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Ant-Man & The Wasp - Review 2

Ant-Man & The Wasp

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IF you thought Marvel was entering its dark phase following the climactic events of Avengers: Infinity War then think again. Ant-Man & The Wasp, the studio’s first release post-Thanos clicking those fingers, is a breezy, heart-warming romp that plants its tongue firmly in its cheek.

Once more directed by Peyton Reed, but perhaps with a lot more freedom than the original Ant-Man (which he inherited from Edgar Wright), this sequel is fun, exciting and endlessly inventive. And just like its similarly feel-good predecessor, it’s smaller scale works massively to its advantage.

There are no end of the world scenarios or even game-changing super-villains. The action plays out on a much more human level, albeit involving a quantum realm. But by placing its characters front and centre, it endears on a much more humble – and perhaps identifiable – level.

Picking up two years after the events of Civil War, the action finds Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) under house arrest and trying to balance fatherhood with running a security firm with long-time friend [and perennial scene-stealer Luis, Michael Peña].

But with just days to go before his probation ends, Scott is thrust back into the world of his Ant-Man alter-ego when former allies turned fugitives Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) come calling to seek his help in recovering Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank’s wife and Hope’s mother, from the quantum realm.

Hot on their trail, meanwhile, is a mysterious figure known as Ghost/Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), who has her own reasons for wanting to recover Janet, as well as black market dealer Sonny Burch (Walter Goggins) and – eventually – the FBI.

If the original Ant-Man played more like a heist movie than a superhero blockbuster, then this spritely follow-up emulates some of those elements while also adding a chase movie component. This feels like a race against time.

But while packed with some ingenious and highly amusing set pieces, director Reed never loses sight of the human elements at play. Hence, the tug of loyalty that Scott feels between doing what’s right by his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson) and potential love interest Hope is nicely played so as to allow for some genuinely touching interplay between the principal characters.

As a result, Rudd is able to bring his everyman charisma to the role of Scott, neatly balancing the heroics with certain regrets and insecurities (not to mention a self-deprecating line in humour), while Fortson, especially, charms as his daughter.

Ant-Man & The Wasp

Lily, for her part, gets to kick-ass a la Black Widow but is afforded an equal amount of vulnerability, particularly in handling her emotions when it comes to potentially being reunited with her long-lost mother; while even John-Kamen’s Ghost is afforded a complex back story that makes her ‘villain’ more of a Winter Soldier nemesis than an all-out baddie.

Elsewhere, Peña once again is a blast as the fast-talking Luis, Goggins is a suitably smarmy secondary villain and Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas share some nice interplay as former allies forced back together in spite of a mutual dislike for one another. Both bring empathy and comedy to roles that could easily have felt totally secondary and borderline redundant.

As for the set pieces, Reed mixes humour with invention to often laugh-out loud effect, with an early restaurant-based fight scene setting the stage nicely for what follows throughout. The climactic tussle – that somehow brings in every character as well as ants and seagulls and a quantum realm – is brilliantly realised: as thrilling as it is highly comedic and emotionally involving.

Marvel can’t quite resist leaving things on a semi-serious note, with the now obligatory mid-credit and post-credit teasers sure to leave fans panting for more (and nicely bringing the characters into the Infinity War timeline). But in all other respects, this is a delightfully playful entry into the Marvel canon that over-achieves because it’s content to play things on a smaller scale.

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Certificate: 12A
Running time: 118mins
UK Release Date: August 2, 2018