The original Ant-Man was a success, with a box office haul of more than $519m. Call it “Marvel-Lite” if you will, a bite sized appetizer to the main Marvel universe but a tasty one for the studio.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and returning director Peyton Reed has done just that, conjuring another slice of tiny fun, messing with perspectives and keeping the tone light.
We start this episode by going back in time to explain some context and bring audiences up to speed via “de-aging” movie magic. “Dr Hank Pym’s” (Michael Douglas) wife “Janet Van Dyme” (Michelle Pfeiffer) sacrificed herself into the quantum wilderness to save mankind. Can she be saved and brought back? This is a superhero movie so we can certainly give it a go.
Meanwhile, “Scott Lang” (Paul Rudd ) separated father of “Cassie” (Abby Ryder Fortson) remains under house arrest following “that event” in Germany with the Avengers. Not allowed to leave the house, he remotely manages his failing security solutions company “X-Con” with his hapless employees, led in the loosest sense by “Luis” (Michael Peña).
When “Ant-Man” has a dream about Van Dyme (not that kind) this presages a requirement to get out the house and help Pym and erstwhile on/off girlfriend “Hope/Wasp” (Evangeline Lilly), whether they want his help or not.
The plot is further complicated by a shady black market trader played by Walton Goggins who seems to get all the bad guy parts and obsessive, none too bright FBI agent (Randall Park).
This is a fun movie that until the traditional end credit sequence represents a standalone piece from the main Avengers story arc. The special effects and changes in size perspectives are done well and generate some good laughs.
The chemistry among the main players is somewhat lacking and Rudd seems a bit bland, not appearing fully committed to the role. Pena adds the stereotypical comic sidekick but some of the “witty” exchanges between the characters go on far too long and fall flat.
Pfeiffer and Douglas attempt to add to gravitas to the proceedings but get very little screen-time together. However, there is also a welcome turn from Laurence Fishburne, making the interplay between these older characters interesting to watch.
We also get a new villain “Eva/Ghost” (Hannah John-Kamen) which allows the usual superhero staple, a high stakes fist fight to be added to the proceedings.
Plot-wise, somehow you know this will all turn out ok, even when the situation appears dire. The whole story feels very safe, a bit like bowling with the bumpers in, no real danger here.
San Francisco clearly won out on the location tax breaks, as the iconic topography is featured heavily in the various chases and Hyundai get a few glamour car shots for their sponsoring effort.
As fun and frothy as a souffle, this will please those who liked the first film and offend no-one.
Arguably could have been more but when your central protagonist rides around on a flying ant, it’s hard to introduce depth, meaning and pathos to a character.