‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ delivers appropriately small charms


After the universe-destroying sturm und drang of “Avengers: Infinity War,” there is something really pleasant about the comparatively low stakes of “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” the second “Ant-Man” movie (wow, it’s weird that there was even one, let alone two), the year’s third Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and the 20th MCU flick over all.

Returning director Payton Reed and no fewer than five credited screenwriters deliver exactly what the title suggests. We’re working with heroes who can shrink to the subatomic and grow to kaiju size, so in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” stuff gets small and stuff gets big. And it’s fun to watch.

You might recall from the previous “Ant-Man” that Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) became the titular hero thanks to the machinations of the original Ant-Man, a former government agent and scientist named Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, who in this new movie delivers a master class in phoning it in) who got Lang to steal the Ant-Man suit and fight a baddie named Yellowjacket. People shrank, ants were enlarged and we witnessed the single best use of the Cure ever in a motion picture.

You also might recall that Lang was recruited onto Captain America’s team during “Captain America: Civil War.” Cap’s team lost, and Lang went to jail.

In “Wasp,” it is sometime between “Civil War” and “Infinity War.” Lang has been under house arrest since the end of “Civil War,” and hooo-eee is he bored.

He is playing-drums-all-day bored, learning-close-up-magic bored and building-an-enormous-cardboard-playset- throughout-his-house-for-his-kid bored. Fortunately, he has only three days left of his sentence; then he can go to work for a security firm he launched with his former crew Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip “T.I.” Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).

Unfortunately, events intervene in the form of Pym and Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), both of whom are trying to find Hope’s long-lost mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who vanished into the quantum realm many years ago. Lang has been to the quantum realm and survived, which means Janet might be alive as well, so Hank and Hope need Lang to maybe go back and find Janet … look, it really doesn’t matter that much (other than the fact that everyone says “quantum” so much they make fun of it in the script).

Also in the mix is Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne), an old colleague of Pym’s who can’t stand him; a baddie called Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) with her own connection to the quantum realm; and a generic bad guy/fence person named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins, wasted a little bit in the role).

The character work here is a bit better than most comic book movies. Peter Parker is oft-presented as the Hero Who Could Be You, but his genius-level intellect is as much as superpower as anything the radioactive spider gifted him with. No, the only regular dude is the MCU is Lang. He’s a nonviolent petty criminal who adores his daughter and has an ex-wife who is mildly embarrassed by him. He just wants to go straight. He wants to do the right thing, but at the end of the day, he’s just an in-shape guy in a super suit he didn’t build.

As Lang, Rudd communicates well that genuine desire to be a better guy and does a surprisingly good job opposite Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays his 10-year-old daughter, Cassie.

But the joy in these movies isn’t the larger universe, or the character work. It’s seeing big things become little and little things become big, be it the wheel-shaped Matchbox car case that carries all manner of transportation or the building that can shrink to the size of a roller bag, or an excellent sight gag involving a sweater that is far too large for its wearer. (Never mind that this franchise plays awfully fast and loose with mass and physics … what am I talking about? Who cares?)

No rending of cities in twain, no cosmic baddie who wants to destroy the universe, no Earth hanging in the balance. Just a bunch of stuff getting bigger or smaller. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a fun-sized flick.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Movies & TV

Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson at Beto rally at Auditorium Shores
Leon Bridges to join Willie Nelson at Beto rally at Auditorium Shores

The rally for U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, set for Sept. 29 at Auditorium Shores, was already destined to be a Texas-sized spectacle with local legend, Willie Nelson headlining. On Wednesday afternoon, the show got even bigger as Leon Bridges, who recently sold out two nights at ACL Live, announced plans to join...
Big names, local favorites: Your Austin live music calendar for fall
Big names, local favorites: Your Austin live music calendar for fall

Remember those late-summer days when everyone seemed to be on vacation and not a lot of touring shows were coming through town? Welcome to fall, when everything’s completely different and music is falling off the trees everywhere. The proof is in our list of more than 300 events from now through December, including arena and theater concerts...
Weekend music picks: Free family-friendly concert series from KUTX is back
Weekend music picks: Free family-friendly concert series from KUTX is back

Austin will also host shows from jazz great, Fred Hersch, post-hardcore outfit the Jesus Lizard and the Flatlanders this weekend. OUR TOP PICKS [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPHpD8DONkA&w=492&h=277] Friday: Fred Hersch Trio at UT McCullough Theatre. A 10-time Grammy nominee, pianist Hersch is one of the most accomplished living...
Austin tea shop the Steeping Room is adding booze to the menu later this year
Austin tea shop the Steeping Room is adding booze to the menu later this year

The Steeping Room is going to start spiking drinks this fall. Currently, the North Lamar Boulevard tea shop and restaurant offers an extensive menu of nonalcoholic tea-based drinks. But once a new license with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is accepted — probably around the holiday season — Austinites can expect a more...
Are Bert and Ernie gay? 'Sesame Street' weighs in on ex-writer's comments
Are Bert and Ernie gay? 'Sesame Street' weighs in on ex-writer's comments

The nonprofit organization behind the beloved children's show "Sesame Street" is weighing in on a question that has sparked debates for decades: Are Bert and Ernie a gay couple? The answer: Nope, they're puppets, Sesame Workshop said in a statement Tuesday. "As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," the...
More Stories