ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

★★★

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - DAN JOLIN

Bring 3D glasses... and binoculars.

OUT NOW CERT 12A / 118 MINS

DI­REC­TOR Pey­ton Reed CAST Evan­ge­line Lilly, Paul Rudd, Michael Dou­glas, Han­nah John-ka­men, Michelle Pfeif­fer, Laurence Fish­burne, Michael Peña

PLOT Two years af­ter Civil War, Scott Lang (Rudd) is un­der house ar­rest. But Hope Van Dyne (Lilly) and Hank Pym (Dou­glas) need his help, wran­gling with a ghost from their past — as well as a trou­ble­some Ghost (John-ka­men) in their present.

AF­TER THANOS CLICKED his fin­gers and de­liv­ered that gut-punch of an end­ing to In­fin­ity War, it feels strange to watch the Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse bounce back up off the mat, fit, ea­ger and will­ing to please with an­other frisky ca­per. Es­pe­cially as it’s the se­quel to the se­ries’ friski­est and most ca­per­ing en­try to date, the fun but lightweight heist com­edy Ant-man. A movie, lest we for­get, that fea­tured Thomas The Tank En­gine. It’s like we’ve flipped from the MCU’S hugest epic to, well, as small as it gets.

Tak­ing place be­fore In­fin­ity War, the con­cerns here are not of im­pend­ing cos­mic calamity, but fam­ily mat­ters and sur­vival at an in­di­vid­ual level. On the one hand there’s Scott (Rudd), con­demned to the ul­ti­mate slacker’s life­style af­ter his Civil War shenani­gans have con­signed him to house-ar­rest. On the other hand, there are Hank (Dou­glas) and Hope (Lilly), who, in­spired by Scott’s sur­vival in the Quan­tum Realm, have de­vel­oped a Quan­tum Tun­nel by which they can go sub-mi­cro­scopic and, they hope, bring back the orig­i­nal Wasp, Janet Van Dyne — now re­vealed as Michelle Pfeif­fer.

It’s good to see the gang back to­gether; af­ter he as­sisted Steve Rogers in Mu­nich, Hope and Hank ditched Scott — not least be­cause his ac­tions drew them heat via the Sokovia Ac­cords — mak­ing them an off-the-grid, fa­ther-and-daugh­ter rene­gade out­fit.

The ban­ter fizzes with the same old charm, Scott’s ap­par­ent inanity still grat­ing against Hank’s cur­mud­geon­li­ness and Hope’s stiletto-sharp fo­cus. But a few too many gags lean on call-backs, with a re­peat of Luis’ (Peña) jab­bered mono­logues, and Scott suf­fer­ing more bad luck with his in­sect side­kicks. And while there’s no gi­ant Thomas, we do get a colos­sal Hello Kitty Pez .

As you’d ex­pect from a Mar­vel joint, the ac­tion comes thick and fast, ex­cept now it’s Lilly break­ing the most sweat. Hope is far more ca­pa­ble than Scott, and is a joy to watch in fully suited ac­tion. How­ever, Ant-man does still get his big mo­ments — or should that be Gi­ant-man, now?

But as mas­sive as Scott grows — or as wib­bly as things get in the mer­cu­rial jelly­bean hur­ri­cane that is the Quan­tum Realm — the film still feels com­par­a­tively mi­nor and light-hit­ting. Ant-man And The Wasp, as fun as it is, lacks the sheer, mind-blow­ing heft of In­fin­ity War. Or, for that mat­ter, the scope and the­matic mus­cle of Black Pan­ther. Or the way-out-there, in­ven­tive deliri­ous­ness of Thor: Rag­narok. In this new era of Mar­vel over-achieve­ment, it re­ally does feel like a lesser work.

VER­DICT While it proves an all-round well-mounted dis­trac­tion, Ant-man And The Wasp un­de­ni­ably lacks the scale and am­bi­tion of re­cent Mar­vel en­tries.

This was go­ing to blow David At­ten­bor­ough’s mind.

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