The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Ant-Man and the Wasp

After the intensity of Avengers: Infinity War, it's nice to get a fun, breezy Marvel movie like Ant-Man and the Wasp. The first Ant-Man was as much a comedy as a superhero adventure, a trait this sequel shares. What sets it apart is right there in the title – “the Wasp.” Our miniature hero gains an ally this time. She's more than just an ally though; she's also every bit his equal and, one might argue, the best female hero we've seen in an MCU picture to date.

The story begins with Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) coming to believe that his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) may still be alive thirty years after her disappearance into the “Quantum Realm.” Moreover, he thinks he knows how to bring her back. This possibility excites their daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), a.k.a. the Wasp. However, an unscrupulous black market dealer (Walton Goggins) wants to steal the technology contained inside their mobile lab, as does a mysterious figure named Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) who has the power to pass through solid objects thanks to a quantum experiment gone wrong. Hank and Janet call in Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) to put on his ant suit and help them protect their property so Janet can be rescued.

Ant-Man and the Wasp expands upon characters and situations introduced in the original. Most notable of them is the idea that Hope is fully invested in her father's technology and ready to use it in pursuit of her missing mother. Her metamorphosis into the Wasp was teased during a mid-credits scene in the original. This time, she's a full-bore superhero, using her suit to shrink and expand at will. There is a fearlessness to her, because she has confidence in her ability to navigate all the potential hazards. Evangeline Lilly is wonderful in the role, capturing the way toughness and tenderness mix together inside of Hope.

A big part of Ant-Man and the Wasp's fun comes from the ingenuity of its action sequences. The way Scott and Hope change their sizes to surprise bad guys or accomplish some kind of task puts a smile on your face at the same time that it's generating excitement. A car chase, for instance, becomes a master class in creativity, as the characters shrink their auto down to the size of a Matchbox car to avoid being easily spotted by their pursuers, then abruptly make it full-size again to create a battering ram on wheels. Unusual objects, including a salt shaker, are substantially enlarged to become weapons. At one point, Ant-Man grows massive, wading through the water right off the San Francisco coast as though he's Godzilla. Clearly, a lot of thought went into devising inventive uses for the heroes' powers.

Those scenes earn a lot of laughs, as do many of the character-based moments. Paul Rudd is hilarious as Scott, dropping one-liners and sarcastic quips with precise comic timing. Michael Pena, meanwhile, steals the show yet again as Scott's fast-talking associate Luis. He has a scene about halfway through the film – involving an injection -- that is hilarious because the actor pulls off the motormouth shtick so skillfully. Even the requisite Stan Lee cameo is funny this time.

Ant-Man and the Wasp builds to a rollicking finale that has the characters running all over the city as they fight for possession of the mobile lab. It's a long sequence where complications layer one on top of the other, and where the powers of the ant suits are used in a variety of ingenious ways. Director Peyton Reed very effectively employs 3D here (and in other places throughout) to emphasize differences in size and scope. Although the 3D format seems to be losing favor with the public, this is an instance where it really adds to the overall impact.

Both of the story's villains could have been developed a little more. As other superhero pictures have proven, two bad guys in the same story tends to dilute things a bit. Despite that minor gripe, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a pure delight. The movie is funny and exciting, with a nice dose of heart in the middle of it all. This is precisely what summertime escapist entertainment is supposed to be.

And Evangeline Lilly as the Wasp? She absolutely rocks.

( 1/2 out of four)

Ant-Man and the Wasp is rated PG-13 for some sci-fi action violence. The running time is 1 hour and 58 minutes.

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