In Ant-Man & the Wasp, Marvel turns it down a couple notches from the high-stakes world-shattering events in some of their more recent films, and instead delivers a smaller-scale (no pun intended) while still fun story.
Let’s start by talking about what things this movie did right. First and foremost: the action scenes. They were choreographed extremely well to make great use of the size-changing abilities of the title characters. Whether it was the fight scenes, or the car chase scenes, or any others scenes, the filmmakers took a gimmick that could easily be cheesy and instead made it visually interesting. Additionally, the comedy was all on-point. There were several running gags throughout the movie that I felt paid off every time (especially the ones about the truth serum, and Baba Yaga).
The characters were also all great. In the first film, the main villain (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket) was easily the weakest part of the movie. When I rewatched it recently, I remember thinking about 7 minutes into the film, “Why don’t I love this movie more? It’s great!” And then his character showed up: “oh yeah, that’s why.” However, in this sequel I can’t think of a single weak character – all of them are interesting, amusing, and have motivations that mostly make sense. The character of Hope/Wasp I think particularly shines in this movie. With as cool as she is, some may wonder why this movie wasn’t called The Wasp & Ant-Man.
Lastly, I really enjoyed many of the sci-fi elements of this movie. Some people (myself included) have jokingly said that The Incredibles is the best Fantastic Four movie ever made. I may now have to change the joke to: Ant-Man & the Wasp is the best Fantastic Four movie ever made, as the kind of zany sci-fi adventures that happen here are exactly the kind that you’d see in a Fantastic Four story. In fact, the Quantum Realm (called the Microverse in the comics), is actually a location that tends to be associated more with the Fantastic Four than with other heroes in the comics.
All of that said, this movie still had some weaknesses. Perhaps the most blatant one was the overall story structure. Most of the things that the characters do in the movie are in response to events that seem to happen for the convenience of the story (and usually for the inconvenience of the characters). Additionally, while I did enjoy many of the overall sci-fi elements of the film, many of the specific aspects require a large suspension of disbelief, possibly more so than any previous MCU film. This is definitely a movie that expects you to just accept what is happening, rather than question why it is happening.
Overall, I’d say this was a very enjoyable movie. Certainly not among the highest tier of MCU films, but not among the lowest either. If you enjoy some of the more of the light-hearted and comedic Marvel movies, you’ll probably enjoy this one. But if you haven’t jumped on the Marvel bandwagon yet, or if you’re starting to lose interest, this isn’t the movie that will convince you to join or stay.
P.S. As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been particularly diligent about writing reviews this summer. I’ve been thinking of making up for that by writing a post wherein I briefly share my thoughts on all of the summer movies that I’ve seen but not reviewed so far, but I wasn’t sure if you all would still be interested in hearing my takes on movies that have now been out for anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months. If that’s something you do want to see, let me know, and I may throw something together. If not, no worries on my part, as that’s less work for me. Thanks for stopping by!