‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’
Directed by Peyton Reed
Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Peña
After the epic world building of “Black Panther” and the bleak ending of “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Ant-Man and The Wasp” is the perfect respite from those massive movies — a smaller movie, you could say, if you like bad puns.
Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang, a divorced dad and ex-con who is currently under house arrest due to his actions as Ant-Man in “Captain America: Civil War.”
With an ankle monitor and frequent, unannounced visits from FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Rudd is not allowed any contact with his old chum Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and sort of love interest (Hank’s daughter) Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly).
Meanwhile, Hank and Hope are working with some quantum (get ready to hear that word a lot during the 118-minute movie) gewgaw to find the family matriarch Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who went missing decades ago after shrinking down too far into the Quantum (there’s that word again) Realm. One of Hank’s old colleagues, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) gets mixed up in this process, too.
Out to stop them is Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a phasing villain who needs their quantum technology for more personal reasons.
“Ant-Man and The Wasp” is one of the funnier Marvel movies, with the quippy Rudd and his returning crew of fellow ex-cons Luis (The great Michael Peña), Kurt (David Dastmalchian) and Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris), who now are in business with Lang as The X-Con Security Crew.
Not unlike the first “Ant-Man” film, this franchise thrives on its independence. The Avengers tie-ins are tangential, allowing these characters room to breathe and exist on their own.
Director Peyton Reed keeps the film moving and avoids the trappings of comedy sequels — he keeps the joke repetition to a minimum — and utilizes the inherent humor of a gigantic man existing in our world.
The action doesn’t slacken at all, either, with some inventive fight scenes that showcases Ant-Man and The Wasp’s shrinking ability. And when you see Lang as Giant-Man, using a flatbed truck as a scooter down the streets of San Francisco, it’s action-comedy gold.
Rudd remains a fun lead, playing up the reluctant hero. His moments with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) are charming and some of the best scenes in the film. And it’s great that The Wasp gets title billing — Lilly’s physical prowess is impressive and she is easily the next great Marvel superhero.