After the universe-shattering climax of Avengers: Infinity War, you’d forgive Marvel Studios for not being able to match the level of action, drama and shocks dealt out earlier this year. What better way then to take down the scale and stakes than to focus on the one member of the Avengers roster that can literally shrink.
Yes, everyone’s favourite insect based superhero (spiders are arachnids so it still counts) is back for another movie, this time Paul Rudd is sharing the bill with Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp. In terms of where things lay on the cinematic timeline, we’re a couple of years after Civil War but just before/during this year’s big team-up. Ant-Man is under house arrest and Wasp is on the run with Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym, and everyone is keen to see if the OG Wasp is still alive somewhere in Tinyland.
There’s a magic lab that allows for this to happen, and naturally everyone is after it. You’ve got our heroes, a shady Southern Gentleman played by Walton Goggins (does he play any other type?) and someone in a Destiny 2 cosplay who can walk through walls. It’s a good old fashioned caper where everyone wants the plot device for different reasons, and all parties are determined to get it by any means necessary.
All of this is going on with lots of sub-stories eating up the running time: the ex-cons’ company is struggling to stay afloat, the FBI is trying to catch Ant-Man in the act of breaking his house arrest, Ant-Man’s daughter is missing her football shoes or something, it’s all happening.
The number of B-plots could easily turn this film into a mess, thankfully the charm of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly keeps things just about in check. They and everyone else involved knows exactly what this movie is, and they’re enjoying every bit of the ride. Even Michael Douglas is game, in a role that would have other actors of his pedigree rolling their eyes throughout.
Yes it’s good, harmless fun, and beyond that it’s not much else. The jokes land nicely, the heroes’ shrinking/growing powers continue to lend themselves well to some snazzy visuals and the whole family focus keeps the movie from being a shallow spectacle. There are a good few heartwarming moments that, while not quite tearjerking, will get you all warm and mushy. It’s nice and refreshing after the doom and gloom of the last Marvel outing, and especially when compared to the violent intensity of the other recent action blockbuster release.
Ant-Man and The Wasp is a good, old-fashioned family blockbuster, when all is said and done. Any bad language is at most cut off halfway, and beyond maybe one or two people, there are no fatal casualties in this movie. In ways it reminded me of the original Sam Raimi Spider-Man, where it’s not about saving the world or anything as lofty as that, but instead we have likeable characters doing fun things on camera with a little bit of heft to make things matter. Unlike the original Spider-Man, this won’t last too long in the memory and will probably be remembered more for those post-credit scenes, but at least while it was on I was entertained.
Now for the long wait ahead of next year’s double threat of Captain Marvel and Avengers 4…