Ant-Man and the Wasp

My wife had the weirdest reaction when we left the movie. She was mad the women next to her laughed at everything. She then said, “You were laughing a lot, too.”

I replied, “I did laugh a few times, but a lot of the jokes didn’t land.”

She was then surprised when I said, “I kind of liked it.” And then I had to say that phrase I hate when people say if you didn’t like a movie they liked — “Well, you didn’t see the first one.”

It was hardly necessary that you see the first Ant-Man (which I felt was unfairly knocked by many people). I didn’t think this was as good as the first, but it was light, breezy entertainment on a hot summer day.

The ant puns got old quick, but it fit Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). He’s either charming, or he’s trying to be. The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) has nice chemistry with him, and the supporting cast all brings a little something to the table. Well, Bobby Cannavale wasn’t given enough to do. Neither was Michelle Pfeiffer, but she made the most of her few scenes. Michael Pena is always fun, and he had a hysterical scene after he’s injected with truth serum.

Walton Goggins was a great villain, as he was in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Django Unchained, as well as last year in Tomb Raider.

Randall Park cracked me up, as the FBI agent that’s always checking to see if Scott (Paul Rudd) is honoring his house arrest or sneaking out.

Laurence Fishburne, who is great in everything (check him out in last year’s Last Flag Flying), is a former colleague of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).

A second villain (Ghost) shows up, and it’s refreshing that she doesn’t want to destroy the planet or blow up a building. Her reasons for trying to steal equipment are a lot more selfish. Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) has a few great fight scenes and thankfully, the action sequences were a bit more restrained than the usual superhero films.

The movie has a lot of expository dialogue explaining things (Scott even jokes, “Do you guys just throw the word ‘quantum’ in front of everything?”). The basic plotlines have Hank trying to find his wife, who got lost on one of their early missions. And Ghost wants to steal Hank’s lab so she can correct the things that have messed up her body. Goggins’ character just wants to steal Hank’s portable lab because of all the money he can make selling the technology to other bad guys.

There were five writers involved in this (one of them being Paul Rudd), and that’s usually not a good sign. Sure, a lot of this doesn’t flow together as well as it should, but director Peyton Reed (Bring it On, Ant-Man, Yes Man…and probably a few other “man” movies I can’t think of) did a serviceable job.

This is one of those films that had a lot of the good stuff ruined because you saw it in the trailer. For example, Ant-Man and the Wasp fighting together in a kitchen, which is an awful lot of fun.

There are a few interesting set pieces, and some fun gags when the Ant-Man suit malfunctions. One of those involve Ant-Man becoming the size of a tyke, while he’s roaming the halls of an elementary school in search of something in his daughter’s backpack.

Perhaps if I didn’t have superhero fatigue, I would’ve liked this more. I did like it more than my wife, and I doubt now she’ll ever go back to catch the first one.

3 stars out of 5.