Just as 2015’s Ant-Man felt like a welcome respite after world-exploding Avengers entry Age of Ultron, so too does its sequel come as a balm after Infinity War killed pretty much everyone. Almost completely ignoring the whole thing with that purple alien man conducting intergalactic genocide, Ant-Man and the Wasp also corrects most of the stuff that wasn’t so interesting in its own franchise’s first installment. This time, Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne is basically the lead; Paul Rudd gets to spend more time being funny; there’s no laborious backstory taking up the first hour; and a lot more of the film takes place in the freaky quantum realm, which allows for some of the trippiest imagery found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.
There’s a car chase at the end that features constant shrinking and growing and vehicles flipping and bouncing and it’s all carried off with a little kid’s level of delight — obvious callbacks to Bullitt and What’s Up, Doc? included.
The major gimmick in the Ant-Man films, that small things get really big and big things get really small, pretty much never gets old. A great deal of this film’s humor is in simple juxtapositions: close-ups of a character that’s the size of a bug give way to “full scale” scenes, so a shot of the Wasp taking flight from a kitchen table cuts to her popping through a bag of flour, and we see a little hole and a puff of white, like it’s been shot with a pea-shooter. And then there’s the gleefully inventive action. Hey look, it’s a lady running up the blade of a flying knife! A giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser getting thrown at a truck! A rogue salt shaker suddenly becomes big enough to stop a bad guy, and there’s a car chase at the end that features constant shrinking and growing and vehicles flipping and bouncing and it’s all carried off with a little kid’s level of delight — obvious callbacks to Bullitt and What’s Up, Doc? included. This isn’t a substantive movie, but if we’re going to be treated to one cataclysm after another from Marvel, the least they can do is keep offering up these goofball comedies as a counterweight.