Movie Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

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Ok! So now we know what Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and the cantankerous scientist Henry Pym (Michael Douglas) were up to while the Avengers were racing across the cosmos to stop a mad Malthusian from snapturing half of the universe out of existence. They were starring in a smaller, sillier, better movie called Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Some of the goofy charm from the 2015 original is back in this one in spades. There is a shapeshifting baddie, Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and a low-level street thug, Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) that they have to deal with. But meat cleavers, flying knives, and maybe the odd bullet are some of the biggest things Ant-Man and Wasp have to worry about this time.

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Outfitted with an ankle bracelet, Scott, better known as Ant-Man, is under house arrest for his participation in the smackdown in ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ He has lost touch with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the scientist who invented his size-swapping Ant-Man suit, and Pym's enterprising daughter, Hope, who has stepped into her mother's suit as the Wasp. Scott now spends his time playing with his adorable daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson), counting down the days until he's out from under the watchful eye of Agent Woo (Randall Park).

While the latest chapter in the franchise is driven by a father-daughter theme, there is mom in the mix, too. Pym and Hope are determined to save Hope's mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the subatomic realm, where they lost her decades ago. Since Scott went subatomic, they think he's the link to her location. Their handy lab is equipped with all the technology which helpfully shrinks to portable briefcase size when needed, and they just need a couple of hours to make the connection.

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But nothing’s easy and into our superheroes’ orbit. Alongwith Burch (who has a piece of technology that will help them on their quest) and an old frenemy of Pym’s (Laurence Fishburne) comes the film’s villain, Ghost, who isn’t seeking world domination or the ruination of the entire Marvel universe. Her enmity with Hank, Hope and Scott is personal.

The appeal of Ant-Man is that normal-sized things, such as people, objects, buildings and cars, get smaller or bigger, and that's fun to watch in the context of an otherwise routine scenes. Both movies, directed by Peyton Reed, with star Paul Rudd the only returning co-writer, hit all the beats we expect.

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But there is also afresh sense of looseness, lots of weird humour, like Scott's buddy/business partner Luis (Michael Pena) and his penchant for epic yarns. There's even a running joke about fabled witch Baba Yaga, and a bit where Ant-Man's regulator stops working and he ends up toddler-sized while staking out his daughter's school. Stuff like these make the movie really sing — not sting.

Paul Rudd is charming as ever and in the movie there are no limits to it. He is surrounded by a cast that makes it look easy. Pena is once again a standout, and Park almost takes that crown from him this time around. But his best scene partner is right there in the title. Lilly owns the role with such style, grace and power that Ant-Man had better make room on that billing block for the Wasp.

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The film holds up on its own legs while giving just enough Marvel Cinematic Universe love for fans. Like its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn't have any grand illusions about being anything but Marvel's B-team, and it revels in the freedom and fun that allows. For the most part of the two hours, you will spend running around with Marvel’s Ant pals. That is fun and doesn’t have the same emotional investment Infinity War or even Black Panther did earlier this year. And that is refreshing!

★★★★

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