Released as their 20th movie, in their 10th Anniversary year, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that “Ant-Man And The Wasp” is reassuringly reliable entertainment, exactly what we’ve come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What may be unexpected is how well this tale works as a palate cleanser after the universe-altering scale of “Avengers: Infinity War”.
Inspired by Ant-Man’s escape from the Quantum Realm, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) believes there may be a way to rescue his long-thought-lost wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). Unfortunately for him and Hope (Evangeline Lilly), they’re on the run from the FBI thanks to Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) decision to intervene in the Avengers’ “Civil War”.
As befits its title characters, “Ant-Man And The Wasp” is a much small scale film than the one which preceded it. Not just in scope but also in stakes. There’s no end of the world scenario here, everyone’s motivations are small – and deeply personal. Scott just wants to serve out his plea-bargained house arrest and continue to rebuilding his life with his daughter. Hank and Hope just want to rescue the missing member of their family from the Quantum Realm. Even new villain, The Ghost, has a very personal motivation for interfering in Pym’s work. Easily Marvel’s lightest sub-franchise, this second instalment really dials up the comedy and ingenuity, making the most of its impressive cast’s abilities and its characters’ abilities.
Part heist movie, part screwball caper, it’s a delightfully frothy, exciting ride – brimming with heart and imagination, especially when it comes to the plentiful action scenes, not all of which have been spoiled by the trailers.
The effects work is terrific here, especially in the cute flashback scene which opens the film and shows a flawlessly de-aged Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer leaving for their ill-fated mission. The effects are so good and the scene so unnecessary, it feels a lot like deliberate trolling of another film which wasn’t quite able to erase a mere moustache let alone roll back 40 years.
Dealing with small stakes but offering big adventure and bigger laughs, it still feels organically part of the wider Marvel Universe while retaining its own quirky personality. Two post-credit scenes will scratch that continuity itch for you, placing the movie in context to Infinity War but even Ant-Man can’t shrink the wait for Avengers 4.