AT THE MOVIES: ‘ANT-MAN AND THE WASP’

Tilted in a big way toward comedy, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” offers Marvel an opportunity to show off its lighter side, after the operatic grandeur of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther.”

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ is fun, but doesn’t have much bite

27 JUN 18 12:59 ET

    (CNN) — Tilted in a big way toward comedy, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” offers Marvel an opportunity to show off its lighter side, after the operatic grandeur of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther.” It is also, on most levels, less appealing than its predecessor, a generally fun movie that doesn’t possess much bite.

The first “Ant-Man” worked extremely well as an origin story, layering and humanizing the mythology by having a reluctant new hero, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), pick up the mantle from the originator of the super-suit, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas).

As the title advertises, the second film pairs Scott — after explaining his absence from “Infinity War,” and the fallout from “Captain America: Civil War” –with Pym’s daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), who has her own micro-tech outfit with a few upgrades, including wings and sting-like blasters.

The gist of the plot involves Hank realizing that Scott’s daring leap into the quantum realm in the first movie might hold the key to finding and freeing his long-lost wife, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who disappeared into it decades earlier. Their efforts, however, attract the attention of a mysterious figure known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), who can phase into and out of a solid state, and is intent on acquiring the technology for her own purposes.

Again directed by Peyton Reed — from a script credited to five writers, Rudd among them — the movie repeats and builds upon much of what was in the original, from the mushy stuff involving Scott’s young daughter to his hilarious pal Luis (Michael Pena), who is still wowed by all the super-heroic gadgetry.

Sequels, however, usually need a strong villain, in part because they don’t have an origin story to fall back on. And the Ghost simply isn’t a particularly compelling one, for reasons that become clear (then opaque, then clear again) as the movie draws onward.

This new “Ant-Man” also brings an unnecessarily frantic quality to its action sequences, with multiple parties joining in the chase. Beyond the heroes and villain, the peripheral players include a black-market technology dealer (Walton Goggins) and an FBI agent (Randall Park) assigned to keep a watchful eye on Scott.

Perhaps inevitably, the novelty of the action sequences — that ability to grow and shrink at will — has lost some of its freshness compared to Ant-Man’s previous outings. While fight scenes are plentiful, there’s nothing here that approaches the character’s face-off with the Falcon in the first movie, or his giant-sized contribution to the “Civil War.”

Nor does multiplying those powers times two bring much to it, although Lilly makes a fine addition to Marvel’s stable of heroes, even if she’s left alternately staring into Scott’s eyes, then rolling them at his silly antics a bit too often.

Marvel has demonstrated its ability to tell a wide variety of stories featuring its characters — including its expansion into television — and as noted, there is something to be said for doing what amounts to a smaller-boned version of a superhero movie, without tons of cameos and crossovers.

On that level, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” works well enough. But for all its talk about plunging into the quantum realm, it’s more of a hop than a leap.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” opens July 6 in the U.S. It’s rated PG-13.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Nash Notes

CMA Awards: THE WINNERS

CMA Awards: THE WINNERS

We’ll be updating this post as the winners for the 52nd CMA Awards are announced. TV broadcast begins at 7 p.m. CT on ABC. Two awards were announced earlier in the day. Musical Event of the Year “Burning Man” – Dierks Bentley feat. Brothers Osborne “Dear Hate” – Maren Morris (Feat. Vince Gill) “Drowns the…

Thomas Rhett Hosts Volunteer Event to Support U.S. Military

Thomas Rhett Hosts Volunteer Event to Support U.S. Military

On Nov. 13 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Plaza, Thomas Rhett teamed with Crown Royal for the Purple Bag Project to benefit U.S. servicemen and women stationed overseas. TR hosted the volunteer takeover and helped fans fill purple Crown Royal bags with uplifting notes and food items. Chris Lucas and Preston Brust of Locash also stopped…

Chris Young Teases New Tune, “Raised On Country” [Listen]

Chris Young Teases New Tune, “Raised On Country” [Listen]

Earlier this week, Chris Young scored the 11th No. 1 single of his career as “Hangin’ On” topped the Mediabase chart. The tune is the second single from Chris’ 2017 album, Losing Sleep, to hit No. 1, following the title track in February. While Chris has the option of choosing from eight more possible singles…

Playlist