One of the most surprising superhero films in recent years is “Ant-Man”. When it was first released in 2015, this small scale superhero film took everyone by surprise. It’s a film that initially did not seem destined for success. Who would’ve thought that a movie about a superhero that shrinks to the size of an ant would be successful? Definitely not me. At a first glance, the premise of the movie sounded absolutely ridiculous. Yet, the film proved to be an unexpected success and went on to become a box-office hit. Due to its surprising success, the film left the door open for a potential sequel that would see the return of the world’s smallest superhero.
Now, nearly three years later, the world’s smallest superhero with the ability to shrink in size is back in the latest film “Ant-Man and the Wasp”. Director Peyton Reed’s follow-up to 2015’s surprise hit is a fun, funny and action-packed film. It is one of those sequels that improves in every way on its predecessor. Packed with plenty of laughs, exhilarating action sequences and terrific performances from a stellar cast, it offers fun popcorn entertainment. Yet, while the film is undeniably entertaining, it falls short of recent entries in the genre. It lacks a compelling villain, and isn’t quite as entertaining as the first film. That being said, it’s a thrilling sequel that will satisfy fans that have waited to see the world’s smallest superhero on the big-screen.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he struggles to balance being a superhero and father. After being put under house arrest, Scott is forced to give up the cape and live a normal life. However, when he reconnects with his former associate Hank Pym he is given the opportunity to don the suit once again. Along with his newfound allies, Scott must fight his greatest adversary yet.
If there’s anyone that knows how to stage a visually dazzling action sequence, it is director Peyton Reed. With the passion and enthusiasm of a child playing with his favorite action-figures, the director stages the most exciting action sequences you will see in a movie this year. As one might expect from a superhero movie, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is filled with exhilarating action sequences that will keep fans entertained. Unlike most superhero movies, which are simply a collage of noisy explosions, the action in this film is surprisingly inventive. The action sequences make clever use of the growing and shrinking powers of the superheroes, and are a major improvement on the first film. Arguably, the action sequences are one area where “Ant-Man and the Wasp” surpasses its predecessor.
Amidst all the thrilling action, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” finds time for genuine moments of humor. In the same vein of the 2015 original hit, it is funny, goofy and at times hilarious. In a day and age when too many superhero movies are dark and serious, it is refreshing to see a film that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Humor is a tricky thing to nail in superhero movies, and it doesn’t always work. Sometimes, too much humor can get on the viewer’s nerves and detract from a film. Thankfully, however, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” has just the right amount of comedy. The film is filled with plenty of sharp, witty and comical jokes, which will appeal to comic-book fans. This time around, the jokes mainly stem from the interactions between the superheroes and their back and forth banter.
These colorful characters are skillfully brought to life by a stellar cast. In the year’s most star-studded superhero ensemble, every actor is at the top of their game and seems to be having a blast of fun.
Paul Rudd continues to shine in the role of the comical hero with an astonishing ability to shrink in size. Charming, charismatic and funny, he carries the film on his shoulders. With a sharp sense of humor and likable persona, he proves once again why he is the perfect fit for the character. When it was first announced that Rudd was cast in the role, many fans were skeptical about whether the actor could pull it off. Now, having played the character three times, he proves to be perfectly cast in the role. In the same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, Paul Rudd is Ant-Man. It is hard to imagine anyone else playing this lovable character.
The supporting cast gets the chance to shine as well. Evangeline Lilly is superb and almost steals the spotlight as the Wasp. Michael Douglas brings gravitas and emotion to the role of Dr. Hank Pym. And finally, Michael Pena is hilarious and steals nearly every scene he is in as the enthusiastic criminal Luis.
Although “Ant-Man and the Wasp” offers fun popcorn entertainment, ultimately it is not a film without flaws. Arguably, one area where the film falls short of its predecessor is the villain department. Whereas the first film had a compelling villain, this sequel shortchanges its villains and barely gives them a chance to shine. The movie has two villains, Ghost and Burch, but neither of them manages to leave a lasting impression. Ghost is a sympathetic character with an interesting backstory. However, due to limited screen-time she hardly gets a chance to shine. Newcomer actress Hannah John-Kamen puts her best foot forward in the role, but she can’t save a poorly written character. Burch, on the other hand, is an irritating antagonist with clunky motivations and a stereotypical plan. In a year in which comic-book movies have offered memorable villains (ex. Killmonger in “Black Panther”), it is hard to not feel disappointed by “Ant-Man and the Wasp”.
In the end, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” soars but not high enough to meet the expectations of fans awaiting greatness. It’s a fun but flawed sequel that doesn’t quite live up to the quality of the original. Nevertheless, as a fan of the first film it left a beaming smile on my face that has stayed with me ever since.