The latest offering from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, is another big-budget project boasting yet again a massive crew. The difference with ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is the script --- it's much lighter fare than the other Marvel films, featuring the always-delightful Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man.


Scott Lang isn't a super hero --- he's an ordinary guy, and also an ex-con --- with a young daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), whom he adores. He's currently under house arrest --- sporting an ankle bracelet a la Paul Manafort --- for a crime he committed in Germany while fighting during CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. He and Cassie hang out and play while his housemate and new business partner, Luis (Michael Pena) runs their security business with their two employees, Dave (Tip "TJ" Harris) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).


Scott's two-year home incarceration is almost over, when he is pulled back into service as Ant-Man by Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his beautiful daughter, Hope Van Dyne, a.k.a. Wasp (Evangeline Lilly). They are using their Quantum Realm to rescue Hope's mother/Dr. Pym's wife, Janet Van Dyne/ Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) after she disappeared 30 years ago.


Reluctant to risk spending the rest of his life in prison for violating his probation, Scott is actually thrilled to be donning his Ant-Man suit again. He teams with Hope and Dr. Pym to aid in their mission.


But a new nemesis, Ava (Hannah John-Kamen) --- or Ghost --- throws a monkey wrench into the works. She wants Dr. Pym's Quantum chamber for herself to end her pain and make herself tangible again. Then there's Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), a somewhat bumbling black market thug, who's trying to steal Dr. Pym's technology to make billions. All of this culminates in a high speed chase through San Francisco --- including Lombard Street --- ending at the wharf.


I liked ANT-MAN AND THE WASP better than David and another fellow critic who attended the screening with us. David and I did not see the original ANT-MAN, but I heard people comment that it is better than this sequel. I found this movie totally engaging. Rudd is absolutely charming and, as we've seen before, very funny. The extremely clever opening sequence with him and Fortson is completely endearing --- we know this dad loves his daughter.


Fortson is unbelievably sweet without being too saccharine. She plays the part of a child being too old for her years --- always covering for her father --- with a certain panache. She's a star already --- watch for more of her.


ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is terrific summer family fare. Everyone can enjoys this somewhat low-key storyline without fear of grotesque violence and/or smarmy underpinnings. It's fun --- take the kids!


Opinion:  See It Now!




Paul Rudd is as likeable an actor as there is working today. In ANT-MAN AND THE WASP, he, of course, reprises his role of Scott Lang/Ant-Man. As caring father to little Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), family values are an inherent part of the story. And Rudd, with his easy-going manner and Everyman persona, is at the center of all the comic relief.


Ant-Man's partner in fighting crime, Hope Van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) basically patches things up with her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott's relationship with ex-wife Maggie (Judy Greer) and her husband, Paxton (Bobby Cannavale) are much improved. In fact, there are more group hugs in this feature than in any film in recent memory.


But this is, after all, a super hero movie, and there are enough visual effects to satisfy any fan. Ant-Man isn't just small, he gets very large in some scenes, and he doesn't even have to down a cookie that says "Eat Me".


ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is once again under the direction of Peyton Reed. The crew is so numbered that the first 25 pages of the production notes contain the names and job descriptions of all involved. ANT-MAN AND THE WASP is solid family fun, and if you missed the first installment from 2015, it doesn't matter --- you will still enjoy the sequel. Having said that, however, the movie is a bit too long at a shade under two hours. Fifteen minutes or so could have been eliminated without any harm to the finished product.


Rudd's character shares most of the jokes with Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), the FBI agent trying to ensure that Scott doesn't violate his house arrest; and with Luis (veteran actor Michael Pena --- one of my favorites) who is friend to Scott and a budding partner in a security business. It's great to see a healthy Douglas returning as Pym, and Michele Pfeiffer looks great as the original Wasp, a.k.a. Janet Van Dyne. Walton Goggins (memorable in Quentin Tarantino's THE HATEFUL EIGHT) as the criminal Sonny Burch, along with Laurence Fishburne and Hannah John-Kamen, round out the remaining primary characters in the film.


There is a special significance to the name of this movie. It is the first time a female character has been identified in the title treatment of any Marvel Studios film to date. This further substantiates that 2018 is truly the year for women.


And finally, just to prove that even established actors like Paul Rudd can still be star-struck, he said this: “It’s pretty great to work with this cast,” acknowledges Rudd, “But it doesn’t matter how many films you do; there are moments where sometimes you find yourself on a set in a scene and think, ‘Oh, wow, there’s Laurence Fishburne, and there’s Michael Douglas, and there’s Michelle Pfeiffer. They’re all talking to each other and, ‘Whoa, how did I get here?’ It’s pretty cool.”


Opinion:  See It Now!