Title: Ant-Man and the Wasp
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: Peyton Reed
based on the Marvel Comics by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Music: Christophe Beck
Cinematography: Dante Spinotti
Abby Ryder Fortson
Pigeonholed as an entr’acte between Marvel’s two juggernaut AVENGERS superhero farragoes, the second ANT-MAN standalone film chirpily rests on the laurels of its predecessor’s refreshing size-shifting visual pizzazz and stimulating funny bone, competently guides audience to the finish-line through a rambunctious if not unexpected joyride.
As per usual, the original team returns with some new recruitment, fresh familiar faces like Pfeiffer (whose hype of being cast as Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, is disproportionate to her actual screen time) and Fishburne are both ritualistically granted with a digitally de-aged treatment along with Douglas in their flashback sequences; a new villain Ava Starr aka. Ghost (played by an impetuous Hannah John-Kamen), at least has her own self-preserving urgency in playing havoc with the triad of Ant-Man Scott Lang (Rudd), Wasp Hope van Dyne (Lilly), upgraded to a rare co-lead prominence in Marvel’s universe, and Hank Pym (Douglas), Hope’s father and the original Ant-Man, in lieu of some inarticulate, cosmic plan of ruling the entire universe (Thanos, it’s you I’m referring to). Among the holdovers, Michael Peña’s improvising genius Luis, has more field work to operate this time but also doesn’t miss the chance of welcoming a truth-revealing potion with sheer alacrity.
Truly, the whole enterprise has a limpid self-knowledge of not burdening Ant-Man and co. with too much hefty agendas, and opts for child-parenting, a universal topic barely touched on by all other Marvel pictures, to be the icing on the cake, and it works in favor of cranking up Lang’s affability and normalcy (also owing to Rudd’s straight-arrow comic bent and an endearing Abby Ryder Fortson who plays Lang’s precocious daughter), at one point Fishburne’s antagonist even righteously reprimands Ghost for floating the idea of kidnapping Lang’s daughter as a game-changer, saving us from the go-to cliché afflicted to anyone who is inevitably entangled with a superhero.
Less engaging when it comes to the adult bond between Hank and Hope, adult father-daughter bond has a less winning facade to pull off, and the geeky involvement of the esoteric quantum realm (presumably will be put into critical use into reviving the perished ones in the next chapter of AVENGERS), a common challenge when a film tries to introduce something that is still scientifically inexplicable, we only get the peripheral gestures, the paranormal connection between Lang and Janet, the mutable tunnel open to the realm, the magic healing power and so forth, for general audience, it is more than enough.
No one expects ANT-MAN AND THE WASP to be a genre ground-breaker when ANT-MAN sets a providential template for it to emulate (the trope of hopping from gigantism to micro-shape and everything in between can still legitimately turn heads and induce lulz), meanwhile, as a flyweight riding on the coattail of Marvel’s ever-ambitious-and-lucrative momentum, it also makes sense that its modest ambition is not purely out of aesthete choice, but also out of the functional necessity of a palate-cleanser between the two extravagant main courses, moreover, it might throw a light on the remarkable business savvy that separates Marvel Universe from DC Universe relative to luring ticket-buyers.