Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

Ant-Man and the Wasp poster.jpgSmall Wonder

Director: Peyton Reed
Running Time: 118 Minutes
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Tip "T.I." Harris, David Dastmalchian, Hannah John-Kamen, Abby Ryder Fortson, Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Douglas

Say what you will about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they're aware that audiences don't want the same thing time and time again. While the proceedings don't match the impact left by the socially conscious Black Panther, or the universe shattering Avengers: Infinity War, it doesn't need to. We don't always need to see the world at stakes, sometimes you just want to witness the destructive power of a giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War led to his capture, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is forced to serve two years for house arrest. When he's just three days from the end, his paths once more cross with former partner Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), and her genius inventor father Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). Their plan is to enter the Quantum Realm and save Hope's missing mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer). But their plans are complicated by Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a mysterious figure with phasing abilities.

At it's heart, this is a more personal story. From Scott's need to do right by those in his life, to Hope's determination to see her mother again, and even a glimpse into what drives Ghost, it's refreshing when it's not the world in danger, but these characters whole worlds. Peyton Reed weaves a great sense of humour into the proceedings, which may not always hit, but delivers a wonderful inventiveness in how the shrinking abilities are utilized. A great example is a sequence set in a school, where Scott's suit is malfunctioning.

After 19 films, Marvel finally names one of their female heroes in the title, and it's only right that honour goes to The Wasp, one of the founding members of The Avengers back in 1963. Hope van Dyne is an engaging figure, who partakes in some of the best action sequences, making full use of her winged suit and blasters. At the centre is Evangeline Lilly, wonderfully breathing life into this character who wants to see her mother again, and also live up to her moniker.

Returning as Scott Lang, wonders are once more working into the character by an ever-reliable, and effortlessly likeable, Paul Rudd. He wishes to help out his friends out however he can, be it through making amends to Hope and Hank, or helping Luis to land a client for their new company. But Scott also knows he faces jail time if caught breaking the conditions of his house arrest, and ultimately doesn't want to let down his daughter, Cassie (charmingly portrayed yet again by Abby Ryder Fortson). All these aspects of the character are wonderfully put across, and are evident in Rudd's performance.

It doesn't feel right to label Ghost as your typical villain. Her plans involving getting in the way of our heroes, sure, but the understandable motivations behind her actions go some way to painting her character in a different light. Thank goodness for Hannah John-Kamen, who does terrific work in the role. As for Sonny Burch, Walton Goggins puts on the Southern charm for the black market dealer who's ultimately an obstacle and plot device.

It feels as though Michael Peña has been asked to tone down his performance, and that's a blessing as Luis is an utter joy all throughout. He also gets another monologue, which brings some of the films biggest laughs. Also delivering on the laughs is Randall Park, wonderfully playing FBI Agent Jimmy Woo, who's tasked with keeping tabs on Scott, and investigating whenever it's suspected he's broke the conditions of his house arrest. Here's hoping the Fresh Off The Boat star makes further appearances.

Driven by the search for his wife, Michael Douglas does a great job as ever in the returning role of Hank Pym. He clashes with Bill Foster, portrayed by a great turn by Laurence Fishburne. There's a clear tension between the two, as a shaky past is shared between the former colleagues. Let's not forget the ever-engaging Michelle Pfeiffer, who does so much with her small role.

A smaller tale in the grand scheme of the MCU, Ant-Man and The Wasp is welcoming lighter fare with personal stakes. Peyton Reed may have started as a replacement director on this franchise, but he's turned this series into one of the more underrated in the genre.