Ant-Man and the Wasp Review: A Light Touch Goes a Long Way
Ant-Man and the Wasp Review: Director Peyton Reed returns for a sequel that keeps things on a smaller scale than other MCU films. No pun intended.
Remember back when people were at the mercy of cable TV channels if they wanted to watch a certain type of movie? These were the movies you might not go out of your way to own, but if they were on cable during a rainy Sunday afternoon you’d happily dedicate a few hours to watch it and consider it time well spent. You may have a different name for them, but among my group of friends we’d call them TBS movies. Modern viewing habits have mostly done away with that, but the idea remains, and Ant-Man and the Wasp falls neatly into that category.
Don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a negative. Films like Ant-Man and the Wasp and its predecessor are like comfort food. They don’t reach epic heights like Avengers: Infinity War or stretch the Marvel Cinematic Universe in new directions like Thor: Ragnarok, but it’s a solid addition to the growing MCU, albeit nonessential. Well, except for one scene, but I’ll get to that.
Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and in some ways is a direct sequel to Captain America: Civil War. Following his exploits in Berlin and counting the days until his house arrest concludes, Scott has basically forsaken the superhero life for his daughter. But when he has a dream that may be a message, Scott reaches out to his former friends Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Then things get wacky.
Scott, Hope, and Hank run afoul of an FBI agent (Randall Park), a criminal (Walton Goggins), and a super-powered badass with the ability to phase called Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). Throw in an old associate of Hank’s who is also a Marvel Easter egg (Laurence Fishburne), then mix and bake at a reasonable temperature and you have a solid caper film with superpowers.
The plot actually knits all the different pieces together well, including all the events from other MCU film that are connected – sometimes loosely – with Ant-Man and the Wasp, while still managing to remain separate. It fits nicely in the MCU, but other than Ant-Man and Civil War, it stands on its own. The film also eschews a big “oh god, the world is doomed” story in favor of a much more personal story. The consequences of the bad guy winning would be minimal compared to most other MCU films, which makes it more focused on the characters.
There is, however, a problem with the film that comes because of that, and it may be the result of editing more than gaps in logic. Basically, without getting into spoilers, a huge source of conflict could be completely undone with a single conversation. And not even a deep conversation, just an honest one. The conversation could have gone badly and things would play out exactly the same, but its absence feels like a hole in the story. It’s a small enough complaint and there is enough to make your own excuses for it, but it’s still a major moment that never happened.
There’s also some questionable logic when it comes to the science of Ant-Man – and yes, I know that sounds dumb given that it’s about a guy that can defy physics, but there are moments when the film’s own rules don’t seem to fit. Can thinks shrink inside something already shrunk? What happens to small objects inside something that is small and tossed around? It’s not really a question of science, just consistency. Again though, minor quibble
On the plus side, Ant-Man and the Wasp manages to side-step a very common trope, one that seemed imminent given the trailers. The film places Hope/Wasp in the role of experienced, driven superhero and Scott/Ant-Man as the goofy one that we all want to root for even as he bumbles around. Given that dichotomy, it would almost impossible to like the Wasp, because the position she is in forces her to be disappointed in the character the audience is invested in. Ant-Man and the Wasp does hint at that, but Lilly and Rudd have enough chemistry and the characters complement each other so well that it works.
A little more relationship building between Scott and Hope wouldn’t have gone amiss here, but that’s more of a wish than a flaw. Rudd and Lilly are both funny, enough so that it’s going to be really interesting to see how they develop and interact with the larger MCU teams. Both will appear in Avengers 4, and given the depth of storytelling potential that the film only hints at, including the excellent addition of Michelle Pfeiffer, there is a lot of potential for more.
Ant-Man and the Wasp Review Conclusion
If you are a fan of the MCU, then Ant-Man and the Wasp is must-see and a solid step in the expanding MCU. It won’t win any haters over, but that was never the goal of it. It’s a nice refresher after the heaviness of Infinity War, and there is even a scene that will likely be resolved in Avengers 4. That’s a guess, but one that fits with existing theories.
Situated between Infinity War and next year’s Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp is being released at the perfect time. It may not be enough to draw people in on its own like some of the other MCU films, but it makes an ideal refresher and snack between the heavier films. It’s a sherbet served between courses – you don’t need it to make the meal, but it is a great addition.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is rated PG-13 with a running tie of 118 minutes.