REVIEW: Float like a butterfly, sting like ANT-MAN AND THE WASP
It seems odd to follow up AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, perhaps the dreariest non-DC superhero film of all time, with ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, an action packed comedy full of fast laughs, sight gags, and Paul Rudd facial expressions. I could do with less dreariness myself, so ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is a welcome change – mostly because it takes place before (and maybe during?) the events of INFINITY WAR.
This has been a big year for Marvel. BLACK PANTHER redefined the genre. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR put the world on the edge of its seat and left it hanging. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is the last Marvel film of 2018, and it’s nothing if not a return to form. It doesn’t break any new ground, you’re not going to leave shocked beyond belief, but it represents an evolution of the Marvel universe nonetheless.
Evangeline Lilly (Lost) comes to the forefront as Hope Van Dyne. Sidelined through all of ANT-MAN, Hope now has her own suit complete with wings and size blasters, taking on her lost mother’s mantle as The Wasp. Michelle Pfeiffer (Murder on the Orient Express) makes her Marvel debut as Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, who was lost to the quantum realm after sacrificing herself to disable a nuclear bomb. Michael Douglas (Basic Instinct) returns as Hank Pym, Hope’s father and creator of the Pym Particle – the scientific breakthrough that makes Ant-Man possible. Hope kicks ass and takes names to help Hank build a quantum tunnel, as he believes Janet is still out there in the quantum realm. Paul Rudd (Clueless) is of course back as Scott Lang, whose successful return from the quantum realm in ANT-MAN spurs Hank’s belief.
One of the biggest strengths of the ANT-MAN films is casting. Rudd is charming and hilarious as Lang, Lilly is all kinds of rad as Van Dyne. Michael Peña (Narcos) returns as Luis, the fast talking ADHD ex-con now running trying to run a business. David Dastmalchian (MacGyver) and rapper T.I. are there as well, contributing to the stream of quotable jokes that flows through the movie. Judy Greer (Jurassic World) and Bobby Cannavale (Jumanji) are pitch perfect in their small roles, as well as young Abby Ryder Fortson as Lang’s daughter Cassie, who holds her own by stealing focus from Rudd.
Newcomers include legend Lawrence Fishburne (Black-ish) and hilarious Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat), bringing some ABC sitcom blood to the proceedings, and enigmatic Hannah John-Kamen (Ready Player One) as the mysterious Ghost.
Director Peyton Reed continues his excellent work in the original ANT-MAN, finding more fun props, surprises, and a breathtaking chase finale through the streets of San Francisco. It’s a real testament to Kevin Feige‘s leadership that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has such diverse genres – this movie’s chase scene is reminiscent of 1972’s WHAT’S UP DOC – and yet is still one, large, cohesive story. Ten years in and if anything, the movies have just gotten better.
Beneath all the jokes, the ANT-MAN films deal with consequences. Scott’s life is all but ruined, twice, by crime and punishment. Hank’s choices have life-long effects on his daughter, as well as others as this film reveals. Even Ghost chooses to ignore the consequences of her actions, at her own peril. Scott’s ex-wife, her new husband, and his daughter Cassie are always there to remind him of the cost of his choices. Nothing is free for Scott; in every scenario, even if he wins, he loses something.
As always with Marvel movies, do not leave until the last credit has rolled. Spread some honey on your MoviePass and put it on the kitchen counter to catch ANT-MAN AND THE WASP in theatres everywhere July 6!