Following the galaxy-spanning Avengers: Infinity War with a much smaller scale adventure may seem like madness, but with Ant-Man and The Wasp, which never even leaves San Francisco, it turns out to be a stroke of genius.
Set just before Infinity War, Scott Lang (Rudd) is rapidly approaching the end of his house arrest for helping out ‘Team Cap’ in Civil War. Unwilling to go on the run and lose out on his daughter Cassie, Scott's been occupying himself with his ‘X-con’ security company, playing the drums and learning close-up magic tricks to keep Cassie entertained. Alienated from Hank (Douglas) and Hope (Lilly) Pym, his illegal activities with the Ant-Man suit has made them fugitives as well.
Only after experiencing a strange vision of Janet Van Dyne (Pfeiffer) is Scott thrown back together with the Pyms as his trip to the quantum realm in the first Ant-Man may hold the key to finding Hank's wife and Hope's Mother.
While Scott may have learned close-up magic between films, it seems director Peyton Reed mastered advanced juggling techniques as he casts multiple storylines into the air and switches seamlessly from one to another. From Hank and Hope's search for Janet, regular check-ins in with Michael Peña's wildly popular Luis, run-ins with Walton Goggins' shady tech dealer and his thugs, escalating gags with a malfunctioning Ant-Man suit, Randall Park's attempts to catch Scott breaking house arrest and multiple size-changing car chases, Reed propels the film from one to the other, never losing the audience.
All this is before we even get to the supposed villain of the piece, Hannah John-Kamen's Ghost, who, in a nice break from many supervillain introductions, just turns up in the film before we even get a hint at her origin. In many ways, Ant-Man and The Wasp feels like a slap in the face to the standard three-act structure and yet somehow it works. It feels effortless but it must have taken a lot of work to achieve.
Rudd is his usual, charming self, providing some fantastic ‘eye acting’ behind the Ant-Man mask. Evangeline Lilly easily matches him, earning her (superhero) name on the poster as the majority of the action relies more on her than Scott. It's also a joy to see the 73-year-old Michael Douglas remain an integral part of the ensemble and not ushered off-screen by the young whippersnappers. He even gets some of the funniest lines in the film.
Like the first, the sequel is very funny. From Scott's dumbfounded reactions to almost everything, Michael Peña's unique brand of storytelling, and an absolutely hilarious detour to a kid’s school, the film is packed with more laughs than peril. If anything, Ant-Man and The Wasp may suffer slightly because it feels so light. Half the living beings in the universe aren't at stake, just two lives. If you're ok with that after Infinity War, then this is the perfect superhero summer blockbuster palate cleanser. Only one of the two post-credit stings acts as a brief reminder of the fate of the rest of the MCU.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP / CERT: 12A / DIRECTOR: PEYTON REED / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS MCKENNA, ERIK SOMMERS, PAUL RUDD, ANDREW BARRER, GABRIEL FERRARI / STARRING: PAUL RUDD, EVANGELINE LILLY, MICHAEL DOUGLAS, MICHAEL PEÑA, WALTON GOGGINS, RANDALL PARK, LAURENCE FISHBURNE, HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 3RD
Expected Rating: 8 out of 10