‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ is a breezy ride
In the never-ending stream of superhero releases this year, an "Ant-Man" sequel is perhaps not the highest on everyone's "most anticipated" list.
Sure, many people enjoyed the amiable, loosey-goosey nature of the original film, but it was one that left no indelible mark on the comic-to-screen world. Like its titular heroes, "Ant-Man and Wasp" is on the smaller scale of heroic importance. Knowing this, director Peyton Reed and a team of five writers decided to place them in a heist film, plop in some basic, old-school villainy and focus more on family-friendly funnies than giving heft to the proceedings.
For the most part, "Ant-Man" pulls it off, remaining a rather uncomplicated, breezy summer ride that provides many moments of playfulness rather than world-saving importance.
The film opens with a young Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) as the original Ant-Man and wife Janet (played by Michelle Pfeiffer), as the original Wasp, as they attempt to defuse a missile guidance system, but Janet remains on a molecular level in the process.
Flash forward to current day, where we find that Janet is still alive and well, and able to telepathically connect with her husband and daughter Hope (played by Evangeline Lilly) through current Ant-Man Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd). Retrieving her from her "quantum realm" is a little tricky, though.
Lang is under house arrest (for his previous actions as an unlicensed superhero); he is being pursued by The Ghost ( played by Hannah John-Kamen), an assassin in need of the same technology Hank is using to reunite with his wife; and the team is indebted to Sonny (played by Walton Goggins), a black-market dealer who wants a piece of the action.
Where "Ant-Man" succeeds is in its playful approach to its miniaturizing various items at just the right time: Be it a car that needs to elude chase that shrinks into Hot Wheels proportions, or a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser weaponized by being enlarged to trailer-sized proportions, the audience is left to anticipate exactly how our heroes will invent ways in which to escape.
The cast is equally game for the silliness, with the always-likeable Rudd throwing all he has into the role.
Lilly anchors it with her character's emotional stake, stabilizing some of the more outrageous moments. Considering the amount of green screen the cast must have had to perform in here to synchronize the various disproportion in sizes, the leads keep it all well stitched together.
With that said, while "Ant-Man and the Wasp" is a breezy ride, it does not really bring anything new to the table.
The first film was released in 2015, a year prior to the comedic savaging of the superhero genre by "Deadpool," and two years prior to the revamp of the tonally similar (and more consistently amusing) "The Tick" series.
While suitably entertaining now, "Ant-Man and the Wasp" will have to find other creative ways in which to convince a colony of fans to return to the theaters for another outing.