Movie Review: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'

Fasten your seat belts for this compelling, riveting, and action-packed film that has a few laughs thrown in for good measure.
Photo courtesy of Marvel Entertainment & Disney
Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) teams up with the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) in order to rescue Hope's mother from the subatomic cosmic realm.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a sequel to both “Ant-Man” and “Captain America: Civil War.”  It takes place after the events of Captain America, and before “Avengers: Infinity Wars.” It’s a suspenseful, entertaining and action-packed movie that’s less intense and less violent than previous Marvel films. It's a showdown of good versus evil, but there's also some jokes thrown in for good measure. The movie also depicts strong family relationships, with characters supporting each other and sticking together when life gets tough. 

The story begins with Ant-Man, or Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd,) who is stuck at home on house arrest by the FBI. Evidently, Scott got into trouble when he used his Ant-Man suit to help Captain America. The FBI claims that he was acting as a superhero on his own behalf, which violates his contract and international accords against superheroes.

As punishment, Scott is forced to wear an electronic tracking device on his ankle and must remain home at all times. As Ant-Man, Scott can shrink instantly to the size of a bug, or blow-up bigger than Godzilla. Now Scott no longer wears his superhero suit and just wants to be a normal person. He starts a home-based business called Ex-Con Security, with his comic-relief sidekicks (and fellow prison buddies) Luis (Michael Peña), Dave (Tip "T.I." Harris), and Kurt (David Dastmalchian.)

Scott wants to avoid further scrutiny from the authorities and be a loving dad for his 10-year-old daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson.) They make the most of their time together, with indoor treasure hunts and sliding down secret passageways which they’ve built inside their house. 

While riding down an indoor chute, Scott and Cassie accidently crash through the door. Somehow, Scott’s ankle tracking device goes off, alerting the FBI. The FBI rushes to Scott’s house to make sure he isn’t contacting his former mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas,) the creator of the Ant-Man suit.

It turns out to be a false alarm, and the FBI leaves. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Pym and his daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) show up and kidnap Scott. They shrink Scott to the size of an insect, and whisk him away to a secret laboratory where they are using advanced technology to build a tunnel into the cosmic realm. Evidently, they need to build this tunnel in order to rescue Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer)—who is Dr. Pym's wife and Hope’s mother.

Janet has been stuck in this Quantum Realm for at least 25 years (ever since Hope was a little girl,) and they need the Ant-Man’s help to bring her back to earth. Hope is also the Wasp, and now Scott must put on his ant suit and fight alongside her. 

Complicating matters are two villains trying to steal Hank and Hope’s laboratory and foil their mission: A double-crossing black market weapons dealer named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), and a woman named Ava — aka “The Ghost”– (Hannah John-Kamen), who believes the quantum energy from the laboratory  will help her overcome crippling health problems.

Appropriateness for Children

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” appears to be aimed at teenagers and adults, but younger kids will love the fantasy aspects of this movie. One click from a remote and a Hot Wheels carrying case with miniature toy cars becomes full size cars.  Another click of the remote and the quantum laboratory transforms into a suitcase on wheels. Click again and a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser becomes a lethal weapon. Another click, and snack size cakes from Entenmann’s become king-sized. Yes, some of this is marketing product placement, but the special effects are incredible. The filmmakers go all out to make this a mesmerizing movie—a fantasy that comes to life on the big screen. 

The Wasp is reminiscent of Tinkerbell, transforming from an adult to an insect so she can buzz away from the bad guys. Ant-Man also zips down to teeny- tiny and hops on the back of fly, to zoom away from danger. A few seconds later, Ant-Man also becomes as gigantic as Godzilla. It's incredibly suspenseful to watch all of this happen. 

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, but it’s not as intense as other Marvel movies, like “Avengers: Infinity War.” It’s more lightweight entertainment, with lots of humor and special effects, rather than darkness and destruction. Expect to see atomic explosions, car crashes, dangerous chase scenes, life-or-death situations, and hand-to-hand combat (with guns and knives.) No major characters are killed but several people are injured.

Children might be frightened by scenes where security guards are injected (against their will) with needles containing truth serum. There is some cursing and foul language. Ava the “Ghost” may frighten children, as she claims to be dying, fades in and out, becomes invisible, and tries to kill people.

Final Take

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a highly entertaining sequel that captures the vibe of the original film. Its themes include working together to overcome obstacles, and having courage in the midst of difficult circumstances. The plot is compelling and riveting, with a positive portrayal of a parent-child relationship. Scott the Ant-Man maintains a caring relationship with his daughter, even after his divorce, and builds a fun indoor maze ride to make the most of his house arrest. Hope the Wasp fondly remembers playing hide and seek with her mom, and how she was nicknamed "Jellybean." We also see Dr. Pym’s devotion to his wife Janet, whom he hasn’t seen in years, and how he desperately wants to find her.

My only criticism is that the plot is complicated and confusing. You have to keep track of four major protagonists. Ava the Ghost needs to be re-charged (like a cellphone with a low battery) or she’s going to die. Dr. Pym is racing against the clock to get the lab working so that he can enters the cosmic realm to find his wife. Hope the Wasp must outsmart a black market weapons dealer who betrays her. Scott the Ant-Man must get back to his house before the FBI checks up on him, or he’s going to jail.

One thing about this movie is that the story and special effects are fused with humor. In the middle of an intense chase scenes, the film makers often throw in something funny to lighten the mood. For instance, Stan Lee (who originally created the Ant-Man comics) makes a cameo appearance. During a car chase through the streets of San Francisco, as the superheroes are trying to outrun the villains, we see an elderly motorist trying to get into his car. The elderly man's car suddenly shrinks into a miniature toy car, it’s revealed that the motorist is, in fact, Stan Lee, and he drops a particularly funny line to the effect of, "The '60s were great, but now I'm paying for it."