‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ is fun, family film

Published Jul 15, 2018 at 9:00am

After the cosmically-scaled and dourly-ended “Avengers: Infinity War” earlier this summer, the newest Marvel superhero flick — “Ant-Man and the Wasp” — is a much lighter, much more fun, comedy romp.

Fans have come to expect a certain level of enjoyment in the never-ending Marvel superhero films, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” does not break the trend. It’s a fun and energetic film that uses its characters and unique special effects to produce a sequel on par with, if not better than, the first film.

Ant-Man, played by Paul Rudd, is the superhero who can shrink to the size of a bug or grow to the size of the skyscraper, and this time he’s got a partner in the Wasp, played by Evangelina Lilly, who can shrink and fly. After saving the day in the first film, the duo is together again in the second trying to save the Wasp’s mother from the nanoscopic Quantum Realm.

That’s where you go when you shrink so much that you’re smaller than the atoms that make up atoms. And prepare to hear the word ‘quantum’ a lot.

Our heroes and their friends need to finish building their shrinking machine to go get mom, but they are opposed by a group of criminals who want the technology for themselves, a mysterious new super-villain named Ghost who has her own agenda, and the FBI, who want to arrest them for illegal superhero activities. This kicks off a mad dash of back and forth antics, as all four sides find themselves racing against multiple clocks to either save the day, steal the tech or do their jobs.

And that is largely the bulk of “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. Whereas the first film was very clearly a heist flick, the sequel is a more traditional action comedy. The jokes come fast and funny, and are almost as prevalent as the big fight scenes and action spectacles — emphasis on big when you’re dealing with this franchise.

The gimmick of these films is the shrinking and growing technology, which is used to great effect in “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. Characters shrink and grow at will to enhance fight scenes, they make their vehicles and weapons shrink and grow to enhance car chases and the technology breaks down plenty of times to create comedy gold.

An extended bit where Ant-Man’s suit malfunctions and he’s stuck at about toddler height is pretty darn funny.

Likewise, the cast has come out to play. Rudd has long been a solid comedic actor, and he easily carries the film. Lilly is more of the straight-woman, with help from Michael Douglas as her father. Michael Peña returns as the hilarious Luis to nearly steal every scene he’s in, and returning newcomer Abby Ryder Fortson is a delight as Ant-Man’s kid daughter. It’s a fun cast and they make the comedy and the superhero action work flawlessly.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is not as epic as the Avengers films or as dramatic as something starring Captain America, but it doesn’t try to be. This is the most light-hearted corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it does just fine with that.