In Ant-Man and the Wasp, Director Payton Reed (Yes Man) and principal writers Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) prove that size really doesn’t matter, whether that be of the characters or their place in the Marvel expanded universe.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is trying to make it through the last stages of his house arrest after the events of Captain America: Civil War, but is being constantly harassed by his FBI keeper, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). But a vision of Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), wife of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who has been missing for thirty years in the quantum realm, leads him to contact Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly). This draws him reluctantly out of his home to help rescue her. Yet, in doing as, he gets entangled in a multi-layered plot to steal Pym’s technology, with each player having their own end goals. When caught between the self-serving Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), the self-absorbed Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), and the pursuit by the FBI that want to use him to find Pym, Lang’s life suddenly becomes filled with choices that are harder than any he has faced before.
It isn’t often that there is a film where everything seems to coalesce. For it to happen in what is admittedly one of the lower-ranked character films in the Marvel universe is even more surprising, but that is exactly what happens here. The directing, writing, acting, and cinematography blend together into a film that can be classified as exceptionally entertaining.
The story, as well as the flow of it, is superb. Every scene that might have otherwise dragged is spiced with humor that keeps the audience both laughing and engaged. Despite the complexity of the multi-layered plotline, the viewer is unlikely to get lost. With the talented cast this film has, Reed’s work as director appears to come easy. He manages to draw the most out of each performer, and the actors’ performances are neither too subtle nor too overdramatic. The well-crafted script goes a long way in assisting with this.
As mentioned, every actor gives his or her all to the character they play (although Douglas and Pfeiffer’s parts are an underuse of their talent), to the point that you can often almost read their thoughts. They don’t need to tell you their motivations, they adeptly show them to you, ranging from Rudd’s portrayal of Ant-Man down to Abby Ryder Fortson’s portrayal of Scott’s daughter Cassie. Even some of the smaller parts stand out, particularly Michael Peña as Luis. His moment when the character is compelled to tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is an inspired performance not only by Peña but also by other cast members, too.
Again, we are faced with a film that could have easily presented the audience with dizzying movement and hard-to-grasp action scenes, but the effects and cinematography follow in what seems to be a new trend in the Marvel movies – they don’t shove so much at the viewers that they can’t track the characters on the screen without the use of slow motion. Of particular note are the camera angles, which do a wonderful job of taking advantage of the characters’ size changes, and the finely-crafted props used to enhance these scenes.
If there was one complaint, it would be regarding the development of depth in some of the characters. We don’t see enough of Ava’s backstory (or more specifically, her father’s) to know if she really has a bone to pick with Hank Pym or has been misled. The same goes for Laurence Fishburn’s Dr. Bill Foster. Are the flashbacks accurate, and whose story of the past bears the most truth? In reality, though, these are minor details and probably questions for another movie to answer.
Other than this there isn’t much fault to find, and as a representative of the true action hero genre, Ant-Man and the Wasp stands tall.