Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

It’s a good thing the second Ant-Man movie is above average, because it’s becoming quite a chore to fit all these Marvel superhero movies into the Marvel universe, at least as it applies to the Avengers movies, which seem to be the focus. Much of the plotting of Ant-Man and the Wasp is dependent on both the last Captain America movie and the last Avengers flick, though temporally they exist in different relative dimensions, and I found myself uselessly trying to recall the details of Avengers: Infinity War, which hasn’t taken place at this point, when I should have been concentrating on Captain America: Civil War, which is the reason our hero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), is under house arrest as the movie begins.

He’s actually just finishing up his sentence, which doesn’t seem so harsh: He still gets to see his daughter, and lives in a very nice San Francisco Victorian. He’s even on pretty good terms with his FBI handler (Randall Park), who is a bit of an airhead otherwise. Naturally, he’s jerked out of this little piece of paradise by the call of duty, which, if you remember from the first movie, wasn’t exactly Lang’s forte, being a minor criminal and all before he became Ant-Man. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who devised the suit that makes Lang small, and his daughter, Hope (Evengeline Lilly), contact Lang to help them find Hank’s wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has been lost to the so-called Quantum Realm for years. Lang is the only other person who has reached that small a size, but he was able to come back, so they require his experience, which calls for his slipping his ankle bracelet and risking his freedom.

Hope is the Wasp, who, due to her father’s fugitive status and the government’s mistrust of superheroes in general, is also laying low, and the relationship between her and Ant-Man is comically tense, since they have a certain amount of skin in their reputations as heroes, though Lang’s persona is mostly bluster covering up a lack of real knowledge about what his powers entail. In addition to literally getting down, he can also summon insect friends to help him get things done. But he also has two criminal sidekicks to take care of logistics. Since a villain is required we have two in the over-complicated Marvel style. One is Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), who wants to steal Pym’s nanotechnology and sell it to the highest bidder. The other is Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a woman who herself passed through the Quantum Realm and as a result is literally immaterial, in that she can pass through solid objects. She needs Pym’s technology to save her from disintegrating into countless random molecules.

Director Peyton Reed doesn’t belabor the already overloaded story and lets it play out naturally while investing his attention in the set pieces, which take more advantage of the extreme possibilities of scale than any other Marvel movie has made out of their respective relationships with peculiar super powers. He keeps the humor churning as actively as the action, melding them in ways that might have been models for the series if that damn Thor movie hadn’t been so funny. It’s not as good as Ant-Man and the Wasp, but it’s much more irreverent, which these days counts for something special.

Now playing in Tokyo at Toho Cinemas Hibiya (050-6868-5068), Toho Cinemas Nihonbashi (050-6868-5060), Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills (050-6868-5024), Toho Cinemas Ueno (050-6868-5066), Toho Cinemas Shinjuku (050-6868-5063), Shinjuku Wald 9 (03-5369-4955), Shinjuku Picadilly (050-6861-3011), Toho Cinemas Shibuya (050-6868-5002).

Ant-Man and the Wasp home page in Japanese.

photo (c) Marvel Studios 2018

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