Peyton Reed‘s Ant-Man and the Wasp (Disney, 7.6) isn’t a problem unless you’re determined to complain about it not being as good as the original Ant-Man (’15). Which it’s not. But it’s still fleet, funny, disciplined, carefully honed, occasionally dazzling, light-hearted, pleasingly absurd…112 minutes worth of cool cruisin’ as you chow down on the overpriced crap. And those 112 minutes feel like 80 or 85, by the way. There are no significant downshiftings or speed bumps, or none that I noticed.
Please don’t let me (or any other sourpusss types) stop you from seeing it, but I’m telling you straight and true that Ant-Man and the Wasp is not quite as affecting, highly charged and/or head-turning as I wanted it be. It’s fairly proficient in the ways you might expect but at the same time it’s a bit of a slight letdown. You may feel the same way when you see it, but you’ll probably survive.
Why should anyone care if Ant-Man and the Wasp registers as an entertaining but inoffensive letdown? There are bigger fish to fry and meditate upon. See it or don’t see it. But don’t weep for the Marvel and Disney empires — they’re fine. On top of which the Rotten Tomatoes whores having given it a 96% approval rating.
What exactly is missing from Ant-Man and the Wasp that wasn’t missing from Ant-Man? The dopey subversive humor in Reed’s three-year-old original felt fresher, for one thing. And the story was more emotionally affecting as far as Paul Rudd‘s Scott Lang was concerned. He was in a fairly dark and despairing place as it began — ex-con, low-rent loser, not much of a role model for his daughter — so morphing into Ant-Man by way of Michael Douglas‘s (i.e., Hank Pym’s) brilliance and reluctant largesse really meant something. This time, not so much. But at the same time I didn’t feel burned by the story or journey or whatever you want to call it. I felt placated.
Good, occasionally amusing work by Rudd, Evangeline Lilly (Hope van Dyne / Wasp), Michael Douglas, Michael Pena, Walton Goggins (fated to play pain-in-the-ass, low-rent villains for the rest of his life), Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Hannah John-Kamen (Ghost), Abby Ryder Fortson (Rudd and Greer’s daughter Cassie), Randall Park, Michelle Pfeiffer (Janet van Dyne — rescued in Act Three from the sub-atomic, micro-quantum realm or whatever you want to call it), Laurence Fishburne (punching the clock), etc.