Everything that made Ant-Man great-the goofy charm of Paul Rudd, the visual dynamism of a superhero who can change size, the intensity of a heist flick set with a super-hero backdrop-are all present in sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp. It’s a fine movie, but with some surprising storytelling weaknesses, a deus-ex-Mama resolution, and a less-compelling narrative, just fine comes off a little flimsy.
Scott Lang (Rudd) is under house arrest after teaming up with Cap(tain America) in the Civil War flick from a few years ago. Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank (Michael Douglas) are on the run and in hiding. Their paths converge when Hope and Hank’s mission to bring back mother and wife Janet (Michelle Pfeifer) from the quantum realm requires input from Lang, only bad lady Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is also trying to bring Janet back, but more evil-ly, I guess. There’s a lot of pseudo-science at work here, and Rudd’s aw-shucks demeanor makes some of it more palatable, especially when he’s poking fun at the film for its overuse of “quantum” as a meaningless adjective.
Promoting Wasp/Hope to lead was a great step, and it’s her fight sequences that carry the thrill of some of the best super-powered sequences. As she zips between bad guys, growing and shrinking and fighting with tremendous skill, it’s quite enjoyable, but it also highlights the problem with her playing second fiddle to Ant-Man: she’s the superior in every way, but he’s around because he’s the not-as-qualified white dude who is good with a quip.
Still, the movie is a lot of fun. The final sequence with a game of hot potato (with a shrunken building no less) has the right mix of superheroics, comedy, and drama that highlights the best parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rudd and Lilly have a great chemistry, though their romance is mostly back-burner. It’s nice to have a bad guy whose motivations are simpler than I WANT TO END THE WORLD, but there’s also something inconsequential about everything, but that might be because of how hokey the ending is. It certainly left a bad taste in my mouth (and I’m talking the main resolution of the film, not the end-credits moment).
Ant-Man and the Wasp is absolutely fine, but where the MCU consistently delivers epic, it just falls a little short.
My Grade – C+