Sunday afternoon films. You can’t beat them: those adventures that deftly blend action and comedy with just the right amount of audience engagement required to make the experience pleasurable without being a chore. The Mummy Returns is one for me, as are Evolution and Universal Soldier. There’s loads of them, and in some cases people might refer to them as guilty pleasures, but for me they’re comfort food.
So yeah, you’ve guessed it, Ant Man and The Wasp is cinematic chips and gravy. You can put it on and have a good time without thinking too much. It’s also particularly fun for those familiar with San Francisco, as its climax visits so many memorable locations to conduct its hi-jinx.
The plot takes us to the quantum realm, which was revealed in the first Ant Man to be housing Hank Pym’s (Michael Douglas) wife Janet. At the start of this new entry into the MCU we see the chain of events that led to this disastrous happening; how Janet sacrificed herself for the greater good, and how it led Hank to make it his mission to bring her back.
In the present day we join Hank and his daughter Hope (aka Evangeline Lily, aka The Wasp) as they put the finishing touches to their Quantum Tunnel, a device which can send one of them into the quantum realm to find their wife/mother. Trouble is they need the help of the ever bumbling Scott Lang (aka Paul Rudd, aka Ant Man) and that’s when things get messy.
What follows is a feature length game of cat and mouse, as Hank and Hope try to use their machine and keep it out of the hands of new villain Ghost, and Scott continually evades the FBI who have him under house arrest following his involvement in the events of Captain America: Civil War.
What keeps things moving (at a very healthy pace) is director Peyton Reed’s grasp of what makes this world so much fun. The jokes come thick and fast, and returning side kick Luis (Michael Pena) turns in another ridiculous performance that very nearly steals the entire movie. Ant Man is a part of the MCU that is totally comfortable being tongue-in-cheek, and the fact it keeps its adventure intimate in size fits both the title character’s diminutive size and the fact that not all Marvel movies can cope with being universe ending in scale.
As with the first Ant Man, Christophe Beck’s score is a major standout, and bucks the trend of Marvel movies with somewhat middling soundtracks. The music stands out proudly, and feels more akin to a Mission Impossible type score than anything brandishing cape wearing characters. It is fun and in-your-face, and it truly adds to the story in a meaningful way.
But as much as the last few paragraphs have liberally dished out hyperbole, remember that what you’re getting is a perfect Sunday afternoon film. This is not an icon of the tent-pole summer blockbuster canon, nor is it going to be pulling in any awards. It’s just really good fun, but what’s so wrong with that?