 5.00