‘Ant-Man And The Wasp:’ A Marvelous Change of Pace

Art provided by Marvel
Paul Rudd stars as Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp in the new Marvel movie, ‘Ant-Man And The Wasp.’

By Susan JAMES

After the majesty of “Black Panther” and the shocking ending of “Avengers: Infinity War,” the new entry in the Marvel Universe, “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” arrives on screen as comic relief. Director Peyton Reed, who helmed the original “Ant-Man,” has stepped up his game aided by a snap, crackle and pop script from Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers and lead actor and multiple threat Paul Rudd. For once the fate of the universe doesn’t rest in the hands of a few extraordinary heroes. In fact, the fate of the universe isn’t even mentioned. It’s nice for a change to step back from the destiny of all mankind and consider the destiny of the individual. Hannah John-Kamen’s haunted, hunted Ghost (aka Ava) provides that opportunity.

It’s two years after the Civil War that split the Marvel heroes into two camps. Having thrown in his lot with Captain America, Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man) has been whiling away his days under house arrest and creating indoor games to play with his daughter Cassie. He’s persona non grata with former flame Hope Van Dyne/the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) and her father Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who consider his desertion of them a betrayal of their agenda to reclaim Janet Pym from the really teeny, tiny part of the Quantum Realm (QR). That’s subatomic in science speak.

Scott is also trying to set up a security business with former fellow cellmate Luis (Michael Peña). Luis is both an asset and a hindrance in the project and it must be acknowledged that a better title for this movie would be “Luis and Everyone Else.” Peña steals every scene he’s in and some of the funniest bits in the film are his recreations of events in street dialect while under the influence of truth serum. Meanwhile, crooked businessman Sonny Burch (an effective Walton Goggins) is trying to steal Hank Pym’s technology for accessing the QR while the FBI is trying to find Pym and Van Dyne to arrest them. Enter Ghost, played by John-Kamen with scowling look and assertive eyebrows. She’s been torn apart by an accident with the QR when she was a child and is desperate to find the lost Mrs. Pym in order to suck the subatomic juice the lady has absorbed during her sojourn in the QR. This, believes Ghost, will finally return her to the real world as a real person.

What follows is a scramble among all the assorted players for access to the QR and its treasures. Rudd is an ever-reliable hero whose easygoing charm matches the easygoing tone of the film. Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster, and the all-too-rarely seen Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne give the action some gravitas. One of the great things about the film is the meticulous casting of smaller parts. Randall Park’s FBI agent Jimmy Woo, Rob Archer and David Dastmalchian’s ET guys, and Divian Ladwa’s hit man Uzman, all hit the nail on the head with minimal effort.

Naturally there is going to be a cliffhanger ending and naturally it’s going to tie into the “oh no” ending of “Infinity War.” Okay, maybe I lied and the fate of the universe does come into this but not until the very end and hey, good news, Ant-Man will appear in the untitled Avengers movie scheduled for next year. So if all the stars align and the universe manages to right itself, maybe some more laughs are on the way.

See you at the movies!