One of the best things about ‘Ant-Man’ was that despite being a part of the Marvel Universe, it felt separate from it. It was a side-road on the movies’ main journey, free to do its own silly thing, not tied down by needing to link up with all that Thanos business. It proves largely the same with the sequel. It’s silly, low-stakes, highly entertaining fluff.
The film makes a bit of a fist of trying to reestablish who Ant-Man is, but it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t remember everything from the first movie or the events of ‘Captain America: Civil War’ that put Ant-Man under house arrest for the past two years, it makes no difference to anything. Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, is a low-key normal guy, played by the super-humanly charming Paul Rudd, who can make himself miniature with the use of a special suit. He’s been off-duty during his domestic incarceration, but is dragged back into the super world by ex-girlfriend Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily), who is now a similar size-shifting hero known as The Wasp (she has wings), and her dad, the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). They need his help to rescue Hope’s mum (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is trapped in something called ‘the quantum realm’, which we’re not sure it’s possible to understand no matter how much you’ve been paying attention. And there’s a mysterious, ghostly figure after them, for reasons to be revealed. That’s all you need to know. Then strap in and prepare for a big, daft ride.
Over a two-hour run time, which never feels the slightest bit bloated, Ant-Man and The Wasp aims to squeeze is as much fun as possible. It goes big on the possibilities of the size-changing gimmick. There are car chases in which the vehicles keep switching from normal to Micro Machine-mini. Fight sequences have The Wasp repeatedly transforming and kicking the ass of men 10,000 times her size. The main plot revolves around a battle for possession of Pym’s secret lab, which can be shrunk down and pulled around like hand-luggage. It’s boundlessly clever and funny. The jokes come at a charging pace, delivered by a breezy, high-class cast.
The whole movie sings of people, from its actors to returning director Peyton Reed, having the time of their lives. It is almost completely devoid of introspective darkness, a summer blockbuster with a permanently sunny disposition, 118-minutes of welcome escapism. One final note: if you’re not the sort to sit through the credits of a Marvel movie to see the brief ‘sting’, make this an exception, or you will miss the little movie ending with something huge.