Not being a huge fan of the comic book saturation that fills the cinematic landscape, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had me contradicting my occasional distaste for the genre with a smorgasbord of good instalments, such as Iron Man, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy. To be clear, it’s not that I dislike the genre, but rather the fatigue that comes with keeping up with the interwoven connections, and there’s also that sense of Disney manipulating movie-going habits that triggers my disliking of the concept. But hey, I’m part of a minority and I get that. That being said, Marvel has another winner here.
The latest chapter in the ever-expanding MCU, the eighth instalment of Phase 3 and the 20th overall title (exhausting… right? ehem), is Ant-Man and the Wasp, a direct sequel to Ant-Man, which is in fact my favourite Marvel film to date. That first movie bucked the trend and offered a fresh take on the superhero genre, providing a family-friendly adventure full of action, special effects and laughs. It threw back to movies like Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Dollman and Innerspace, and with a concept as ludicrous as an ant-sized superhero, the movie was as frivolous as it was clever. Suffice it to say, expectations were high for this sequel, and it would take a well-considered script to equal what came before it.
Thankfully, Ant-Man and the Wasp is fantastic! It exceeds all expectations and, perhaps, alleviates the Marvel fatigue that some (read: maybe just me?) could be experiencing. It picks up sometime after the events of Captain America: Civil War with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) holed up at home under house arrest. It seems that his misadventures in Civil War broke a few international laws and the FBI is chomping at the bit to throw him behind bars. Following a vivid dream that awakens Lang one night, well… the less said the better. Let’s just say that Lang, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who’s now kicking ass as The Wasp, are in for quite the adventure.
Be sure to switch off your logic-detector when you enter the cinema, because too much consideration and overthinking may be plucking the frayed thread that unravels the whole tapestry. There’s a ton of improbabilities and contradictions going on, but as sophisticated moviegoers you know how to suspend your disbelief. Ant-Man and the Wasp compensates you with a sensational adventure full of wonderful characters, gobsmacking special effects and an excellent cast ensemble.
For those weary folk like myself, who don’t necessarily want to invest too much energy into the MCU, this instalment is the one to see. Aside from just a few references, this movie seemingly makes a deliberate effort to remain mostly isolated and stand-alone, which is refreshing in a connect-the-references-heavy franchise. Furthermore, Ant-Man and the Wasp isn’t even a “superhero movie” per se, at least in the sense that we don’t have the usual universe-demolishing threats that often serve as a terrifying end game if our heroes fail. There’s a smaller, more grounded challenge for our protagonists here, and it’s a welcome moment of pause for the MCU and serves as a light refreshment after the likes of Infinity War.
Rudd reprises his Scott Lang/Ant-Man character with precision, maintaining the child-like persona that made him so likeable in the previous movie – and overall, really. His ability to switch gears from infantile to responsible is well measured and is a joy to behold. Douglas is also wonderful, with more emotional investment and comedic moments to work with.
Lilly makes for a beautiful, brainy and tough counterpart to Rudd’s lovable doofus. She is most certainly the Wasp that Ant-Man needs! The rest of the cast – both recurring and new – are perfectly placed, with the likes of Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Hannah John-Kamen, Laurence Fishburne and Michelle Pfeiffer contributing to the impressive line-up.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is a visual feast for the eyes with some of the best miniature and supersized visual effects captured on screen in years. Carrying the same sensibility as the first movie, the script does well to never repeat itself with its gags; the over/under-sized humour will incite rapturous laughter from audiences (it did with mine). Ant-Man and the Wasp is a highly enjoyable movie that sets itself apart from the MCU and is guaranteed to please the masses. Forget about logic (even in a fantasy sense) and let your inner child out to play. Both of you will love it… we certainly did!
SCREEN REALM SCORE: ★ ★ ★★☆
‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ hits Australian cinemas on July 5 and opens in the US on July 6.