If you're anxiously awaiting answers to the epic finale of April's "The Avengers: Infinity War," well, you're going to have to wait a bit longer. Although "Ant-Man and The Wasp" is the 20th film set in the Marvel Universe and a direct sequel to 2015's "Ant-Man," it takes place before and during the events of that film. And coming from the galactic, ginormous stakes of "Infinity War," the newest Ant-Man adventure can't help but feel...smaller...in comparison.
The good news is that "Ant-Man and The Wasp" is far superior to the previous installment, what this critic considers to be the worst, weakest Marvel movie of them all (check out the original "Ant-Man" review here). The bad news is that it still not able to carve out a unique piece of the Marvel pie, and feels adequate at best. This is just filling - something to hold over hungry movie-goers - until the next Avengers movie drops next year. And it is easily consumable, although it provides nothing in the way of nourishment.
Paul Rudd reprises his role as Scott Lang, and we learn that he was missing from the Avengers stuff because he was under house-arrest following the events of "Captain America: Civil War." You know, because an ankle bracelet is something that should keep a super-hero away from a threat to all of existence. Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) are attempting to save their long-lost wife (and Hope's mother), Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) who is the original Wasp. Long ago, she was lost in the "quantum realm," having used her incredible-shrinking-suit to get so small that she wasn't able to go back to normal size...or something like that. Hope takes the mantle of The Wasp as the two pull Lang out of his imprisonment so he can help with their quest (this, again, was more important than the threat of Thanos?). A mysterious new villain known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) shows up, as does a slick and cliched, shady businessman played by the usually great Walton Goggins (although here he is the worst he's been).
As with the last "Ant-Man" and recent films like "Thor: Ragnarok," the humor is front-and-center, with the action getting a back-seat. There is little chemistry between the new Wasp and Ant-Man, as Evangeline Lilly looks as if she is perhaps the grumpiest super-hero of them all...literally, she appears to be having no fun at all. At least Rudd, Douglas, Goggins and Michael Pena seem to be enjoying themselves. The rescue mission seems contrived, and even Rudd's character makes a joke about how the word "quantum" is being thrown around way too much. Yeah, just because the writers make an aware joke, doesn't mean you can overlook the lameness.
Big actors like Goggins and also Laurence Fishburne (as an old associate of Hank Pym) seem wasted...is there no better characters in the Marvel Universe for these two to play? Big actors, lots of special effects and lots of laughs, but no substance. Once again, the "Ant-Man" franchise seems to know what the Marvel recipe-for-success is, and it has all of the ingredients, it just doesn't know how to whip up anything satisfying. As far as the Marvel film franchises go, "Ant-Man" might as well exist in the quantum realm, because it's hardly even noticeable when compared to its contemporaries.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi.
Run Time: 1 hours and 58 minutes.
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne, Randall Park
Directed by Peyton Reed ("Ant-Man," "Yes Man," "The Break-Up").
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