'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Review: Plentiful Laughs with Miniature Concerns

ant-man and the wasp

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return in a pleasANT sequel.

After-dinner mints. They are perfect after a heavy meal and provide just enough satisfaction as to not impede the featured course. Ant-Man and the Wasp is the light dessert after the heavy Avengers: Infinity War. Although like the best after-dinner mints, it is inconsequential compared to the larger picture.

When we last saw Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), they were discussing the possibility of Hope taking the mantle of the Wasp. At least two years have passed since then and Hank Pym has become obsessed with finding his wife in the Quantum Realm after Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) returned from there at the end of Ant-Man (2015). Hank and Hope believe they need just one more piece of the puzzle. That piece ends up being Scott.

Meanwhile, Scott has been trying to go legit by opening a security business with Luis (Michael Peña) and his compatriots. Something has made this a little more difficult after the events of Captain America: Civil War as Scott has been placed in house arrest for his part in the airport battle. Not only does this make business more difficult but also limits the activity and time he can spend with his daughter. Something brings him back into action, though, just as Scott is nearing the end of his two-year probation. Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) reaches out to Scott through their shared experience in the Quantum Realm, and this leads Scott to contact Hank, and just like that the mission is on.

There are plenty of new faces in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Walter Goggins joins the MCU as black market dealer Sonny Burch, and he adds so much to a role that in the hands of lesser actor would be forgotten. His sole purpose is to obtain the secrets of Hank Pym and sell them for a profit. The other new characters include Laurence Fishburne as former Pym associate Dr. Bill Foster and Hannah John-Kamen as the new villain Ghost.

Director Peyton Reed must’ve learned something from Black Panther because the villain of Ant-Man and The Wasp is much more compelling. As the daughter of one of Hank Pym’s old research partners, Ghost doesn’t want revenge or to take over the world — she simply wants to be human again. The story weaves her ascension into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how she became a black ops agent like the Winter Soldier. The experimentation feels a little too much like something ripped out of Stranger Things, but Ghost has a motivation that is real and for that reason she succeeds.

Everything regarding the casting and relationships of these characters feels rewarding, but Ant-Man and the Wasp boils down to a game of Monkey in the Middle. Everyone is trying to get their hands on Hank Pym’s lab. This leads to many situations where the humor of the Ant-Man movies can shine through, but it is not enough to sell this concept. Hank and Hope want the lab so they can enter the Quantum Realm and save Janet. Burch wants the lab so he can sell the tech that is inside. And Ghost wants the lab so she can find a solution to become human again. There comes a point in the film that this concept of chasing after a miniature tech lab runs its course, only for the Ant-Man and the Wasp to double down on the idea and continue the chase all over again.

It is easy to understand why Marvel once again follows its massive tent pole with a movie from the Ant-Man universe. The movies are delightful and offer a palate cleanser after the universe-breaking Avengers films. If the goal of Infinity War was to change the course of the entire galaxy, Ant-Man and the Wasp is concerned with the lives a few individuals. Perhaps the Quantum Realm will become a vital part of the Infinity War conclusion, but Ant-Man and the Wasp is content to tell its own story. Light-hearted fun is enough to satisfy those still reeling after Infinty War.

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News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.