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Movie Review: "Ant-Man and The Wasp" Is Marvel at its Lightest and Most Fun

Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfieffer
Directed by Peyton Reed

Reviewed by Paul Gibbs

 Out of Four

To say Marvel has had a great year so far would be an absurd understatement. After all, in 20 years only two other films managed to out gross Titanic at the U.S. box office, and Marvel has already done it twice this year. The first of these blockbusters, Black Panther, was a masterpiece. The second, Avengers: Infinity War was an incredibly entertaining event movie that still felt more like a season ending cliffhanger with an unsatisfying ending to me (sorry, I didn't cry at the "deaths" of characters who already have their next sequels scheduled for release. And I've been known to cry at 33 year old Golden Girls reruns.)

Marvel's third 2018 venture, Ant-Man and The Wasp, isn't going to come close to matching the grosses of the first two. And while those were enormous epics, the Ant-Man sequel, like its predecessor, is small for a Marvel movie. But that's a good thing: after two sprawling and sometimes heavy epics, a smaller, lighter film is a welcome change of pace. It's to the filmmakers credit that they recognized that the "bigger is better" approach most blockbuster sequels take would negate what made the original Ant-Man unique in the MCU. And happily, they've made a sequel that's just as funny and almost as charming as the first film was.

Okay, they went "bigger is better" with one thing
(Images Courtesy Marvel/Disney)
The story begins two years after Ant-Man's last appearance in Captain America: Civil War, and the script very nicely develops the aftermath of that film's events. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has had to deal with serious consequences of his choice to join Team Cap, including severely alienating Dr. Han Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evengeline Lilly.) But it isn't  long at all before they're reluctantly re-teamed to search for Hope's mother (Michelle Pfieffer), long-thought lost in the "Quantum Realm". And they have to contend with a new threat in the form of the mysterious Ghost (Ready Player One's Hannah John-Kamen.)

Nobody has as complete or satisfying a character arc as Scott did in the first film, which gives it somewhat  less emotional impact. But the character interactions and humor are an utter delight, and while it's not as action-packed as some MCU films are, the action sequences are wonderfully intensive and fun. The final chase sequence is a superb set-piece, hilarious and thrilling at the same time.

Rudd remains supremely likable and engaging in the lead role, and his supporting cast is as good as ever. Micheal Pena may be even funnier this time around, and while John-Kamen's Ghost isn't up there with Killmonger or Thanos, she's still one of the better MCU villains. Peyton Reed's direction is solid, and the script is funny and fast-paced.

The effects are quite good most of the time, though the technology used to de-age actors for flashbacks is still a mixed bag: It works so well with Pfieffer that it makes you wonder if whole movies could be done this way. But some of the shots with Douglas are so bad as to make you wish they'd abandon the technique entirely.

Ant-Man and The Wasp will probably be remembered as a fairly minor Marvel movie, but it's great fun. It's a more than welcome piece of lighthearted fun that's suitable for whole families and has something to entertain just about everyone.

She be waspish. Best beware her sting.

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