Review: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ (the quantum sequel)

Opportunity doesn’t knock; it walks through walls and robs you blind.

It’s been nearly two years since Captain American (Chris Evans) asked Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) aka AntMan to participate in his Civil War against Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). As a violation of the Sokovia Accords for his participation, he’s been under house arrest with an ankle monitor and continuously harassed by lawman Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) trying to learn the whereabouts of now-fugitive Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). Scott gets drawn back into Pym’s circle of trust when a peek into the quantum realm triggers a link with Hank’s lost wife Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), but the tech needed to save her is also being sought after by the mysterious Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) with an agenda of her own.

If that sounds like a lot of plot, it is. Fortunately, it’s presented in an entertaining way with the man-on-scene recaps of Luis (played wonderfully by Michael Peña). Following the wonders of Wakovia in Black Panther and crushing our hearts in Avengers: Infinity War, the Marvel Cinematic Universe unleashes its third and final film this year. With ten years of the MCU now in the books, can a return to the smaller things in life provide a much-needed respite from angry titans and still measure up?

Compared to the sheer gut-wrenching scope of Infinity War, this sequel to Ant-Man is perfectly tuned to what Marvel fans need right now. At the same time, it’s no longer possible not to participate in the multi-movie continuity and reap the full benefit of any Marvel sequel; too much now depends on what you already know, and no Luis-recap can catch you up at this point. This is most definitely the case when it comes to the infamous mid and after-credit coda scenes that have become a staple of the MCU. Big things again come in small packages, and this year’s summer blockbuster message championing the importance of family and trusting your circle of friends continues here in the most entertaining of ways.

Marvel continues to seed their future story lines, and you can thank continuity-master Kevin Feige for that. Little clues that were dropped in the first Ant-Man come to fruition while introducing new worlds and new possibilities. It’s also no secret that the MCU has had a too-little too-late villain problem, but the introduction of Ghost comes with a self-contained arc that follows the correct Marvel beats — along with more reasons why Hank Pym is an often-despised character with regards toward his toxic relationships. While director Peyton Reed took over for Edgar Wright for the first Ant-Man, Reed’s touch is all over the sequel and fully his own creation, and you can see a confident difference. Like all Marvel sequels, it has its fair share of world-building and rapid expansion, but this has become so second-nature that it feels seamless, unlike the clunky Iron Man 2.

As a side note, the shady black-tech dealer played by Walton Goggins feels like another noticeably throwaway role for the actor, the first being the lackluster main villain of the otherwise decent Tomb Raider earlier this year. He has a distinctive look, but even in contrast to more disposable roles like the crew of X-Con, Goggins’ parts seem noticeably uninteresting. Is it just bad luck he gets cast for these, are his parts being cut down in editing, or is he just that underwhelming? How is this the same guy that played the sheriff in The Hateful Eight? With mere minutes of screen time, Michelle Pfeiffer does more with a glance than Goggins did the entire film; maybe he should be tapped to play an invisible man — no special effects needed.

Marvel fans won’t be disappointed, neither with this film nor the number of times “Marvel” has been mentioned in this review. We now look toward March 8, 2019 for Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel to see what’s next ahead of Avengers 4, but one thing has already been confirmed that True Believers can take heart in: the introduction of the shapeshifting Skrulls at last!

Ant-Man and the Wasp is rated PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence and assault with a Hello Kitty PEZ dispenser.

Three skull recommendation out of four


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