Was it spectacular? No. Did I laugh until I cried (as I did with the first Ant-Man)? Unfortunately, no. Was I incredibly happy to see this movie in a post-Infinity War release? Absolutely.

         Infinity War proves, I think, that simply raising the stakes doesn’t mean audiences will be more invested. IW raised them as high as they can go (the fate of the universe! 50% of everyone you know!) but, conversely, it only made me more sure that everything would be fine in the end. The movie became a punishing barrage of grimaces and punching.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne

         Ant-Man, on the other hand, once again keeps the stakes low (as many critics have noted, to the delight of pun-happy headline writers). And it’s such a relief. I care so much more about “will Scott make it back to his house in time?” than I do about “will these faceless civilians die?”. We got a marvelously fun chase scene and some Paul Rudd house-arrest shenanigans. Yes, the plot was flimsy and I’ve already forgotten the villains, but honestly, that was all I wanted.

         The movie just took everything that audiences loved about the first (Scott’s excessively lovable daughter, the high-speed storytelling sequences by his friend Luis, small things becoming big and vice-versa) and fed it right back. It’s not a recipe for an innovative or surprising film, but it does make for a mercifully amusing and familiar night at the theater.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne

         As in the first Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly and her character, Hope, are criminally underused. The character’s lack of humor makes her a strange match for Scott, who seems incapable of taking anything seriously. There’s a much stronger, more amusing, and more interesting character in there somewhere, but she just isn’t given anything to work with.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne
She does get a couple cool moments of action, though.

         It’s not like Lilly can’t carry smart and funny! You’ve probably seen gifs of that beautiful interview moment where she shows the camera her high heel when gently mocking male superhero actors for their constant whining about their suits:

“OR????” She’s a treasure.

Two last notes – spoilers ahead:

  • I saw the movie with my casual-MCU-fan parents, who loved the first Ant-Man but have not seen (or, apparently, heard much about the ending of) Infinity War. I will treasure their shocked, outraged yells at the post-credit scene forever.
  • Good thing the Quantum Realm has lipstick and Botox. Otherwise, we might have to see what a Real Human Woman Over 50 looks like. Shudder.

What did you think of Ant-Man and the Wasp? Did you find the gentleness a welcome break, or was it all underwhelming? Let me know in comments!