Any Marvel movie that has to follow Infinity War is unfairly going to be compared to the grandeur of that film and while Ant-Man and the Wasp was never meant to be as grand in scale or serious as that film, it just about manages to succeed in being a light-hearted, low stakes affair much like the 2015 original. Not everything here works though and I’d say that it’s the weakest MCU film this year and probably in Phase 3 so far. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s just a little lacking to me.
For those confused about the film’s place in the timeline, it takes place before Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and syncs up with those events come the end. The story revolves around two major plot lines, the first being that of Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Hank’s (Michael Douglas) mission to rescue her mother/his wife from the Quantum Realm, while the second involves the threat posed by The Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) to them and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). While I found neither of these plot lines all that investing, it’s the chemistry between the three main leads that holds everything together. Rudd, Lilly and Douglas continue to shine as these characters.
Giving Lilly the chance to suit up and become The Wasp for this film was an exciting prospect and she does great in all her action scenes, but there are times where Hope should clearly have been given more input in a scene, but sometimes Scott and Hank will steal the moment from her. Despite this, I felt the character really came more into her own here. Scott Lang continues to be the earnest and underdog hero of the MCU. For me the moments that he has with his daughter are the moments where he’s the real hero and Rudd really sells these scenes. The supporting cast of Michael Peña, Tip Harris and David Dastmalchian are usually the comedic highlights of the film, just as they were in the original, although I was disappointed we didn’t get more of Luis’ (Peña) signature stories.
The weakest characters of the film though really fall of the villain side of things. John-Kamen as Ava/The Ghost doesn’t get much to do in the role and the actress doesn’t give a particularly memorable performance either. Her motivations are clear, but understandable meaning she isn’t really much of a villain in the end. This means the only straight-up villain of the film is Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a black market dealer and he’s too one dimensional and not very threatening either. Overall, the villains of the picture were easily the weakest of Phase 3 which is a shame because Phase 3 has had some pretty strong villains.
What’s unique about Ant-Man’s world is the shrinking and growing perspective that adds an often comical and surreal experience to many scenes. The action scenes in particular inventively use the shrinking/growing aspects to create some fun set-pieces. The climax is where a lot of this used; unfortunately a lot of it is shown in the trailer. Actually a lot of this movie was shown in the trailer, including the post-credit scene. However, the technical filmmaking is an all-around improvement over the original with the direction feeling more confident and the actors more settled into their characters. It’s just the story seems to go in circles sometimes throwing off the pace.
Director Peyton Reed delivered on everything audiences came to like about the original Ant-Man, but this sequel fails to always be interesting or exciting. It’s many moments of comedy don’t always work and the villains are too bland to feel menacing. It’s certainly a fun distraction while we wait for the next Avengers, but it won’t go down as one of the MCU’s best.