"I name you, ANT-ontio Banderas."
As history tends to repeat itself, Ant-man and Wasp, like its predecessor, releases just a few short months after a major Avengers film. While the story itself takes place before Thanos and the Avengers went toe to toe, I still strongly recommend watching Avenger's: Infinity War before you take in this fun-filled and very enjoyable sequel.
Picking up two years after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang finds himself just days away from serving out his sentence. LIke Clint "Hawkeye" Barton, Scott is placed in house arrest for taking part in his little stint in Germany by helping out Captain America. While this current situation is explained a bit too much into detail during a moment that is played for laughs, it does serve as a way to get the audience up to speed.
In fact, the whole start of the movie is based around the consequences from Scott taking part in Civil War. His living situation, his relationships, every facet of his day to day has been impacted by his association with those events. While Scott was placed under house arrest for two years; others were not so lucky. When we start the film, Scott (Paul Rudd) is not on speaking terms with either Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) or Hope Van Dyne, (Evangeline Lilly) who are now fugitives due to their association with the Ant-Man tech, and it is only through looking to discover what happened to Hank's wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) that the team comes back together.
Ant-Man and the Wasp attempts to tell several stories at once and it doesn't quite deliver on a select few. You have Scott trying to reconnect with Hank and Hope, while also trying to serve out the last few days that he is under house arrest for, attempting to not get caught by FBI Agent, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). You have Hank attempting to bring his wife back from the Quantum Realm, a technology that is consistently under threat by numerous individuals. You have the Ghost character and how she fits into this whole Quantum Realm story that can feel a bit too on the nose given the context of what is occurring via the main narrative. All of this is tied together through various characters that are either new to the franchise or supporting characters like Luis (Michael Peña) who is back doing what he does best.
Ghost, (Hannah John-Kamen) and the associations that she has with the Quantum Realm can feel as I've just mentioned; a bit too on the nose. This is also present when introducing us to Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) as his introduction scene is via a university lecture that is, you guessed it, discussing Quantum Physics. In fact, the very subject is EXACTLY what Ghost is suffering from and comes off as not only lazy exposition, but as absurdly convenient. While the villain does suffer from some narrative shortcuts, I found Ghost to be a very interesting foil to our heroes. I enjoyed her backstory, the way she combats two shrinking heroes and while the way the film wraps up her character by the end was very predictable, I don't think it could have really ended any other way. I do, however; have to give Director Peyton Reed some props as it was great to see a villain that didn't have the exact same powerset as our hero.
While the MCU series of films have been criticized for cramming too much humor into their movies, the Ant-Man brand seems perfect for it, especially due to the casting of Paul Rudd. While the original film had its fair share of laughs, this sequel has far more quality in its humor given the situations our heroes find themselves in. There is one such moment in the film where Scott and Hope need to retrieve something from a school and Lang's Ant-Man suit is malfunctioning. While there are several times throughout the film where his suit is acting up, it is here where it leads to one of the most laugh out loud parts of the film. Whereas most of the original film found its humor in Scott learning the suit and his interactions with the ants, much of the humor in this sequel comes from the powerset contained within the Ant-Man costume. The movie also sets up various jokes that pay off throughout the film, mainly anything to do with Agent Woo. These scenes are hysterical and the final conversation with Scott and Jimmy is incredibly well-written.
I wasn't a fan of Walton Goggins in his recent appearance in the newest Tomb Raider film and he did nothing here to change my opinion on him. He plays the character a bit too cheesy for my tastes and starts to head into Home Alone territory once the action picks up. Goggins plays Sonny Burch, an arms and tech dealer that has been providing Hank and Hope with illegal tech. When his interest in the tech turns to that of wanting to sell it to make money, he and his team become only needed in the film so that Hope and Scott have something to beat up or escape via the car chases. While these characters are required so that our action scenes exist, so that our heroes are beating up legit 'bad guys', they feel like something added to the film once the main story was plotted out.
What Ant-Man and the Wasp does well is in its main cast of characters and not just the interactions between them, but in how each character has significant moments to shine. Hank Pym isn't just there to spout off exposition and science terms, and Hope finally gets to show off what she can do with Hank's tech. Even Luis has a very enjoyable action scene that plays off Hank's tech as well. Director Peyton Reed and his team of writers were able to have far more ownership on this movie than the previous, mainly due to Reed being attached to the film late in its pre-production. This sequel allows for more of what worked in the previous film while also expanding on plot threads that were hinted at prior. The Quantum Realm will certainly have a bigger part to play in the MCU going forward and again, please go see Infinity War before taking in this film. You have been warned.