Ant-Man and the Wasp reviewYear: 2018
Director(s): Peyton Reed
Writer(s): Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, Paul Rudd
Region of Origin: USA

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Rating: PG-13
Digital, Color, 118 mins

Synopsis: Scott Lang, Hope van Dyne and Dr. Hank Pym go an urgent new mission to uncover secrets from their past. (Source)

After the socially forward Black Panther and game-changing Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp is breath of fresh air. It’s clear now that this series is Marvel’s palette cleanser, but that’s totally okay, allowing for a fast and loose change of pace. Director Peyton Reed allows his heroes to carve their own tiny niche in a large universe, telling a small, personal story but with big spectacle and even bigger heart. Though the end product isn’t as substantive as the other series’ in Marvel’s ever-expanding stable, it’s still smart, witty storytelling with unabashed charm and a relentless succession of surprises. As the film’s titular heroes, Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly continue to be the MCU’s most underrated secret weapons, contributing to a fun ride that never looks back and never fails to charm.

In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is forced to make a deal with the government, accepting a two-year house arrest that’s about to expire in three days! In the time of Lang’s incarceration, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) have been forced into hiding, seen as complicit into Ant-Man’s exploits. The two have been busy, however, exploring a way to enter and return from the quantum realm in order to save Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Pym’s wife and Hope’s mother, who they believe to still be alive. As they’re about to succeed, something happens that forces the two to reconnect with Scott. As the three band together for a personal, inter dimensional rescue, they encounter a dangerous foe named Ghost (Hannah John Kamen), who is herself trying to stave off a quantum anomaly at any cost.

Ant-Man and the Wasp review Hannah John KamenWhat keeps the film afloat is something that’s woefully taken for granted in today’s climate of gluttonous blockbusters: simplicity. This film is as straightforward as it gets, but because of this, Peyton and crew are able to craft a really meaningful story with very clear and emotional stakes. Underneath it all, this a film about family through and through, a rescue mission untethered to superfluous tangents and built on very personal motivations. I love that no one here is trying to save the world or end it, everyone is chasing something that is exclusive to their own struggles. With an a-b plot that shuffles from one point to the next with relentless fervor, the film’s form of heroism is defined by the bonds and promises we keep to those closest to us.

Punctuating all of the familial drama is an even deeper dive into its heroes unique, visually stunning world. The great thing about Scott and Hope’s powers, are that they’re a new perspective on the world around us, either magnifying the mundane or shrinking it down to size in ways that are as funny as they are fascinating. A case of Hot Wheels, one World’s Best Grandma trophy and a game of hot potato by way of car chase take things next level in the best way. The action here really doesn’t feel like anything else in the Marvel universe, making us constantly reevaluate the world we live in. Without saying too much, the quantum realm elements are pretty great, and definitely hinting at another way to expand the Marvel world at large. On top of it all, Reed fully capitalizes on the charm of his cast, making them inextricable with the film’s humorous sight gags and shape-shifting action.

Ant-Man and the Wasp review Paul RuddSpeaking off, this is another beautifully cast Marvel adventure, owing a lot of its vigor and character to its stars. Rudd continues to give Ant-Man a relatable, every-man appeal, really selling the stakes in a way that makes the film stand on its own. With a duty to those he cares about, Rudd plays things straight, but is able to wring humor from the most unlikely of places. There’s a mid-film body swap that’s a particular highlight, featuring a nuance and depth that only Rudd could pull off. As Marvel’s first woman to be credited in a film’s title, Lilly’s Wasp is every bit worth the wait. Lilly has a confidence, charm and nobility that come easy, drawing us into the film’s heroism with an unmistakable energy. Lilly is clearly having fun and totally owning the role. She’s just getting started, balancing charisma and physicality to redefine what’s possible in a female hero. On the side, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer are always a joy on screen, while Hannah John Kamen delivers an unlikely foil with an interesting relationship to Laurence Fishburne’s Bill Foster. The icing on the cake is of course Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian and T.I. Harris, who contribute a light touch and a lot of comic sensibility.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is a film that knows its place, plays directly to its strengths and never stops entertaining. It’s definitely fluff, but there’s a lot of love put into it, and its the type of film that makes us feel lighter as we walk out of the theatre. These are great characters with some of the MCU’s most rewarding skill sets, and the film doesn’t ever falter in delivering on those fronts. Even in a world where there’s a lot of darkness, a film like this offers two solid hours of fun, putting emphasis on the importance of staying true those we care about, and showcasing a pair of leads whose chemistry is bursting off the screen. Another knockout from the seemingly bulletproof Marvel Studios.