Ant-Man and the Wasp movie cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Pena, Hannah John-Kamen
Ant-Man and the Wasp movie director: Peyton Reed
Ant-Man and the Wasp movie rating: 3 stars
Marvel finally has a female in the title role, with a better suit and better wings than her male counterpart, and Michelle Pfeiffer enters the franchise, grey and wizard-like, from beyond the quantum realm. Who else but Marvel’s most self-effacing hero, Ant-Man, to accommodate both without a stretch in his spandex?
Having delivered a surprise hit with Ant-Man in 2015, director Reed again banks on the fact that the biggest strength of his Marvel superhero, as it tries to find a place in the Avengers mega-universe, is his ordinariness and likeability. Rudd personifies both, and the most heroic part of his Ant-Man remains his heart, whether beating for his little daughter or his angry partner, Hope (Lilly). Without that, Rudd’s Scott is a man under house arrest wearing an anklet monitor, hoping on a fellow ex-convict to put his business on its feet, and on an old scientist to power up his suit.
As we connect with Scott again after his last outing in Captain America: Civil Wars, he isn’t having much luck in either of those efforts. The ex-convict and friend, played with typical show-stealing elan by Pena, is largely doing his own thing. And the scientist, Pym (Douglas), remains angry with Scott for having traipsed off to adventure with Captain America in that ant suit he had built — the adventure having earned Scott both world rebuke and that house arrest.
But then Pym thinks he can bring back wife Janet (Pfeiffer), who was lost to the quantum world 30 years ago — counting on the fact that Scott had managed to do it. So, Pym and Janet’s daughter Hope, with whom Scott had developed a little something in the last film, go to get him back. By now Hope has a suit of her own; hence ‘the Wasp’ of the title.
That is the extent of what is at stake in Ant-Man and the Wasp, with no bigger worlds than that family to be put back together. Even towards that, the film expends very little screen time. What it does is fill up this loose and even woozy plot at times with characters with warmth, and people who interact.
If Pym and Hope, and Scott and his daughter, are not enough of a father-daughter parallel, the film has another lost girl and another father figure to the rescue. The only reason the two otherwise superfluous distractions work is because the girl, played by John-Kamen, manages to draw surprising empathy. She is the daughter of an old colleague of Pym, who got injured during a quantum lab accident gone wrong, and now suffers from “quantum disequilibrium”. In simpler words (so to speak), her cells keep breaking and repairing all of the time, leaving her in deep pain. Somehow, she thinks that a quantum tunnel that Pym and Hope are building is her only salvation.
Those may appear too many ‘quantums’ in the above paragraphs. But that’s just a minute reflection of how many times the word pops up in the film, with its five writers, including Rudd, rolling out a lot of what passes for scientific jargon. Scott, speaking for all of us, even asks at one point, “Do you guys just put quantum in front of everything?”
Still, the film goes into atomic, sub-atomic, quantum, factorisation, quantum energy and, finally, quantum void. How that passage plays out is also disappointing, with hints that it may be a misconceived adventure born of hubris never amounting to much.
However, bigger themes is clearly not the thing of this film with its small people. And yet, as Scott and Hope fight with and against each other, the film deftly enlarges and shrinks them with a whoosh while in battle, and traps Scott once mid-size at her daughter’s school, you wonder… Could there be a comment there, on the politics of size?